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Hannah Ring Vedder

Loyal and Heroic Woman of the Cream City

Hannah Ring Vedder was born at Utica, New York, on September 24, 1839, the oldest child of Angelina Moulton and Jonathan Lovering Peirce. In 1849 she moved with her parents to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and, since 1852, lived in the same house, at 199–10th Street, now known as the corner of 10th and West Wells.(1)

Hannah was a graduate of Milwaukee Female College, later known as Milwaukee-Downer College, and now as the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Hannah married Albert Henry Vedder in 1860.(2) Albert was born in New York City in 1834, and was the proprietor of a grocery store at the corner of Wells Street and West Water Street,(3) now known as Wells and North Plankinton Avenue. Albert died in 1869, and Hannah lived in her family home at 199–10th Street until her death in 1910.

I could find no mention of Hannah and Albert having children. Perhaps that is why she was able to devote her life to a wide variety of civic causes. Her work began during the Civil War when she helped with soldiers’ relief work. She was also involved with the creation of the Soldiers’ Home in Milwaukee, serving as secretary with Mrs. Byron Kilbourn as president and Mrs. S.J. Hooker as treasurer.(4) She also was part of the group that ran the immense fair that raised money to buy land for a permanent soldiers’ home.

The following entry in the Memoirs of Milwaukee County describes Hannah’s role in the founding of the Soldiers’ Home:

[S]he early became a member of the association for relief of soldiers’ families, and upon the organization of the Soldiers’ Home Society, Dec. 15, 1862, she was chosen as one of the vice-presidents. [Sic: The society formed in 1862 was the West Side Soldiers’ Aid Society, an auxiliary of the Wisconsin Soldiers’ Aid Society.] This society continued its very successful work as an aid society until March 1, 1864, when it severed its connection with the old organization [Wisconsin Soldiers’ Aid Society] and reorganized as Milwaukee Soldiers’ Home Society, appropriating the funds belonging to the other society as a basis for the establishment of a home for the accommodation of soldiers returning on furlough, or discharged from the service and others returning to their regiments without means to pay their hotel expenses. Mrs. Vedder was elected a member of the first board of directresses of this organization and was prominent in the work that followed and which resulted in the establishment of the Milwaukee Soldiers’ Home — an institution that now stands as a monument to the loyalty and heroism of the noble women of the Cream City.(5)

Later in life Hannah was involved in many other causes. She worked with Mrs. William Pitt Lynde as a founder of the Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls. The school was organized in 1875. Hannah was elected member of the school committee and served in many capacities, including acting president for seven years.(6)

In 1892 Hannah became president of the Milwaukee College Endowment association and increased membership from a few to 700. Her goal was for the Milwaukee College to become a practical university for women.(7)

Because her ancestors were in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, she was a member of the DAR and the Daughters of 1812. She was also a member of the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin and a promoter of the Athenaeum. In 1896 she formed the Wisconsin State Federation of Women’s Clubs.(8)

Hannah Vedder died in her home on March 4, 1910, after suffering a stroke several days earlier. Her sister, Mrs. Julia E. Ely, and a brother, J. Franklin Peirce of Milwakee, survived her. Her funeral service was held on March 7, 1910, in the home where she had lived since arriving in Milwaukee as a child. She was buried in Forest Home Cemetery.

Hannah’s death was noted in local newspapers in which she was memorialized as “…one of the most prominent women in the city in philanthropic, church and club work.”(9)

Contributed by Marsha Berenson

1. The Evening Wisconsin, March 5, 1910
2. Ibid.
3. Memoirs of Milwaukee County, p. 596
4. The Evening Wisconsin, March 5, 1910.
5. Memoirs of Milwaukee County, p. 597.
6. Annual Reports of the Industrial School for Girls. Published by State Records in office of the school, The Evening Wisconsin, March 5, 1910.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. The Milwaukee Daily News, March 5, 1910.

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