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. We will also recount the events occurring in the war on that day. So, check back each day for new editions.

To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com


The predicted cold wave arrived in Philadelphia around midnight last evening and dropped the mercury almost 30 degrees. Today’s high will be about 44° with the low tonight near 29°. Many Philadelphians will be wearing carnations today in memory of the birthday of President McKinley. The wearing of the favorite flower of the martyred President on his birthday has become a tradition in this city since Mr. McKinley’s assassination in 1901.

Martin Brumbaugh, Governor of Pennsylvania, will marry Miss Flora Belle Parks (shown below) this afternoon at the Church of the Brethren, 6611 Germantown Avenue. The Governor and his bride have asked for a simple Dunkard ceremony. The wedding had been kept secret until this morning. The Governor is a widow with 2 children. The first Mrs. Brumbaugh died in June of 1914. Miss Parks is the Governor’s cousin in the 5th degree and his ward. She was also a housekeeper for the first Mrs. Brumbaugh for many years and remained in the Governor’s household after his wife’s death. The bride is 44 years old and described as a moderately tall brunette with dark eyes and somewhat stout.

1-29-1916 Flora Belle Parks Brumbaugh

On the entertainment scene this weekend there are quite a few new plays and motion pictures opening. These include at the Broad, Broad Street below Locust, the wonderful comedy “Pollyanna” staring Patricia Collinge. At the Adelphi, Broad & Cherry Street, the play that was banned in Boston “Marie-Odile” staring Frances Starr. Finally, at the Garrick, 1330 Chestnut Street, the crime dramatization “On Trial” which stars Frederick Perry opens. In motion pictures, at the Jefferson, 29th & Dauphin Streets, Holbrook Blinn stars in the melodrama “Life’s Whirlpool”. At the Orient, 62nd & Woodland Avenue, Muriel Ostriche stars in “A Circus Romance”. And at the Great Northern, intersection of Broad Street & Erie and Germantown Avenues, Willard Mack stars in “The Conqueror” a story of revenge.

On the sports beat, “Lefty” Baumgartner and Eppa Rixey are the only seasoned lefthanders on the Phillies roster. But neither player is happy with the contracts tendered to them for the 1916 season. In fact, Baumgartner has stated he will skip the season and study law at Chicago University rather than accept the contract terms offered. Hopefully, Manager Moran will be able to come to terms with these boys as well as outfielder/1st baseman Possum Whitted who has also suggested he will hold out for better terms.


Today it was announced in France that supreme power in all military decisions and operations will henceforth be given to General Joseph Joffre. In Eastern Europe, Vilnius, Lithuania which is a city of 200,000 and part of the Russian Empire is reported to be engulfed in flames. The city is presently held by the Germans. The fire has been raging for days and the large Jewish quarter, where the houses are mostly constructed of wood, has been reduced to ashes.