The following is Mary Ellen’s story, which marked the beginning of a world-wide crusade to save children.It is extracted from American Humane Society, Helping in Child Protective Services: A Competency-Based Casework Handbook.
Family correspondence and other accounts reveal that the court placed Mary Ellen in an institutional shelter for adolescent girls.
Believing this to be an inappropriate setting for the 10-year-old, Ms. Judge Lawrence gave her permission to place the child with her own mother, Sally Angell, in northern New York. Angell died, Etta Wheeler’s youngest sister, Elizabeth, and her husband Darius Spencer, raised Mary Ellen.
I do not want to go back to live with mamma, because she beats me so.
I have no recollection ever being on the street in my life” Mary Ellen, April 10, 1874 in Watkins, 1990)., provided for by Section 65 of the Habeas Corpus Act, to bring Mary Ellen under court control.
The Connolly's soon moved to another tenement, but in 1874, one of their original neighbors asked Etta Angell Wheeler, a caring Methodist mission worker who visited the impoverished residents of the tenements regularly, to check on the child. Bergh stated that his action was “that of a human citizen,” clarifying that he was not acting in his official capacity as president of the NYSPCA.