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Reports of the Inspectors  


HARRISBURG, October 5, 1881.
To His Excellency HENRY M. HOYT,

Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

SIR:  The Legislature not being in session, and my official connection with the Department dating only from April 1st, 1881, the present report, covering the year ending on the 31st of May, 1881, will be very brief.

Schools in Operation.

The following list embraces all the Orphan Schools under the supervision of this Department, with their location, and the number of children in each at the close of the year:
Chester Springs, Chester county, 200; Dayton, Armstrong county, 201; Harford, Susquehanna county, 247; Lincoln Institution, Philadelphia, 100; Mansfield, Tioga county, 220; McAllisterville, Juniata county, 170; Mercer, Mercer county, 302; Mount Joy, Lancaster county, 294; Soldiers' Orphan Institute, Philadelphia, 337; Uniontown, Fayette county, 188; White Hall, Cumberland county, 235; Loysville Home, Perry county, 66; St. Paul's Orphan Home, Butler, Butler county, 14.
Besides the children above enumerated, there were in scattered homes and receiving "out-door relief" 28 others, making in all, under the care of the State, 2,602, an increase over the preceding year of 22.
Notwithstanding this slight increase in the number of pupils now in the schools over last year, on assuming official charge of the Department I found about three hundred accepted applications in the files pending admission, and over six hundred additional which were incomplete and being held for further testimony in support of the father's disability or death as required by law.
I find the task of deciding the eligibility of claimants for admission into the Soldiers' Orphan Schools to be a very delicate and difficult one, so as to protect the Commonwealth and not wrong worthy and faithful soldiers or their families.  As a great many of the children, represented by the three hundred accepted applications above mentioned, were in absolute want, some indeed, being inmates of county alms-houses and others supported by posts of the Grand Army or the charity of private individuals, I decided to relieve their distress, and therefore granted orders for the admission of all of them September 1.  This will increase the expenses  for the current year several thousand dollars beyond the sum appropriated, ($360,000) but the extreme necessity of the applicants seemed to warrant the act.  As the Department has the use of the unexpended balances of past years, there will be no deficit created.  We have decided, however, to withhold for the present further orders for admission.

Cost of the Systems.

The cost of the system for the school year ending May 31, 1880, as shown by the Superintendent's report, was $351,431.59, and the appropriation $360,000, leaving an unexpended balance to the credit of the department of $8,568.41.  The cost of the present year was $360,033.60, an increase over the appropriation of $33.60.  This slight excess was paid out of the unexpended balance carried forward from the previous year as authorized by law.

General Condition of the Schools.

From careful inspection, and from the annual examinations, the sanitary condition of the schools has been found to be good.  Indeed, no body of more healthy and robust children can be met with anywhere.  The children are also well trained in the studies embraced in the common school system of the State.  In some instances the so-called industrial pursuits have been encouraged, but not to such an extent as is desirable.  Were most of the children, at the time of graduation, sufficiently trained to enter with good prospects upon some useful industry, the good accomplished by the schools would be a far more permanent blessing, both to the children and to the Commonwealth.  Efforts looking in this direction, so far as professional life is concerned, have been made.  An appropriation of seven thousand dollars has been granted to be used in placing the qualified graduates of the schools under the instruction of the State Normal Schools, to prepare them for the profession of teaching.  This sum is entirely inadequate to accomplish the end in view, yet great good has already resulted from it.  Were the Legislature in session, I should recommend a larger appropriation for this purpose, for I deem it all important that the orphans at graduation be directed and helped to positions where they can become useful and honorable citizens of the Commonwealth.  The moral and religious condition of the schools is good.  In some instances it is all that the most enlightened christian sentiment of the Commonwealth can desire; and it is our conviction that the large body of young men and women who have been nurtured in the schools, will favorably compare with those whose training has been in the other schools of the State.


With great perseverance, Mrs. E. E. Hutter has continued her visits to the schools as in former years.  Her services have been of great value, and the Department cannot dispense with them without very great detriment.  I regret very much, that in absence of any appropriation for such purpose, the services of a male inspector had to be dispensed with.  To supply this want the services of Rev. John W. Sayers, chaplain of the Department of Pennsylvania, Grand Army of the Republic, were secured and his traveling expenses paid out of the contingent fund of the department.  His time and labors were given gratuitously; a generous donation to the cause so near his heart.  His visitations gave unqualified satisfaction.  His report, together with that of Mr. E. E. Hutter, is appended.

Reunion of "Sixteeners."

On August 24, 25 and 26, the "Sixteeners" of the several Soldiers' Orphan Schools and Homes of the Commonwealth held a reunion in the hall of the House of Representatives.
Over three hundred young men and women, representing all sections of the State, and almost every walk in life, were present and enrolled themselves as members of the association.
A constitution was adopted, which declares the objects of the association to be "to perpetuate the memories of the ties which were formed by our fathers upon the fields of battle, and those which were formed by ourselves while wards of the State, and to render assistance to each other."  It also provides that all sons or daughters of honorably discharged soldiers, or sailors of the Union army or navy, who attended a Soldiers' Orphan School or Home, shall be eligible to admission to membership in the association at the age of sixteen years.  Hence the origin of the term "Sixteener."  And it further provides for annual meetings in the future and in obedience thereto the next reunion will be held in Harrisburg on August 17, 18, and 19, 1882.
Other institutions of learning have alumni associations composed of their graduates, numbering at most but a few hundred members, and are productive of much good; but the scope of this organization can scarcely be comprehended, since there are to-day over nine thousand persons eligible to its membership, and this number will be increased to over twelve thousand by June 1, 1885, the time fixed by law for closing the schools.
Pennsylvania has great reason to be proud of this alumni association of her adopted children.  It is well known that at the suggestion of the war Governor--Andrew Gregg Curtin--it was determined in 1864 to supply schools for the children orphaned by war, in which all the influences of parental care would be bestowed upon them, their moral training and development watched and promoted, so that when they reached manhood and womanhood they could take their places in society and become useful members thereof.
That this end has been attained was clearly shown by the highly intelligent and dignified bearing of the young people present on this occasion; and further, the record of the past fails to give any account where the children who were received and trained in this system of schools have gone so far astray as to reach criminal conditions.
This, after all, is the most gratifying result.  She threw around the soldiers' orphan the holy guards and elevating influences of a virtuous home, and sent the children thus gathered out of the carnage of war, as they reached a proper age, into the world fully prepared to take part in its duties, to embrace its nobler objects, to shun wrong and grow into citizenship, when they could erect homes for themselves.
Had the statesmanship which devised and started these schools not thought of the project, or allowed it to languish after it was started, the reverse might have been the result, and from the orphans made by the war peace would have been cursed by criminals, the outgrowth of the neglect of homeless children.  The whole people have reason to thank God to-day that such has not been the case; and we share with all Pennsylvanians in the pride which attaches to this the first annual reunion of the "Sixteeners," and the permanent organization of an alumni association.

Annual Examinations.

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.

Reports and Statistics.

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.

The Future of the Schools.

The Legislature of 1878 provided that no more children should be admitted into the Soldiers' Orphan Schools after the 1st day of June, 1882, and that the schools should be finally closed on the 1st day of June, 1885.  
As can be easily seen, there will be, at the time of closing, quite a large number of children under the age of sixteen.  How these are to be cared for will become a matter worthy of very serious consideration.  As yet, I have no course of action to suggest.  Were there two well organized industrial schools in the State where these children could be placed with many others who are now neglected, and who need the guardianship of the Commonwealth, many of the difficulties of the case would be removed.  I ask the earnest attention of all to this important matter thus early, that the close of the schools, as contemplated by the law, may not be abrupt and injurious.
In view of the rumor that charges the department with having been partial to certain schools, filling them up with children, while others, no less worthy, have been neglected, it is proper to state that the department has uniformly acted in accordance with the wishes of parents or guardians as expressed upon the application for admission when received.
As a matter of interest, I append to the foregoing a statement of the appropriations made by the State, and the public donations received for the support of our orphan school system since its first establishment, and also one showing the expenditures of the system as exhibited in the several annual reports.

[Included at this place is an Appropriation Table and a Donation Table; which I choose not to include]

In connection with the foregoing table, it may be well to present the course of study as now prescribed for the Soldiers' Orphan Schools.  The extent to which the several branches are to be taught in the different grades is left to the discretion of the teachers.  Advancement will be measured more by thoroughness than by amount.

Course of Study.

First Grade-- Spelling ,reading, writing and drawing on slates, oral exercises in numbers, object lessons.
Second Grade-- Spelling, reading, writing, and drawing on slates, mental arithmetic, four fundamental rules of written arithmetic, object lessons.
Third Grade-- Spelling, reading, writing, drawing, mental and written arithmetic, geography, and object lessons.
Fourth Grade-- Same as for third grade.
Fifth Grade-- Same as for fourth grade, with the addition of grammar.
Sixth Grade-- Same as for fifth grade, with the addition of history of United States.
Seventh Grade-- Spelling, reading, book-keeping, elementary algebra, geography, grammar, history of United States, physiology.
Eighth Grade-- Reading, algebra or geometry, grammar, Constitution of United States, natural philosophy of the elements of the natural sciences generally.
Vocal music,  declamation, composition, and instruction in morals and manners are continued throughout the whole course.
A systematic course of instruction in military tactics and drill is required.
The studies of the course are frequently reviewed as the pupils proceed.  Bible classes and Sunday schools have been organized in all the schools, but sectarian instruction is carefully avoided, except where the children are all of one denomination.
In the form of object lessons, a large amount of general information is imparted and valuable instruction given in the elements of the different sciences that can be illustrated with objects.
All of which is respectfully submitted,



To Rev. E. E. HIGBEE, D. D.,
Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphan Schools:
SIR:  During the past year a kind Providence has enabled me to again viits all the Soldiers' Orphan Schools in the State with great regularity, all three and four times, and some even as often as five and six times.
When it is borne in mind that the Soldiers' Orphan Schools are situated on both sides of the Allegheny mountains, and some of them fifteen or twenty miles from any railway station, and that they can be reached only in private conveyances, and over rough roads, it will be seen that the duties of the inspector and examiner are not without toil, but the joyous welcome which greets me as I go from school to school, to care for these dear children, goes far to compensate me for my labors of love.

Training of the Wards.

The training of these wards of the State is a threefold task.  A wise writer has said:  "A sound mind in a sound body is nature's best gift."  But we propose in these schools to go beyond nature, and train up these young people physically, intellectually, and morally, so that by the grace of God they shall be fitted for the duties of time and the joys of a blessed eternity.  Solomon says:  "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Physical Training.

The remarkable health maintained in these schools, and their almost entire freedom from contagious disease, is a good proof of the system of physical training established.

Good Food.

Well cooked in sufficient quantities, taken at regular intervals, is one cause of the well developed bodies of the soldiers' children.  As a class, these boys and girls have splendid frames, well developed in muscle and strength.  The girls are rosy and bright, the boys strong and manly.

Comfortable Clothing.

Is another element in successful physical training.  I am glad to say that all our children are comfortably clad, and mostly their attire is also neat, clean, and tasteful.  Well ventilated dormitories and clean and sufficient bedding induces the happy, healthy sleep of childhood.
"Tired nature's sweet restorer--balmy sleep."

Sufficient Exercise.

Is another necessity for proper physical training and here the benefits of the admirable detail system adopted in these Soldiers' Orphan Schools is plainly manifested.  By judiciously alternating the hours for study, work, and play, the pupils are rested from the fatigue of one occupation by being employed in another.
Too much cannot be said of the benefits accruing all through life, from the formation in early childhood of habits of industry.
When it is the fashion to work, all are anxious to follow the fashion.  I have often been amused to see "wee bits of girls," with scrubbing-brush in hand imitating what their older sisters and playmates so well understood how to do.
The girls in these orphan schools learn to use every muscle of the body in the varied employments of house, wifery, and they take pride in being able to wash, iron, cook, bake, scrub and sew.
Care should be exercised by the officer making out the detail that small bodied but ambitious little girls are not assigned work too hard for their strength and years.  The abuse of a good system may injure a willing child.  The muscles are not trained by over straining or by over work.  The boys in the schools find employment, such as farming pursuits.  In some of the schools trades have been introduced, and, in all, the military drill supplies the lack of other physical training.
The discipline of the military drill is a marked feature in the physical training of these soldiers' orphan lads.  These liliputian soldiers proudly "bear arms," and should an enemy menace the land they love so well these sons of sires, who bled and died for their country, would eagerly rush forth to defend this land for which their fathers fought.

Intellectual Training.

The annual examinations, to which the public are always cordially invited, attest the value and thoroughness of the education received in these Soldiers' Orphan Schools.
All the branches of a good English education are taught by professional teachers.  In many of the schools the higher mathematics and book-keeping are well taught.  I insist upon a good English education.  Any child who is deprived of this has been defrauded of a part of the inheritance of a government that pays for the education of its wards.  A good English education is important for every boy and girl starting in life, whether his or her destiny be the workshop of the mechanic, the desk of the clerk, or the help in the household, they want educated people in  all positions.
The proprietors of all the schools are striving to this end, and do employ good teachers who conscientiously perform the work assigned to them.
The Kinder Garten system for the little ones, so admirable in all its mingling of work and play, dance and song, with its wonderful training of the little hands to become skillful, has been introduced  with admirable success.


Are found in nearly all the schools.  Some of these are well selected.  Newspapers and magazines furnish a means of intellectual culture and exercises in literary societies tend to train the pupils in elocution and composition and in the methods of parliamentary bodies.

Moral Training.

While physical and intellectual training are thus highly important in the true education of youth, the necessity for moral culture is much greater, in fact, it surpasses all else in importance.
In these soldiers' orphan schools we wish to see employed, as teachers and heads of departments, none but christian ladies and gentlemen, who shall lead by example, as well as by precept, the young who are placed under their care and influence.
The impressions received in childhood can never be wholly obliterated, and it is of the utmost consequence that these impressions shall be of the proper character.

Corporal Punishment.

I will here reiterate what I have so often spoken before, that I am decidedly opposed to corporal punishment, except in very extreme cases.
The law of love is far more potent than any other, especially with the young.
Children are remarkably good judges of character, and when a teacher enters the school-room the pupils will judge that teacher's ability to govern before the first half day is over, in very truth that ability will be put to a severe test.  If when weighed in the balance, the teacher is not found wanting, the pupils will ever after respect that teacher.  Children quickly perceive whether they are ruled by caprice or governed with love and justice.
Let the use of the rod be the last resort.  Let all remember that patience conquers where passion fails.  Postponing the punishment often gives the child time for repentance and the educator leisure for cool reflection as to what is best to be done in the matter, besides, "the quality of mercy is not strained."

Grand Army Men.

These brave "comrades" still continue their unabated interest in children of the heroes who suffered for our native land.
The different posts have been increasing in their efficiency in the good work of caring for the wards of the State.  Each post has an especially appointed committee to see after the welfare of the soldiers' orphans already arrived at the age of sixteen, and also the young children of dead or disabled comrades.
The soldiers' orphan reunions are always held under the auspices of veterans belonging to the Grand Army, and these children of fallen or wounded sires feel that the old soldiers will not forget the pledges of many a bloody field fought in defense of our common country.

Respectfully submitted,
Inspector and Examiner.


Rev. E. E. HIGBEE, D. D.,
Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphan Schools:
SIR:  I desire to make the following report of my inspection of the Soldiers' Orphan Schools:


The wings of God's care have been graciously spread over the schools during the year, and when I made my inspection during the months of December, January and February, I found not more than six children that were sick, and they were not dangerously ill, out of more than twenty-five hundred children, which speaks volumes for those who have them in their charge.


These are nearly all in good condition, and great care is taken to have the dormitories well ventilated, and the beds and bedding kept clean.


The clothing of the children is good; indeed in one of the schools more money is expended than the State allows, so as to have the children comfortably clad.


The good is plain, but good and sufficient in quantity.


The children are making great progress in obtaining a good English education, and many of the boys and girls will make their mark.
The teachers as a rule are among the very best and take great interest in the welfare of the children.

Military Drill

I find there is not as much attention paid in some of the schools to this branch as I think there should be, as it would certainly be a great help to discipline, especially to boys.  The Soldiers' Orphan Institute is an exception.


All the schools try to inculcate habits of industry; in some of the schools the boys work two hours each day either on the farm or about the buildings, and in some of the schools a shoe shop is in operation, in which some of the boys are taught the trade.
The girls are capable of doing all kinds of work in a very neat and creditable manner.

Moral and Religious Training.

I find that great care is taken in the moral and religious training of the children, and they try to instruct more by example than precept.  The children attend divine service either at the school or a neighboring church, and have a well organized Sunday school; beside this the school is opened and closed with reading the scriptures, prayer, and praise to God.


Corporal punishment is inflicted only as a last resort.  This is as it should be, a teacher can do more by governing in love than with the rod.  There is a home-like feeling throughout all the schools.

Grand Army of the Republic.

This organization which, from the beginning, has taken such a deep interest in the children of their comrades, is still interested in their welfare, and in them the soldiers' orphans have ever found a true friend, whose desire is to see them educated and cared for, not as a charity, but as a part payment of a vast debt which this country owes to their fathers, and they only ask that the State shall extend the same charity to the children that remain in these schools, or may yet be admitted, that she has done to those whose term has expired.


In conclusion, I desire to congratulate you that the schools are so well managed, and that the Legislature has so generously granted the appropriation asked.

Respectfully yours,
Special Inspector and Examiner.


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