Steele Scrapbook – 1885
TURNED OUT TO DIE.
An Attempt to Send a Young Girl to Ruin and Death.
ALONE ON THE STREETS.
While Seeking Work She Is Beset on Every Side by Temptations.
SNATCHED FROM WORSE THAN DEATH.
Her Awful Peril Is Discovered and She Is Taken in Charge By a Well-Known West Philadelphia Lady—The Story of an Uncle Who Tried, It Is Asserted, to Send His Niece to Ruin in Order That He Might Secure the Money to Which She Will Fall Heir.
Turned out into the streets of a great city, without a friend, penniless, half clad, with no one to vouch for her character; turned out to wander where sin in all its hideousness awaits with a welcome; turned out to death, or to worse than death.
Such has been the experience of an eighteen-year-old German girl, who has been plucked almost as a brand from the burning by Mrs. Martha Kimball, of 4703 Kingsessing avenue, and is now making her home with that benevolent lady at her residence, and is receiving every attention.
The story told by the girl is replete with facts that sound like the romance of a novel. She is the daughter of a rich government Cabinet officer of Germany residing at Berlin, and until her arrival in this country never knew a shadow of trouble. Reared amid all the luxuries that money and love could furnish, she is as inexperienced as a child.
She had heard so much of America that when an uncle residing in this city, visiting her home, made the suggestion that she go home with him, she gladly agreed if her father’s permission could be secured. The old gentleman at first protested against his only child leaving his home, even for a brief period, but at last he reluctantly gave his consent.
The uncle seemed so very anxious to have the girl come to Philadelphia that her father was puzzled as to the reason. Two months ago the German girl was met by her uncle on her arrival in New York, and together they journeyed to this city. She had a well-filled pocketbook, and soon he became the possessor of its contents. Then his manner changed. He demanded hoard. The girl replied that her father had told her none would be asked of her, as the uncle owed him $500, and this debt would be declared off if she was permitted to stay with him a year to finish her education in America. The uncle then, it is alleged, showed his true colors. The girl was told that she must go to work in a mill. At the thought she revolted. She did not know what it was to work. She threatened to write her father.
From that time her worst troubles began. A young man, her cousin, it is asserted, treated her disrespectfully. Her trunk of clothes was taken from her. One night she was left alone with a strange man in the house. The girl was afraid to carry out her threat to write to her father. He is an old man and very delicate, and she was fearful that the news would prove fatal to him. She did not know what to do or where to go, and she suffered in silence. A cold, blustering night two weeks ago she was sitting in her bed-chamber. The room was cold and she had around her shoulders a shawl. A hacking cough was troubling her.
That night she says she was told to leave the house, and the uncle, in a rage, tore the shawl from her shoulders as he shoved her out of doors.
She had a few dimes in her pocket and succeeded in finding a night’s lodging. The next day she started out to secure employment. Nobody seemed to want help, and she was finally referred to a German employment agency on Callowhill street. The proprietress, noticing that she was pretty and friendless and without experience, said she would care for her until she could get work. The girl was introduced, she says, to a sinister-looking man, and told to go with him. When she asked what was to be the character of her work, she was told that the man would show her. She was going to be his wife.
At this the man approached familarly and attempted to put his arm around her. The girl, greatly frightened, rushed out of the place.
For several days after this she sought work. Time after time improper proposals were made to her and money in abundance was offered to her, but she fled from the presence of her would-be destroyers.
She was starving.
For two days she had nothing to eat. A well-dressed woman, noticing her attractive figure and pretty face, one evening said she would give her employment, and when she asked what kind of employment, the woman laughed and told her how she could make lots of money and have fine clothes and not work. The girl, sick at heart, turned away. At an employment agency she met Mrs. Kimball, who at once recognized in her a refined and cultivated girl and took her to her home.
“Oh, if you had not met me,” she said afterwards, “I was going to kill myself.”
Mrs. Kimball heard the story of the girl and the authorities were notified, and Detective Donaghy is now working on the case. To-day he will demand the girl’s trunk and her jewels from the uncle.
A reporter of The North American called on Mrs. Kimball last night at her residence at Forty-ninth-street stations, West Philadelphia. The German young woman and Mrs. Kimball’s daughter have become close friends. The girl showed the effects of her harsh treatment. During the two weeks she has been at Mrs. Kimball’s home she has suffered greatly from the exposure to which she was subjected. She is a very attractive girl and would be pronounced pretty by the most severe critics. She speaks English and French as fluently as her native tongue, and the way she rattled last night on the piano keys showed her to be no mean musician. She is the guest of Mrs. Kimball, and is being treated as such by the family.
It is asserted by the young woman that the object of the uncle in bringing her to this country was to secure money she will inherit from a wealthy aunt. The uncle would be next heir at her death, and it is alleged that the uncle’s object in turning her out of doors in the condition he did was that her attractiveness and her penniless condition would finally result in her going to ruin and joining the great army of the fallen going down to death. Mrs. Kimball expects to send her back to her home in Berlin by voluntary contributions, as the girl protests against her father being told of her condition. She feels that he would worry to death before she could reach him.
SAFE WITH FRIENDS.
The Young German Girl Is Being Well Taken Care Of.
THE LIFE THAT SHE ESCAPED
Friends Came Forward Ready With Financial Assistance.
TO BE SENT HOME TO HER FATHER.
The Aunt of the Girl and Her Cousin do Not Arise to Offer as Clear an Explanation as Seems Desirable Under the Circumstances—The Society to Protect Children From Cruelty Acts Promptly.
The publication in The North American yesterday of the story of the alleged cruel treatment and sufferings of pretty eighteen-year-old Wanda Mueller, who, after being compelled to leave her uncle’s house, was exposed to the temptations of the street and was finally rescued from her perilous position by Mrs. Martha Kimball, a well-known benevolent lady of West Philadelphia, aroused public sympathy to such an extent that scores of friends sprang up on every side, ready to render any assistance, financially or otherwise.
It was a revelation, this story of the dangers a friendless girl in a strange city is exposed to. How time after time, while she was seeking honest employment, she was met by the tempter and pitfalls set for her feet; how an apparently legitimate employment agency brought her in contact with a man who said “she could be his wife;” how, while starving for food, she who walks the streets to lead the innocent to destruction sought her out and set before her a life of ease but of shame. The very fact of the girl’s inexperience and refinement and ignorance of the world made her an easy prey.
The city detective department received numerous communications yesterday, the writers of which offered assistance to send the young girl to her aged father in Berlin, Germany. Detective Donaghy received the representatives of a number of German societies and a score of benevolent citizens, who expressed themselves as willing to render assistance when called on by him or Superintendent Linden.
Detective Donaghy had called upon the uncle of the girl several times to secure her trunk, but each time was refused in no uncertain terms, but the exposure of the case in The North American so unnerved the man that he consented to give up everything in his possession that belongs to her.
A representative of The North American yesterday called at the uncle’s house. The uncle was not at home, but his wife and son were seen. They had evidently anticipated a visit. Every accusation brought against the uncle by the girl was denied.
“Have you seen her trunk?” was asked.
“Oh, yes; that is up-stairs,” was the reply in broken English, “Wanda can have it whenever she wants.”
“Of course all the clothes remain inside?”
“Yes, all except those her own cousins are wearing,” and the aunt glanced admiringly at a big red-haired girl out in the kitchen who had on a fashionable-looking dress that didn’t reach quite down to her shoe tops.
“Why didn’t you surrender the trunk to the authorities?”
The couple smiled and looked at each other and said nothing for a moment, and then explained that they wanted to give the trunk to Wanda personally.
“But she is afraid you want to get rid of her—to do her bodily injury,” it was explained. “You drive her out of doors, she says, and she is afraid to come back.”
The two denied this, but then the woman became excited, and losing possession of her tongue, splurted out: “Well, we were not going to have the lazy thing around here. She was no good; she couldn’t work.”
“But her father paid you $500 in advance.”
“I believe it was $600,” corrected the man; “but that don’t make any difference; we ain’t going to have any one playing lady here. I know she told me a lie one day. Just go and see Mrs. Heppe, the wife of the big piano man; she can tell you all about her.”
Mrs. Heppe was next visited. She stated that she had secured Miss Wanda as a companion to her children, as she could speak both French and German. She did not quite carry out the promise of the aunt that Wanda would be given a bad name by her. Mrs. Heppe stated that Wanda had been a mystery to her. The girl showed every sign of refinement and education, and could fairly make a piano talk, so fine a musician was she. She was more or less of a mystery, and did not seem to care to talk about herself or her family.
She appeared homesick at times, and when she received letters from her father she would go to her room and the children would sometimes find her there crying.
Not once while she was staying at Mrs. Heppe’s did her uncle or any of her relatives call on her. Mrs. Heppe stated that she learned to like Wanda, but she could not exactly understand why she should have left her so suddenly.
She finally told her she had received a letter from her father that he was sick and had sent her money to come over to Germany in the next steamer. She then left suddenly and that was the last she saw of the girl.
Detective Donaghy yesterday said the story published in The North American was substantially true. He stated that it would be dangerous to visit the house of the uncle, as that individual had some big dogs which he would not hesitate to turn loose on a visitor if anything was said to which he might take offence. The detective said that he had worked especially hard on the case, as it was one in which he believed a great wrong was being done an innocent girl. The trunk, he stated, he intends to secure at all hazards. Captain of Detectives Miller reiterated this last remark, and added that the girl would undoubtedly be seen safely home to her father.
Among the friends who called upon Mrs. Kimball yesterday in response to the article which appeared in yesterday’s issue of The North American was Secretary J. Lewis Crew, of the Society to Protect Children from Cruelty, who proffered all the assistance that his society could give.
When the reporter of The North American called upon Mrs. Kimball last night she was in consultation with the girl’s aunt and her cousin, who were there to tell their side of the story. From their conversation Mrs. Kimball deducted the inference that Miss Wanda had been brought up under circumstances entirely different from those under which her almost unknown relatives lived in this country, and rather than stay with them she had adopted the course which has led to such sensational developments.
As soon as Miss Mueller came under the notice of Mrs. Kimball and told her story the latter immediately communicated with a well-known philanthropic gentleman, who at once introduced her to the head of the police and detective force of the city. Detective Donaghy was assigned to the case, and yesterday stated that the story he had to work on was practically the same as that told in The North American.
The relatives of the young girl informed Mrs. Kimball last night that they were perfectly willing to send her back to her father, together with all of her personal effects.
Unceremoniously Stolen From Alf