TRESSLER ORPHANS' HOME
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SUPERINTENDENT
OF THE SOLDIERS' ORPHANS, 1887
Principals | List of Sixteeners
DEPARTMENT OF SOLDIERS' ORPHANS.
HARRISBURG, February 27, 1886
ROBERT E. PATTISON, Governor of the Commonwealth:
DEAR SIR: Since Tuesday last I have been on the wing, seeking by
personal observation what evidence I can of the mismanagement and
corruption of the soldiers' orphan schools, as charged in the Philadelphia
Record. I am not yet through, but by the latter part of next
week I shall be able to make a personal reply for general publication,
which I shall take the liberty of addressing to yourself as my superior
I most heartily welcome the very closest scrutiny into my official
conduct, and no one can be more anxious than I am to have every detail
most thoroughly sifted. I am conscious of having done nothing in my
office which I am not willing to have every eye behold, even that of the
Master whom I serve.
Yours, very respectfully,
E. E. HIGBEE.
I made a thorough visitation of the schools, not one of them, as
stated, but all of them, except Dayton and Philadelphia. It
was not through distrust, growing out of the temper and tone of my report
in reply to the charges, that a personal and systematic investigation
was determined upon. Before I was able to get my report in form for
the Governor's examination, he had already entered upon the investigation,
and he continued to conduct it from beginning to end without a single
reference to myself. The records of this so-called exhaustive
investigation, by which full conviction of the truth of the charges was so
readily secured, I never saw. I am thoroughly convinced, however,
yea, I know that the shameful abuses said to have been disclosed
were not in existence, and that the schools were in far better condition
than when I entered upon their supervision, and in better condition, in
many respects, than they now are; for the great demoralization of the
investigation itself I have not yet been able fully to overcome.
Whatever others may think of this whole matter, I know not; to me it has
not the semblance even of justice.
The Department was deprived of all inspecting officers by the abrupt
dismissal of Rev. Sayers and Mrs. E. E. Hutter, until the male inspector
appointed by Governor Pattison in their place saw fit to enter upon his
hurried trip; and for months and months even after that there was no
female inspector. It was strange, indeed, if, under such
circumstances, these schools could settle down at once to their ordinary
discipline and work. Add to this that while some helpful suggestions
were made by the new male inspector, so many gross inaccuracies and
strange contradictions characterized his reports as to make the whole
matter still more perplexing. To enumerate all of these would be a
task too disagreeable, and I shall only refer to some of them, while
giving the detailed report of the present condition of each school.
The schools now having children under the care of this Department are as
Chester Springs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311
Dayton. . . . . .. . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
Harford. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . 249
Industrial. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Mansfield. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
McAllisterville. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 232
Mercer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297
Mount Joy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
Soldiers' Orphan Institute. . . . . . . 296
Uniontown. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 268
White Hall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .254
Children's Home. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Church Home. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Pennsylvania Training School. . . 2
St. John's Orphan Asylum. . . . . . 2
St. Paul's Orphan Home. . . . . . . 55
Tressler Orphan Home. . . . . . . . 102
There are also four children receiving out-door relief.
(The above information was extracted from pages 38-39)
This school has 102 children.
This is a church home, under the management of the Lutheran
denomination. It thus enjoys a double inspection. It is doing
very satisfactory work. It started as a primary soldiers' orphan
school, established by Dr. Burrowes in 1865. In 1867 it was
purchased by Rev. P. Willard for the "General Synod" of the
Lutheran Church, with the understanding that soldiers' orphans should
continue to be cared for by it. Under the management of Rev.
Willard, from 1869 to the present time, it has prospered, and is a most
excellent christian home for destitute children. Father Willard has
great experience in the work, and a very able corps of teachers aid
him. Every year the school has been improving, and now, in
our judgment, stands very high as an advanced school. This
school has had under its care, since its organization, 446 children.
In addition to the above, the remaining small homes, viz.: Church
Home, at Philadelphia, has five children; Children's Home, York, Pa., one
child; Industrial, at Philadelphia, eleven children; Pennsylvania Training
School, Elwyn, two children; St. John's Asylum, Philadelphia, two
All admissions to the schools closed June 1, 1887, and the schools will
decrease in number by every discharge. The carefully prepared tables
will show the number going out each year upon arriving at the age of
sixteen. In addition to this there will be other discharges from
other causes. There will, in all probability, be about 1,600
children in the schools at the close, in 1890. Some of these may be
able to return to their homes and find means of completing their
education. Many, however, will be, as it were, homeless and
destitute, and some proper arrangements should be made for them.
They might be sent to orphan homes of a permanent character, and there
maintained until they are sixteen or eighteen years of age, or, if proper
industrial schools are organized, they might be forwarded to such schools,
there to remain until they can be sent out with some prospect of success
in the world. This whole matter is within the determination of the
Legislature, and will be more fully discussed in a subsequent report.
The enclosed carefully prepared statistical tables will give all the
detailed information of the schools which is necessary to a clear
understanding of their work.
Assured that great good has been accomplished, and that the schools are in
good condition to accomplish much more, I respectfully submit this report.
E. E. HIGBEE.
(The above information was extracted from pages 43-44.)
REPORTS OF PRINCIPALS.
TRESSLER ORPHAN HOME--P. Willard,
It affords me much pleasure to state in
this report that the general health of the children has been good, though
we had a couple cases of pneumonia and about three cases of catarrhal
fever during the winter. In the month of April a little girl was
brought to the home on whom the measles were just making their
appearance. The consequence was that we had about forty cases of
measles amongst the smaller children about two weeks after this
period. We anticipated and carefully prepared for its appearance and
used the best means to bring them out as soon as we saw any indications of
their getting them. The result was that none of the children became
very sick. Thus, by good nursing and care that none of them took
cold, they were over it in a few days, and none who took them since
complained of any evil effect on constitution or general health.
Our buildings are on an eminence, sloping off in every way, so that it is
always dry and healthy. The campus surrounding the building contains
between four and five acres of land, and is used as a playground for the
children. The west side of the play ground is appropriated to the
boys and the east side to the girls. The road and terrace in front
of the building is the dividing line, so that each have their own separate
play ground. The campus is surrounded on three sides by a hedge or
arbor vitae, an area is studded with trees of various kind, trellises and
arbors of grapes, ornamental evergreens, shrubs and flowers, and is
admired by every visitors who comes to the place.
The boys and girls have each a separate play room also in the basement of
the new building, which is a place of resort for them for recreation in
play hours when the weather is very cold or inclement. In each of
these there is a stove, so they can make it comfortable in the coldest
weather of winter. These play rooms have sufficient light during the day
and a chandelier for the evening, and can have a sufficiency of
ventilation by letting down or hoisting the windows when it is needed.
Our only want heretofore was that, whilst we have an abundant supply of
the best of water for cooking and drinking, during the drouth of summer
our cisterns would run dry, and we were compelled to haul water to some
extent to make up the deficiency in washing and bathing. This
deficiency has now been met in a small tract of land adjoining the home,
together with the water right of a stream capable of turning a wheel
connected with a force pump, and thus bring the spring water up into a
large tank on the third story of the building in a continuous stream by
day and night. From this tank we shall be safe from fire, or, at
least, have a resort to the tank with hose, and at the same time, by means
of pipes and other fixtures, can bring both hot and cold water to any room
in the house, wherever it may be desired. We purpose having the
water works completed during the present summer and fall.
Our usual examination took place the 26th of May, superintended by Rev. E.
E. Higbee, D.D., State Superintendent, assisted by Hon. J. R. Flickinger,
Rev. Scott and others. There were also several representatives from
the Grand Army posts of New Bloomfield and Newport and also several
editors present, together with a large assemblage of visitors from various
parts of the county, who, with one accord, expressed themselves as highly
gratified with the manner in which the school acquitted itself, both in
the school room and in the boys' military drill; but more particularly
were the eighth grade applauded for their knowledge of the studies of the
year. They were thoroughly examined in higher arithmetic, algebra,
geometry, English grammar and other studies, and not a question remained
unanswered by either member of the class.
The morals of the children are about as good as we could reasonably
expect, when we take into consideration they early home influence by which
they have been surrounded.
The industrial department has been kept up during the year, and a number
of the boys and girls have taken an especial interest in their different
spheres of labor and household duties, not only to make themselves
proficient but prepared to enter the world when they shall leave the home
and manage for themselves.
The educational department has been well managed under care of the
principal teacher, and the progress of the children has been a greater
success in the various branches of learning than that of any former years.
The services of the Sabbath, as in former years, have been regular and
attended to with interest, both on the part of the teachers and
children. As usual, the children have been attending the
village church every Sabbath morning when the weather is not too inclement
to venture out, in which case religious services are conducted in the
school room. In the afternoon Sabbath school and Bible class and in
the evening a prayer meeting in connection with reading and expounding the
We have had three hundred and twenty-five soldiers' children under our
care during the eighteen years in which we have had charge of the home,
and many of them during a period of seven, eight and some for ten years,
and yet we have to record but two deaths amongst the number, and a few
more amongst the orphans of the church, of whom we have had nearly an
equal number, but have kept them for a longer term of years, as many of
them, on account of their destitution, being homeless and friendless, were
taken when they were very young. Hence, in looking back over the
leading of a kind Providence for this term of years, we cannot but, like
Paul, "thank God and take courage."
Many of the boys and girls who have been reared under our tutelage have
turned out to become intelligent and useful citizens, and not a few have
already risen to high positions in life.
(The above information was extracted from pages 96-98.)
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, 1887:
TRESSLER ORPHAN HOME.
Bird, Lillie S., domestic service,
Branyan, William W., at home, Duncannon, Pa.
Fields, Robert A., farming, near McVeytown, Pa.
Flood, Harry M., working at Bellwood, Pa.
Hostetter, Laura E., dress making, Newport, Pa.
McClintock, James S., farming, near Duncannon, Pa.
Manshaker, Bernhart, cabinet making, Williamsport, Pa.
Messner, Sarah R., domestic service, Williamsburg, Pa.
Robins, William H., preparing for college, Selinsgrove, Pa.
Rook, Samuel C., at home, Muncy, Pa.
Warren, W. E., plumbing, Philadelphia, Pa.
Annual Report of the Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans
of Pennsylvania, For the Year 1887.; Harrisburg; Edwin K. Meyers, State
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