The Cyclopædia of American Biography/Haldeman, Sarah Alice (Addams)

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The Cyclopædia of American Biography  (1918) 
James E. Homans, editor
Haldeman, Sarah Alice (Addams)

HALDEMAN, Sarah Alice (Addams), banker, b. in Cedarville, Ill., 5 June, 1853; d. in Chicago, Ill., 19 March, 1915, daughter of John Huey and Sarah (Weber) Addams. Her father was a successful miller and banker in Northern Illinois, also serving as State senator from 1856 to 1872. He greatly influenced the policy of the State during the Civil War, to which, as his grandfather, Isaac Addams, had done in the Revolutionary War, he equipped and sent a company. Her first American ancestor was Richard Addams, who emigrated to this country from Oxfordshire, England, in 1684, and settled on land which he purchased from William Penn. From him the line of descent is traced through William and Anna (Lane) Addams; Isaac and Barbara (Ruth) Addams; Samuel and Catherine (Huey) Addams, and John and Sarah (Weber) Addams. She received her early education in the village of Cedarville, Ill., where an academy under the direction of Mrs. Jennie Forbes had been established by several of the more progressive families. From this school she went to Rockford Seminary at Rockford, Ill., then designated as the Mount Holyoke of the West, and completed the course there at the age of nineteen. After a year in Europe and the study of art in several American studios, she was married to Dr. Henry Winfield Haldeman in 1875. For several years Dr. Haldeman practiced medicine in Iowa and later when he spent a year in graduate medical work in Philadelphia, Mrs. Haldeman took a course at the Woman's Medical College of that city. She was thus fitted to co-operate with her husband in his medical practice, becoming his anesthetist, helping him in operations and acquiring a wide range of knowledge, for which her kindly instincts often found use in her later life. In 1884, when Dr. Haldeman's health necessitated his retirement from active practice, he and his wife settled in Girard, Kan., where he engaged in banking. Here one daughter was born to them, Anna Marcet Haldeman, who survives her parents. Mrs. Haldeman soon became a vital force in the educational and philanthropic movements of her town and state. Like her sister, Miss Jane Addams, of Hull House, Chicago, she was interested in every enterprise which looked toward social or civic betterment. Her interest was particularly with young people, with whom she had an unusual capacity for friendship and her first organized work for the community was a large and successful boys' club. She was elected president of the Girard Board of Education in 1895 and during her ten years in office had a wide acquaintance among the children of the schools and an intimate knowledge of their needs. For years they and the young people of the town made constant use of her own fine library. But this proving inadequate, she brought together the club women of Girard and organized a Library Association, serving as president of its board from 1899 to 1908, during which time the library, housed in a substantial Carnegie building, became a permanent factor in the intellectual life of the community. Mrs. Haldeman identified herself with the Presbyterian Church, leaving the impress of her strong personality upon its varied activities and for twenty-eight years was treasurer of its board of trustees. Her love for the foreign mission cause found expression in numerous material and spiritual ways and many workers in distant lands were cheered by her unflagging, personal interest. Mrs. Haldeman found in club life an avenue of constant usefulness, both for enthusiastic study and loyal friendships. She early appreciated the value of women's clubs and magnified it. She was a member of the Ladies' Reading Club of Girard for more than twenty years, of the City Federation and State Federation of Women's Clubs. In 1901 she organized the Twentieth Century Club of Girard and a similar club in a neighboring town. She was president of the third district, Kansas Federation of Women's Clubs, 1900-01; was a member of the civic committee of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, 1904-06; was a member of the Topeka (Kan.) Chapter of the D. A. R., and of the State Board of Charities. Mrs. Haldeman made a delightful presiding officer, combining the requisite parliamentary knowledge with an unusual graciousness of manner. She loved to exercise hospitality and had, to a rare degree, the gift of sharing with her friends what she herself enjoyed. Beautiful pictures, fine laces, and basketry were among her enthusiasms and in her occasional exhibitions of the two latter she not only communicated her own careful information and appreciation concerning them, but evoked a real interest in their possibilities. Her hands were seldom idle, and in the homes of many of her friends are examples of her painting, basketry, and needlework. In 1905, at the death of her husband, whose business responsibilities she had long shared, Mrs. Haldeman became actively interested in local banking and in May of that year reorganized the private Bank of Girard into the State Bank of Girard. She was elected its president, an office which no other woman in Kansas had previously held, and served in that capacity until her death. In 1914 the Kansas State Bankers' Association broke a precedent and elected her a vice-president. Mrs. Haldeman was unusual in her grasp of affairs, her executive capacity, and her directness of purpose. This was shown, not only in her successful direction of the bank for more than ten years, but also in the scientific management of a large stock farm in Illinois, which she owned and operated for thirty years. A business man, who spoke of her business career at the memorial service held for her in Girard, said: “You speak of her as a business woman; her business was doing good.” Her pastor, on the same occasion, spoke of her horse and phaeton, which was constantly at the service of the sick and lonely as “the chariot of the Lord.” Her active, out-reaching love toward all mankind was her supreme possession. A woman of generous proportions and fine nervous energy, Mrs. Haldeman's physical embodiment seemed a fitting abode; for the rare spirit within. Her countenance glowed with the joy of living and of hours spent daily in God's out-of-doors, her blue-gray eyes were ever alight with jollity and sympathy and her laugh was as infectious as irresistible — her entire personality was that of a big, joyous soul. Young with the youth which years cannot age, she drew all near her, from every walk of life within the radius of her influence, and held them her devoted friends. The troubled, the vexed, the worried, the afflicted came to her, and, aided by a rare judgment, she gave freely of kindness, of sympathy, and of advice, and, when needed, of financial assistance, possessing such an ability to enter sympathetically into the experiences of others and to give of her own strong, serene spirit that the recipient experienced an uplift that might be likened to a new birth. Perhaps the most characteristic quality of her many-sided loving-heartedness, which impressed itself most strongly upon those around her, was her great charity of judgment toward others, even in situations where bitterness and personal resentment on her part would have been natural and readily excused. She was calmness and poise itself, even amidst the most harassing events. One could only marvel at the self-control which seemed to be the index of a perfect inner harmony. Strength and decision she had, without waste or flurry, and she impressed all who knew her as a person whose soul was at peace with itself.


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