On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 1917
There will be fair skies over the city today with slightly warmer temperatures. Today’s high will be near 56° with tonight’s low around 36°.
All Philadelphia is shocked by the news of the death of state senator James P. “Sunny Jim” McNichol. Senator McNichol was a political powerhouse in this city who was often allied with U.S. Senator Boies Penrose against the Vare-Smith faction of the Republican Party. Mr. McNichol (shown below) died this morning at the home of his son William at 1637 Race Street. Although he had been ill lately with heart disease he seemed to be recovering his strength. His family physician stated his death was due to a heart attack. He also added that the senator’s many years of cigar smoking contributed to his heart disease. Mr. McNichol was 53 years old and is survived by his wife Margaret and 12 children including a 2 month old son, Robert.
Senator McNichol’s passing was met with surprise and grief by his friends and supporters and even by his political opponents. One of those opponents’, state senator Edwin Vare said this afternoon that Mr. McNichol was “a fine, clean, upright man … with the highest moral qualities”. He added that although they were political rivals he considered Mr. McNichol a close personal friend. Congressman William Vare also voiced his admiration for the senator as did Mayor Smith.
Senator McNichol was born on July 3, 1864 to an Irish-American family of modest circumstances in the 10th Ward. He attended Northeast High School and then went to Pierce Business College. After school he entered his father’s construction business. Sometime later he opened his own construction company and built it into a successful business receiving many city contracts. The company presently employs 7,000 men. Eventually he found his way into politics, first in city council and then into the state senate in 1903. Funeral services for the senator will be at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on Saturday at 9:00am followed by interment in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery.
The German army under Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria attempted to retake Passchendaele today to no avail. The Prince was acting under direct orders of Field Marshal Hindenburg who said the ridge must be “taken at all costs”. In Russia the civil war continues. In Moscow troops loyal to the Kerensky government have taken the Kremlin and forced the Bolsheviks to retreat. News from Petrograd is that Premier Kerensky has entered that city and his forces have control of the telegraph offices. Supposedly the Reds under Trotsky and Lenine are deserting and surrendering to the Cossack regiments loyal to Kerensky.
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