Amelia C. Fruchte

Amelia C. Fruchte

Missouri, USA
Death 23 Jan 1920 (aged 74)
Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
Burial Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
Plot Block 13, Lot 3621
Memorial ID 175818398 · View Source
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Amongst the notable women in educational, social and economic circles of St. Louis is Miss Amelia C. Fruchte. She is a product of the public schools, and a graduate of the St. Louis Normal School, at the time when Dr. William T. Harris was a leading light in the educational work of St. Louis, and Anna C. Brackett — one of the most remarkable educators known among women — was principal of the school.

Amelia C. Fruchte and Harriet Hosmer were the first two women admitted to the St. Louis Medical College, under the influence of Dr. John T. Hodgen, who at the time was president of the American Association of Physicians. Both were allowed to attend lectures and to take part in "Quiz" clubs, though neither was granted a diploma, because the school did not then, and does not even now, graduate women.

Miss Fruchte was also, through many summers, a regular attendant at the Concord School of Philosophy, that institution planned by the fertile brain of the renowned A. Bronson Alcott. There she acquired much of her present taste for philosopMc, sociological and literary studies, especially in the interpretation of masterpieces.

Miss Fruchte has done extension work at Wasliington University, University of Chicago, Columbia University of New York, and summer work at Sorbonne (Paris).

When she was a mere girl she received several prizes: One was a gold dollar for reciting almost verbatim the book, "The Gospel of St. John," and a second gold dollar for reciting in the same manner the Constitution of the United States. Then the third was a prize in domestic science for knitting a pair of silk stockings for her father.

So early in life the thought that she sUll claims of combining culture work with domestic uUlity was fertile in her mind. The study that has always been most interesting to her has been institutional sociology, and probably no woman has considered more faithfully or penetrated more deeply into the fundamental principles of our American institutions, and today she believes that the making of institutions is man's greatest vocation.

Miss Fruchte has, from her youth, been an advocate of the equality of the sexes. For years she has been an ardent spokesman of equal suffrage for women, and of equal opportunities in economic conditions, claiming forcibly that it is not simply woman's privilege to vote and to contribute in some way to her self-support, but it is a duty from which she ought not to recoil.

Professionally, Miss Fruchte is a teacher, having begun her career as such when she was scarcely sixteen. Beginning in a small country school, she has taught in every grade of the St. Louis public schools from the primary through the high and teachers' college. She has been a teacher of pedagogy, psychology, mathematics, science, literature and history of art.

At present she is connected with the Central High School — a school that has been in existence tifty-six years, and is regarded as the mother school of all progressive high-school work, not only of St. Louis but of the Mississippi Valley. Miss Fruchte's work, at present, is the interpretation of literary masterpieces, especially of Shakespeare and Homer.

This talented woman is especially gifted in organizing, and as a result of her long study with that genius. Dr. Denton J. Snider, who has written so prolifically on American institutions, she was one of the originators of the Contemporary and the Wednesday Clubs of this city. Then she was the only woman president of the Society of Pedagogy — an organization now in its fortieth year, and looked upon as one of the greatest pedagogic organizations among teachers — either in this country or in Europe.

The first president of the St. Louis Teachers' Fellowship was Miss Fruchte. This is an organization that is essentially philanthropic in its aim, hoping at some day to have a sufficient fund of its own to build a home as well as a hospital for aged teachers.

Miss Fruchte is a life member of the Missouri State Teachers' Association, where she has spoken frequently. She is looked upon as a very ready impromptu speaker and has been called upon to address most every organization where women were at all likely to appear in public.

She is a member of the National Educational Association, and in the meeting of July, 1912, was elected vice-president, the honor being the highest conferred upon any Missouri woman by that association.

In August, 1913, Miss Fruchte was appointed, by the Mayor of St. Louis, as a delegate to represent the city in the Fourth International Congress of Hygiene, which met at Buffalo, N. Y.

It is interesting to know of the founding of the Contemporary Club, which grew out of the old Unitarian Club. The latter started out with the thought that it should be composed entirely of a male membership, and a limited number at that. Soon, however, the need of woman's assistance was felt, and some Unitarian women, also one Catholic, were admitted, and a little later Miss Fruchte, who is a Baptist, was taken in — so that in that sense she was really one of the disorganizers and one of the organizers of the Contemporary Club that was to move on a more cosmopolitan plane. This name was chosen because its purpose on the literary- side is to have addresses from men and women on any subject that is uppermost and vital in the interest of the public at anj' given time. It is also a social club that precedes the debate, whatever it may be, with a dinner.

As to the founding" of the Wednesday Club, Miss Fruchte took no small part. Mrs. E. C. Sterling, Miss Gertrude Garrigues and Miss Amelia C. Fruchte were the first tliree women who met to take steps looking
toward a literary club broad enough in its scope to serve as a center of thought for women and to promote their practical interests. Later twenty or more women met and drafted a preliminary constitution and considered a name for the club. Miss Fruchte was the first to make a suggestion — her idea was to call it the Sterling Club, but it was decided to give it a name that would be wholly impersonal, and the name "Wednesday" was selected. Miss Fruchte's mind is well balanced, and she is logical and just. She wants everything that will work to the good of womankind. Her plans are broad and comprehensive. She is a deliberately progressive woman. Nothing flurries Miss Fruchte — she holds her own at all times. She loves a good argument, especially with a man.

Miss Fruchte has a massive head, crowned with snow-white rippling hair, sparkling black eyes, and an expressive countenance.

Miss Fruchte is a member of the Equal Suffrage Association of Missouri, and has been an ardent worker for that cause for many decades.

She has spoken in the schools to groups of 1,400 pupils; before the Society of Pedagogy to audiences of 2,000. She was chosen to respond to the address of welcome given to the State Teachers' Association by the Governor of Missouri at that time. She has frequently "sparkled" at banquets, and has given many addresses before all varieties of women's clubs.

The Society of Pedagogy was organized forty years ago in the private home of Francis E. Cook. At first it was desired that the club should be small, exceeding, perhaps, not more than a dozen of the leading educators among the men. Later, women were invited for musical numbers on the Saturday programmes. Later stUl, women were elected to the various offices, secretary, treasurer, vice-president, etc. Miss Fruchte held all of these offices in succession and then, through one of the liveliest campaigns ever known in the history of the society, at an annual meeting, when 1,200 teachers were present in tlie auditorium of the Central High School, was nominated and elected president. Dr. F. Louis Soldan, the then superintendent of schools, and Ben Blewitt, the present superintendent, were in accord in declaring that her work was successful beyond criticism.

Miss Fruche has been a member for years of tlie Teachers' Annuity Association, and in connection with it has done some of her finest speaking and organization. She has been before the Missouri Legislature, as an advocate of the pension system for teachers, both that the schools may be protected from service that has been weakened by age, and the teachers may be fairly rewarded in their infirm years for service that is at all times underpaid and nerve-racking in the highest degree.

One of the most delightful experiences in Miss Fruchte's early teaching career was when she was invited by Dr. William T. Harris to visit in Concord, Mass., and to become a student in the Concord School of Philosophy under the great leader in transcendentalism. This invitation Miss Fruchte gladly accepted.

The morning after arriving, Miss Fruchte had dressed, as was her custom, in a dark blue gown with touches of vivid red bows. Presently she saw A. Bronson Alcott coming down the road, swinging in his hand a basket of ripe red apples. He spied her on the piazza, and without waiting to be admitted through the front door, came at once to her and took a proffered chair, offering the apples as a morning greeting. Then he looked up and said, with a twinkling eye: "Ah, I thought that red would be gone this morning; you wore it yesterday." Miss Fruchte caught her breath and asked for an explanation — he was her senior by several decades. "Don't you know, my child, that no civilized girl ought to wear red? It is a barbarian color and antagonistic to highest spirituality." She says she began to reflect, but confesses that it took her many years to part with some of the shades of hopeful red. The magic experience of the conversation about the stories of Homer that followed the remainder of that morning, was repeated in some form or another almost dailj^ during that most fruitful summer.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, no longer in his prime, was still able to be charmingly helpful, and the picture of him as he sat on the platform in the chapel — as it was called — while his beloved daughter. Miss Ellen Emerson, sat beside him, to supply the word that incipent aphasia was causing him to recognize in form but not in sound, is one somewhat painful, though sacred, to her memory.

Another delightful remembrance was his beautifully modulated accents when he addressed Mrs. Emerson. He always called her "queen," and treated, and inclined others to treat her, as though she were a queen in his own household or in any other circle.

Many were the delightful teas at the home of the Emersons, Judge Hoar's family, the Harris', the Sanborns and the Ripleys, in the evenings following mornings spent in philosopliic investigation and debate. Some of these given at the Old Orchard House, the Wayside Inn, and the Old Manse, were events of literary importance. All, of course, made most attractive through the beautiful simplicity of cultured New England.

Mr. Alcott, after the realization of his life dream in the Concord School of Philosophy, found great delight in admiring and leading others to admire his gifted daughter, Miss Louisa Alcott. The latter in turn, although she did not seem fully to sympathize with her father's philosophy, did adore him and was never happier than when she was promoting measures that would advance and secure his permanent comfort.

While Mr. Alcott was ecstatic in the revelations of philosophic theories at the Concord school, Louisa Alcott was frequently down at beautiful Waldon Pond, near the Thoreau Cairn, chaperoning Boston boys and girls who were brought down from the poorer districts for a bath, a dinner and an outing. She returned at the end of the day so happy over her practical philosophy that weariness seemed no part of her nature.

Even though Miss Alcott lacked the far-away dreamy vision into eternal verities, so characteristic of the personal appearance of her venerable father, yet, on the other hand, the glow of human sympathy and willingness to reach down to the humblest and lowliest with a helping hand were her markedly inviting characteristics.

Among the other interesting characters were Miss Julia Ward Howe, who, surrounded by all the culture and wealth that the New and the Old World could provide, was, herself, a thoroughly democratic woman.

After the Concord School of Philosophy closed, at the end of ten years, according to its original plan, some of the people whose souls had been welded together through a common interest, went with that inimitable Scotch scholar and leader, Thomas Davidson, to Glen More, the beautiful 300-acre tract of ground in the heart of the Adirondacks, just midway between Lake Placid and West Port. There such spirits as John Dewey, Royce of Harvard, Bakewell of Yale — who afterwards became Mr. Davidson's heir and successor. Miss Kent of New York, and Miss Grace Gilfillan of St. Louis, continued another decade of educational and
philosophic research, with delights numerous and profitable. This dream of fellowship found its blight in 1902 with the sudden death of the very capable leader, Mr. Davidson.

Miss Fruchte's tastes run, especially in recreation, along the lines suggested through the summers spent at Concord and in the Adirondack home that she so much admired. She could rarely be induced to be absent at any time from these ideal commonwealths, if such they may be called, except when she found it necessary to have a little observation of the Old World, which she gained through five summer journeys.

While in Europe she visited particularly the haunts and homes of literary people. She, herself, is of German ancestry on the paternal side, and her first visit was to Frankfurt, Germany, where she went as a guest with Mr. and Mrs. Louis Soldan, and where the three were present at the opening of the Goethe Theater, when the second part of Faust was presented for the first time. This event was interesting since they had been members of the Faust Culture Club, one of the forms of study so common and productive in St. Louis when Mrs. John W. Noble and Mrs. Rufus Lackland used to throw open their beautiful homes to such leaders as
Dr. William T. Harris, Dr. Denton J. Snider, Dr. Louis Soldan, Conde Fallen, Thomas Davidson, and many other gifted men and women.

In her fourth visit she spent the summer at the Paris Exposition, part of the time as a guest of Dr. William T. Harris, the then great commissioner, who did more than any other one educator to formulate the American system of schools, and present it in attractive and convincing form to the European public.

Born on the Grant farm, near St. Louis, Miss Fruchte is, by nature and culture, most cosmopolitan in her ideas. She has always been extremely proud of her birthright as a Missourian. The best that she can command is at the service of her native State whenever it is desired.

During the summer of 1912 she took an active part in the support of the Progressive party, and spoke from the platform in St. Louis, with its leader — Theodore Roosevelt.

At present she is actively engaged in propelling the interests of the St. Louis Pageant and Masque, that is to be given on Art Hill in Forest Park, in April, 1914.

Source: Johnson, Anne (1914). Notable women of St. Louis, 1914. St. Louis, Woodward. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

Bio Contributor: Elisa Rolle (48982101)

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  • Created by: Tulsa90
  • Added: 28 Jan 2017
  • Find a Grave Memorial 175818398
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Amelia C. Fruchte (12 Jan 1846–23 Jan 1920), Find a Grave Memorial no. 175818398, citing Bellefontaine Cemetery, Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Tulsa90 (contributor 47665105) .