Women organize Seattle's first charity, The Ladies Relief Society, on April 4, 1884.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/26/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3398
On April 4, 1884, 15 women meet and organize The Ladies Relief Society to address "the number of needy and suffering cases within the limits of the city" (Seattle Children's Home). The society will build an orphanage on land donated by David and Louisa Denny which will evolve into the Seattle Children's Home (in 2001 located at 2142 10th Avenue W on Queen Anne Hill). At the beginning of the home's second century, it will serve troubled children with a variety of treatments and services.

The pioneer women gathered at 3rd and Seneca streets, all concerned about the suffering they had observed in the growing city. They were particularly interested in the children left destitute by the death of one or both parents. The roll of those present was as follows:

  • Mary B. Leary - elected president
  • Caroline Sanderson - vice president
  • Babette Gatzert - treasurer
  • Belle B. Haines - secretary
  • Elizabeth M. Minor - assistant secretary
  • Mercie Boone
  • Mary Booth
  • Sarah P. Ferry
  • Mollie Fulton
  • Lucia A. Furth
  • Abbie J. Hanford
  • Cornelia E. Jenner
  • M.A. Pierce
  • Emma W. Wood (1859-1949)
  • Sarah B. Yesler (1822-1887)

In February 1885, Margaret J. Pontius offered her home to lodge six needy children. On September 30 1885, the society incorporated for the purpose of "general benevolence and charity and the aiding and assisting of the poor and destitute regardless of creed, nationality or color, with special emphasis on women and children" (Seattle Children's Home).

The society received a donation of two lots from the homestead of David and Louisa Denny at 4th Avenue and Harrison Street, south of Queen Anne Hill. The society built an orphanage which opened in August 1886. In 1905, the orphanage moved to the top of Queen Anne Hill at 9th Avenue W and W McGraw Street. In the 1930s, the society shifted its emphasis from orphans to troubled children.

In 1956, the society changed its name to Seattle Children's Home. In the charity's second century, it provided comprehensive treatment and services to troubled youth.


Sources: "Seattle Children's Home, 1884-1994," brochure, 1984, Seattle Children's Home, 2142 10th Avenue W., Seattle, WA 98119.

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