Other County Histories | Civil War | 1886 | 1913 Vol. 2 | 1916 | Depression |
Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 1. History

by Major A. J. Roof. 1913

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Page 163

The State Industrial Home for Girls was established by an act of the Thirty-fourth General Assembly, approved March 30, 1887. The sum of $50,000 was appropriated for the building. A commission composed of the Governor, Attorney-General and the Register of Lands was appointed to locate the Home, and the commissioners were authorized to receive such donations in money, land or building material as might be tendered to secure the location. On July 28, 1887, the commissioners accepted a donation of $5,000 tendered by the citizens of Chillicothe through the Chillicothe Board of Trade, and located the institution on its present site in the city of Chillicothe.

Under the provisions of the act establishing the institution, the cottage plan was carried out by the management On June 15, 1888, the wall of the basement of the first cottage having been completed, the corner stone was laid with imposing ceremonies, this cottage being known as "Marmaduke Cottage." Three more cottages have been added since and are known as "Missouri Cottage," "Slack Cottage" and "Folk Cottage." Besides these buildings several others have been erected, including a school building and chapel combined, a large boiler house of sufficient capacity to furnish steam heat and power for all buildings; also, a new administration building, a beautiful plot of ground immediately fronting the four cottages having been purchased for this building.

Seven hundred and eighteen girls had entered the institution at the time of the close of the twenty-third fiscal year in 1910, and on the same date five hundred and ten had left it for various reasons, namely: good behavior, expiration of time, and other causes, leaving on January 1, 1911, two hundred and eight in the institution.

The general supervision and government of the Industrial Home for Girls is vested in a Board of Control of five members, who are appointed by the Governor for a term of six years. Members of the board receive their expenses and $100 per year. Annual meetings of the board are held on the first Wednesday in May of each year.

The first members of the Board of Control appointed by the Governor were William McIlwrath, Chillicothe; Mrs. I. R. Slack, Chillicothe; Mrs. L. U. DeBolt, Trenton; J. H. Shanklin, Trenton; and T. B. Yates, Gallatin.

The first officers of the institution were Miss Emma Gilbert, superintendent; Miss C. A. Bowman, cottage manager; Miss Mary Berry, teacher; Miss Augusta Fortney, housekeeper; George Marsh, engineer; and Andrew Nelson, night watchman.

The first girl committed to the institution was Mary Diaz, who was sent to the home from Cooper county on the 16th day of February, 1889.

The members of the Board of Control for the year 1912 were Boyd Dudley of Gallatin; F. B. Klepper of Cameron; A. M. Shelton of Chillicothe; Mrs. W. P. Rowland of Bevier; and Mrs. Walter Brownlee of Brookfield.

Mrs. Isabella R. Slack was the widow of the late Gen, Wm. Y. Slack, who was mortally wounded at the battle of Pea Ridge during the Civil war and died a few days after. As previously stated she was a member of the first Board of Control in 1888, and remained a member continuously until her demise on July 22, 1911, being the only member upon whom such honor has been conferred by the several governors of both political parties. Her heart was ever kind and charitable, but firm for what she believed to be right while her sympathies and influence were a light and guide to the wayward of her sex and to needy humanity. As mother, friend or neighbor she had no peer and her life was both an inspiration and a benediction to the world about her. Quoting from the creed of the Hebrew prophet: "Justice, justice shalt thou pursue," and not only did she administer justice to all, but she ever loved to be merciful as well.

The eleventh biennial report to the Hon. Herbert S. Hadley, governor, the Hon. Cornelius Roach, secretary of state, and the Forty-sixth General Assembly of the State of Missouri, which was submitted in compliance with the Revised Statute of the State of Missouri, the Board of Control of the State Industrial Home for Girls submitted the biennial report to December 31, 1910. This report included estimates for necessary appropriations and maintenance of the institution for the twelfth biennial period. The reports also included the detail work by the superintendent, physician and treasurer, of which a brief recapitulation of the same is herewith included.

The number of inmates had not increased for the past biennial period. This was due to the fact that the capacity of the home was taxed to its utmost for lack of room. This condition was reported to the authorities in St. Louis, Kansas City and St. Joseph, from which the greater number of the girls are committed. To some extent this served to prevent the institution from being utterly overtaxed.

The Industrial Home is not a prison, but a moral homelike institution in which the unfortunate girls of this commonwealth may receive a domestic and educational training, looking to their highest development and strength intellectually. The environments in which these girls have lived and the natures handed down to them through heredity are evils the superintendent aims to dispel and in time thoroughly eradicate through an "uplift" in the direction of a moral and Christian life, There is no relaxation in the discipline and the girls are treated as rational beings, not as creatures of depravity.

For the twelfth biennial period the sum of $175,000, according to estimates by the board would be required for the salaries and actual operating expenses of the home. Of this amount, however, $21,000 was included for the purchase of additional land.

The superintendent, Mrs. A. M. Clay, in her report to the Board of Control says many people have questioned whether it pays the State of Missouri to attempt the rescue and reform of these young wayward lives. To this question she replies emphatically, "Yes - two wrongs never made a right; many are half orphaned, others deserted, their homes broken up by death, drunkenness, desertion, divorce and poverty, and the downward course of many girls is due to one or more of these causes."

One of the beneficial and cooperative spirits of the home is the daily talk on items of general interest, discussions, etc., such as "The Reality and Result of Thought," readings from Marden's "He Can Who Thinks He Can," and Stoddard's Lectures. Illustrated lectures are also given, a fine stereoptican being used in these instructive entertainments. A limited amount of farming is done, the plowing, shaping of beds and a small amount of planting is done by the men employed at the institution but the weeding, hoeing and gathering in of the produce is done by the girls.

As referred to in the historical account of the home, the whole scheme of the work is known as the family plan. The head or manager of the several families is responsible for the. well-being of the girls and the sanitary and general condition of the cottage entrusted to her care. Each cottage also has a housekeeper who is in charge of the officers' and girls' dining rooms, kitchen and laundry. Other teachers and relief officers go on duty each alternate Sunday and teach the international lesson each Saturday evening. A system of grading has been adopted that is a great help in discipline. These honor grades are given the girls as a privilege to attend church in Chillicothe, to attend lectures or other entertainments in the city. Aside from this system the girls are supplied with report cards. These are inspected and signed by the family manager, whose position towards the girls is that of a mother.

The girls are uniformed. The day or school dress is of blue gingham, trimmed with two rows of white braid on the collar, cuffs, and belt, while the Sunday uniform is a shirt-waist suit made of shrunk Indian head muslin which in its weave closely resembles linen.

Many of the girls earn considerable money by doing custom work in odd moments, which supplies them with "pin money." "Shopping Day" is a pleasant pastime and recreation for them. Each family goes to the city once a month in charge of the manager and these outings are greatly enjoyed by the inmates.

When entering the institution the girls are classified according to age and general moral condition. The smaller children go into the Slack cottage, the intermediate ages being placed in the Folk and Marmaduke cottages, while the older girls are assigned to the Missouri cottage.

Family activities begin at six o'clock, when the girls arise and make ready for breakfast, which is served at seven. Next the morning work is performed by detail and at eight o'clock school begins. Dinner is served at half-past eleven, after which an hour's recreation is given from twelve to one o'clock. At the latter hour the A grade, composed of the girls who have been attending to the morning's work, repair to the school room and the B grade take up the work of the afternoon.

The Marmaduke cottage is the home of the orchestra and brass band and here they are given daily instructions by a competent teacher. There is also several club organizations in the home, including culture clubs, baseball, etc. The ball teams and band have fine uniforms.

The Missouri cottage was erected in 1895 and was constructed similar to the Marmaduke cottage. The older girls are in the Missouri family. The family club is, the "Clay," having for their motto "Our life is what our thoughts make it." The clinic room is located in this cottage.

Slack cottage was the third to be built and was completed in 1901. The name of this cottage was chosen in honor of Mrs. Isabella R. Slack, who was a life-long friend of the institution and its inmates and was always untiring in her eforts looking to the redemption and future welfare of the girls. This cottoge is the home of the smallest children, their ages ranging from seven to fourteen years. "Slow but Sure" is the name of the cottage club, whose motto is, "Speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil." One of the girls of this family won a prize for an essay on "Missouri and Her Resources" offered by the State Board of Immigration of Missouri in May 1910, the prize being a full blood Holstein calf.

The Folk cottage was the last one erected and was originally intended for incorrigible negro girls, but the other cottages being over-crowded at the time the building was finished, the Legislature of 1907 directed the board to use the building as would best subserve the interest of the institution. "I'll 'Try" is the club name of the Folk cottage and the motto "She can who thinks she can."

The school building of the institution contains seven recitation rooms and auditorium with a seating capacity of three hundred. The branches taught embrace those usually taught from the first grade to the high-school and corresponds precisely with that of the best public schools of the state.

Industrial work is strongly emphasized, consisting of fancy cooking, bread making, dining and laundry room work, plain and fancy sewing, etc. All of the wearing apparel of the girls of the home is made in the sewing department of the school.

The first graduating class of the home was in 1909, when fourteen girls graduated. A second class graduated in 1910 composed of ten girls. Clay modeling and basketry is also taught in the home. The domestic science department was in opened in 1910.

On entering the institution the girls are taught the various industrial pursuits which enable them to carry on the work of home-makers, seamstresses, cooks, or laundresses. On being admitted each girl is given two changes of clothing throughout. During the last biennial period the sewing department has turned out 352 blue dresses, 19 white dresses, 401 underskirts, 346 school aprons, 216 kitchen aprons, 92 shirtwaists, 178 corset covers, 416 nightgowns, 490 drawers, 160 extra sleeves, 18 baseball suits and 4 Santa Claus suits.

So efficient have many of the girls become in domestic work that they are often called to the aristocratic homes of the city to properly arrange tables for luncheon and serve the family and invited guests.

The musical department has become of great and influential interest to all the members of the home. Organized only three years ago this institution now has one of the finest orchestras in the state. The present director of the orchestra and cornet band is thoroughly capable and under his tutorship the organizations have advanced rapidly. Both orchestra and band are sought after by managers of Chatauquas, fairs, celebrations and entertainments throughout the state.

Resident ministers of the city conduct services, the various denominations alternating. Sunday school and Bible history lessons are conducted by the superintendent and her assistants.

The home library, embracing fiction, travels, culture, music, history, theology, poetry, essays and scientific works, consist of several thousand volumes.

From the storeroom of the home a liberal allowance is issued weekly to the kitchen and dining room details, a few of the more substantial articles for the past biennial period being 22,880 pounds of navy beans, 1,040 pounds of bacon, 3,640 pounds of butter, 72,800 pounds of butterine, 3,650 pounds of coffee, 2,000 dozen of eggs, 3,000 sacks of flour, 1,360 pounds of hominy, 3,000 pounds of lard, 1,600 pounds of dry salt pork, 850 pounds of dried beef, 1,040 pounds of cheese, 4 barrels of pickels, 1,600 pounds dried peaches, 1.800 pounds of prunes, 1,800 pounds of raisins, 2,080 pounds of rice, 1,875 gallons of syrup, 20,800 pounds of granulated sugar, 250 pounds of tea, 7,600 pounds of canned corn, 7,600 pounds of canned peas, 17,440 pounds of canned peaches, 1,300 gallons of canned tomatoes; also plums, pears, pineapples, apricots, salmon, etc., in abundance.

The home grounds consist of fifty acres; ten or a dozen of these acres are in pasture, while the remainder is utilized for truck farming on which is produced from $800 to $1,200 worth of produce annually.

Twelve or fifteen cows, the property of the home, furnish milk for the institution. The water supply of the home is furnished by the water company, while the home electric light plant supplies all the various buildings with electric light.

The value of the real estate, buildings and all personal property is estimated at $153,504.85

The average length of the time served by the girls is two years and eight months, but those who stay longest grow stronger morally and are usually better qualified to fight the battles of life through the medium of additional schooling and industrial training. In the past two years fifty-nine girls have been paroled. Twenty-eight of this number have made good, while the remainder having violated their parole have been returned to the home. About fifty per cent of the girls marry within one year after leaving the institution.

The nativity of the girls now in the institution at the last biennial report is Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Colorado together with twenty per cent whose nativity is unknown. The parentage of the girls is American, German-American, French-American, German, German-French, German-Irish, German-English, Irish, Irish-French, Swiss, French, French-English, Indian, Indian-American and twenty-five per cent unknown. Girls are committed to the home by the respective courts of the state when delinquent, neglected, incorrigible, and for vagrancy, petit larceny, lewdness, disturbing the peace, immorality and stealing.

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