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Reports of Principals | List of Sixteeners 

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 officer.
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,

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 follows:

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 children.
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.


(The above information was extracted from pages 43-44.)


TRESSLER ORPHAN HOME--P. Willard, Superintendent.

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 Holy Scriptures.
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.)


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:


Bird, Lillie S., domestic service, Northumberland, Pa.
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 Printer; 1887.



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