The main building of the Williamson Trade School in Middletown about 1908.
The School was founded in 1888 from the will of Philadelphia merchant, Isaiah V. Williamson. Williamson wanted to start a school that taught the "Trades", carpentry, plumbing etc. In 1900 the students revolted against the administration at the school, because there was not enough trade instruction and too much temperance aka not to drink instruction. SERIOUS
April 9, 1900 – CHESTER TIMES
WILLIAMSON BOYS ENTER A PROTEST – Students of the Free Trade School Are in Open Revolt – An Appeal to the Public
There is a good deal of speculation as to the result of the resignation of Lieutenant Robert Crawford as superintendent of the Williamson School. Half of the students are in open revolt over the matter. They visited Philadelphia in a body on Saturday afternoon and filed their protests with the different Philadelphia papers.
They demanded the re-instatement of Mr. Crawford and the removal of President John M. Shrigley and Harry A. Bitting, who, in all probability, will succeed Lieutenant Crawford.
The boys complain that John M. Shrigley, president of the school, is defeating the objects for which in institution was founded by the late Isaiah V. Williamson, by giving temperance lectures instead of instruction in mechanics, and that Mr. Shrigley’s peaceful sentiments lead him to banish everything patriotic from the school, including the Stars and Stripes from the campus, and the pictures of the country’s great men.
PROTEST OF THE BOYS – The following is the boys’ appeal to the public: We are students at the Williamson Trade School. At present we are surrounded with great sorrow over the forced resignation of our able superintendent, Robert Crawford. We entertained the Williamson School with the understanding that we should be taught a mechanical trade, but under the rule of President John M. Shrigley, trade construction has been made a matter of secondary importance, while instruction in temperance has been made a matter of primary importance, until we are tired of being compelled to listen to long-winded discussions of the subject, being almost made to believe that all men are the low brutes of the slums, rather than the exalted creatures God intended them to be. Mr. Shrigley’s declared purpose is to make us “temperance boys,” whether we become what we went to the school for or not. This is evidenced by the oft-repeated remarks: “I would rather give one Loyal Temperance Legion diploma than six, ten or a dozen diplomas for proficiency in trade work.” We believe that Williamson School is a public institution, and that the public has a right to see that we have removed from the head of our institution such incompetency as exists in President Shrigley, who manifests no interest in our trade work and academic studies who has not once, during our entire course, so much as asked us how we are getting along and Assistant Superintendent Bitting, whose knowledge of the English language and scientific and practical branches is, indeed, very limited.
One would judge from Mr. Shrigley’s manner that we are a lot of young reprobates who should be in a reformatory, yet the fact remains that we come from good Christian homes.
WANT BETTER TREATMENT – We wish it understood that it is not our desire to strike a blow at good cause, such as temperance, but we do wish to be treated as reasonable beings.
Mr. Crawford’s ambition has been to make us good mechanics and loyal American citizens, and this ambition has caused President Shrigley in the name of the trustees to call for his resignation.
The public of Philadelphia is too well acquainted with Mr. Crawford, through his connection with the Spring Garden Institute and Manual Training School, to believe any such trash as is put before them by President Shrigley.
Mr. Shrigley’s desire seems to be diametrically opposed to Mr. Crawford’s as displayed by his abolishing the American flag from the grounds to our great disgust, and extolling the merits of the country’s enemies by placing or causing to be placed on the school bulletin board their pictures and refusing to allow to remain the likenesses of America’s greatest men, declaring that he intended to control the politics of the school bulletin.
It seems that any man who appears to suffer at the sight of the Stars and Stripes does not deserve the protection of the United States Government. After the removal of the flag pole the boys erected one of the campus. Inside of twenty-four hours it was prostrate on the ground, with the flag on it, by order of Mr. Shrigley. We are sorry to inform the public that Mr. Shrigley is a member of the Universal Peace Union.