In a previous blog, I provided a brief introduction to the lineage of Robert W. de Forest, the first president of The Provident Loan Society. His family was among the first Walloon emigrants to settle in NYC in 1637. An industrious group, they prospered as tobacco farmers, malt liquor brewers, shipping merchants, and businessmen, and three members were captains in the Continental Army.
Robert W. de Forest was himself a successful lawyer and married the daughter of a wealthy businessman, who gave them a Washington Square Park townhouse as a wedding gift.
Tom Klem, In-House Historian & Archivist
Provident Loan Society
In the 1910 auction catalog of the Provident Loan Society, there were unredeemed items that you would expect, such as diamond rings and gold chains, but what stories do some other items seem to tell us?
What was it like to live and survive in New York City in 1910? Tenement housing was not regulated or inspected. “Anything goes” was the rule. Toilets and water were in the alley outside the buildings. In 1903, Work magazine reported, “Today it is said that nine-tenths of the population of Manhattan Island are dwellers in tenements, and that one-half of them move from one to six times a year.”
By Julia Martyn
The Provident Loan Society has always put the customer first, going back to their first customer in 1894.
The Provident Loan Society has an interesting history, from its birth amidst the financial panic of 1893, all the way up to its current five location expansion. A lot has changed throughout their 150 years, but one thing has remained the same: the Provident Loan Society has never strayed from being the consumer watchdog over New York.
A Pioneering Heritage
The Provident Loan Society’s first president, Robert Weeks de Forest, came from a family of adventurous (and prosperous) pioneers. He was born on April 25, 1848 in Greenwich Village, New York, and is a direct descendant of Jessé de Forest, a French Huguenot and leader of the Walloon emigrants who first settled what was then called New Amsterdam.
The de Forest family patriarch is remembered for his role in founding New York City by the Walloon Settlers Monument, a commemorative monolith in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park that was given to New York City by the people of France.
Frederic Beach Jennings was born on August 6, 1853, in Old Bennington, Vermont, the son of Reverend Isaac and Sophia Day Jennings. He graduated from Williams College with high honors in 1872, and from Harvard Law School in 1874. (more…)