Several of Pearl’s many facets are displayed in these three newspaper articles – her debutante party, a local benefit performance, and the death of her father.
The debtutante party can be seen as a sort of Downton-Abbey-on-the Ohio event, and a few things might need explanation for the modern visitor. Etiquette required that the eldest daughter be referred to without a first name (unlike younger daughters), and “toilet” referred not to plumbing, but as an alternative to “toilette,” the society term for one’s clothing.
The article on the benefit performance doesn’t indicate why a benefit was needed. The number of different acts must have made for an extremely long program.
Her father’s obituary includes a glimpse of his political career, in which it appears he was drafted for public office mainly because he had shown no interest in it.
Springfield Daily Republic, Sunday, December 26, 1886
Thursday’s Cincinnati Commercial Gazette devotes a great deal of space to an artistically written account of a social event in which Springfield will be warmly interested. It describes the debut socially of Miss Pearl Means, of Yellow Springs, a young lady greatly admired and well-known in this city. The account says:
“The parties which follow that given by Mr. and Mrs. William Means last night at the Queen City club, to introduce their daughter Miss Pearl, must be very superb indeed not to suffer by comparison. The entire south wing of the spacious clubhouse was en fete for the occasion, the state dining-room being used for the reception. The stair-case and corridors were lined with rare foliage plants, and groups of palms here and there formed attractive flirtation corners for the sentimentally inclined.
The hours were from 9 to 12 and 10 o’clock found the spacious reception-room filled with a brilliant company making the tour of presentation—the reception line included Mr. and Mrs. Means, Miss Means, Miss Pearl Means, Miss Sawyer, Miss Neff. Mrs. Means wore a magnificent toilette of white brocade and Spanish point. The train of satin, the petticoat veiled in masses of filmy lace. The square bodice was veiled in superb lace, and about her throat she wore a superb pendant of diamonds. Mrs. Means is a woman of very distinguished presence, and possesses in a marked degree what the French call the grand manner—and never has the superb hospitality of the Queen City been dispensed with more perfect or more courtly hospitality.
“Miss Means was very handsome in a train of rose-colored brocade, the flowers of which were in gold, amber and bronze relief, over a petticoat of point duchesse flounces and carried an immense bouquet of crimson roses.
“Miss Pearl, the debutante, in a charming white satin frock, with draperies of embroidered muslin de soie, carried two superb bouquets of rosebuds and lilies of the valley, and was looking radiant. She has a very delicate face, a perfect figure and brilliant color, and is pronounced by all the old beaux, from whose dictum there is no appeal, to be the prettiest debutante in years.
“Miss Sawyer is a very pretty Boston girl, who is going further West to pass the winter with relatives, and charmed all who met her by her graceful cordiality. She wore a lovely decollete toilet of white satin, veiled in voluminous draperies of dewdrop toile, with diamonds in her beautiful fair hair. Her bouquet also was of roses. Miss Neff was very handsome in a gown of white silk with lace draperies, and she, too, carried a great cluster of rosebuds, and was the center of an admiring circle the entire evening.
“There was delicious music and a little dancing, but it was pre-eminently a reception, and approached more nearly to the beautiful Delmonico parties than anything that we have seen in this city.”
After giving a description of the toilets and a list of the guests, among whom was the elite of Cincinnati, her suburbs, and, indeed, of the state, including such notables as Archbishop Elder, Marat Halstead, ex-Governor Hoadly and their ladies, the account concludes:
“Mrs. Means and daughter leave tomorrow for their county place, “The Woods” at Yellow Springs, and will return to the Grand after the holidays, when they will be at home on Thursdays.
Springfield Daily Republic, June 15, 1887
Given for the Benefit of the Summer Street Church at the Wigwam Last Night
A large audience listened to the concert and literary entertainment given at the wigwam last night by members of and for the benefit of the Summer street church (colored). A fine programme of music and recitations was rendered in a very meritorious manner, and received hearty applause. The programme was as follows:
Opening Chorus………………………………..Only an Emigrant
Address…………………Miss Pearl Means
Vocal Solo—“I[‘ll Await My Love.”………Miss Anna James
Dialogue……Misses Stella Alfred, Emma Donnelly and Addie Clemmings
Address—“Moving.”…Miss Ella Rose
Solo—“Robin Is Dead.”…..Miss Stella Alfred
Quaker Duet…..Mrs. M. Alfred and M. J. Coleman
Dialogue—“My Best Friend.”…..Masters Afred and Rose
Scenes in Wedded Life…..Mrs. Speaks and R. Walker
Addess—“Who M de the Speech?”…..Miss Mattie Donnelly
Recitation—“The Old Market Woman.”…..Miss Stella Alfred
Solo—“Dear Robin, I’ll Be True.”……Miss E. Ward
Dialogue—“Aunt Jemima’s Money.”……S Speaks and M. Alfred
Song and Chorus—Nellie Raking the Hay.”…..Messrs. Logan and Clemman, Mrs. James and Miss Ward
Solo—“Beggar Girl.”……Miss Pearl Means
Quartette—“Don’t Forget to Write Me, Darling.”……
Recitation—“My new Toy.”…..Master Alfred Burt
Solo—“Biddy McGee.”……Mr. W. Jones
Solo—Spring Time and Robins Have Come.”……Mrs. J. Sparks and Mr. R. Walker
Harmonies and Guitar……Messrs. James and Coleman
Solo—“Spider and the Fly.”……Miss Stella Alfred
All the numbers in the above programme were well received and some were of unusual excellence.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 29, 1921
Watches at Bedside
When William Means Dies at Yellow Springs Home.
Former Mayor of Cincinnati Father of Mrs. W. A> Julian, Reach Age of Ninety.
William Means, 90 years old, former Mayor of Cincinnati, died at his home in Yellow Springs, Ohio, yesterday morning. One of his three daughters, Miss Pearl Means, was at his side when the end came.
Although Mr. Means had been in failing health for several years his death came as a shock, as physicians had assured another of his daughters, Mrs. W. A. Julian, of East Auburn avenue, Cincinnati, when she sailed last Tuesday for Europe with her husband, W. A. Julian, shoe manufacturer and Democratic candidate for United States Senator at the last election, that her father was not in immediate danger.
Besides Miss Means and Mrs. Julian another daughter, Mrs. Pattie McElroy, of New York, survives him.
William Means was the son of Thomas W. and Sarah (Ellison) Means, of Lawrence County, Ohio, where he was born in 1832.
His father was an early settler, who came from South Carolina, and who was success in business and prominence in public affairs. He became active in iron before that inidustry was centralized around Pittsburg, and acquired the controlling interests in banks in Ironton, Ohio, and Ashland, Ky.
In his early years William Means became identified with his father’s iron and steel business and represented them in this market, passing so much time in Cincinnati that he made it his permanent home in the early seventies.
Here he also became associated with a Cincinnati bank and was prominent in Change, being elected Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce before an unusual turn of city administrative affairs lured him into politics.
When the more liberal element of the Republican party became dissatisfied with the policies of Mayor Charles Jacob, Jr., who had been elected to a two-year term in 1878, they let it be understood that they would support the opposition if a satisfactory nomination were made for the succession. Mr. Means was then a member of a coterie, largely Democratic, who lunched at the hotel at which he resided. He was a Democrat, but the fact that he had previously taken little active part in party contests induced this coterie to urge his nomination. After much hesitation he consented and was nominated.
The contest was spirited, but he defeated May Jacob for re-election on April 4, 1881, by a majority of less than 1,500 out of 45,000 votes, which was an unusually heavy poll of the citizenry.
Mayor Means’s administration of the city’s affairs was clean, conservative and efficient. His promised reforms were put into execution and carried out to the extent that he felt the purpose of his election had been achieved and steadfastly declined renomination.
After retirement from the Mayoralty he resumed his business activities, until approaching years prompted his retirement, when he purchased an estate at Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he had made his home.
For 40 years, while a resident of Cincinnati, Mr. Means maintained a summer home in Yellow Springs and a few years ago he went there to pass the remainder of his life.
Recently 20 acres of the estate were sold to the trustees of Antioch College for the purpose of establishing homes for Antioch faculty members.
Burial will be at Ironton, Ohio, but arrangements for the services will not be completed until relatives can get into wireless communication with Mrs. Julian.