How many times have you strolled through the vendors at the Oil Festival? Reclined in a chair while taking in the sweet sounds of a concert in the park? Honored veterans at the memorial on the corner of Washington and Central and appreciated what a great place we live in? Chances are, you have done one or more of these things and enjoyed the green space in Scheide Park. But, do you know how Scheide Park came to be? Read on to find out!
Scheide Park is named for William T. Scheide and Ida Hinsdale Scheide. It was gifted to the city in February 1930 by their children, John H. Scheide and Gertrude Scheide Caldwell. John and Gertrude bought almost all the property in the block between Central Avenue, Perry, Washington, and Spring Streets. The exception was the Second National Bank building, also known as the Park Building, which is still standing today and houses businesses including Tranquil Moments Massage, Edward Jones, and Rep. Kathy Rapp’s office. They resolved to remodel the building and keep it.
At that time, the Free Methodist Church was on the corner of Perry Street and Central Avenue. That property was purchased and the building razed after the church
found a new location.
All the buildings in the block were razed and the land was graded and landscaped by W.A. Murdoch. Not only did the Scheides beautify a downtrodden section of town, they also provided a great deal of employment for locals in construction during the beginning of the Great Depression. Consequently, just like their parents, the Scheide children invested large sums of money into the town and its people.
John Scheide and Gertrude Scheide Caldwell wrote the following in the Titusville Herald when presenting the gift of the park to the City of Titusville:
“Mindful of the affection which our parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. William T. Scheide, had for the city of Titusville, which was their home for many years, it seemed to us proper that this affection should now be expressed in some tangible form; and in memory of them and in their behalf, we offer to the city of Titusville a public park comprised of all the property in the block bounded by Central Avenue, Perry, Washington, and Spring Streets, except that owned by the Second National bank and by the Free Methodist Church” (February 18, 1930).
The Scheide children stipulated that the park be called Colonel Drake Park and the city accepted that name for some years. However, local residents wished it to be named after the generous family for whom it was created and who created it. After a public petition, the city changed the name of the park to Scheide Park in September 1939. Though the Scheides did not want to change the name, ultimately town sentiment prevailed and it has been known as Scheide Park ever since.
Who were the Scheides?
Ida Hinsdale Scheide was born Ida Hinsdale on December 17, 1850 in Delphi Falls, New York. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Hinsdale whose family originated in Dedham, Massachusetts. Noted pioneers, the Hinsdale family came to a fledgling America early in its history, settling in the colony in 1636. Scheide came to Titusville in 1881, the wife of William Scheide. The couple had two children: John and Gertrude. During her time in the Oil Region, Scheide was intimately involved in civic work and was called one of Titusville’s “most influential women and public-spirited citizens.”
Her resume was astounding. She acted as Treasurer of Missionary Funds in the Women’s Society of the Presbyterian Church; co-founded and was charter member of the Titusville Woman’s Club; was a director of the State Federation of Pennsylvania Women (the state organizing body of all women’s clubs); a director of Associated Charities; a member of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Titusville Hospital; and donated a great deal of money to women’s causes and charities.
Scheide was also interested in anti-tuberculosis work in Northwestern Pennsylvania and devoted time and money to these efforts. She was known as someone who would always lend a hand to someone in need. Scheide was a political woman. She actively promoted public education in Titusville and campaigned for a woman to be elected to the school board. Annette Grumbine was the first woman elected to the Titusville School Board, due in large part to the efforts of Ida Scheide. Grumbine ran on the Republican and Prohibition tickets in 1921 and by 1922 was the president of the school board.
Ida Scheide died on September 19, 1921 at the age of seventy. Even in death, her memory stood as the standard for democracy and morality in Titusville. (TH September 20, 1921)
William Taylor Scheide was born April 20, 1847 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was an oil producer and dealer who made his fortune at a young age in the Tidioute area as the general manager of the United Pipelines Division of the National Transit Company. He was friends with the Rockefellers and involved in Standard Oil.
Scheide retired in 1889, shortly after moving to Titusville in 1881. He was known as a well-read man who particularly enjoyed science and history. He maintained one of the best rare book libraries in the world, which was eventually given to Princeton University by his grandson. Scheide was the board chairman of Benson Memorial Library and helped grow the collections with his own finances. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and a generous donor to a variety of local causes. He died on October 26, 1907. (TH October 28, 1907)
The house at 221 North Washington Street where a number of Scheides made their home over the years is now being rehabilitated by the Oil Region Alliance. The Scheide family made many contributions to the Titusville area through multiple generations. Thanks to their generosity and willingness to work for the benefit of all, almost ninety years later we still have a public park where our community grows stronger and neighbors become friends.