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Reports of the Inspectors 

HARRISBURG, September 10, 1880.

To His Excellency HENRY M. HOYT,

Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

SIR:   Although the Legislature held no session in the year 1879, the usual report of the Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans was made, placed in your hands and printed.  The present report will, therefore, cover only the year ending on the 31st day of May, 1880.


The following is a list of the schools now in operation, with their location, and the number of children in each at the close of the year;  Chester Springs, Chester county, two hundred and nineteen children; Dayton, Armstrong county, one hundred and ninety-eight children; Harford, Susquehanna county, two hundred and ten children; Lincoln Institution, Philadelphia, one hundred and eight children; Mansfield, Tioga county, two hundred and twenty-four children; McAlisterville, Juniata county, one hundred and sixty-eight children; Mercer, Mercer county, two hundred and ninety-five children; Mount Joy, Lancaster county, three hundred and twelve children; Soldiers' Orphan Institute, Philadelphia, three hundred children; Uniontown, Fayette county, one hundred and eighty-nine children; White Hall, Cumberland county, two hundred and thirty-six children; Loysville Home, Perry county, seventy children; Butler Home, Butler county, nineteen children.  Besides the children thus enumerated, there were, in scattered homes and receiving out-door relief, thirty-one others; making in all under the care of the State, two thousand five hundred and eighty.  The number at the same time last year was two thousand four hundred and thirty-one, the increase being one hundred and forty-nine.  The number September 1, 1879, was two thousand four hundred and sixty-two; the number September 1, 1880, two thousand four hundred and fifty-seven.  This number has been considerably increased by subsequent admissions.


Notwithstanding the number of children under the care of the State is greater than last year, there are, at the date of writing this report, nearly two hundred applications on file, that have been acted on and accepted, and the children are waiting admission.  They are not admitted, because the expense of those now in school will exhaust the appropriation made by the Legislature, and I am unwilling to incur a debt.  In addition, there are applications on file in the Department, from some seven hundred children, that have either been rejected or are held under consideration.  Many of these, doubtless, are deserving cases, but the evidence required to admit them under the law is either insufficient or defective.


The cost of the system for the past school year was $351,431.59, and the appropriation $360,000, leaving an unexpended balance of $8,568.41.  The whole ordinary cost of the system from the beginning to May 31, 1880, was $6,313.526.80.  The extraordinary expenditures amount to $25,395.13.


Pennsylvania furnished four hundred thousand men in the war for the suppression of the rebellion.  Of these probably fifty thousand were either killed or died in the service.  They left large numbers of orphan children in destitute circumstances.  It was for the care of such children that the orphan school system was established, and, during the earlier years of its history, no others were admitted into the schools.  Persons who have not kept themselves informed respecting the changes made by the Legislature in the laws governing the system, not unfrequently ask where the children come from who now fill the schools fifteen years after the close of the war.  They inquire:  "How can there be so many orphans of soldiers when their fathers died so long ago?"  "Is not the system being perverted from its original purpose?"  These questions should be answered.  The act of 1867 organizing the system of soldiers' orphan schools provided only for the children of soldiers who had been killed or had died in the service, and limited the admissions into school to those born before the 1st day of January, 1866.  If no subsequent laws had been passed changing these conditions, the number of children would have become so small that, in all probability, the schools would have closed before the present time.
But in addition to the fifty thousand soldiers who lost their lives during the war, at least one hundred thousand came home disabled, sick, or with the seeds of disease deeply rooted in their systems.  Many of them from the first, broken and crippled, could not earn a livelihood for their families, and others, a little more fortunate, were able to work for some years, but finally succumbed to wounds which broke out afresh, or were laid up with disease which advancing years left them less strength to resist.  In every city and town, in almost every school district throughout the whole Commonwealth there are numbers of these human wrecks, sad witnesses of the horrors of war.  In many cases they are the fathers of children--children worse off oftentimes than those whose fathers were killed in battle, and having an equal claim upon the bounty of the State.  Influenced by these benevolent and patriotic considerations, the Legislatures of 1874, 1875, 1876 and 1878, by a series of acts, finally opened the door fully for the admission into the orphan schools of all children in destitute circumstances, without regard to age, whose fathers either lost their lives in the army or were disabled or contracted disease while in the service to such an extent as to prevent them from earning a livelihood for their families or themselves.
More formally, the children now admitted under existing laws into the soldiers' orphan schools belong to three classes, as follows:
    1.  Those whose fathers were either killed or died of disease while in the army.  Of this class, probably not more than one hundred remain in all the schools.
    2.  Those whose fathers have died since the close of the war of wounds or disease contracted while in the service.  This class probably constitutes two thirds of all the children now in the schools.  They are orphans, too, made so by the war; and while they make up the bulk of the children in them, the soldiers' orphan schools are not misnamed, as some have alleged.
    3.  Those whose fathers are living, but are so disabled by wounds or disease contracted while in the army, that they are unable to support their families.
In all cases the children must be under sixteen years of age and in "destitute circumstances."
The question is now answered as to where the children come from, and it is easy to see that there will be children of classes two and three eligible to admission to the soldiers' orphan schools under existing laws, for a good many years in the future.  There are applications now on file for the admission of children one and two years of age.


There is a considerable number of acts on the statute books relating to the soldiers' orphan schools, and, as a whole, they are at some points obscure and contradictory.  The Department has along held that the admissions to the schools must be confined to the classes above named, and that no child is eligible whose father's death or disability is not directly traceable to circumstances connected with the war.  On the other hand, it is the opinion of some, among them gentlemen learned in the law, that inability to earn a livelihood or destitution, is the only condition of eligibility under the several acts.  The following is an extract from a very lengthy and able opinion given by Attorney General Lear on the subject:

"The conditions of admission to soldiers' orphans schools are, that the children must be destitute, that their fathers must have been residents of the State, and engaged in the military service of the United States, and must have died or been permanently disabled in the service.  Permanent disability from any other cause will not alone fulfill the conditions." 

This opinion confirmed the Department in its own view of the law, and the decision has been strictly adhered to.  Had it been otherwise, the system would have acquired annual appropriations at least $200,000 greater than have been made.  If the Legislature wishes the Department to be more liberal it should amend the law and provide the money.


While the applications for admission to the schools were confined to children whose fathers had lost their lives in the army, the task of deciding upon them was an easy one; but now it is often exceedingly difficult to ascertain whether the death or sickness of a soldier was the result of causes growing out of his service as a soldier or of causes of more recent origin.  The war ended fifteen years ago.  How is a soldier suffering with rheumatism, consumption or chronic diarrhea to prove that he contracted the disease while in the service?  In some cases it is easy enough, but in others it is only by tedious inquiry and lengthy correspondence that a satisfactory line of testimony can be obtained.  The fact that seven hundred applications are now on file in the Department, most of them laid aside while an effort is being made to obtain additional testimony, is sufficient to show both the labor now required to determine cases of the kind and the care taken by the Department to arrive at a just conclusion.  The superintendent examines every application personally, and if mistakes are made the fault is his.  As charges have been made both in the Legislature and out of it, alleging that children are admitted into the schools who have no right to such a favor under the law, it may be well to give an outline of the testimony required.
In case the father is dead, the mother, guardian, or next friend makes the application.  In case the father is living, he makes the application himself.  In either case the fact of death or disability must be sworn to and a statement given under oath setting forth the reasons for thinking that such death or disability was brought about by causes connected with service in the army.  An acknowledgement of destitution must be made in the same way.  This done, the application must be laid before the board of school directors of the district in which the applicant resides, who, at a formal meeting, must pass a resolution stating that they have carefully examined the application and found the facts set forth in it true and correct, and directing the officers to sign a certificate to that effect.  This certificate is appended to the application.  Then come the sworn testimony of the physician who attended the soldier in his last sickness, if dead, or who examined him, if living; the sworn testimony of officers or soldiers who served with him in the army, and of physicians or responsible citizens who were acquainted with him at the time of his return from the army or since that time.  In short their must be testimony describing the death or disability and extending back in an unbroken line to the cause.  Of course such testimony cannot be positive, but it can be made of such a character as to be a safe guide.  The following sets of questions will indicate more in detail the kind of information and testimony required, and also show the pains taken by the Department to instruct persons how to proceed in making application:

1.  Questions to be answered by the person making application for the admission of a child whose father has died since being discharged from the army.

1.  What was the father's name?
2.  Give the company and number of his regiment.
3.  Give the date of his enlistment as nearly as you can.
4.  Give the date of his discharge.
5.  State the cause of his discharge.
6.  Give the date of his death.
7.  Was he wounded during his term of service?  And, if so, give the date and place, and describe the nature of the wound.
8.  Was he at any time sick while in the army?  And, if so, state the nature of the sickness and the length of time he was off duty in consequence.
9.  Was he in a hospital while in the army, and, if so, where and how long?
10.  What was the condition of his health when discharged?
11.  If not in good health, in what way was he suffering?
12.  Did he continue to suffer from his wound or disease till death, and was it the cause of his death?
13.  Give the name of the physician who attended him in his last illness, and state whether he has made the required affidavit as to the cause of his death.
14.  Are there surgeons, officers, or soldiers, acquainted with him in the army, who would be willing to give sworn testimony showing that the disease of which he died was contracted while serving therein?  If so, give their names and have them do it, in the form sent herewith.
15.  If this cannot be done, are there physicians or responsible citizens, personally acquainted with him at the time of his return from the army, and since, who are willing to give similar testimony?  If so, give their names and have them do it, in the form sent herewith.
16.  Did he receive a pension?  If so, give the number of his certificate and the amount paid him per month.
17.  If he was not a pensioner, explain way not as nearly as you can.
18.  What property had he when he died, and upon whom are his children dependent?
19.  What other evidence do you rely upon to establish the case?

2.  Questions to be answered by a sick or disabled soldier applying for the admission of his children.

1.  What is your name?
2.  In what company and regiment did you serve?
3.  When did you enter the service?
4.  When were you discharged?
5.  What caused your discharge?
6.  Does your disability result from a wound, or a disease contracted while yet in the service?
7.  If from a wound, describe it, and state when and where it was received?
8.  If from a disease, describe it, and state when and where it was contracted.
9.  Are you a pensioner?  If so, give the number of your certificate and the amount you receive per month.
10.  If you do not receive a pension, give the reason.
11.  Were you at any time, while in the field, off duty or confined to a hospital because of your wound or disease?
12.  Have you continued to suffer, and are you now suffering, with the same wound or disease?
13.  Give the name of the physician by whom you have been personally examined as to the cause of your sickness or disability, and state whether he has made the required affidavit as to the facts in the case.
14.  Are there surgeons, officers or soldiers, acquainted with you in the army, who could corroborate the above statement by sworn testimony?  If so, give their names and have them do it in the form sent herewith.
15.  If this cannot be done, are there physicians or responsible citizens who would swear that you were suffering with said wound or disease when you returned from the army and are yet suffering in like manner?  If so, give their names, and have them do it in the form sent herewith.
16.  What property do you possess?
17.  What is your occupation, and in what way does your disability interfere with you in following it?
18.  What other evidence do you rely upon to prove that you disability was contracted while in the service?

But with all our efforts to confine this great bounty to those for whom it was intended, there are, doubtless, children in school who ought not to have been admitted.  We have discovered a few and discharged them, and the percentage  remaining must be very small.  If any one should think otherwise, in any case, we beg him to inspect the papers on file relating to it.  This invitation is especially given to members of the Legislature.


In endeavoring to free ourselves from any possible charge that might be made that children are admitted into the schools, who have no right to be there, we have been censured for being over-strict, for having too much red tape, for requiring testimony from dead men, &c.  In escaping the charge of being too loose and admitting too many, we have thus frequently been blamed for being too strict and admitting too few.  Such censure is unjust.  The Department has not been over-strict.  Its sympathies have always been warmly on the side of the applicants when there was even a show of reason for thinking they were the children of deserving soldiers.  In questionable cases such children have always received the benefit of the doubt.  But the law has been obeyed as we understand it, the system has been carefully guarded from fraud, and the trust has been so administered as to secure its benefits to those for whom they were intended.  It may seem strange that it should be the case in such a matter, but the paid agents of interested parties have presented hundred of applications without merit; the relatives of children abundantly able to support them have repeatedly endeavored to get rid of the expense by imposing them upon the care of the State; fathers and mothers in good circumstances, but anxious to marry again, have striven to get their children out of the way by placing them in the orphan schools, and cold-hearted step-fathers and step-mothers, finding the care of a double family of children troublesome, have sought without better reason to banish from their homes the children of their earlier marriage and make the State pay for their education and support.  From all this and more the system must be guarded, and in so doing it is very likely that the deserving are sometimes made to suffer with the unworthy.  But it may be fairly claimed that no meritorious case has ever been knowingly rejected--no soldier's child shown to be eligible with reasonable certainty has ever been denied admission to the schools.  The papers are on file in every case.  Let those who raise the questions satisfy themselves by examining them.  It should be added that no application is placed beyond recall.  Those not granted are simply laid aside, and the applicants informed that additional testimony of a kind designated is required; and further, it often happens that of hundreds of accepted applicants waiting admission, only a few can be placed in school for want of money to pay for them.  In such cases, those that seem to be in most pressing need are given precedence, and the boon made to reach as many families as possible.


In making the usual appropriations for the orphan schools, the Legislature of 1878 provided that no more children should be admitted into them after the 1st day of June, 1882, and that they should be finally closed on the 1st day of June, 1885.  Should this law stand, the system can be made to come to an end in a way both creditable to it and to the State.  The record it will leave will form the brightest page in our history.  It will have supported, educated and prepared for usefulness twelve thousand of the sons and daughters of dead and disabled soldiers, and will have expended in this noble work the magnificent sum of $8,000,000.  The whole world may be searched in vain for another such example of patriotic benevolence.  Still it must be said that to close the schools under this law will be to send prematurely to their impoverished homes some one thousand two hundred children, and to shut out from the benefits of the system many just deserving as those now enjoying them.


Assuming that the present law will remain unchanged, the appropriations to be made for the support of orphan schools for the next two years cannot be very materially reduced.  For the year 1881, $360,000 will be needed, and for the year 1882, $340,000, making in all $700,000.


The last Legislature made no appropriation for the salary of the male inspector and examiner of the soldiers' orphan schools; but Major S. R. Bachtell, who was appointed to fill that office after the resignation of Colonel Cornforth, made, without compensation, one general visit to all the schools and special visits to several of them.  His expenses were paid out of the contingent fund of the Department.  Major Bachtell not only represented the State, but, at the same time, the Grand Army of the Republic, having been for some years the chairman of the committee of that organization on soldiers' orphans.  His report which will be found in its proper placed, coming from a man entirely disinterested, is especially valuable.  He resigned his office at the close of the year.
Mrs. E. E. Hutter, the female inspector and examiner, continued her visits to the schools as in former years.  She has been connected with the orphan schools from the first, and has rendered them a service that has done an immense amount of good.
The county superintendents of the counties in which the orphan schools are located, were requested to visit and inspect them.  They did so, making reports to the Department.
Personal visits by the superintendent were made during the year to nearly all the schools, and in some instances these visits were repeated.


Annual examinations were held at all the schools during the month of July.  The officers of both the Orphan School and the Common School Departments were engaged in conducting them, as well as a number of county superintendents.  On the whole, they proved very satisfactory.


Special attention is called to the reports of the inspectors and principals of the schools, which will be found in their proper places, as they contain many interesting details, showing the condition of the schools and the working of the system.  The full tables of statistics presented will be found valuable by all those who take an interest in the subject.


I prepared, in 1864, at the request of Governor Curtin, the first bill providing for the organization of a system of schools for the children of deceased and disabled soldiers.  The bill, in my own handwriting, can now be found among the records of the House of Representatives.  It did not pass, but is principal features form the basis of all the laws subsequently enacted on the subject.  At the session of 1871, the Legislature abolished the office of Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans, and placed its duties in the hands of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Since that time, I have quietly managed this great trust.  The work has been heavy and sometimes attended with great anxiety.  The interests involved are so diverse and conflicting, that it is almost impossible to avoid making enemies and provoking opposition; but I have tried to do exact justice to all parties, and now have little to regret.  During my administration I have constantly had the care of from two thousand four hundred to three thousand six hundred children.  In all, some eight thousand girls and boys have been gathered in from homes of poverty and oftentimes of sickness and distress, in every corner of the State, and fed, clothed, educated, trained to habits of industry and sent forth reasonably well qualified for the work of life.
The money handled has exceeded $4,000,000, but not a dollar of it has been misapplied, and I am satisfied the investment has more than paid the State, besides enabling it to discharge a debt of gratitude to the brave men who saved the nation in the hour of its peril.  Withal, the task has been a congenial one, and I am thankful that it came in the order of Providence in my way to perform it.  Should my connection with the system end here, I shall ever pray that the schools may continue prosperous to the end, and that their close may be as honorable as their conception was noble, and their history a source of pride to every patriot citizen of the Commonwealth.
[The above information is from pages 1-8.]



Honorable J. P. WICKERSHAM, LL.D.,

Superintendent Soldiers' Orphan Schools:

SIR:  I have the honor to herewith submit my report for the year ending May 31, 1880:


The health of the children during the past year, with the exception of some cases of measles, has been very god.  The sickness in the schools would be nothing to speak of, it it were not that disease is occasionally brought into them by the admission of new pupils from infected districts.


As a general thing, the clothing is good.  Each child receives its full allowance, and in some cases even more.  The boys are comfortably clad in neatly cut and well made garments.  The girls' clothing is tastefully and fashionably made, and their hats are becoming, and shoes nicely fitting. The amount of money allowed by the State for clothing each child is but small, and it therefore requires studied economy on the part of the principals to do justice to the children with such limited means.


The children are provided with good, substantial, and wholesome food, well prepared and cooked, which the healthy and robust condition of the children attest.
No regular bill of are is followed in most of the schools, but the variety is all that could be expected or desired.  The "quantity and quality" is a matter which I have invariably inspected very closely, and I have found it to be both abundant in quantity and good in quality.

Sleeping Apartments.

Are well ventilated, and the beds and bedding kept in a clean and comfortable condition.  This is a department that has been very thoroughly examined by me, and I have found no grounds for serious complaint.
The fact of the matter is, the people in charge of the several schools  are willing and anxious that the children should be made comfortable, and when improvements have been suggested in this or any other department they have been promptly made.


It is to be regretted that the Legislature has not heretofore made extra appropriations for the purpose of teaching the boys and girls trades.  However, the boys work two hours daily at farming, gardening and choring about the buildings, and the girls work the same number of hours each day at sewing, washing, ironing and general housework.  Let it be recorded to their credit, nearly all the orphans who have graduated from these schools become industrious, and make the best of men and women; and every dollar contributed by the State towards their education and support will be returned tenfold, for whatever is necessary to enter into the proper and healthful development and administration of the State must first be found in the character of the studies and of the children of our schools.  All money invested by the State in these schools compounds its interest.


All the schools very generally follow the rules and course of studies laid down by the State Superintendent.  The teachers are able, competent, and well adapted to fill their respective positions.  My predecessor well said:  "There is no place in the soldiers' orphan school which an incompetent teacher can advantageously fill."  The pupils are bright and apt to learn.  The most of them are ahead of children of the same age in our public schools.  The education which the children receive in the schools, will serve in after years to guide them in public affairs, and improve their entire character, morally and socially. The generality of the children display more than ordinary attention to study, and a number have been educated as teachers, doctors, lawyers, &c.  Socrates very wisely said:  "Better spend money in teaching men to become good citizens, than to bring them up in ignorance and support their crimes."  How appropriate is the application of this remark to the soldiers' orphan schools of Pennsylvania.


On the whole, the deportment of the pupils is commendable.  This is the result of constant watchfulness and care on the part of the teachers and attendants.  The manners of the children are good, and, as a general thing, they use choice language even when at play.  Nothing can be said against the behavior of the children, except some few isolated cases.  When we consider the large number of boys and girls together, this is remarkable.

Military Drill.

This does not receive that attention it should, in some of the schools.  I would recommend that more attention be given by the principals to drilling, as it certainly is an excellent mode of disciplining the boys, and actuates them to manly deeds.  A boy or man imbued with a soldierly spirit is generally honorable and gentlemanly.

Moral and Religious Training.

The moral and religious training of the pupils is looked after carefully.  I notice particularly, on my visitations, that great care is taken to employ teachers and attendants of a religious turn of mind, so their teaching may be both by example and precept.  School is opened every morning with reading a portion of the Scriptures, singing praises to God, and prayer, and at some of these school-openings the scene is really affecting.  In the evening, before retiring, family worship is held.  At meals, God's bounteous gifts are devoutly acknowledged.  The children attend church services and sunday school every Sabbath.
The memories of childhood, after a mature age has been attained, are more powerful than we suppose, and especially is this the case in reference to the religious observances, which first arrest the attention of children.  Man is of a three-fold nature, intellectual, physical, and spiritual, and the education of children, which has not reference to this three-fold nature, is very imperfect.  Each, in its sphere, is important, but the three combined makes the perfect man.


In some of the libraries the books are choice, and calculated to cultivate in the pupils a taste for good reading, but there are some of the libraries I cannot say so much for.  I would suggest that the pupils be allowed a more liberal use of these libraries.  Quite a number of periodicals are sent to several schools by liberal-minded publishers.


The cleanliness of the children is indispensable to the healthy action of their skin, and through that, to their general health.  Therefore it is so much attention is given to the wash-rooms and bath-tubs.  Under this head, I might add that personal cleanliness is considered a minor virtue among the children.  I have made it a point to look well to the waterclosets, back-buildings and play-grounds, and I find great pains are taken to prevent the accumulation of refuse and filth, thereby cautiously guarding against generating disease of any kind.


Corporal punishment is not inflicted, except in very exceptional cases.  The system of governing is such that the children are put upon their honor.  The encouragement which this system gives to the boy or girl to cultivate a truthful and honorable line of conduct, in relations with each other and towards those placed in authority over them, has the tendency of breaking down the subterfuge to which boys and girls will so frequently resort to avoid punishment, where a constant surveillance is kept over them, and corporal punishment the result of detection.

Grand Army of the Republic.

The members of the Grand Army of the Republic are wide awake to the welfare of the soldiers' orphans.  The interest manifested by the comrades for the children is paternal, true, warm, and abiding, and they work with extraordinary energy and inflexibility of purpose for their benefit.  They have assisted many a "sixteener" to be a good and suitable position, and have done much towards shaping legislation for the general advancement of the schools.  They are brave men, who stood shoulder to shoulder in support of the Union, and now they are standing shoulder to shoulder in that God-like charity of caring for the widows and orphans made so by the rebellion.  The Grand Army has a most peculiar relation to the soldiers' orphans, and one which cannot be fully understood and appreciated except by a Grand Army comrade, and this relation, while it places upon each soldier coming into the Grand Army a new or additional obligation, is one, if not the chief reason why all good soldiers should be Grand Army comrades.  Every soldier must feel a paternal love and regard for the child of his dead comrade, but of and through himself can do but little to relieve the orphans distress, or care for, nurture, and educate them, but as a member of the Grand Army he can add to that unity of strength which can and has done so much for them, and will continue to do while the Grand Army of the Republic has an existence and a soldier's orphan needs its aid.


In conclusion, I desire to say that the soldiers' orphan schools are not alone schools, but are also homes in every sense of the word, which are now associated in the minds of those beneficiaries who have grown to manhood and womanhood, with bright memories of happy hours spent with loved ones, endeared by ties of affection, and they will never, while life remains, cease to gratefully remember the aid, encouragement, and support received from the good old Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  I firmly believe, of all the institutions of the State, none have done more real and acting good than the soldier's orphan schools.

Most respectfully submitted,
Inspector and Examiner.


To Honorable J. P. WICKERSHAM, LL. D., Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans Schools:

DEAR SIR:  I take great pleasure in submitting my annual report of the soldiers' and sailors' orphan schools, though nothing unusual from the ordinary workings of the schools has occurred to render this report strikingly new.  At the close of the vacation the children returned to their respective schools more promptly than is the case ordinarily, and, as a general thing, with a more contented spirit, and a desire to improve the time and opportunities for study.

Physical Condition of the Inmates.

The health of the children has been remarkably good, no serious epidemic has prevailed in any of the schools.  We regret to refer to the death of Professor F. A. Allen, of Mansfield, conspicuously connected with the orphan schools and other educational interests in the State.  He will be greatly missed in the educational convocations in which he ever was an earnest worker, and also in his own orphan school, and in the Mansfield Normal School, for which he labored so earnestly.


We find the children generally comfortably clothed, but not all alike well.  Some have better supplies for the same amount of money.  The amount allowed by the State for clothing barely covers the cost, and the principals have in some instances generously expended more than the amount allotted for this purpose.  The clothing, too, is made in a neat modern style, so that our girls feel themselves well dressed and respected members of the community in which they live.  The boys wear a full blue cadet uniform, with State buttons, of which they can ever be proud.
The bedding is clean and comfortable.  The bed-rooms are, in the main, well kept. We insist upon ventilation in the dormitories particularly.  Personal cleanliness among the children is required.  All the children regularly receive an entire bath once a week.  Cleanliness is a necessary law of health.
The food is plain, substantial and well-cooked, and with a sufficient variety to maintain a good appetite and healthy digestion.  We do not often see a sickly child in these schools, except in cases of hereditary disease; the children, as a class, are cheerful, rosy and healthy.

School Edifices.

There is a cultivated taste manifested by the principals and superintendents to render the "State Homes" of these children of the Commonwealth as sightly as possible.  The useful and beautiful are most happily combined in many instances.  During the summer vacation, while the larger part of the pupils are absent from the schools, the principals avail themselves of the opportunity to make all useful and needful repairs to the buildings, such as to paint the wood-work, and white-wash the dormitories.  All this deserves commendation.


Every school has a library, some being very much more extensive and valuable than others.  Indeed, some of the schools may be proud of their collection of books and magazines, which aid so much in the cultivation of a literary taste.

The Grand Army.

Of all the many interested friends of these soldiers' orphans' schools, none have shown a more substantial and abiding interest than the brave men who stood side by side, upon the field of battle, with those who bravely fought, suffered, and died for their country, and the honor of the "dear old flag."
Each of the Posts has a committee appointed, called the soldiers' orphan committee, whose especial duty it is to visit these schools at all times, hours, and places, and see particularly that these children are well cared for.  In a number of my previous reports I urged the necessity of a provision being made for the children of disabled soldiers.  Our Legislature has done wisely in allowing these children of the disabled heroes to enjoy the same privileges in the State schools as the orphans of soldiers enjoy.

Moral Training.

Evening and morning family worship is maintained in these schools.  The children regularly attend church, and every orphan school has a well organized Sabbath school; and the wards of the State are trained up in christian civilization, to become good and useful citizens of the Commonwealth.


To maintain a good condition of the physical frame, exercise is necessary, and exercise with a fixed aim in view.  The detail system so conspicuous in these schools, furnishes this healthful exercise.  It has been found, from life tables, that no kind of work is so conducive to a long life and a good sanitary condition in girls, as housework in all its branches. The skillful housekeeper, in a single day's routine, gives play to nearly every muscle of the body.  We are proud of our well-trained house-wives in these soldiers' orphans schools.  These girls are taught to sew by hand and on the machine, to make button-holes, and cut and fit ordinary clothing, as well as to do fancy work of various kinds, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery; to cook, to bake, wash, iron, to starch, to goffer, to scrub, and wash paints--to arrange a house, in fact, to do all the different branches of house-work.  They can handle the flat-iron as well as the pen or drawing-pencil, and preside over the preparation of a dinner, or at the piano-forte.  Many of our boys learn farming.  In a few of the schools shoemaking, to a limited extent, is taught.  The Dayton School, however, has shoemaking and knitting taught fully.  Also, in one of the schools, different boys are detailed in the bakery, and become good bakes.  But we regret that the boys cannot, under the present system and arrangement of the most of the schools, learn trades to any great extent.
The importance of this industrial training to society at large can scarcely be over-estimated.  Charles Loring Brace, in his wonderful book entitled "Dangerous Classes in New York," refers to the fact that when he asked the question of the criminal classes in the different prisons, &c., whether they had a trade, the most universal reply was:  "If I had a trade I would not be here."  The selfishness and bad management of many of the trade unions, in not allowing a mechanic to take more than one, or at most, two apprentices, are depriving young Americans of the advantages of training in mechanical trades, and the consequence is that we, as a nation, are obliged to depend upon foreign countries for "skilled labor," and this, too, when it is an acknowledged fact that of all nations, the Americans possess the greatest amount of genius in "mechanical invention."  Therefore, I most earnestly recommend that large numbers of State Industrial schools be built, and our young men and boys be trained in all branches of industry, under skillful teachers and workmen.  And girls, also, could be trained in type-setting, wood-engraving, telegraphing, &c.  We believe that a mighty good has been accomplished in the soldiers' orphan schools of the State, in the combined training of head, hand, and heart.  This naturally leads us to speak of the educational system pursued in these schools.

The Educational Status.

It seems to us, increases with the increase of the years of the existence of the schools.
The examinations this year have been highly satisfactory to the large and interested number of spectators present.  Nearly every school, upon the day of the public examination, had a large score of visitors of the most intelligent citizens of the community, who came to witness the progress made.  Are not the educational interests of the great Commonwealth safe in the hands of these competent judges?

Teachers in the Orphan Schools.

The teachers in the orphan schools are, as a class, "choice spirits"---men and women devoted to their work, and fitted, by a liberal education, to train up their youthful charges in a broad and liberal path of learning.  The office of a teacher, in one of these State institutions, is not a sinecure.  But, as the years roll on, the best educated teachers find in these schools a fair field for labor, where their favorite methods of instruction can be successfully developed, under the eye and direct inspection and approval of yourself, as chief of the educational interests of the State.

Standing of the Soldiers' Orphans Schools.

From the very nature of things stated in this report, the standing, before the public, of these soldiers' orphan schools is one of honor and respect.  These schools are now as much as a part of the system of our State government and economy, as are the naval school at Annapolis, and West Point, of the United States government.  The children, leaving these schools, are proud of being connected with them.  Often, after leaving, do they return with loving longing to their dear Alma Mater.  Wisely has our dear mother State done, in thus training up her offspring, and ever will her children "rise up and call her blessed."  

Respectfully submitted.

Inspector and Examiner.

[The above is from pages 26-32]



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