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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

SOCIETY FOR THE RELIEF OF THE POOR

SOCIETY FOR THE RELIEF OF THE POOR

The SOCIETY FOR THE RELIEF OF THE POOR, also known as the Cleveland Relief Assn., organized on 26 Dec. 1850 and was active for about 2 years. Formed a month after the MARTHA WASHINGTON & DORCAS SOCIETY ceased its relief work because of the lack of government involvement, the society first advocated public measures to alleviate the increasing poverty, then began its own relief efforts. At its initial meeting at Empire Hall, the city's leading citizens, led by Mayor WILLIAM CASE, called for direct relief measures by the city and urged religious bodies to assist poor members. Apparently believing that their requests had not been met, on 18 Dec. 1851 these leaders formally established a "Society for the Relief of the Poor," adopted a plan for "systemizing" charity, and raised $500 to aid the poor. Subscriptions, proceeds from entertainments sponsored by its women's committee, and donations of food and clothes supported the society's work. BENJAMIN ROUSE and his wife, REBECCA, served as agents of the Relief Assn., distributing more than $2,000 in the winter of 1851-52. Officers of the society were JOHN A. FOOTE, pres.; JAS. A. BRIGGS, vice-pres.; H. F. Brayton, treas.; and R. C. Parsons, secy.

In Dec. 1852, the society's executive committee decided that "a voluntary relief fund" was not necessary for the upcoming winter, stating that the "the extreme severity of the weather" had necessitated the previous year's effort. Society members turned to other charitable efforts after 1852.