As the old century was coming to a close the role of women was changing. Many found work that was beyond the usual outlets. They found a voice, too, in such organizations as the Woman’s Club, founded in 1895, and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), founded in 1874 and now gaining in membership and importance. Anther organization that was growing in membership was the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
One of Fairview’s outstanding women who has already been recognized here was involved in yet another activity in which she thrived. That was Helen Daggett Pollay Weeks. She had been a young bride then a young widow, had remarried and with her husband had taken the very unusual step (for that time period) to study medicine.
Now, in the last quarter of the 1800s she joined a group of women who rallied against intemperance. She joined the WCTU. Like everything else she did, her commitment was all encompassing. When a movement started in Erie and men were asked to support a county-wide temperance bill, she urged her husband to do so.
Helen made the second floor of the drug store available for meetings of the local chapter of the WCTU. (See a newer photo of the drug store on the left.) She also attended annual conventions and donated toward the cause. She felt so strongly about the subject that she also supported the Prohibition Party, even though she was not legally able to vote.
Helen was so committed against the evils of drink that in 1896 she published a “tragic novel” she had written. Somehow the claim circulated that her story was based on fact. The plot was about a young woman who was so in love she was blind to her husband’s shortcomings. He drank. Excesssively. The heroine’s name was Winnie Garlow, the husband’s name was Waverly Revere and Winnie’s very patient champion was Raymond Reynolds. The book was titled The Sequel to a Wasted Life. Winnie was not the strongest of women and her various sufferings were described and treated in the book – perhaps as if a doctor had written it!
Helen’s niece Marion Taylor stated that after Helen’s death a trunk load of unsold books was found among Helen’s things. She had paid for the printing herself and charged 75₵ for each with free shipping. It appears that she had over-estimated the market. Nevertheless, she felt strongly enough about the subject that in publishing it she exposed her professional self to possible ridicule.
In 1916 Helen attended the WCTU convention in St. Paul, Minnesota but died later that year. She had fallen and did not recover from the after-affects of the fall. She was 76 years old.
She and Welcome, who died five years later, are buried in the Girard Cemetery. But their step-stone, which Helen used to climb into her carriage, remains in front of their home on Avonia Road, just north of their drug store building. She was a remarkable woman with many facets to her life.
Helen Daggett Pollay Weeks… the Mrs. Dr. Weeks. An extraordinary woman.