SOLDIERS' ORPHANS' SCHOOLS
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE
SUPERINTENDENT OF SOLDIERS' ORPHANS,
FOR THE YEAR ENDING MAY 31, A.D. 1888.
TO JAMES A BEAVER,
Governor of the Commonwealth of
SIR: As required by law, the
Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans respectfully submits the following
report for the year ending May 31, A.D. 1888:
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,
Five years of age,
Total under sixteen,
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
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
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 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.
E. E. HIGBEE.
(The above information was transcribed from pages 1-4.)
REPORT OF MRS. MIRA ATTICK.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Inspector and Examiner.
REPORT OF JOHN M. GREER.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Annual Report of the Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans
of Pennsylvania, For the Year 1888.; Harrisburg.