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Photograph Albums and Scrapbook of Willis A. Holden and his daughter, Helen Holden Clark, of Syracuse, New York, c. 1900-1938

Album 1: 108 black and white photographs, measuring between 1 x 1 ½ to 13 ¼ x 9 inches, plus 67 pieces of ephemera, including newspaper clippings, circulars, programs, certificates, etc., calling cards, invitations, postcards and award ribbons, dated c. 1900-1938. Album 2: Approximately 620 black and white photographs, measuring 4 ¼ x 2 ½ and 2 ½ x 4 ¼ inches, dated 1905-1913.

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Willis A. Holden (1855-1916)


      Willis A. Holden was born 7 November 1855 in Charlotte, Monroe County, New York. He was the son of Erastus F. and Marla Demarest Holden. The family moved to Syracuse, New York in 1867, Willis Holden was educated in the Syracuse public schools. He was an 1880 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.


      After college he went to work for Nelson & Holden, a coal dealer, a firm in which his brother had been a partner since 1872, in Brooklyn, New York. After three years of learning the business he returned to Syracuse where he went to work for his father and uncle in the firm of Holden Brothers, agents for D.L. & W. coal in Syracuse. After he joined the firm, its name was changed to Holden & Sons. Holden remained with the company until it was disbanded about 1905. Holden also became involved in the Beebe syndicate, a network of trolley cars, which put Syracuse in touch with Auburn, Oswego, Rochester and intermediate points. Holden was in charge of the finances and was treasurer of a half dozen companies connected with the system for many years, before financial problems began to plague the company. Holden was connected to the Auburn & Syracuse Electric Railroad, which was purchased by the Beebe Company, which also included the Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern; the Syracuse, Lake Shore & Northern; and the Auburn & Northern Lines. He was also involved with the Great Lakes transportation lines and banking, as a director of the Syracuse Trust Company and the Commercial National Bank, until these banks were merged in 1915.


      Holden married Idelle Louise Fyler (1858-1945) of Syracuse, on 20 September 1881, a year or so after graduating college. The couple had three daughters: Charlotte, Eloise, and the youngest, Helen.


      Helen Holden Clark (1895-1982)


      Helen Holden was born in 1895. She was engaged to a Lieut. William K. Jenne in 1918. He was a pilot with the British Royal Air Force during WWI, however, even though engaged, the couple were never married. Helen married Howard D. Clark (1895-1991), in 1922. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Judson Clark of Syracuse. Judson Clark was president of the J. W. Clark Realty Company, of which his son Howard, was secretary and treasurer. Howard was a WWI veteran. Howard’s father, Judson Clark, was also president of the Liberty National Bank. Helen and Howard Clark had a daughter, Charlotte Clark, born about 1923, who was class president of the Goodyear-Burlingame School in her senior year (1939).


      Helen Holden was a volunteer in the American Red Cross during WWI and WWII. She was also active in the Onondaga Kennel Association. She had an interest in theater. Helen Clark died in 1982, her husband Howard in 1991, their daughter Charlotte died before both of them in 1979. They are all buried together in the family plot in Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse, New York.


      Description of Albums:


      Album 1: 108 black and white photographs, measuring between 1 x 1 ½ to 13 ¼ x 9 inches, plus 67 pieces of ephemera, including newspaper clippings, circulars, programs, certificates, etc., calling cards, invitations, postcards and award ribbons, dated c. 1900-1938.


      The photographs include a number of images taken when Helen Holden was a child. These include images of the family home, a trip to Atlantic City, horses and carriages, several images of the Ogontz School, a school in Philadelphia Helen attended, a number of images of young women, presumably Helen’s friends from school, images of Manlius School, where Helen’s fiancé, pilot William M. Jenne attended (formerly St. John’s School), a large photograph of the 15th Annual Banquet of Alpha Phi, June 1, 1915, at the Bellevue Stratford in Philadelphia, taken by the famed photographer William H. Rau, a number of family photographs, including Helen’s parents, the family dog, her fiancé Lieut. William M. Jenne, Helen’s wedding photographs, large photograph of banquet on stage at Empire Theatre, photographs of Helen’s daughter Charlotte, amongst many others.


      The ephemera includes material on the Alpha Phi Society, of which Helen Holden was a member of, the pedigree chart of five generations of a dog, certificate of entry for American Kennel Club Stud Book (1917), prize ribbons for Onondaga Kennel Association dog shows, newspaper clippings noting various achievements by Helen Holden, her debutante party, obituaries, “Ogontz Song” lyrics, certificates, Red Cross ephemera 1917 and 1943, newspaper clippings about WWI pilot William K. Jenne, among many other items.


      Album 2: Approximately 620 black and white photographs, measuring 4 ¼ x 2 ½ and 2 ½ x 4 ¼ inches, dated 1905-1913.


      The second album can be broken up into three sections: images from an extended trip to Europe and Egypt (294 images) by the Holden family; summer trips to various lakes in New York State and Atlantic City (187 images), and photographs of Helen Holden at the Ogontz School in Philadelphia, (137 images).


      This second album contains approximately 294 photographs taken on a long trip through Western Europe and Egypt taken from September 1905 to March 1906. The images include the following cities and countries: England, Richmond, London, Windsor Castle; France: Paris, Versailles, Marseille, Nice and Corsica; Switzerland: Geneva and Lucerne; Italy: Milan, Venice, Genoa, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Sorrento, Naples, Pompeii and Vesuvius; Monaco, Monte Carlo; Germany: Munich, Berlin, Potsdam; Austria: Vienna, Egypt: Alexandria, Cairo, Island of Roda, the Nile River and Pyramids, Heliopolis, Port Said and Gezirah. There are also images of the Mediterranean and of the vessels the family sailed on, the Oceanic and the Celtic.


      The images of Egypt are quite interesting, there are approximately 100 photographs taken in Egypt. They include images of the Alexandria wharves, various mosques in Cairo, (identified) images of the Nile, riding camels to the Pyramids and sphinx, images of architecture, people and the street life of Old Cairo, the Island of Roda, images of Bedouins and their village, various hotels where they stayed, procession of the “Holy Carpet,” the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, an obelisk at Heliopolis, monuments at Gezirah, money changers at Port Said, and others.


      There are approximately 187 photographs taken on other summer vacations or family trips to such places as Lake Meacham and Owasco Lake (1906); Big Moose Lake (1912); Manlius (1912), Lake Placid (1912), as well as a trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1912. These images include architectural views, landscape and topography, and people, friends and family.


      The last section in the album consists of approximately 137 images of The Ogontz School for Young Ladies, taken in 1913. The Ogontz School was a prestigious and elite finishing school in Philadelphia for about a century.


      The school had its beginnings in 1850 as The Chestnut Street Female Seminary, founded by two teachers, Miss Mary L. Bonney and Miss Harriette A. Dillaye, who had been classmates at the Troy Female Seminary, in Troy, New York. The location of their “finishing” school was a stately four-story row house at 1615 Chestnut Street, surrounded by some of Philadelphia’s wealthiest residences, but after several decades, the success of the school required a search for more suitable quarters “in the country.”


      In 1883, the school rented the Elkins Park estate of Civil War financier, Jay Cooke, named “Ogontz” for Cooke’s boyhood mentor and role model – a Sandusky Indian chief. The school assumed the name of the estate upon moving there – and became The Ogontz School for Young Ladies. By then Bonney and Dillaye had selected two associate principals from the school’s faculty, Miss Frances Bennett and Miss Sylvia Eastman. At the new location the four principals shared responsibility for a brief time, Bennett and Eastman eventually took over entirely. Sylvia Eastman became sole principal after Bennett’s retirement in 1900. The school thrived in the Jay Cooke mansion for thirty-four years, with a student body of about a hundred privileged girls.


      The images in this section show many of the young female students and their school, the grounds of the estate, the architecture of the buildings, teachers, and many school activities including pageants, sports and other social events.