We honor Mary Ellen
Mary Ellen's case took place in 1874. Her spirit remains with us because her case is generally regarded as the beginning of public concern for the plight of abused and neglected children. Mary Ellen was a child whose father was dead and whose mother could not care for her
because she was destitute and had to work full-time. The New York Commission of Charities and Correction placed
Mary Ellen with Mary McCormack Connolly and her husband, who were to care for her and report her progress
each year. Instead, Mrs. Connolly abused her. She beat Mary Ellen, locked her in a room, rarely allowed her outside
and did not provide adequate food or clothing. Upset by the child's screaming, a neighbor told a mission worker
about Mary Ellen. The mission worker could not find anyone to intervene; the police had no grounds because no
crime was being committed, and the agencies wouldn't get involved because they did not have legal custody.
The mission worker finally appealed to Henry Bergh. the founder and president of the ASPCA, American Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He took up her cause and was able to persuade a judge to hear her case.
Mary Ellen was carried into the courtroom wrapped in a horse blanket. This is what the newspaper reported that
she told the judge:
"My father and mother are dead. I don't know how old I am. I call Mrs. Connolly Mama. I have never had but one
pair of shoes, but I cannot recollect when that was. My bed at night has been only a piece of carpet stretched
on the floor underneath a window. Mama has been in the habit of whipping and beating me almost every day. She
used to whip me with a twisted whip--a raw hide. (Mama) struck me with the scissors and cut me..I have no
recollection of ever having been kissed by anyone--have never been kissed by Mama. Whenever Mama went out I
was locked up in the bedroom. I do not want to go back to live with Mama because she beats me so."
Mary Ellen was removed from that home and her case stirred public attention, and complaints began to pour into
Henry Bergh. So many cases of child beating and cruelty to children came to light that citizens called a community
meeting and formed an association "for the defense of outraged childhood." That association gave rise to the "Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children"
Following the conviction of Mary Connolly, Mary Ellen was initially placed in a juvenile home, before Etta Wheeler and her relatives successfully obtained custody of her. Mary Ellen named her daughter, Etta, after Etta Wheeler.
In 1888 at age 24, Mary Ellen married Lewis Schutt. They had two children together. Schutt had three children from his previous marriage, and they later adopted an orphaned girl. Mary Ellen died in 1956, at 92.
Crawford County CASA gives a big shout out to everyone who attended their Champions for Children Luncheon on Thursday, October 5th. Because of all of you it was a great success!!! Thank you to the professional panel: Tye Cressman, Esq., Heather Gerard (CYS Caseworker), Jessie Stallard (foster mother) and Cindy Knight (CASA Executive Director), you all did an amazing job!! Thank you to the CASA volunteers and Board of Directors for all you do! A special thank you to all of the Sponsors, we appreciate your continued support of the work that CASA does and the children we serve:
Kappa Alpha Theta’s, Allegheny College
Meadville Business and Professional Women
Optical Filters USA LLC
J. Wesley Rowden, Law Office
Silver Sponsor: Hagan Business Machines of Meadville, Inc.
Armstrong One Wire
Bethesda Lutheran Center
Hill, Barth & King, LLC
McGill, Power, Bell & Associates LLP
Meadville Forging Company, Inc.
Meadville Medical Center Foundation
Prism Plastics, Inc.
Richard Friedberg Stamps
Business Sponsor: Shafer Law Firm, P.C.
Community Supporters: Meadville Plate Glass & Pfeffer Insurance Agency, Inc.
Crawford County CASA "Champions for Children" event
CASA would like to take a moment to thank everyone for their continued support of the CASA program. Because of you we are able to provide CASA volunteers as the voice for abused and neglected children in our community. Everyday more and more children enter the Child Welfare system, these children deserve to have that one constant person during the toughest time in their lives. You do make a difference!
So thank you!