TRESSLER ORPHANS' HOME
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SUPERINTENDENT
OF THE SOLDIERS' ORPHANS, 1884
the Inspectors | Reports of Principals | List
of Sixteeners |
TO ROBERT E. PATTISON,
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.
There seems to be a prevalent misunderstanding of the law governing the
admission of children into the soldiers' orphan schools of the
State. Frequently we are asked, "How can there be soldiers'
orphans now under the age of sixteen, when the war ended nearly twenty
years ago:" Of course this is impossible. But the
original law, confining admission to children whose fathers were killed,
or died from wounds received while in the army or navy, was subsequently
enlarged in its provisions by the act of Assembly, approved March 18, A.D.
1875. Under this act, "All children of deceased, destitute, or
permanently disabled soldiers or sailors, whether born after or before
January 1, 1866, shall be admitted into the soldiers' orphan schools on
the same conditions as the orphans of deceased soldiers and sailors are
Many soldiers, during the war, entered the service at a very youthful age,
who, by wounds received or diseases contracted therein, subsequently came
to be so disabled and destitute as to make it impossible for them properly
to maintain and educate their children born after the close of the
war. The Legislature, therefore, very wisely enlarged the provisions
of the law so as to allow such children to receive the benefits of these
schools which had been so humanely established.
We are convinced, however, from the many sad cases which have come to our
notice, that even this enlarging act was not enough. It is extremely
difficult in most cases to trace the present disability and destitution of
a deceased soldiers' family, by any adequate or specific proof, to wounds
received or disease contracted while in the army. In such cases it
ought to be enough to have full proof of present destitution in order to
admit children whose fathers, in the great crisis of the Republic, went
forth at the call of their country to the field of strife and carnage, and
have since died from any cause whatsoever, leaving their young
children in penury. How many there are who, in swamps and dangerous
night-marches, in terrible prisons and exposure to pestilence, in perils
by land and in perils by sea, wasted the strength of their youth and
manhood, but whose personal pride kept them from giving up until the very
last moment,--how many such there are whose remaining families, desolate
and destitute, can gain no definite affidavits from comrades long ago in
soldiers' graves, or from army physicians who have either died or removed
to parts unknown? Shall the helpless young children of such
suffering families, where the fact of destitution is clearly made out by
such suffering families, where the fact of destitution is clearly made out
by the testimony of neighbors and school-boards, be left to the cold
charity of the world, and unheeded by a great State, grow up into vagrancy
and crime? Such neglect certainly contradicts the very spirit which
originated the soldiers' orphan schools of this Commonwealth. Far
better is it that such destitute children should be made to suffer from
the inadequate means offered by the directors of the poor in our various
counties, or to endure the miseries of a vagrant and unguided youth,
opening into a criminal manhood, and ending almost of necessity in the
prison or on the gallows. Under the law, as it now is, we cannot
admit such children without clear and full proof that the death and
destitution were occasioned by some army wound or disease. In our
judgment, the well-established destitution of the family should of itself
be sufficient to admit the helpless children of a deceased soldier
into schools so generously organized for their good. Such
modification of the present law we recommend. Not only does charity
demand it, but the obligation of the State to seek the highest safety and
welfare of its citizens shows it to be a duty.
Not only is there a prevalent misunderstanding of the law governing
admissions into the schools, but also the system of management under which
the schools have been conducted. How frequently we are asked such
questions as these: "Are not the teachers overpaid? Are
not too many of them engaged, so that the Department is expending State
funds for the salaries of sinecures? Are not the contracts for food,
fuel, clothing, textbooks, &c., so mismanaged as to cause great loss
to the State, and a corresponding gain to others?" It is quite
clear from questions of this character, no doubt honestly made, that there
is a wide spread ignorance of the whole method of management.
The Department, in fact, engages no teachers, and since 1871 has furnished
no supplies whatever--indeed, has nothing to do with the finances of the
schools. The schools are private corporations, to whom the
Department transfers the children that they may be taken care of at a
fixed per capita price, specified by act of Assembly making the
appropriation. These schools, however, obligate themselves to feed,
clothe, and educate the children, giving them proper medical treatment,
and furnishing them with all the necessary text-books and stationery and
other school apparatus; and the Department, by frequent inspections, and
regulative orders, and careful examinations, satisfies itself that all
this is faithfully done. In case full satisfaction is not given, the
Department has authority, after proper notice, to transfer the children to
other schools where the work may be rightly done. The education,
while elementary an including, just as far as possible, useful industrial
pursuits, must be through, and such as characterizes our best regulated
public schools. The food must be, in quantity and quality,
such as is supplied at the table of a well-regulated family in the
Commonwealth. The clothing must be substantial, and enough
must be furnished to each child to amount to one sixth of the sum
appropriated. The buildings must be commodious, in proper
sanitary condition, and properly furnished. All this is regulated by
careful inspection, and orders issued upon the base of such
inspection-reports. Recently, one of these schools failed to satisfy
the inspection of the Department, and came under the severe criticism of
yourself and the superintendent. Repairing and refurnishing were
promptly demanded by order of the Department, and as promptly undertaken
The contract price in all the regular schools for food, fuel, clothing,
tuition, text-books, medical treatment, and all, is one hundred and fifty
dollars per annum for each child over the age of ten, and one hundred and
fifteen dollars for each child under ten. One sixth of this must,
without fail, be expended for clothing for the use of each child. It
can be seen from this that the questions above referred to grow out of an
entire ignorance of the system of management.
Perhaps, had the Legislature at the beginning realized the full magnitude
and significance of the work before it, it would have erected its own
buildings and carried on the whole interest much in the same manner as it
has done in its other philanthropic institutions. But at the start
this was impossible. It was en entirely new undertaking, and
occasioned great caution, and in the midst of much controversy was timidly
entered upon. Indeed, after the drafting of an admirable bill by
Doctor Wickersham, in 1864, which was read in place April 8, of the same
year, the Legislature, having passed through a severe struggle, settled
upon a very simple act, authorizing the Governor to accept the generous
gift of $50,000 made by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and to
appropriate the same for the education and maintenance of destitute
orphans of deceased soldiers and sailors in such manner as he may deem
best calculated to accomplish the object designed by said donation.
Such and so small were the beginnings.
The promoters of the good cause were necessitated at once to seek for
schools already organized that the work might go on. It was
impossible to think of erecting buildings or of prosecuting the work on
such a scale as in reality it justly merited. We question very much,
however, whether any other method, as the work increased, would have shown
itself so economical, or could have called out, to so large an extent, the
warm sympathy of the whole Commonwealth; for these schools have become
very dear to the hearts of those who have taken the trouble to acquaint
themselves with their management and work. In almost every hamlet of
this vast State, the good results of these widely scattered schools can be
seen. No nobler band of well-trained, independent, and honorable
young men and women can anywhere be found than among the so-called "Sixteeners"
who have graduated from these various schools.
The thoughtful Superintendent, Doctor Burrows, did not make a mistake in
following out and completing the valuable suggestions of Doctor
Wickersham's first bill, although the struggle was long and severe before
he saw the coming victory.
We are fully convinced, however, that, could the Department at this time
secure from the Legislature any large and well constructed buildings,
such, for example, as the Marine Hospital at Erie, recently offered to the
general Government, and transfer the children of some of the schools
nearest the same, keeping them under the same general management as now,
far more satisfactory work might be accomplished. This would open
the way at once for organizing them into thorough industrial schools,
which could continue as benefits for all destitute and homeless children
when the soldiers' orphans are no more. It is quite impossible to
graft on to our soldiers' orphan system industrial schools of proper
character. Our buildings are inadequate, and no body of managers
will be satisfied to enter upon such a work, knowing that the orphan
schools will close in 1890. Yet such industrial pursuits are more
and more demanded for these schools. With a building, however, such
as referred to above, and an appropriation sufficient to secure the
necessary machinery and tools, the soldiers' orphans could at once be
placed in the same from schools near at hand, and the system could be
enlarged so as to include all destitute children now either in poor-houses
or farmed out by the directors of the poor. Counties within a
given district could be required by law to send all such children to the
school, where they could come under the same instruction and charge,
under some proper obligation to pay for each a reasonable sum, such as
they must now pay when voluntarily placing such wards in any of our
charitable institutions. Something of this kind, in our judgment, is
now a pressing necessity; should the Legislature, by your recommendation,
open the way for a firm beginning. Our poor-houses, scattered
through our various counties, are no places for training of children, and
the matter will be but little more satisfactory if these destitute and
homeless ones are farmed out over the State. In neither case can
there be any proper organization or concentration of effort to make such
children, by education and industry, proper citizens of an enlightened
Commonwealth. The whole experience of history has been that nothing
is more costly and demoralizing to any community than idle ignorance and
vagrancy. Indeed, could we, under prudent regulation, gather all the
homeless and helpless children of the State into well-organized schools of
industry, and keep them there, free from contamination and all temptations
to vagrancy, what a blessing and profit it would be to this Commonwealth!
The cost of the system has been very great. How could it be
otherwise? The war was on a scale of magnitude unthought of and
never before experienced in history. We can hardly estimate the
thousands who hurried from our mountains and valleys to fight under the
flag of their country. Much less can we call into painful vision the
thousand helpless little ones of families shattered and ruined in its
bloody progress. Nearly four hundred thousand Pennsylvanians entered
the army, and nearly fifty thousand of these never returned unless cold in
their flag-draped coffins. The whole State was filled with suffering
orphans. Pensions, exhausting millions, have served to make the ruin
and wreck less sad. But no State except ours tried the noble
experiment of taking the orphans of the war under its guidance and
guardianship, and we have every reason to believe that the cost has been a
thousand fold repaid by the good accomplished--a good which we are now
reaping, and will reap for years to come. Yet, without counting the
cost, the State has the priceless consciousness of having done its duty,
and of having shown to the world that our modern civilization, if it
cannot avert the dread necessity of war and make "the hoarse, dull
drum to sleep and men be happy," can, at least, lessen the miseries
which always attend it, and which, as Burke has well said, "are even
more dreadful than the monstrous carnage itself, which shocks our humanity
and almost staggers our belief."
All admissions to the schools after June 1, 1882, having been forbidden by
law, in preparing our report for the Legislature of 1883 we endeavored to
make as close an estimate as possible of the necessary annual expense for
the maintenance only of the children then in school, discounting for the
number to be discharged on arriving at the age of sixteen, and for the
probable number which would be ordered out for various other
reasons. Having no authority to anticipate any change of the then
existing law forbidding further admissions, although urging the change, we
reduced, in our estimate of funds needed, the amount of the two preceding
years, asking an appropriation of only $625,000, which was $75,000 less
than before. The Legislature, however, revived the law authorizing
admissions to be made, but, probably by oversight forgetting that the
estimate had been made upon the basis of no further admissions, failed to
add, to the appropriation asked for, the $75,000 which was the reduction
made in view of the fact that no more children were to be admitted.
This left us in a very difficult position. As soon as the law
granting admissions was approved, a formidable pressure was upon us to
admit children, especially those who had been waiting already for a year
or more in circumstances of great suffering and distress. Believing that
there would be margin enough in our estimate to warrant some admissions,
we ordered in a few, selecting those most destitute and helpless. We
soon found, however, that our estimate had been too low even to maintain
those already in, and that a deficit was unavoidable. Discovering
this, we refused at once to admit any more upon any condition whatever,
except to fill a few vacancies, up to March, 1883. Such as been our
policy since December, 1883.
Applications have been made, and strong appeals have reached us almost
daily, and the sad condition of the destitute children pleaded more
strongly than aught else, but we have been forced to refuse all that he
deficit might not in any way be increased. Added to this, we have
made every effort to decrease it by discharges wherever possible, and have
gone so far as to require the schools to discharge six per cent of their
number on roll and in good standing September 1, 1884, to bring the
management within the amount appropriated. Such, though severe, must
be our policy in the future unless the Legislature comes to our relief.
We, therefore, most respectfully and urgently ask the Legislature to
restore at least $30,000 of the $75,000 of reduction made in our last
estimate, appropriating it to meet the deficit which is unavoidable for
the years ending respectively May 31, 1884, and May 31, 1885, and to
appropriate for the two years beginning June 1, 1885, $350,000 for each
year. This amount will be needed, in our judgment, to carry forward
the work in accordance with the law.
The present condition of the schools, so far as can be shown by
statistics, may be seen in the appended tabular statement. The
health of the children has been remarkable, showing that great care has
been taken in this matter. No epidemics have prevailed, and failures
in attention to school duties caused by sickness have been very
rare. Most of our recommendations in reference to sanitary
improvements have been promptly attended to, and we feel no hesitation in
saying that the schools have had a very successful year's work, and are
now in as good, if not better, condition than ever before.
The educational and disciplinary work has been most satisfactory.
The examinations, which were very thorough, have been regarded by all who
attended them as showing a degree of attainment and drill which our best
public schools even might well be proud of. Our inspectors, Mrs. E.
E. Hutter and Rev. John W. Sayers, have given most faithful and valuable
service. Their zeal in the work is only equaled by their thorough
knowledge of all its details. It would be impossible to prosecute
the work without their aid, and they should be all means be continued in
office. Their reports are appended. To make the inspection,
upon which so much depends, more definite and effective, we have carefully
re-organized the work, and in such manner as to make it almost impossible
for any deception to be practiced upon us, even should there be any
disposition to do so. These new regulations are embodied in this
present report. (See folio 59)
We are much gratified to notice the deep interest which these schools are
more and more eliciting. One of our respected Representatives, Hon.
W. J. Hulings, of Venango county, has generously placed in our trust funds
paid him by the State for his official services which he was unwilling to
use for himself, that the same might be devoted to the good of the
soldiers' orphans. Appended (see folio 18) is a full account of the
fund, and all the details of its disbursement. Others also have
shown in various ways their warm sympathy. As always heretofore, so
during the time covered by this report, the Grand Army of the Republic
have given us their most hearty and effective cooperation. We feel
gratified that the recognize so fully the value of the schools and also
show such confidence in their present management. Should we be able,
as we hope to be, to enlarge the work as already suggested, so as to
organize, in conjunction with our present system, thorough industrial
schools, holding the children for at least two more years, so that from
the ages of fourteen to eighteen they may gain mastery of useful trades
and mechanical employments, then the Grand Army of the Republic can give
us most valuable and effective aid in securing for our graduates places of
profitable trust where their acquired skill may be of the most service to
the various industries of this great Commonwealth.
Thanking you for your kind interest manifested in every way during the
past year in this as well as the other philanthropic interests of the
State, and always asking God, who is the Father of the fatherless, to
guard the whole work, and to crown it with His benediction,
Yours to serve,
E. E. HIGBEE,
Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans.
(The following information was extracted from pages v-xi.)
REPORT OF THE INSPECTORS.
Report of Mrs. E. E. Hutter.
To E. E. HIGBEE,
Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphan Schools:
DEAR SIR: In presenting to you this report of my last year's
official labors in the work of visiting and inspecting the soldiers'
orphan schools, a high sense of gratitude constrains me, first, to
acknowledge the goodness of God in having continued to our institutions
His paternal guardianship during another year, not having been visited by
fires, flood, or any epidemical diseases. In addition to these
blessings, our institutions rejoice in the continued good-will of the
people of the State and of their representatives. This is evidenced
by the appropriation annually made by the General Assembly to their
support. Institutions such as ours, under God, rest exclusively for
their continuance and efficiency on the confidence and favor of the people
and their representatives. Much reason for thankfulness have we,
therefore, in the fact that ours continue so largely to commend themselves
to the popular approval. May we not say that they are enthroned in
the very hearts of the people in whose behalf the fathers of these
children sacrificed their health and lives? So long as this high
trust is faithfully administered, we may feel assured that the necessary
support will be cheerfully granted, for all of which we owe the Lord
thanks, since every good and perfect gift comes from Him, and we have
nothing of which he is not the Giver.
The schools this year have been running
very smoothly. I have visited all the schools and homes where
soldiers' children are congregated regularly during the year. They
are in good condition. They have a corps of well-selected,
well-educated teachers who are aiming at a high standard of proficiency in
their pupils, and the results, as a whole, are satisfactory, not all,
however, reaching the same degree. In addition to the common
branches, physiology, natural philosophy, algebra, geometry and
bookkeeping are taught in all the schools, also vocal music and
instrumental, limited. In one of the schools the past year
stenography has been introduced. I deem this a very valuable
addition, as a knowledge of shorthand will be of great assistance to
either boys or girls in securing a good situation.
The Kindergarten system should be more widely diffused. Wherever it
has been, it has proved a great blessing in many ways. The little
ones are so happy in the "Tinder darten," wishing for a morning
and also an afternoon session. The instincts of the child are heeded
and the perceptions quickened, not blunted. The hand, heart, and
head are trained in sweet unison, and a beautiful symmetry of character is
developed. This leads me, as by a pleasant path, to my next head.
I am glad to see that there is a
general rousing up in Pennsylvania with reference to industrial
training. Skilled labor ever commands a fair price, and is in
constant demand. How few American boys and girls, comparatively
speaking, learn a trade. We are obliged to send to Europe for our
trained workmen in the various crafts, while native-born citizens have
been compelled to occupy lower positions and consequently, to receive
smaller wages, for lack of this trained skill. I believe in training
conjointly the brain and hand; let the two be considered of equal
importance; let the one kind of teaching be done, and the other not be
left undone. In these orphan schools, through the detail system of
work, our girls do become good housekeepers; many of the girls are very
skillful in making button-holes, some learn dressmaking and tailoring
before leaving the schools, sewing neatly both by hand and on the machine,
and some have learned the trade of making artificial flowers. The
boys in the country schools learn something of farming. In one
school a class of boys has been instructed in working in wood, brass,
iron, and mechanical drawing. I am proud to say that one quite small
boy drew the medal for working in steel at the Spring Garden Industrial
Institute, Philadelphia. All this is as it should be, only we want
more systematic industrial training in all the schools. Labor is
Moral and Religious Culture.
In all the schools regular religious
services are held on the Sabbath day. The International sabbath-school
lessons are taught. Also, there are daily morning and evening
prayers. This is not all. Children learn as much by example as
by precept, and all who associate with them, in whatsoever capacity, must
feel the importance of so deporting themselves as to be worthy of
I recommend a kindly woman, a head nurse, in fact, to care for the many
little boys and girls now congregated in all the schools. A woman
knows how to meet the wants of tender childhood, and a good motherly woman
of gentle manners, of pure language in the nursery and on the
play-grounds, is a great means of benefit to the young children. To
her they can tell their childish griefs, and be comforted with a few words
of sympathy and cheer. The little boys should not be left in charge
of the male attendant, but separated from the larger boys.
The larger boys are all exercised in
the military tactics. It is a manly exercise, conducive alike to
health and manliness. I am glad to report that in most of the
schools more attention is given to the drill; not as much neglected as
One sixth of what the State pays for
each child is allotted for clothing. In some instances the
proprietors have appropriated more than this sum for this purpose.
The children, as a rule, are plainly and substantially clad. The
military suit of the boys is ever pleasing and also comfortable. The
girls are tastefully attired, their clothing being made in the modern
style. These remarks are true of all the schools, and much more
might be said in praise of some.
The food is plain and sufficient.
Butter is given more liberally than formerly. In the country schools
less variety appears on the table than in the schools of the cities and
larger towns, where good marketing is available. The table generally
presents a pleasing appearance, which, in my mind, is very necessary to
The health of the children has been
remarkable; so few cases of sickness and death, when the large number of
children is considered.
The examinations this year have been
exceedingly well attended by men and women of influence and culture.
I refer with pleasure to these days when so many from the outside come to
witness the success of the schools, and take great pride in saying that
our Governor, Robert E. Pattison, who is taking great interest in the
welfare of our soldiers' orphans, industrially, physically, morally, and
educationally, attended some of the examinations, and expressed himself
highly pleased. The children greeted him with a kindly welcome, as
they recognized in him their true friend.
Many of the buildings now occupied by
the orphan schools are old, having been in use for other purposes.
Previous to the opening of the schools nearly twenty (20) years ago, some
of the buildings had been used as academies, others as water cures and
summer resorts and, being frame, they have necessarily become old and
dilapidated. I cannot but continue to recommend that these buildings
should undergo thorough repair--in some cases the repair needed is, that
the old buildings should be pulled down and new ones erected in their
These edifices do not belong to the State, but are the property of private
individuals or corporations, and as the soldiers' orphan schools are yet
to continue quite a period of years, I do insist upon a thorough
renovation of all the buildings occupied by these schools which have not
already been thus renovated. Some of the buildings, I am glad to
say, have been put into excellent repair. Several of the principals
and proprietors during the last year have, by the expenditure of quite a
large sum of money, placed the buildings and grounds in a very good
condition, every desired convenience having been supplied, such as
improved facilities in the laundries and the bathing arrangements for the
children, all of which is so essential to health and cleanliness.
I regret I must again refer to the
horrible practice of corporal punishment in our schools. I am fully
persuaded that the application of the rod, especially to delicate and
defenseless girls, is exceedingly injurious. To my mind few
spectacles, if any, are more revolting than to see a robust, able-bodied,
full-grown man, whip in hand, inflicting lashes on children. The
girls it never fails, aside from the physical pain, to degrade and disgust
and the rebellious boys it only serves to render more rebellious
still. I hope the day is not far distant when I can report it
entirely abolished in all the schools.
Grand Army of the Republic.
The Grand Army of the Republic have
been true to their pledges to dying and disabled comrades, and have proved
themselves fathers to the fatherless and needy. Quite a friendship
exists between the men who once were the "boys in blue" and the
young recruits who are growing up so strong and manly to fill the ranks
now becoming sadly empty of the brave heroes of twenty years ago.
Let me, in conclusion, congratulate you upon the success of your
administration. All acknowledge that the present prosperous
condition of our common schools and soldiers' orphan schools is owing to
your untiring efforts.
ELIZABETH E. HUTTER,
Inspector and Examiner.
Report of John W. Sayers.
To E. E. HIGBEE,
Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphan Schools:
SIR: I have the honor to submit to you the following report of my
inspection of the soldiers' orphan schools during the past year:
All the schools have been visited, some
four and others five times, and in the whole round of duty I have found
but little cause for complaint of the general management, but much to
commend and encourage. The satisfactory sanitary measures of the
previous year, as to pure water, fresh air, proper ventilation of
dormitories, and excellence and abundance of food, are still
continued. The best evidence of the observance of these important
measures is found in the healthful condition of the children.
Clothing of the same style, material, and quality is furnished as of last
Instruction and Training.
Instruction in the various branches of
education has steadily improved, as experience has suggested better
methods, until the schools are not excelled by any other institution of
similar curriculum. In the examinations the pupils acquitted
themselves with great credit, showing diligence upon their part and skill
and industry upon the part of the teacher. Indeed, that which
heretofore seemed so excellent has been largely improved upon. In
physical and manual training much progress has been made; this is fully
attested by the admirable discipline maintained and the manly bearing of
the boys. In the girls' department similar advancement has been made
where the useful science of housekeeping and matronly branches have been
skillfully imparted. Sound moral and religious instruction, looking
strictly to the spiritual welfare of the scholars, is among the important
features of the teacher's work and we have reason to rejoice over the good
already accomplished and the grand results which are sure to follow.
The Governor's Visits.
The visits of Governor Pattison through
the year were productive of much good. His high position, the deep
interest he personally manifested in the work, and the enthusiasm which
his addresses imparted to the scholars, will have an abiding effect upon
their minds. While the children will never forget the Governor, they
will long be remembered by him.
Many of the school-buildings are
growing old, but are now receiving the much needed repairs. The
Mercer buildings, of which complaint has been made, have been thoroughly
repaired during vacation. That our foresight is not always equal to
the demands which emergencies may make upon us is clearly shown from the
selection and location of these school-buildings. It would have been
wise if the State had, at the outset, erected four or six good suitable
buildings properly located for the use of these schools, as they would
have saved much expense and served many useful purposes after the object
of their construction had been consummated.
The thought of educating the orphans of the State's fallen defenders was a
new experience and was looked upon as only a temporary enterprise, but as
time moved on it developed into one of the noblest and most patriotic
conceptions of any nation or age.
The Grand Army.
If the education of our soldiers'
orphans upon the part of the State was great and noble, the interest which
the Grand Army has always manifested in the schools, and the jealous
solicitude with which it has guarded every interest of these children of
fallen comrades, is patriotically sublime. No nation in the world's
history can boast of such an organization. The men who, in the hours
of peril, faced death for home and country, and who stood like a barrier
of fire against the enemies of human liberty when fierce rebellion sought
the nation's life, no sooner laid down their arms upon the return of peace
than all their differences and hardships were forgotten, and they were
again the quiet citizens of a noble republic; but they could not forget
each other, and thus they joined in fraternal union, forgetting personal
strifes, banishing social distinction, and laying aside political
differences. As they stood should to shoulder in war, so in peace
they have marched side by side, pledged to each other's welfare and
interests. The living are remembered and the dead are not
forgotten. Thus, with the truest philanthropy and the most
praiseworthy loyalty, actuated by the holiest purposes, have they, with
the utmost tenderness and love, watched over and cared for their comrades'
Termination of the Schools.
Five years for education, under the
law, still remain before the valedictory will be written. There are
waiting ones still unadmitted, and it is a question of serious moment as
to who shall be first entitled. Why not give the most destitute
priority? These little ones, without father or mother, too young to
speak for themselves and too helpless to command influence, should first
be gathered into the warmth and comfort of the schools, by the helping
hand of the State. Let the most needy thus secure the benefit of the
full five years' course still unexpired. I have given much thought
to this wonderful work of our Commonwealth, and yet the more I think the
more I am unable to comprehend the important results which must follow
this great educational and protective scheme. These feeble ones of
to-day will grow into the might y powers of the future, and, as from a
peaceful citizenship there came, in the hour of the Nation's peril, a vast
army of heroic and intelligent warriors, so from among these children
educated under the patronage of the State there shall come a powerful host
of intelligent and loyal citizens, which shall stand a tower of strength
and power against opposing elements, and,
"When to every man and
nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side.!"
they will more than cancel the debt
they owe the country by patriotic devotion to its best interests.
Permit me to compliment you upon the
successful discharge of the trust committed to your care. None, with
the same means, could have performed the duties better. The present
commends you for it, and the future will hold you in grateful remembrance.
J. W. SAYERS,
Inspector and Examiner.
(The above information was extracted from pages 19-24.)
REPORTS OF PRINCIPALS.
TRESSLER ORPHAN HOME--P. Willard, Superintendent.
In making our annual report to the Department of Soldiers' Orphans, it
becomes us to be very grateful to the Author of all good for the care with
which He has watched over and prospered us in the past.
On the first of June last, it was fifteen years since we took charge of
the Home. Since that period, independent of the charity orphans, we
have had under our care two hundred and fifty-six children of deceased and
disabled soldiers; of this number, we have been called to record but two
The general health of the children during the year has been remarkably
good. With the exception measles, we have had nothing more than an
occasional cold during the whole year. In the month of February
last, the whole neighborhood was infected with the epidemic.
After being all around us amongst the neighbors, it broke out in the Home,
and we had upward of seventy cases in the space of about three
weeks. I am happy to state that they all got over it in a short
time, and that without leaving any evil results. The attending
physician attributes it all to the good nursing and the healthy condition
of the children and school at the time it made its appearance.
The progress of the children in their various branches of study during the
year has been all that we could reasonably expect.
Religious services have not only been kept up in the Home as in former
years and the children brought together in the Sabbath-school every Sunday
afternoon, but they attend preaching regularly every Sabbath morning in
the village church, where divine service is held alternately by the
Lutheran and Reformed ministers in charge, except when the weather is too
inclement; in which case, services are held by the superintendent in the
school-room. On Sabbath evening we have prayer-meeting, together
with reading and expounding the Holy Scriptures. In these meetings
some of the older boys generally take part and seem to do so with much
Under the tutelage of a corps of competent, experienced, and efficient
teachers to cooperate with the superintendent, every effort is made not
only to develop the intellect, but establish in each child a good moral
character, and prepare it for usefulness in life, and enable it to be an
ornament to society wherever it may go.
We have been renovating the buildings during the spring and summer.
We have rolled back the old dining-room, and torn down the kitchen,
bake-room, bath-house, and laundry, and put up in their stead a much more
commodious building of brick.
The main building is 75x40 feet, three stories high, in addition to the
basement. On the first floor of this edifice we will hereafter have
the school and recitation-rooms, with a ceiling thirteen feet high and
fine ventilation, so as to give a sufficiency of pure atmosphere both for
teachers and scholars. The second story will contain a private room
for the principal teacher, together with a reading-room and clothing-room
for the boys, and also a large dormitory for the smaller-sized boys; and
the third story will contain a room for each of the male assistant
teachers and a dormitory, 60x40, for the larger-sized boys. A part
of the basement story will be partitioned off into separate apartments by
brick walls so as to afford play-rooms, one for the boys and one for the
girls, during the extreme cold weather of winter or when the weather is
too inclement for them to enjoy their childish sports on the campus or in
their outdoor play-houses. These apartments will have their entrance
on different sides of the house. The boys will enter their play-room
on the west, and the girls on the east side of the house. The
remainder of this basement will be sub-divided, and a portion will contain
a pool fitted for a plunge or shower-bath, as they may prefer, and the
balance for a laundry, if in the course of time it should be needed.
The intermediate building, connecting the old and new building, 42-1/2x28
feet, is also three stories high. The cellar of this building is
also divided into two apartments, the one for vegetables and the other for
groceries. The first floor will be used for the culinary department,
having an entrance into the old school-room, which is now converted into a
dining room. There is also in this building an ironing-room and side
room, with an entrance from the foot of the stairs coming down from the
boys' dormitory. In this room the boys will wash and comb, before
entering the school-room in the morning. There is also a large hall
in this buildings, leading from the school-room to the dining-room.
Through this the children will pass to and from their meals, without being
exposed to the weather. The second story of this building contains a
sewing room, a patch-room and a wash and bathroom for the girls, and the
third story will contain the girls' clothing-room and several
sleeping-rooms for the female employes.
The old reading-room in the old building will have an additional
apartment, and will be used as a reading-room for the girls and a
music-room conjointly. The two upper stories of the bold building
will be converted into dormitories for the girls, matrons, and the
superintendent, together with a couple of rooms for the sick, if there
should be any, one for the boys and one for the girls, and a few for the
entertainment of visitors.
The bake-room and laundry are now on the first floor of the old
dining-room, which ahs been rolled back to the rear of the present
building, and the dormitory on the second floor of that building will be
appropriated to the laundress, to be used as a drying-room when the
weather is unpleasant.
The play-sheds, built two years ago on different parts of the campus, will
be used, as heretofore, by the children, more particularly for summer
recreations, together with their amusements under the shade of the trees
which now surround the house. We have terraced the yard in front of
the buildings during the spring and summer. The consequence was the
yard has not been decorated with the various kinds of flowers as it has
been for the several past years, but by another year we will be enabled to
make it more beautiful than it has ever been.
We are now in a position to accommodate all the deserving charity children
whom the Lord may send to knock at our door, and still have abundance of
room to receive and make comfortable any other of soldiers' children the
Department of Harrisburg may see fit to admit to the Home.
LIST OF "SIXTEENERS."
Below will be found the names of the children, with their present
residence and occupation, as far as could be ascertained, who, having
arrived at the age of sixteen, were discharged from the several schools
during the year ending May 31, 1884.
TRESSLER ORPHAN HOME.
Baker, Clara E., doing housework, Cumberland county, Pa.
Beighler, William, at school, Blain, Pa
Graham, Clara E., at home, York, Pa
Hart, Margaret A., Richland county, Ohio
Hoover, William D., with his parents.
Kauffman, Luella K., with her father, Juniata county.
Mort, George A., with his parents, Andersonburg, Pa
Reeder, Tyson, G. W., with his parents, Mainville, Pa
Ressler, Plato Alva, with his parents, Dalmatia, Pa
Saylor, Luther J., in Somerset county, Pa.
Symmerman, Rhuana V., with her parents, Doylesburg, Pa
Symmerman, Mary A., died July 3, 1884.