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RVA Legends — Good Luck! Part 4

A look into the history of Richmond places and people that have disappeared from our landscape.

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This is where the story gets ugly. Enter William Ziegler, and the internecine activities of the Royal Baking Powder Company.

(LOC) — Daily Press — April 8, 1905

Egbert G. Leigh, Jr. took Southern Manufacturing Company to an industry-leading position from the manufacture and sale of Good Luck Baking Powder, using an alum-based formula.

Only, the baking powder makers using the original Cream of Tatar-based formula Were Not Amused. Quite the opposite, and the dirty tricks they used to fight back are part of the reason we have the Federal Trade Commission today.

Two companies, both named Royal, dominated the market. One firm was owned by William Ziegler, the other by the Hoagland family. When a lawsuit was unable to determine which company was entitled to the name, the companies merged, becoming the Royal Baking Powder Company. [POP]

Ziegler gained a controlling interest, and eventually acquired other smaller baking powder firms.

He combined in a trust, the Cleveland, Price, and Royal cream of tartar companies; their separate capitalization amounted to something over one million. The trust was capitalized at $20,000,000. [BPC1]

The firm soon faced competition from new companies that used tartaric acid, calcium acid phosphate, aluminum phosphate, and sodium aluminum sulfate as the acids in their preparations. These products were called alum powders, even though they did not actually contain alum. They were cheaper to make and frequently sold for one-fifth the price of Royal’s cream of tartar powders. Royal dominated the cream of tartar industry but was facing over 500 competitors that made alum powders. [POP]

(LOC) — New-York Tribune — May 14, 1905

Ziegler chose not to play nice, fighting to sustain a monopolistic advantage. First, there was an advertising campaign, meant to drive home two specific points, namely that

  • Royal Baking Powder was a wholesome, natural food, just the thing that a sensible housewife would want in the household to feed the family
  • Alum-based baking powder was harmful, unhealthy, and dangerous

He began the war by hiring chemists to give “expert opinions” against alum and for cream of tartar. The alum people, in alarm had to hire chemists to give opposite opinions for alum and against cream of tartar. What the merits of the chemical controversy are, no man can decide now. Hundreds of “eminent scientific men,” chemists, physiologists, and doctors of medicine, have taken part in it and there are respectable authorities on both sides. The Royal’s array of experts, who say “alum is bad,” is the greater, and they are right as to “alum in food.”

(LOC) — The Williams News — October 19, 1916

But that is a trick phrase. The alum people say, and truly, that the alum in baking powder disappears in the bread, just as cream of tartar does, and that the whole question resolves itself into the effects on the human system of what is left. In the case of the alum, the residuum is hydrate of aluminium, of which Dr. Austin Flint, who experimented with Prof. Peter F. Austin and Dr. E. E. Smith*, says that it “is inert; has no effect upon the secretion of gastric juice, nor does it interfere with digestion; and it has no medicinal effects.” On the other hand, the alum party say that the residuum of cream of tartar powder is ‘Rochelle salts, an irritant drug with purgative qualities.“ This the Royal overwhelmed with testimony, but Ziegler does not believe much in defense, he attacks. His was a war on “impure food,” and his slogan was short and sharp; “alum, a poison.” That was all. [BPC1]

[BPC2] — The Ketallers’ Journal — July 1, 1899

It went a lot further than shock advertising. Ziegler aggressively pursued changes in the laws of several states to create Pure Food Acts, which specifically excluded the use of alum powders.

In the State of Virginia the assault was made so acutely and so sharply that the legislature turned around, and when they passed a pure-food bill they put in an express provision that alum baking powder should be excluded from the operation of the law. The legislature of Virginia was amazed at the audacity of a corporation which would dare to press such a proposition. [BPC1]

But pass it they did, and not just in Virginia. Caught flat-footed, the alum baking powder makers, including Southern Manufacturing, formed the American Baking Powder Association in self-defense.

[BPC1] — 1904

Mr. Morrison states that the cream of tartar baking powder people succeeded in passing a law in Missouri which would throw 31 alum factories out of business. The bill was passed without the knowledge of the alum baking powder manufacturers. Since that time every legislature which has met has had the bill presented to it, but the American Baking Powder Association has always shown its purpose, and has in every case been successful in defeating it. In the Virginia pure food law a provision was inserted that alum baking powder should be excluded from the operation of the law. Mr. Udell says the animus behind every bill introduced into State legislatures, so far as he knows, has been to strike down industries not controlled by the Baking Powder Trust. [BPC1]

The gloves were off, and it would get worse still.

(exciting conclusion to follow!) (read part 3)


Sources

  • [BPC1] The Baking Powder Controversy, Volume I. A. Cressy Morrison. American Baking Powder Association. 1904.
  • [BPC2] The Baking Powder Controversy, Volume II. A. Cressy Morrison. American Baking Powder Association. 1904.
  • [POP] The Politics of Purity: Harvey Washington Wiley and the Origins of Federal Food Policy. Clayton Anderson Coppin and Jack C. High. 1999.

* Dr. E.E. Smith is better known to science fiction fans as E.E. “Doc” Smith, quintessential author of the Space Opera, including the Lensman and Skylark of Space series.


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Community

Library of Virginia Honors Deaf History Month With a Talk and Exhibition on the History of a Shenandoah County Deaf Village and Shared Signing Community

Between 1740 and 1970, Lantz Mills, Virginia, was home to many families with a mix of hearing and deaf parents and at least one or more deaf siblings.

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In honor of April as Deaf History Month, the Library of Virginia will present a talk on April 22 and a traveling panel exhibition running April 1–30 on the history of the Lantz Mills deaf village and shared signing community in Shenandoah County, Virginia. Both are free.

Between 1740 and 1970, Lantz Mills, Virginia, was home to many families with a mix of hearing and deaf parents and at least one or more deaf siblings. When both the hearing and deaf members of a locality use a shared visual language to communicate, that is known as a shared signing community. Those familiar with deaf culture may know that Martha’s Vineyard, the island off Massachusetts, was home to a shared signing community where 25% of the population was deaf. But few know that Virginia had a deaf village and shared signing community in Shenandoah County.

The Lantz Mills Deaf Village panel exhibition has appeared at Shenandoah County Public Library and the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People. It will visit the Eastern Shore Public Library in June. The exhibition is available for display at public libraries and other cultural facilities. For more information, contact Barbara Batson at [email protected] or 804.692.3721.

The talk and exhibition are made possible in part with federal funding provided through the Library Services and Technology Act administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. For more information about the commonwealth’s deaf culture, visit the Virginia Deaf Culture Digital Library at https://deaflibva.org.

DEAF HISTORY MONTH TALK | The Lantz Mills Shared Signing Community
Saturday, April 22, 2023 | 10:00–11:00 a.m. | Free
Place: Lecture Hall, Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad St., Richmond, VA 23219
Registration suggested: https://lva-virginia.libcal.com/event/10478065

In honor of Deaf History Month, the Library presents a talk exploring the history of the Lantz Mills deaf village in Shenandoah County, Virginia, by deaf historian and advocate Kathleen Brockway, who is also a Lantz Mills deaf village descendant.

DEAF HISTORY MONTH PANEL EXHIBITION | Lantz Mills Deaf Village
April 1–30, 2023 | Monday–Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. | Free
Place: Lobby & Pre-function Hall, Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad St., Richmond, VA 23219

In honor of Deaf History Month, the Library presents a panel exhibition exploring the history of the Lantz Mills deaf village in Shenandoah County, Virginia. This six-panel traveling exhibition features the history of prominent deaf villagers such as the Hollar and Christian families, deaf members’ involvement in local businesses, and even a budding romance within the community. Each panel includes a QR code that links to ASL interpretation of the text featured. A booklet about the topic written by deaf historian and Lantz Mills deaf village descendant Kathleen Brockway will be available to exhibition visitors while supplies last.

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Feds identify ‘significant’ ongoing concerns with Virginia special education

After failing to meet federal requirements to support students with disabilities in 2020, the Virginia Department of Education will remain under further review by the federal government after continuing to fall short in monitoring and responding to complaints against school districts, according to a letter from the U.S. Department of Education.

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By Nathaniel Cline

After failing to meet federal requirements to support students with disabilities in 2020, the Virginia Department of Education will remain under further review by the federal government after continuing to fall short in monitoring and responding to complaints against school districts, according to a letter from the U.S. Department of Education.

“We have significant new or continued areas of concerns with the State’s implementation of general supervision, dispute resolution, and confidentiality requirements” of IDEA, stated the Feb. 17 letter from the Office of Special Education Programs.

The U.S. Department of Education first flagged its concerns in a June 2020 “Differentiated Monitoring and Support Report” on how Virginia was complying with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, following a 2019 visit by the Office of Special Education Programs.

IDEA, passed in 1975, requires all students with disabilities to receive a “free appropriate public education.”

The Virginia Department of Education disputed some of the federal government’s findings in a June 19, 2020 letter.

Samantha Hollins, assistant superintendent of special education and student services, wrote that verbal complaints “are addressed via technical assistance phone calls to school divisions” and staff members “regularly work to resolve parent concerns” by providing “guidance documentation” and acting as intermediaries between school employees and parents.

However, some parents and advocates say systemic problems in how the state supports families of children with disabilities persist. At the same time, a June 15, 2022 state report found one of Virginia’s most critical teacher shortage areas is in special education.

“Appropriate policies and procedures for both oversight and compliance, and their implementation, are crucial to ensuring that children with disabilities and their families are afforded their rights under IDEA and that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is provided,” said the Feb. 17 letter from the Office of Special Education Programs.

While the U.S. Department of Education wrote that it believes the Virginia Department of Education has resolved some of the problems identified in 2020, including resolving complaints filed by parents and creating a mediation plan, it said it has identified “new and continued areas of concern” and intends to continue monitoring Virginia’s provision of services for students with disabilities.

Among those are ongoing concerns over the state’s complaint and due process systems that “go beyond the originally identified concerns” originally found. The Office of Special Education Programs writes it has concluded Virginia “does not have procedures and practices that are reasonably designed to ensure a timely resolution process” for due process complaints.

The department also said it has concerns over the practices of at least five school districts that are inconsistent with IDEA’s regulations.

The decision comes after the U.S. Department of Education announced in November that Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia’s largest school district, failed to provide thousands of students with disabilities with the educational services they were entitled to during remote learning at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia is also facing a federal class-action lawsuit over claims that its Department of Education and Fairfax County Public Schools violated the rights of disabled students under IDEA.

Parents involved in the case said the Virginia Department of Education and Fairfax school board “have actively cultivated an unfair and biased” hearing system to oversee challenges to local decisions about disabled students, according to the suit.

Charles Pyle, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education, said in an email that “VDOE continues to work with our federal partners to ensure Virginia’s compliance with all federal requirements, as we have since the ‘Differentiated Monitoring and Support Report’ was issued in June 2020.”

The federal government said if Virginia could not demonstrate full compliance with IDEA requirements, it could impose conditions on grant funds the state receives to support early intervention and special education services for children with disabilities and their families.

Last year, Virginia received almost $13.5 billion in various grants linked to IDEA, according to a July 1, 2022 letter to former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow, who resigned on March 9.

James Fedderman, president of the Virginia Education Association, blasted Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration after the findings were released.

“While the Youngkin administration has been busy waging culture wars in schools, his administration has failed to meet basic compliance requirements with the U.S. Department of Education for students with disabilities,” Fedderman said. “This failure threatens our federal funding for students with disabilities and is a disservice to Virginia families who need critical special needs support.”

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Downtown

Richmond 911 callers can soon provide feedback on calls for service via text message

Beginning March 20, those who call 911 with some types of non-life-threatening emergencies will receive a text message within hours or a day after the call with a short survey about the service they received on the call.

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Some 911 callers in Richmond will begin to receive follow-up text messages next week asking for their ranking of the service they received and additional information.

Beginning March 20, those who call 911 with some types of non-life-threatening emergencies will receive a text message within hours or a day after the call with a short survey about the service they received on the call.

The Richmond Department of Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response is using the feedback from callers as another way to ensure that it is continuing to deliver excellent emergency services to Richmond.

“It is very important that those who receive the text message answer the questions as accurately as possible, based on the service they received on the call, not on the response from first responders with different agencies,” said Director Stephen Willoughby. “We use the feedback that callers provide to monitor and improve our 911 services to Richmond residents and visitors, as well as the other measurements of service that we have in place.”

Those who would like to offer feedback, but do not receive a text message, are encouraged to email [email protected] or call 804-646-5911. More information about offering commendations or filing a complaint is on the department’s website athttps://www.rva.gov/911/comments. In addition, the department conducts a full survey of adults who live, work and study in Richmond every two years. More information about those surveys and results are at https://www.rva.gov/911/community-outreach.

The Department of Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response is using a third-party vendor, PowerEngage, to send the text-message surveys and report the results. Text messages may be sent for other uses in the future.

More information about the text-message surveys, from the news release:

  • The answers that callers provide in the text message have no effect on the service provided to that caller.
  • Callers who do not want to participate in the text-message survey would simply not respond to the text message. They also may reply STOP to opt out of future text surveys from DECPR.
  • Callers should not use the surveys to report any other emergency or request help. They would need to call or text 911 for immediate help. To file a police report or request nonemergency public safety help, call 804-646-5100. For other city services, call 311, visit rva311.com or use the RVA311 app.
  • Those who have further questions or would like to request a call-back from a staff member about the survey or their experiences, may email [email protected].
  • More information about the after-call survey is at https://www.rva.gov/911/survey.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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