Kin in Wartime: Selections from the WW1 Servicemen Portrait Collection
Posted On: 01/10/2018 - 12:05pm, Posted By: Other
This post was guest-authored by Margaret Breidenbaugh, graduate intern, Photographs and Prints.
The Shaffer-Bakewell family of Walnut Hills was not only affluent but also accomplished. Two sons attended Yale, at least three generations of male family members practiced law, and at least two female family members were school teachers. This prominent family could also boast of a connection with a well-known naturalist. The Shaffer-Bakewell children had a famous great uncle by marriage: John James Audubon.
Lucy, Annie, Susan, Frank, Jr., William, and Frederick Shaffer grew up in the neighborhood of Clifton, three daughters followed by three sons. Three of these children of Frank Holmes Shaffer, Sr. (1857-1936) and Alicia Adelaide Bakewell Shaffer (1862-1940) – Lucy, Frank, and William – contributed to the United States’ war effort between 1918 and 1919.
Lucy Kennedy Shaffer (1885-1957)
Lucy, the eldest child of Frank and Alicia Shaffer, was born October 5, 1885. She attended Smith College in Massachusetts, graduating in 1908. Lucy began work as an attendance officer for the Cincinnati public schools in 1916. Attendance officers in the early 20th century not only noted absences but also followed up with students who were repeatedly truant and served as advocates for student welfare. Two years later she volunteered overseas with the Smith College Relief Unit. Lucy applied for her passport in July 1918 and returned in August of the following year, suggesting she assisted the relief effort in France after the First World War drew to a close. The Smith College Relief Unit was recognized by the US Department of State and affiliated with the American Red Cross and American Fund for French Wounded (AFFW). Staffed entirely by women, the AFFW brought supplies and medical assistance to France’s wounded. Lucy toiled among these women driving trucks, bathing children, and operating medical dispensaries.
Full length portrait of Lucy Kennedy Shaffer in uniform. Shaffer served with the Smith College Relief Unit working with French refugees and the Fund for French Wounded. World War 1 Servicemen Portrait Collection (SC77). Box 23, Folder 59. Cincinnati Museum Center. Cincinnati History Library and Archives.
Frank Holmes Shaffer, Jr. (1896-1985)
Frank Holmes, Jr. the eldest son of Frank and Alicia Shaffer, was born August 18, 1896. He attended Yale College from about 1916 to 1918. In May 1918 Frank registered for the draft. During the First World War he served in the Intelligence Department in Washington, DC. It is possible that Frank worked on breaking codes, intercepting and interpreting patterns in message distribution, or interpreting photographs taken during aerial reconnaissance missions, all relatively new developments in intelligence during the First World War.
Head and shoulder vignette portrait of Frank H. Shaffer, Jr. World War 1 Servicemen Portrait Collection (SC77). Box 23, Folder 58. Cincinnati Museum Center. Cincinnati History Library and Archives.
William Bakewell Shaffer (1899-1980)
William, the second eldest son of Frank and Alicia Shaffer, was born July 21, 1899. He attended Yale University’s Sheffield Scientific School, where he was a member of Delta Psi fraternity. William completed his training with the Yale Student Army Training Corps (SATC) in New Haven, Connecticut. In the spring of 1918, Yale’s ROTC programs were suspended. The SATC program replaced the normal curriculum with specialized military training. William registered for the draft in September 1918.
Head and shoulder vignette portrait of William Bakewell Shaffer. World War 1 Servicemen Portrait Collection (SC77). Box 23, Folder 60. Cincinnati Museum Center. Cincinnati History Library and Archives.
After the War
After the war, Lucy returned her job as an attendance officer for the city schools. In 1920, she took a job as supervisor of the Committee of Child Care and Boarding Homes with the Council of Social Agencies. By 1923 she was teaching at the Vocational School for Girls, a position she held until at least 1940. Her subject area was retail selling. Lucy never married. She lived in the Shaffer family Park Avenue home for most of her adult life. She died on May 29, 1957, in Cincinnati. Today Lucy’s AFFW uniform is a permanent fixture at the National Museum of American History. Donated to the museum by Shaffer, this uniform was witness to both the atrocities of war and the hope the spirit of volunteerism could bring.
Frank Holmes, Jr. did not work right after the war, but by 1921 he was practicing law like his father. In 1923, he was made vice president of the Trustees of the Sinking Fund, of which his father was president. Frank was involved with the Church of the Advent, where he married Elizabeth Blake in 1926. (Six years later Frank III came into the world. He passed away in 1977, preceding his father in death.) Frank, Jr. was a partner in the law firm Peck, Shaffer & Williams (later Peck, Shaffer, Williams & Gorman) for many years. Today Frank and Elizabeth are remembered as benefactors. In 1981 they gave the Taft Museum of Art a Mathew Brady half-plate daguerreotype of John James Audubon (dated 1847-1848). Frank died July 18, 1985 in Cincinnati.
William Bakewell graduated from Yale around 1922. He and Mary Beekman Mills were married in 1927. By 1929 William was president of The Wet Wash Laundry Company. That same year Mary gave birth to their only son, William Bakewell Shaffer, Jr., who grew up to practice law. By at least the early 1940s William, Sr. was managing Splendid Launderers and Cleaners, Inc. William died August 9, 1980, in Cincinnati. Mary followed him in death in 1982. Today the William B. Shaffer, Jr. Scholarship Fund at Seven Hills School benefits Lotspeich School Scholarship recipients.