We are slowly beginning to put together details about Edward Otis Bartlett, the commissioner of the American Red Cross who, in 1920, had Palazzo Santarelli and its garden bought for the population of San Frediano, with Red Cross funds, leaving implementation of the deed in the hands of his friend, the antiquarian Carlo-Matteo Girard and the lawyer, Umberto Nidiaci.
Finding information on E.O. Bartlett is made difficult by the fact that there appear to have been several prominent Americans with this name at the turn of the century.
Rev. Edward Otis Bartlett (1835-1909), born in Utica NY, served as chaplain in the Civil War and then as congregationalist pastor in Providence. He had a second son, Edward Otis Bartlett jr., who appears to be our man, born in Providence on August 10, 1871 or 1872, according to different sources. His relatives added this information:
“Graduated Brown 1891. Was a speaker at commencement and his names stands first in the list of special honors for 1891. German, Married 6/17/1897 to Louise Chapin Ward, daughter of r. and Mrs. Henry Sanford Ward. Major Edward O. Bartlett was decorated with the Knight of the Italian Crown [Ordine della Corona d’Italia] for service under the Red Cross in Italy.
E.O. Bartlett Jr began his career in Italy as a volunteer driver for the American Field Service (entering in October 1915), before moving on to the Red Cross.”
October 1915 was a year and a half before the United States officially entered the war.
The American Field Service (AFS) still exists, though its mission has changed – since WWII, it has been concentrating on intercultural activities and student exchange.
The AFS contacted us, and has been extremely helpful. Providing us for example, free of charge with our first two photos of E.O. Bartlett.
The first is taken from The Friends of France, the publication of an organization established before the US entered the war, to provide succour to the wounded.
The second picture – taken by an unknown French army photographer – shows ambulance drivers after lunch, in the AFS offices of Rue Raynouard 21, some time during the war. E.O. Bartlett is the first on the left.