Lydia and David D. Schouler had a remarkable dog.
Trained to take the streetcar to downtown Winston, it carried a coin in its mouth for fare. It rode to D.D. Schouler’s Department Store each day to deliver his lunch. The store, located on Liberty Street, was a Winston retail staple from 1883 until 1906 when the couple retired. Twenty years later, Lydia left $10,000 to The Winston-Salem Foundation, “To be used to organize a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, to be known as the D.D. Schouler Society.”
The Forsyth County Humane Society counts that moment as its inception.
It’s difficult to know much of Lydia’s life. She was born between 1865 and 1875, probably in July, to Lydia A. Wiswall on Long Beach Island, New York. Her father may have been a French immigrant named Samuel Corneille but records are nearly non-existent on him. What is known is that she worked as a milliner at D.D. Schouler’s Department store and, on Sept. 23, 1891, she married Schouler, a man at least 17 years her senior and very successful. They lived on Main Street in Salem before moving to the suburbs. Lydia was an active part of the cities’ elite circles and hosted dinners, whist games, and club meetings while filling a very traditional role for a businessman’s wife at that time.
But she also “had charge” of the millinery department and accompanied her husband on buying trips. Left unexpectedly widowed in December 1910, she maintained and increased the real estate holdings she and her husband had accumulated. She continued to be involved with charitable activities in Winston-Salem and New York, where the couple had maintained a second home. In 1919, as WWI drew to an end, family friend and county Red Cross chair, Henry Fries, asked her to head the county’s used clothing collections for the millions of Europeans left with nothing after four war-ravaged years.
Her will bequeathed $5,000 to St. Paul’s Church in Winston-Salem to care for the poor, the Salem Home for Aged People, many family members and former employees, and servants.
And, not only did she establish the animal shelter here, she also set up a fund for a shelter in New York City in honor of “Fluffy Schouler,” presumably another pet.