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Inspection Reports 


Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

SIR:  As required by law, the Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans respectfully submits the following report for the year ending May 31, A.D. 1888:

Present Condition.

The schools during the past year have been in a very satisfactory condition.  We have been especially pleased with the character and attainment of the teachers employed, and regard the educational standard of all the schools as very high.  We attended nearly all the annual examinations and found abundant evidences of most excellent work.  The children underwent a very critical test, and sustained themselves with great credit.  Their manners and general deportment evinced good discipline throughout.  These examinations were well attended by superintendents and other interested educators, including the Governor of the Commonwealth, and the reports received from them show that they were well satisfied.  We doubt whether any schools in the State can surpass these schools in the common branches of a good English education.  To this must be added the benefits of valuable practical instruction in all the common domestic industries, together with the drill of a well-regulated military company.
From a sanitary point of view the school, under the very able and critical supervision of the inspectors, have been steadily advancing.  Hon. John M. Greer has been especially active in his work.  While kind, he is firm and exacting.  Nothing escapes his watchful eye; and our confidence in him is so great that we never hesitate to enforce his demands, assured of good results.  Mrs. Attick also has very faithfully visited the schools, and her suggestions have been carefully considered and acted upon.
During the year the school located at Dayton was burned down, the children all escaping without any personal injury.  We deemed it bad policy to attempt any rebuilding, and therefore, promptly disbanded the institution, transferring the children to the nearest schools at hand.  This somewhat crowded the western schools, making any attempt at consolidation among them unnecessary and impracticable.  Indeed, owing to the large number admitted just before the time admissions ceased by law, all the schools have been too full to allow any consolidation during the year. We were glad of this, for only those acquainted with these schools can measure the disadvantages of transferring the children from one institution to another.  It breaks up discipline, and weeks must be consumed before the school can fully resume its old and settled order of work.  As the schools decrease, however, so as to offer any temptations to lessen attention in order to overcome the loss of profit occasioned by decrease of numbers, we shall close them, beginning with those least acceptable in location and buildings, and transfer the children to other schools without the least hesitation.
The number in each of the advanced schools, at the close of the year, is as follows:  Chester Springs, 252; Harford, 192; Mansfield, 178; McAllisterville, 232; Mercer, 286; Mount Joy, 202; Soldiers' Orphan Institute, 247; Uniontown, 278; White Hall, 212; Tressler Home, 90; St. Paul's Home, 63.

The Future of the Schools.

By law the schools terminate June 1, 1890.  As may be seen by the following statistics there will be at that time 1,549 destitute children under the age of sixteen:

Ages of Children on Roll June 1, 1890

    Fifteen years of age, .......... 367
    Fourteen years of age, ....... 304
    Thirteen years of age, ......... 263
    Twelve years of age, ........... 225
    Eleven years of age, ........... 149
    Ten years of age, ................ 124
    Nine years of age, ...............   72
    Eight years of age, ..............   28
    Seven years of age, ............   11
    Six years of age, ..................     4
    Five years of age, ................     2

        Total under sixteen, .........1,549

Some of these, without doubt, would be returned to their homes and there find means of completing their education without entailing much suffering.  In most cases, however, the children will be homeless, and, if sent adrift, will be left to idleness and vagrancy.  The Legislature should take some action in reference to these young and helpless ones.
Had we any well-regulated industrial schools for boys and girls, into such these children might be sent.  It will be absolutely impossible to apprentice the, or to secure private families willing to take them.  In our judgment, we have only one way to solve the question, viz:  by sending the youngest and most helpless to permanent orphan schools, there to remain until they are 16 or 18 years of age.  We ought to say here, however, that since the closing of admissions, June 1, 1887, very many applications have been made, showing that there are a large number of soldiers' orphans, as yet, entirely without aid from the State.  In view of this, it has been suggested that the schools be re-opened, so that all such may enjoy their privileges.  This seems no more than just, but will depend entirely upon the disposition of the Legislature.  If it is the settled purpose to continue the schools until every destitute soldier's orphan shall receive an education, a re-opening of course will be necessary.  Against this, it is urged, that the soldiers themselves are now claiming the protecting support of the State, more and more, as the years advance, and that it will be more just to attend to them after so much has already been done for their orphans.  There is force in this, but it is to be regretted that the funds of the State are deemed insufficient to attend to both interests at the same time.
We are fully convinced that it is economy for the Commonwealth to overcome the evil effects of poverty and ignorance, which lead to almost every species of crime, by educating the young, not in almshouses, with all the bad associations of debased life, but in good, thorough training schools.  The adult tramp is a hopeless subject for reform.  Little can be done by trying to cleanse him, while the source from which all such issue is left polluted and contaminated.  Take care from which all such issue is left polluted and contaminated.  Take care of the young.  Let no vagrant child be found in hedge, highway or byway.  Let the Commonwealth go out and compel them to come in.  Then jail and prison expenses will rapidly decrease.  This will overbalance two-fold all cost such proper care may require.  We wish that every destitute child within the State had the full privileges of an education, cost what it may; and Christian civilization eventually must accomplish this.

Needed Appropriation.

In addition to the small surplus which we expect to have on hand at the close of the year May 31, 1889, the appropriation required for all purposes, will amount to $280,000, which we respectfully ask the Legislature to make provision for.  This will be used for the education and maintenance of the children for the year ending June 1, 1890, at which time the schools close, in accordance with law, and for the expenses attending the settling of the accounts and the closing of the Department.


The appended reports of the inspectors give full details of their work, and we here take occasion to thank them for their hearty and intelligent cooperation in the management of the schools.  The Grand Army of the Republic has been of good service through committees of visitation, and county superintendents have cheerfully given their assistance in examinations.
The school have now fully recovered from the severe and entirely unnecessary ordeal through which they have been forced to pass, and stand to-day, in our judgment, in better condition than ever before.  Confident that they are doing valiant service for the Commonwealth, I respectfully submit this report.

(The above information was transcribed from pages 1-4.)



To E. E. HIGBEE, Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphan Schools:

DEAR SIR:  I have the honor, pride and pleasure to herewith present you my second annual report as inspector and examiner of the Soldiers' Orphan schools.
I have used the word pride because I am sure we all feel proud of these schools and the god work they have accomplished.  Nothing whatever has occurred, to my knowledge, to change this opinion.  With but two exceptions I have visited all the schools four times during the year, and was also present at the annual examinations.  I sincerely trust you may be satisfied with my work.  I have endeavored to discharge the duties to the best of my ability, and for the comfort and welfare of the children in whose interests and advancement I have a kind and sympathetic feeling.  If at any time I fail to merit your approval you will confer a favor by at once informing me.  Your long connection with the schools and your superior judgment, as well as your heart felt interest for the dear children, prompts me to this request, knowing your advice will be valuable.
The loss of the Dayton school, by fire, was a sad misfortune, particularly to those directly connected with the institution.  Its situation was not an eligible one, being so remote from the railroad, and at some seasons almost inaccessible, owing to the bad and dangerous roads.  I was on my way to the school and had reached Butler when I learned of the disaster.  Accompanied by Hon. John M. Greer, our pleasant and efficient inspector, and my husband, we started on the morning of February 23d, arriving at Dayton in the afternoon.  The ruins were still smoking and the sight was a melancholy one.  Two of the three buildings, which were frame, were entirely consumed.  Thirty-three of the children were still at the school, who were properly provided for until arrangements for their transfer elsewhere, by your order, were made and carried out.  Fortunately no one was injured.

General Condition.

I am warranted in saying that the schools were never in better condition than at the present time.  While many of the buildings are old they are generally in good repair.  A number of improvements have also been made at all the schools, and during the vacation period other necessary repairs will be attended to.  At St. Paul's Home a new brick school house has been erected, and at Uniontown the improvements have been quite extensive.  In the western schools natural gas has been introduced.
The children are in every respect well cared for.  All are, with few exceptions, studious, well behaved and deserving of the highest praise.


There has been comparatively little sickness during the year.  There were in all sixteen deaths, which were duly reported.  The sanitary condition is excellent, having in several instances been much improved.  I was much pleased to know that the teeth of the children are not neglected.  At one of the schools, during my visit, a dentist was present, who was making his home there until he had completed the necessary work.  All the schools are giving this due attention.  I consider this an important matter, as it is conductive to the comfort and health of the children.  It is remarkable, considering the number of children, that they keep so well.  Some of the schools have been entirely free from any sickness. Strict attention is given to bathing and cleanliness.  I think separate buildings should be used for hospitals where it is at all practicable, as I do not consider it wise nor prudent to have the sick in the same building with the other children.

Religious Training.

At all the schools the religious training of the children is carefully observed.  The Christian religion is part of the course of instruction which is rigidly complied with.  They attend morning and evening service, and church and Sabbath school, and during the week, evening religious meetings are frequently held.


The children not only receive the ordinary English education, but study the higher branches, same as are taught in the academies:--literature, history of the Bible, philosophy, algebra, rhetoric, grammar, orthography, book-keeping, Constitution of the United States, etc.  In one of the schools type-writing and short hand are taught.  I am sorry to say that in some cases they do not read as well as they should.  I am aware that it is very difficult to make the young comprehend fully what they are reading, so that they will be able to convey the meaning to others, especially when reading aloud.  I would suggest that they read aloud more frequently.  I was much pleased with the literary society, composed of the boys and girls of the Chester Springs school and think it would be advantageous if similar societies were organized in all the schools.  The exercises, which consist of addresses, declamations, with reading and music, are interesting and improving, and much enjoyed by the children.  The evening is spent not only very pleasantly but profitably, and thus will be beneficial to all.  The boys are well instructed in military tactics, which is demonstrated by their proficiency in drill.  Calisthenics is also taught in all the schools, making a pleasant and healthful exercise.
The teachers, without exception, are all efficient and thorough, doing all they can to advance the pupils under their charge, in which they have certainly been eminently successful.

Food and Clothing.

The food is of the best quality and of sufficient quantity.  My visitation reports will give you the character of the meals in detail.  There is an abundance of clothing, most of the principals expending more money for this purpose than is required by law.  Some of the children take better care of their clothing than others, thus making a neater appearance, but all are well clothed.


The dormitories are large and well ventilated, and most of them in proper order.  The beds are clean and comfortable.  I have made suggestions looking to an improvement in some cases, which I am assured will be attended to.


The boys and girls, as far as it is possible, receive instruction in all practical and useful work.  The girls are thoroughly versed in household duties, and receive excellent training in the sewing room and the details of mantua making.  In one of the schools the girls make beautiful artificial flowers.  The boys are instructed in farming, and do out-door work.  and at some schools carpentering.  Some work in wood and iron, for which they have received not only medals but five diplomas for their skill.  At the St. Paul's Home a monthly paper called "The Orphans' Friend," is published, on which the composition and work are done by the boys.


It was my good fortune to be present at almost  all the annual examinations.  I enjoyed this very much and was gratified with the interesting and satisfactory exercises.  All in attendance could readily learn the fact that the educational standard of these schools is high, an evidence that the intellectual culture of "these wards of the State" is carefully looked after.  Some of the pupils have attained a high rank in the State Normal schools, receiving certificates of greater merit than some teachers who were educated in other schools.  At Mansfield three of the girls passed the required examination for admission to the Normal.  The work throughout was certainly creditable; some of the classes were perfect and all stood the severe test in a flattering and praiseworthy manner.  These examinations were attended by man of the prominent educators of the State, numerous Grand Army committees and others, all of whom took a deep interest in the proceedings, some an active part, and in fitting addresses at the close, expressed their hearty approval of the work done and the progress made by the children.
I have received uniform hospitality and kindness from all connected with the schools during my visits, it being apparent that they were only anxious to afford me every opportunity for a thorough and careful inspection of the buildings and school work.

Respectfully submitted.

Inspector and Examiner.


I was appointed inspector and examiner of Soldiers' Orphan schools, on the 19th day of August, 1887, and in a short time thereafter commenced visiting the schools.  Since then I have been four times at St. Paul's Orphan Home and Chester Springs, three times at Mercer, McAllisterville, Mt. Joy and White Hall, and twice at Soldiers' Orphan Institute, Harford, Uniontown, Mansfield, Loysville and Dayton.  I generally remained about twenty-four hours, making my inspections as thorough and careful as possible.
My greatest desire was to find the children in good health and of fine appearance, see that they were well clad in good, neat and comfortable clothing, well fed with good wholesome food, healthful in kind and sufficient in quantity; thoroughly educated in the courses of study adopted by the Department; carefully trained morally and religiously, kept neat and clean and comfortably housed in proper buildings, provided with good, roomy, well-ventilated sleeping apartments, and supplied with good, clean and comfortable beds and bedding.  I have invariably made it a point to discover whether the management of the children was judicious and kind.
The clothing for the respective sexes in uniform in each institution, is of good quality, sufficient in quantity, well-fitting and adapted to every kind of wear necessary; and sufficient changes for purposes of cleanliness, and in quantity for Sunday and every-day wear and weekly changes are supplied.
The boys' suits are generally of dark navy blue cloth, consisting of pants and jacket, Pennsylvania State buttons and cap to match.  Some are provided with light blue kersey pants, and black hats with cord and tassel.  With one or two exceptions all have drawers and heavy woolen shirts.  The shoes are good, strong and comfortable and some of the schools supply boots for use in winter.
The girls' clothing supplied for summer and winter wear complies with the Department rules and regulations.  Some of the schools furnish gum overshoes and gossamers and several furnish parasols and umbrellas.  All are supplied with either cloaks, coats, shawls or other wraps, aprons, neckties, ribbons, collars and other wearing apparel.  Their shoes are generally strong, good and dressy.  Each child is furnished a new suit on leaving the school at sixteen.

Food.--All the schools provide food for their children that is healthful in kind and sufficient in quantity; yet, I believe it would be well to require a weekly report showing the articles provided for each meal during the week previous.
The building a re generally in good order and provide sufficient room for the number of children housed within them.  Three or four of the schools do not have comfortable sitting-rooms for the boys, but I have reason to believe that this want will be supplied in the near future.  The dormitories, with one or two exceptions, are not overcrowded and are well ventilated.  The beds and bedding are clean and comfortable.
The health of the children is remarkably good.  At the time of my last inspection and examination, there was not a sick child in either Butler, Mercer, Uniontown, Tressler Home, Harford, Chester Springs, Mansfield, or White Hall, having in the aggregate about 1,600 children.  And the sick were, two at McAllisterville, one at Mt. Joy and one or two at Soldiers' Orphan Institute.  Out of 2,300 children, only four or five were sick and only sixteen deaths in the last year out of 2,665 children on the rolls in the schools.  This health rate is certainly better than is usually found in our private families.
With but little exception the children are erect, polite, courteous and good-mannered, and the boys, when upon the street, or away from the school, will almost universally, on meeting a gentleman, salute him with a neat military salute, or on meeting a lady, politely lift their caps.  The girls are equally as thoughtful and polite.

The schools have not, as a rule, furnished the industries required to be in force in them, for giving systematic employment to the pupils of both sexes.  Each child has been furnished work for two hours or more each day, at some work about the school; but little attention has been paid to giving systematic instruction in any mechanical art, and for my part I do not think the children are of sufficient age or have sufficient time to spare from their other necessary studies to devote time to any trade or mechanical art to make it profitable to them.

I generally find the following 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, 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 the United States.
    Seventh Grade.-- Spelling, reading, book-keeping, elementary algebra, geography, grammar, history of the United States, physiology.
    Eighth Grade.-- Reading, algebra or geometry, grammar, Constitution of United States, natural philosophy, or the elements of the natural sciences generally.
Vocal music, declamation, composition and instruction in morals and manners are taught throughout the whole course.
Drills in military tactics are systematically kept up in nearly all the institutions where there are boys over ten years of age.  The boys in all the schools are expected to be proficient in the "school of the company," but in some places fall short.
The studies of the course are frequently reviewed as the pupils proceed. Bible classes and Sunday schools as organized in all the schools are continued, but sectarian instruction carefully avoided, except where the children are all of one denomination.
Object lessons, by which a large amount of general information is imparted and valuable instruction given in the elements of the different sciences, are an important feature of the course.

Examinations.-- I attended examinations at Loysville, May 1; McAllisterville, May 2;  White Hall, May 3; Mt. Joy, May 4; Chester Springs, May 22; Mercer, May 24; Butler, May 25, and Uniontown, May 29.  Governor Beaver was present at the first four and displayed quite an interest in these "wards of the State," making every suggestion that he thought would add to their comfort, welfare or appearance.  The Governor's long military experience gives him a great advantage as an inspector, and his love for the soldiers makes him a strong friend of their little ones.  He was certainly active in making close observations of everything connected with the institutions visited by him.  He made his visits so pleasant to the children, that they are all exceedingly anxious to have them repeated.  I am sure the schools will receive the attention of the Governor during his administration.
Dr. Higbee was present at all examinations attended by me but three.  At Loysville, he was represented by Mr. Pomeroy, of Soldiers' Orphan School Department, and Hon. A. D. Glenn, of Department of Public Instruction, and at Butler and Mercer by Hon. John Q. Stewart, Deputy State Superintendent.  He also attended all the other examinations in the State.  He was very particular to examine every building, "from turret to foundation stone," peeped into every nook and corner, scanned every child, inspected every bed, looked at all the clothing, viewed the rooms, dormitories, cellars, kitchens, dining-rooms, lavatories, bath-rooms and everything about the institution.
When he came to the examination of the children in their studies, he gave the matter such thorough care, that the must have impressed all present with his heartfelt interest in the work, and his high qualifications for the position.
Mrs. Attick, the inspectress was also present at all, and spent her time in the dormitories, dining-rooms, kitchens, cellars, school-rooms, store-rooms and sewing-rooms, among the children and employes, looking carefully after the little ones, and making such suggestions and recommendations as she believed would add to the administration of the schools and comfort of the children.  She was also present in the school and recitation rooms during examinations.  She usually made her visits more protracted, taking time to see the working of the several schools.  In nearly every case the county superintendent of common schools was present, and took part in the examinations.  The examinations were visited by a number of Grand Army men, and a great many other visitors and friends of education.  As a usual thing the Posts in the vicinity of the schools, sent committees, who showed abated interest in the welfare of the children of their comrades.
The children showed an acquaintance with their books and studies that made their examination exceedingly interesting to the large number of visitors present.  There was not a grade or class, from the highest to the lowest, that did not thoroughly impress the spectators with the deep interest taken in the work.  They were neither backward nor embarrassed, but attentive and prompt in answering questions, displaying a pride that was creditable.
As a rule these children are much more thoroughly taught and farther advanced in their studies than children of the same age in our common schools.  This remarkable fact was testified to by many of our county superintendents and others taking interest in the education of our children.  The system of teaching adopted is of a high character, and the children are constantly under the watchful care of their teachers.  They are compelled to be regular in their habits of retiring, rising in the morning, eating their meals, playing, exercising and studying.  I think this accounts for their creditable success.  The large number of persons present, witnessing the examinations, generally returned to their homes, satisfied with what they had seen and heard.   Upon the whole they were very satisfactory.
I find that the greatest care is taken in the moral and religious training of the children.  The schools have prayer, reading of the Scriptures and singing hymns and psalms by all in the chapel, morning and evening, Sunday school and preaching on Sundays.  Many of the children have committed hymns, psalms, and chapters from the Old and New Testaments, and at several of the schools they have their own prayer-meetings.
When the school at Philadelphia was in the chapel, Mrs. Hutter requested all who had joined the church and determined to live a Christian life, to stand up.  I think many more than one-half the school rose to their feet.  I was informed by several of the faculty at McAllisterville that not a boy in that school used profane language, or is addicted to the use of tobacco.
I saw no evidence of neglect, ill-treatment or abuse, but the cheerful, happy, bright faces of the children, testify that they are well cared for and kindly treated.  I believe that corporal punishment is inflicted as the last resort, but only in aggravated cases of disobedience and wilful misconduct on part of the pupil.
The State has made no provision for helping these children, when leaving the schools at sixteen.  It is true they have a good common school education at that time, but the greater number have no homes, and but few have friends to assist them in obtaining employment.  This would be an excellent time for them to commence some trade or mechanical art, and two years of such instruction would be of great benefit to them.
Sixteen years of age is too young for children to be turned out into the world.  They need the care, help and advice of friends or relatives for two or three years more at least.  Many of the children whey they arrive at sixteen have found some way to finish their education, have become fine scholars and useful citizens.  Those that have learned to study, and are farthest advanced as a general rule, are exceedingly anxious to go on and complete their education, but the larger number are prevented because they have not the means to do so. 
I have endeavored to make an impartial statement of each school, as I found it, and constitute it a part of my report which is as follows: ...

(The above information was transcribed from pages 33-40.)

Annual Report of the Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans of Pennsylvania, For the Year 1888.; Harrisburg. 



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