FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: 1LT Vincent Solomeno, (732) 974-5966
March is Women's History Month
In keeping with our mission to relate the history of New Jersey's military, and the fact that March is Women's History Month, we are presenting short biographies of women whose individual stories refect the state's military history.
Clara Louise Maass was born in Newark, NJ, in 1876. The daughter of German immigrants, she was one of the first graduates of the Newark German Hospital School of Nursing and became a contract nurse to the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Maass served in hospitals at Jacksonville, Florida, Savannah, Georgia, Havana, Cuba and Manila during the subsequent Philippine Insurrection. In 1901, Maass, serving once more in Havana, volunteered to be bitten by a mosquito as part of Major William Gorgas' campaign against Yellow Fever. She contracted the disease and subsequently died. Maass' sacrifice helped convince physicians that Yellow Fever was spread by mosquito bites, leading to a program that helped eradicate the disease. Maass was buried in Newark with a full military funeral, and the German Hospital renamed as Clara Maass Memorial Hospital in her honor.
Ruth Streeter was born in 1895 in Brookline, Massachusetts, attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and then moved to Morristown, New Jersey. She was active in public health and welfare, was President of the Morris County Welfare Board, and held several statewide positions during the Depression. Streeter learned to fly and was the only woman member of the New Jersey Defense Council's Committee on Aviation. She became a licensed commercial pilot in 1942 and in 1943 the first woman to hold the rank of major in the U.S. Marine Corps. Promoted to lieutenant colonel and colonel, Streeter was the first director of the U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reserve from 1943 to 1945. Following the war, she resigned and returned to civilian life. She was awarded the Legion of Merit for her distinguished service. Marine Corps Commandant General A. A. Vandegrift wrote that Streeter "set a standard of excellence which…could not have been excelled and would be difficult to equal." Ruth Streeter died in Morristown in 1990.
"Molly Pitcher" is an iconic American heroine. Although "Molly" was a Pennsylvanian, she performed her heroics, carrying water and probably actually participating in combat as a member of an artillery crew, at the pivotal Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth Court House, which took place on June 28, 1778, across the rolling farm fields west of Freehold, New Jersey. Much of the "Molly Pitcher" legend, including the stories that her husband was killed at Monmouth and that she was actually introduced to George Washington in the battle's aftermath, are fabricated. That she existed, that her real name was Mary Hays (nee Ludwig), and that she performed service on the field at Monmouth is, however, generally accepted as fact.