Dear Dr. Scribblerwhiz:
Would you consider writing about Pennsylvania Gov. William Cameron Sproul, Lancaster County native and nationally known (in his time) politician? His is a fascinating story, and much overlooked in this area, maybe because it’s easy to go whizzing past his birthplace marker at Andrews Bridge in Colerain Township.
What an appropriately timed question! William Sproul began serving as governor 100 years ago and initiated some of his signature projects in that spring of 1919.
He was born, as you say, near Andrews Bridge (Kirkwood) on Sept. 16, 1870. He was educated here and in Michigan and Chester County. He graduated from Chester High School and Swarthmore College.
Sproul worked as a newspaper editor and publisher and held interests in banking, railroads, mining, iron processing and other industries. He was a millionaire. He died without drafting a will on March 21, 1928.
Sproul served as a Republican state senator from Delaware County from 1897 until he was elected governor. As a senator, in 1911, he sponsored the Sproul Act, which created the state road system — perhaps the single act for which he is best remembered by state historians.
One of his earliest actions as governor was to declare April 11 and April 25, 1919, as Arbor Days. Thousands of trees were planted statewide to replenish forests clear-cut by decades of industrial logging. Those trees also served as a memorial to soldiers killed in World War I.
Anti-German sentiment remained strong following the war. In Pennsylvania, that sentiment prompted legislation to outlaw the teaching or speaking of the German language in public schools.
Sproul vetoed that legislation in May 1919. He said knowledge of the German language and culture could be useful in the future. “If we are to trade with them or again to fight them,” he said, “a knowledge of their language would give us an advantage which is not inconsiderable.”
Wise counsel considering the German decision to manufacture Volkswagens and start another world war. And the operas!
Sproul was an important governor, but he might have been president of the United States. He was offered the nomination as presidential running mate of Warren G. Harding in 1920. He declined. Harding died in office. Calvin Coolidge, Sproul’s replacement as vice presidential candidate, became president.
Dear Dr. Scribblerheart:
I spent several months in 1954, or thereabouts, at Heart Haven. It was located on Duke Street beside Lancaster General Health and was affiliated with LGH. It was a hospital for children suffering with rheumatic fever. What can you tell us about Heart Haven?
You would have been one of the early patients at Heart Haven, Karen. The facility opened in 1950 and closed two decades later. It was designed to treat children under the age of 14 who were recuperating from heart problems, especially those with rheumatic fever.
The Lancaster Heart Association unveiled plans for Heart Haven in September 1948, according to LNP files. Heart Haven took over a former apartment house at 509 N. Duke St. The place was filled with patient rooms, two solariums, doctors’ and nurses’ offices, a school room, craft room, laundry and kitchen.
The building could accommodate 30 children. The average stay was four months.
A 1964 news story said Heart Haven had cared for more than 600 area boys and girls since 1950. That number would have risen considerably by the time the building was closed in late 1970. Heart Haven merged with LGH, which demolished the old building and continued to treat children with rheumatic fever and heart disease.
Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at firstname.lastname@example.org.