To the Honorable Board of Commissioners of Henry County, Indiana:
We, the visiting committee of The Paupers' Children's Home; submit the following reminiscence with our annual report.
More than seven years ago the Commissioners of Henry County, realizing that a poor house with it's unavoidable surroundings, was not the place to bring up the helpless, dependent children, and encouraged by some of the heaviest tax payers, proceeded legally to establish a home at Spiceland. Accordingly, Miss Susan Fussell, a woman with a great heart for the poor children and large experience in similar Institutions, took possession of the Home June 8, 1880. Her little family then consisted of nine children.
*( See note at bottom of page) From one poor house; one, little cripple Willie Calvert, whose life was not spared long in the new home, was taken to brighter climes. The Home was improved by repairing of the barn, fences, tile drains, graveled walks and an additional building to the house. The willing hearts and industrious hands of the matron and children beautified the grounds by planting shade and fruit trees, small fruits, vines and flowers, until now the home really blossoms as the rose, and brings forth it's fruitage in abundance.
During these years, 87 children have been rescued from the lowest walks of life and taught the very highest grade of mental, moral and religious culture. To improve their physical conditions and teach them manual labor are also important elements in their instruction. In support of the first, among the 87 children in seven years but 3 deaths have occurred, the one mentioned above, and 2 with whooping cough, with other complications.
The general health has been excellent, except when the contagious diseases prevailed. In regard to the second, one has but to see the abundance of vegetables grown, the baskets of fruit gathered, the neat and tidy condition of the premises to know that the children do outdoor work. Then into the house to see the sewing, knitting chamber, laundry, dining room and kitchen work, in all of which the girls and boys do their part, is conclusive evidence that the children are not permitted to be indolent, but as rapidly as they grow in years do they become self-sustaining.
Today (June 10, 1881) 30 children are in the Home, 3 in the "Many Mansions," and 54 have been placed in good homes, or obtained their majority (16 years) in the home, and now are respectable men and women earning their own livelihood.
Certainly, our citizens of Henry County will arise and say, "blessed" to our Commissioners of 1879, Cyrus VanMetre, W. D. Cooper and I. W. Stewart, and their successors, to the matron and her assistants, "blessed evermore," for thus providing fostering and perpetuating an Institution which will give us intelligent, industrious citizens, insuring us against the increase of pauperism in our county.
But all is change, woe or weal, Joy is sorrows brother, grief and gladness steal symbols of each other. More than a year ago, your committee saw evidence, to us painful, of the failing health of the faithful Matron. The increasing efforts, the constant strain upon the physical and mental forces, were making sad inroads, and Miss Fussell resigned her position, to take effect June 1, 1886.
Since our last annual report of June 1, 1886 to June 1, 1887, we reported that the older children went to public schools in Spiceland, and the younger class had kindergarten instruction at the Home. Their deportment in school and out, is very noticeable when compared with other children.
On the Home grounds were grown last year more than 100 bushels of apples, 10 bushels of cherries, 10 bushels of pears, 7 bushels of raspberries, 10 bushels of strawberries, an abundance of potatoes, tomatoes, , beans, green and dried, onions, cabbage, turnips, beets, celery, radishes, lettuce, &c. Also dried apples sufficient for the use of the Home, with about 700 quarts of canned fruits. These vegetables and fruits are the results of the management Matron and her children's work.
With Mrs. Maggie Watson resigning, we asked and the Commissioners kindly granted, that beginning with April 1, 1887, Mrs. Susan Fussell, be added to our Committee.
All of which is respectfully submitted:
Sarah A. R. Boor
Martha A. White
*Note: The census records for Spiceland township for 1880 show the following children in the Orphan's Home on June 4, 1880; Maggie Grewell age 8 years, Willie Calvert age 15 years, (1st death in home), Frank Carmichael age 9 years, Nancy Scarborough age 9 years, Susan J. Scarborough age 6 years, Ollie Coon age 8 years, Charlie Ritenbary age 6 years, Elmer Trowbridge age 4 years, Omer Trowbridge age 3 years and Mitchell Abrams age 6 years. Susan Fussell age 28 was listed as Matron and Martha Millikan 22
years of age as Helper.
June 10, 1887 Report
To the Honorable Board of Commissioners-----Greetings,
Only two months have gone since our new Matron, Miss Martha E. Hadley took charge of the Pauper Children's Home at Spiceland, and we are greatly pleased to see everything, moving on its regular way. The children engaged in work or study, knitting and sewing, all seem contented and happy, desirous to please the matron. When Miss Hadley came 31 children were in the Home. Now, one is out on trial and others applied for. There are 8 girls and 22 boys, between the ages of 5 and 15 years. The number of boys has always been largely in excess. We find it much easier to get homes for small girls than boys.
The vegetables are fine ---one strawberry lot, supposed would yield 400 quarts. The apples will be scarce, as will also be the cherries. Everything thing seems prosperious. May our citizens ever be royal to the right, in the support of the Home, remembering, "That the poor we will always have with us."
Sarah A. R. Boor
Martha A. White