“Riots in New York: Destruction of the Colored Orphan Asylum,” Illustrated London News, August 15, 1863. Reproduced collection. New-York Historical Society.
New York Orphans Records (click)
As early as 1653, New York City (formerly called New Amsterdam) recognized that it needed to care for the city’s minor children, widows, and orphans. In February of that year, the Deacons of the Reformed Dutch Church were appointed to act as Orphan Masters. Their duties were to “keep their eyes open and look as Orphanmasters after widows and orphans…” They were to report to city officials who would appoint cuators if necessary to take care of the estates and effects of these widows and orphaned children.
On February 10, 1653, two men were appointed to act, not as Orphanmasters as originally intended, but as Overseers of Orphans. City officials continued to rule in the Orphan’s Court, which had been created by Stuyvesant to “attend to orphans and minor children within the jurisdiction of this city [New York City]”
The Records of this Orphans’ Court have been published as “Minutes of the Orphan Masters of New Amsterdam 1655-1663” by Berthold Fernow and “The Minutes of the Orphan Masters of New Amsterdam 1663-1668” translated by Edmund B. O’Callaghan. Genealogists can also consult The Records of New Amsterdam : From 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini by Berthold Fernow
There were may orphanages and orphan asylums in the 19th century. I have begun transcribing records for as many of these as possible
Some New York early orphanages were
Many of these institutions were founded in New York City to care for destitute children of immigrants from Ireland and Russia, Germany and other eastern European countries. Many immigrants found themselves unable to work and thus were unable feed their children. Women died during childbirth leaving a number of uncared for children. Many women also had illegitimate children that they could not provide for. Husbands died, living behind widows with large families. Some parents were addicted to alcohol or committed crimes and wound up in prison.
By 1850, New York state had 27 orphanages run by public and private funds but the problem of orphaned or abandoned children left behind roaming the streets begging for food was growing.
Reform groups and wealthy benefactors set up orphanages in large buildings in lower Manhattan and provided food, clothing and shelter to children. Many were run by churches and there was an emphasis on moral training and discipline. The children also learned vocational skills from mechanics to tailoring.
The Children’s Aid Society, founded in 1854, shipped some of these children to homes in the South and West on Orphan Trains. Boys and girls were give a train ticket and sent to the mid-west. Other charities – the Children’s Mission to the Children of the Destitute (Boston), the New York Juvenile Asylum, the New England Home for Little Wanderers (Boston), and the New York Foundling Hospital also followed the Children’s Aid Society’s example, using Orphan Trains to relocate destititute and abandoned children.
Westchester began housing destitute children in its Almshouse in Eastview. Opened in 1828, the Almshouse cared for impoverished adults and the elderly, and children shared space with them. Dating back to the colonial era, New York City assumed responsibility for its citizens who were destitute, sick, homeless, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. The city maintained an almshouse, various hospitals, and a workhouse on Blackwell’s Island (now called Roosevelt Island) for the poor.
In 1880, New York state passed a law that ended the practice of housing children in Almshouses with adults, unless they were born there.
Orphanage Stenography Graduates 1906
Photo courtesy of Family Tree Connection.
Choose from the list of Almshouses and Orphanages below:
Almshouse children (orphans) sent to New Netherland (New York) from Amsterdam Holland on the ship De Waegh (The Weigh-House), August 1655 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Palatine (German) Orphaned Children Apprenticed by Gov. Hunter in New York 1710-1714 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Almshouse Records New York 1819-1840 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
It’s not an orphanage but I didn’t know where else to put this incredible database – a List of those who died while in Staten Island Quarantine May 1849 – Dec. 1850 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum Rochester, Monroe Co., New York in 1850 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Almshouse Records New York City 1855-1858 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Orphans in the Sisters of Charity Orphan Asylum New York City, New York 1860 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Half-Orphans in the Sisters of Charity Orphan Asylum New York City, New York 1860 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
History of Various Orphan Homes in Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities of the State of New York, 1870; Argus Company, Printers, Albany. transcribed & submitted by Linda Conpenelis Schmidt, July 2007
|* Albany Orphan Asylum
* Davenport Female Orphan Asylum, Bath
* Society for the Relief of Half-Orphan and Destitute Children, New York
|* Colored Orphan Asylum, New York
* Southern Tier Orphans’ Home, Elmira
* … more orphanage records to come!
Orphans in St. Patrick’s Orphan Asylum Rochester, Monroe County, New York 1880 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
St. Vincent’s Female Orphan Asylum Albany, Albany County, New York 1880 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
St. Patrick’s Male Orphan Asylum Cortlandt, Westchester County, New York 1880 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Troy Catholic Orphan (Male) Asylum Troy, Rensalaer County New York 1880 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
St. Vincent’s Orphan Protectory (Male) Uitca Oneida County, New York 1880 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
St. Joseph’s Female Orphan Asylum Brooklyn, Kings County New York 1880 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum Manhattan New York 1900 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Hebrew Orphan Asylum Amsterdam Avenue & 137 Street, Manhattan New York 1900 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society of New York, Manhattan New York 1900 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Jewish Home for Children aka Jewish Foster Home and Orphan Asylum of Philadelphia, Church Lane (Mill Street), Philadelphia Pennsylvania, 1900
Orphan Asylum Society Manhattan New York 1900 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Society for Relief of Half-Orphans & Destitute Children 1900, Manhattan New York [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
Albany Orphan Asylum Albany City, New York, Tenth Ward.; 1900 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]
READ ABOUT EXHIBIT here
In the mid-18th century thousands of poor women deposited their newborn babies at the Foundling Hospital. The scraps of material left to identify them tell an extraordinary story.
By Kathryn Hughes
EXCERPT: Whether the mothers’ fierce hope that their babies would be better off at the hospital was justified is hard to say. Two-thirds of the foundlings died, which sounds shocking until you remember that nearly half the children born in London at the time would perish in infancy. Certainly it looks as though the hospital administrators realised the damage a toxic city environment could have on small and vulnerable constitutions. Within a few days of being received the children were shipped out to the country, where they were suckled by wet nurses. If they managed to survive for six years, they returned to Bloomsbury for some solid if rudimentary schooling. From there the boys were apprenticed in a variety of trades and the girls prepared for a life in service. The hospital took its duties as quasi-parent seriously. Any whiff of exploitation and the children were recalled. One female employer who savagely mistreated her foundling apprentice was prosecuted and hanged.
The mothers may have been over-optimistic, too, in their belief that one day they would be in a position to reclaim their baby. Out of the 16,282 infants admitted between 1741 and 1760, only 152 were ever called for. Some women, though, clearly had the drive and determination to execute their plan come what may. One of the most extraordinary pieces of fabric in the exhibition belongs to Sarah Bender. Attached to her baby was a piece of elaborate patchwork, made up of bits of printed fabric, on which she had embroidered a heart in red thread. She retained the matching piece. Eight years passed, during which time the child, renamed Benjamin Twirl, was presumably farmed out to the country, and made stout and ruddy enough to eventually be brought back to the city.
Then, one day nearly a decade after she had first trudged out to Bloomsbury, Sarah Bender banged on the door of the Foundling Hospital and presented her piece of patchwork. Something in her circumstances must have changed. Charles/Benjamin would be coming home. This was one heart that had been mended.
Threads of Feeling is at the Foundling Museum, London WC1, from 14 October to 6 March 2011. http://www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk
On May 26, there is an unofficial holiday in Australia called National Sorry Day. The day commemorates the day a national report called “Bringing Them Home” was official handed to the Australian government in 1997 after a two year inquiry.
The report symbolized the end to a national effort to make right a major wrong done to the native peoples of Australia.
The “Bring Them Home Report” Found That At Least 100,000 Children Were Forcibly Removed
Many have called the forced removals an act of genocide and almost all agree that while the stated intentions of the forced removals was to improve the lives of aboriginal peoples, the effect was to destroy families with little to no tangible results. The Children that were removed from their families have become known as the Stolen Generations.
Forcible removal of children continued until the 1970s. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s much political and public debate occurred about the removal policies. In 1992, Australian Prime Minister Keating acknowledged for the first time that children were actually taken from the arms of their mothers by force. As a result of government acknowledgement of the child removal policies, an inquiry was held about the impact of the policies between 1995 and 1997. The Final Report entitled “Bringing Them Home – Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families” was released in 1997.
One year to the day after the Bringing Them Home Report was released, National Sorry Day began. The day commemorates and acknowledges the wrong that was done to the indigenous peoples of Australia. The point behind National Sorry Day was to try to let the healing process begin. The day also remembers other wrongs done to the Aboriginal people of Australia other than forcibly removing their children.
National Sorry day was held annually until 2004. It was then renamed National Day of Healing. However, after only one year the day again was renamed to National Sorry Day. Despite the public acknowledgment of what happened and the National Sorry Day, the Australian government has never formally apologized to the indigenous people for what was done.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) admits to 338 deaths of children in public Foster Care in just one year in its FY 2013 report, but researchers have documented not only a larger number of Foster Child Deaths, but also MILLIONS of DEAD, DISAPPEARED, MASS KIDNAPPED, SOLD FOR LEGAL AND ILLEGAL ADOPTION, and TRAFFICKED American children in “STATISTICS OF ADOPTION and ASSISTED REPRODUCTION” – AmFOR.net/statistics.html
Amid recent growth in abuse or neglect deaths of children in foster homes, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services approved a set of new regulations in 2014 meant to provide more oversight of children in foster care. Despite the new rules, advocates are calling for increased training for foster parents and additional checks on foster homes.
“Unfortunately last year, there was a very alarming number of abuse and neglect fatalities in foster care, and there was a realization we needed to do more,” said DFPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins. “We had to have better information on what was going on in foster homes and who the children were regularly coming in contact with at the home.”
Revised rules for new and existing foster homes apply to the state’s 220 foster child-placing agencies licensed by DFPS. In addition to existing regulations, the new rules include a requirement for more interviews with members of the foster home’s community, such as neighbors and school employees whom the children would regularly be in contact with, and a review of the household’s finances. They also require child-placing agencies to more closely monitor existing foster homes for major changes, including job losses, divorces, new household members or frequent visitors.
“These rules significantly strengthen protections for our foster children,” John Specia, DFPS commissioner, said in a statement. “Our focus is ensuring that we know who is in these homes and who may be around these children that could pose an unacceptable risk.”
The new rules are the first substantive revision of child-placing agency rules since 2007.
*** Abstract: Criminal Adoptees
|CRIMINALITY IN ADOPTEES AND THEIR ADOPTIVE AND BIOLOGICAL PARENTS – A PILOT STUDY (FROM BIOSOCIAL BASES OF CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR, 1977, BY SARNOFF A MEDNICK AND KARL O CHRISTIANSEN – SEE NCJ-47285)|
|Author(s):||B HUTCHINGS ; S A MEDNICK|
|Corporate Author:||Gardner Press, Inc
United States of America
Although he was the son of poor Irish immigrants and possessed only a grammar school education, Thomas Kearns became one of Utah’s wealthiest and most influential public figures. Like many of Utah’s earliest millionaires, Kearns made his fortune from the territory’s rich silver deposits. In 1883, with his partners John Judge and David Keith, he developed the Silver King mine in Park City, which became one of the biggest producers in Utah history. Eventually he served as U.S. Senator and publisher of both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Salt Lake Telegram newspapers before his death in 1918.
The original orphanage at First South and Third East had been Bishop Scanlan’s rectory.
The new St. Ann Orphanage shortly after its construction on Twenty-first South. Note how tiny the trees in front were in those days!
Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City Pastoral Center, 27 C Street, Salt Lake City
“Catholic Orphan Asylum. A New Extensive Site Is Selected on Fordham Heights,” The New York Times (Nov. 22, 1898).
Roman Catholic Orphans’ Asylum – Bronx, NY
Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum, 301 West Kingsbridge Road at Sedgwick Avenue
The Bronx, N.Y. 10468
St. Patrick’s Boys Asylum (Manhattan)
Fifth Avenue at 51st and 52nd Streets (1851-1902)
(c.1851) – Boys’ Chapel
Prince and Mott Streets (1826-1851)
St. Patrick’s Girls Asylum (Manhattan)
461 Madison Avenue at 51st Street (1886-1902) & Prince and Mott Streets (1826-1886)
The Roman Catholic Benevolent Society, established in 1817, was the oldest charitable institution in the Archdiocese of New York. At that time, parentless Catholic children were lost to the faith if they were taken in by Protestant orphan societies. From the beginning, the society was administered by the Sisters of Charity. The first building, located at Prince and Mulberry Streets, opened with 30 inmates, but within a few years was overcrowded. In 1826, a new building was erected on Prince and Mott Streets, but by the 1840s, it, too, was badly overcrowded as was St. Joseph’s Half-Orphan Asylum on West 11th Street. In 1845, Archbishop John Hughes appealed to the city for land on which to build a larger facility, and was offered the entire block between Fifth and Madison Avenues from 51st to 52nd Streets. The deed, signed on August 1, 1846, directed that the rent would be one dollar per year as long as the property was used to house orphans. At that time, Fifth Avenue was not paved and the area was relatively uninhabited. A few years later, in 1852, Archbishop Hughes would purchase the block directly to the south for a new cathedal that was begun in 1858 but not consecrated until 1879.
In 1851, the boys were moved into the new facility on Fifth Avenue. The first building had accommodations for five hundred boys, and a trade school wing, built in 1893, provided accommodations for two hundred more. The girls’ wing, completed in 1870, held eight hundred. There was every facility for religious, moral and social training.
A separate building for girls was built on Madison Avenue. Designed by Renwick & Sands, the five-story building was completed in 1886. At this time, the last of the girls were moved from Prince Street and the old orphanage there was converted into a parish school.
By the 1890s, the midtown area had been developed and land values had increased enormously. Private institutions were enticed to sell their lucrative property and use the proceeds to relocate farther north. Nearby St. Luke’s Protestant Episcopal Hospital, located since 1846 at Fifth Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets, sold its property and built a new facility on Morningside Heights in 1896. Columbia College, which built a new campus at Madison Avenue and 49th Street in 1857, moved to its present Morningside Heights site in 1897. About that time, a committee was formed to select a new site for the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum.
In November 1898, the committee met at the Archbishop’s residence and decided to acquire from the Bailey estate a tract of about 28 acres, most of which was between Sedgwick Avenue and the Harlem River in the Fordham Heights section of The Bronx. Located on the highest point in New York City, the site served as a strategic vantage point during the Revolutionary War. In 1847, William H. Bailey, who was partners with P.T. Barnum of the Barnum and Bailey Circus fame, bought 26 acres of land as a country home for his bride. In 1899, the land was purchased for $290,000, and erection of the buildings began. The next year, in 1900, Archbishop Corrigan was given permission by the city and state to sell most of the asylum’s midtown property to developers for $2,100,000, although he retained the Boland Trade School that fronted Madison Avenue for his proposed minor seminary, Cathedral College. The proceeds from the sale paid for the new orphanage in the Bronx and provided a $1 million endowment for the orphans
The new Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum was built atop the summit of the high ridge immediately east of the Harlem River, about 140 to 190 feet above tidewater. There were two buildings—one for boys, the other for girls—besides the old Bailey mansion. Each building was five stories high with a basement, measured 385 long by 50 feet deep, and had two wings 50 feet by 125, and a chapel. The new buildings provided accomodations for 1,600 inmates and were occupied in April, 1902, although they and the grounds were not completed until the next year.
With the passage of the Widows’ Compensation law in 1918, the number of orphans at the asylum was reduced to about 700, which was less than half of the capacity. In 1921, the Archdiocese sold the property to the Treasury Department, who planned to convert the facilities into a a hospital for ex-service patients suffering from mental and nervous disorders, and arranged for the transfer of remaining orphans to other facilities. The purchase was turned over to the newly formed U.S. Veterans’ Bureau by Executive Order on April 20, 1922. By adding several buildings throughout the years, the Bureau made the Bronx hospital the second largest V.A. facility in the nation, with a total of 1,663 beds, and the first veterans hospital in New York City.
Jenkins, Stephen. The Story of the Bronx from the Purchase Made by the Dutch from the Indians in 1639 to the Present Day. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1912
The Manhattan Guide – Greater New York Red Book. New York: The Manhattan Guide Company, 1901.
Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
“St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NY Dedicated to Sisters of Charity,” Vincentian Family News (Feb. 25, 2009).
Shelley, Thomas J. The Bicentennial History of the Archdiocese of New York 1808-2008. Strasbourg: Éditions du Signe, 2007.
“Soldiers to Give Up Polyclinic Hospital for Home in Bronx,” The New York Times (Oct. 6, 1921).
Cleveland’s Bellefaire Jewish Orphan Asylum
Today, Bellefaire JCB is among the nation’s largest, most experienced child welfare agencies providing a variety behavioral health, substance abuse, education and prevention services to approximately 21,700 youth and their families each year through its more than 25 programs, including:
Mary Lawlor was given up for adoption in 1960. On the 12th of July this year, at fifty-two years of age, she learned that she has a brother. He was born on the 18th of July in 1963 and shipped to America in 1965. Mary is now trying to find him, and bring him into her life.
Paul Redmond is an adoptee born in Castlepollard, and he organizes an annual trip and tour of Castlepollard for fellow adoptees. He is a researcher and writer, and he and Mary campaign in Ireland for the rights of the adopted community.
Mary and Paul have been meeting with the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin about the question of church records of adoptees. They have also been lobbying politicians, and have launched a new website Adoption Rights Now and a new Facebook campaign page. They have written this guest post about the history of the Irish adoption industry, and the demands of Adoption Rights Now.
What if black people were not entitled to their birth certificates? What if gay people were not entitled to their medical records? What if people with special needs were eligible for testing with experimental drugs? What if babies from the Traveling community who died were surrendered for medical research and dissection for training purposes?
Are you shocked at such politically incorrect language and extreme right wing ideology? Don’t worry; just replace the words black, gay, special needs and traveler with ‘adopted’ and that’s perfectly acceptable for the 50,000 adoptees living in Ireland past and present.
50,000 people classified as second class citizens and ‘illegitimate’. 50,000 Irish citizens denied basic human and civil rights contrary to the Human Rights conventions of the European Union and the United Nations.
The history of the Irish Adoption Industry is the last dirty little secret of the darkest depths of the once fabled and glorified holy Catholic Ireland.You doubt that it was an industry? That it was a machine? Don’t.
Babies and little children were exported like livestock. They were rented out for drug experiments like poor defenceless lab rats. They were condemned to death by the willful withholding or denial of proper food, of medical treatment, of medical equipment from their terrified mothers, who far too often had already been the victims of rape or incest.
From 1948 to 1973, at least 2,132 babies and young children were effectively sold to rich American Catholics by Irish nuns. And this happened with the assistance of the then Minister for External Affairs, one Eamon De Valera, who illegally issued passports on the orders of Archbishop John McQuaid. This was nothing less than child trafficking on an industrial scale.
From 1960 to 1973, in the three Sacred Heart-run Mother and Baby Homes, there were at least four trials of experimental and/or modified vaccines carried out by a state employed professor of medicine and a doctor working working on behalf of the Borris Wellcome Foundation, which is now a part of GlaxoSmithKline. These trials were carried out on control groups of babies who were as little as eighteen months old, and who had been held in Mother and Baby Homes instead of being adopted.
These monstrous trials were in direct contravention of the Irish Constitution, of the international CODEX guidelines and of the Hippocratic oath. For thirteen years the State, its religious orders and the Borris Wellcome Foundation conspired to turn between 200 and 300 babies and children into nothing more than human lab rats in the three Mother and Baby Homes and other institutions.
Amazingly, after these trials had been conducted, the conspirators just walked away. And heartbreakingly, those babies and children were then adopted without their new parents ever being informed of the trials those babies and children had been subjected to, and without any kind of monitoring or after-care.
Donation of bodies
Between 1940 and 1965, from the fourth major M&B Home, St. Patrick’s, and its sister hospital, St. Kevin’s in Dublin, the bodies of at least 460 dead babies were ‘donated’ for routine dissection practise by medical students and/or research, to all of the major medical teaching institutions in the State, including Trinity College, UCD Medical School and The College of Surgeons.
In both the cases of the vaccine trials and the ‘donation’ of bodies, consent was neither sought from nor granted by either the natural or adoptive parents involved. Nor was the truth of what happened to their children, while they lived or after they died, ever revealed to them.
High mortality rates
Most shocking and disturbing of all is the high mortality rate for the babies of single mothers both inside and outside the high walls of the adoption machine. It is in these horrific mortality figures that the influence and the consequences of the Church’s iron grip on Irish civil society can be most clearly seen.
Since 1922 the mortality rates for babies of single mothers has run considerably higher than the national average. In the years 1923 to 1929 inclusive, infant mortality rates for ‘illegitimate’ babies ran at about FIVE times the national average for ‘legitimate’ babies. In 1930, 60 of the 120 babies born in Sean Ross Abbey died. And during the 1930s, mortality rates ran at approximately FOUR times the national average.
By 1948, John Cunningham, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCD, stated that the annual national infant mortality rates were 47 per 1000 babies born within marriage (4.7%), and 147 babies born outside marriage (14.7%), over THREE times higher. Interestingly, he also stated that this was not a problem.
In the three Sacred Heart run M&B Homes, there are so-called ‘ Angel Plots ‘ which contain the bodies of between 3,000 and 4,000 babies buried without birth certificates, death certificates, baptisms, names, or even the most simple dignity of a coffin. These are unmarked or barely marked graves.
Fianna Fail did nothing in all of their years in power during the Celtic Tiger to even attempt to correct this massive injustice which their founder, Eamon De Valera, helped inflict on tens of thousands of innocent Irish citizens.
During their long, long spell in opposition, the now Ministers Francis Fitzgerald and Alan Shatter promised the sun, the moon and the stars to the adopted community, but have completely failed to act on, let alone deliver on, their many promises since assuming office.
Adoption Rights Now!
As adopted people, we have little or no rights. We are determined to change that. For us, for Mary’s brother, and for the souls of each little baby in those unmarked graves. And we are asking you, the person reading this, to help us change this terrible situation. We, just like you, just like everyone else, have the right to know who we are and where we come from.
Please step forward and help us, and 52,000 others like us. We need volunteers who will help us to break free from this prison we have been trapped in, simply by the circumstances of our birth.
We are demanding
How can you help? You can contact your local and national politicians, and members of the Catholic clergy, and tell them about our rights and our demands. You can write to the newspapers, ring up radio stations. You can share links to this article on the Internet.
You can join our Facebook campaign page.
You can also help us to get signatures for our petition seeking immediate action by the Irish Government and the Catholic church.
For more details, check our website Adoption Rights Now! or email marylawlor87 (at) yahoo (dot) com.
(ca. 1900)* – The Los Angeles Orphanage at 917 South Boyle Avenue, southwest corner of Boyle Avenue at Stephenson Avenue (now Whittier Boulevard) in Boyle Heights. The orphanage is a five-story, brick, L-shaped building with dormer windows on the facade and a tower at the entrance that is flanked by newly-planted date palm trees. Steps lead to an arched entryway at the bottom of the tower. Several chimneys sit atop the roof.
The girl’s orphange and school was established in 1856 by six Sisters of Charity nuns from Emmitsburg, Maryland, the motherhouse in the United States. They selected a house with vineyard and orchard belonging to B. D. Wilson for $8,000. This gave the orphanage an income from wine grapes and a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. The 917 South Boyle Avenue site opened in 1890 on twelve acres and remained open until it was condemned in 1953 and the orphanage moved to Rosemead.*
For over sixty years the facility served thousands of orphaned children in Los Angeles. Concerns over structural integrity came about in the early 1930s when construction crews blasting the hillside next to the asylum for the extension of Sixth Street weakened the massive structure’s foundations. While the building was used for classes during the day, children and staff slept at the basement at St. Vincent’s Hospital in the evenings.
The damage to the building, as well as the notorious freeway construction projects that controversially carved through much of Boyle Heights, led the Daughters to abandon the site and move the facility to Rosemead in the San Gabriel Valley. From 1953, the facility has operated as Maryvale, but has been reconfigured as a residential home for girls from ages six to seventeen. There are also adjunct facilities in El Monte and Duarte.
More on California history: HERE
We continue our series on the “Business of Medical Kidnapping,” which addresses the question, “why is this happening?” Our previous articles in this series:
Steve Isham addresses the topic of the multi-billion dollar adoption business.
As we have previously reported at Health Impact News, fertility rates in the United States are at an all-time low. As John P. Thomas has reported in his article, Are GMO Foods, Vaccines, and Big Pharma Producing an Infertile Generation?, fertility rates are plummeting:
Add to this the growing list of states that are legalizing gay marriages adding more couples unable to conceive children, and it is easy to see that the adoption business is growing due to increased demand.
Much of what Steve uncovers in this article will apply to children taken away from families for any reason, not simply issues related to “medical kidnapping,” such as being charged with “medical abuse” for simply questioning a doctor or wanting to seek a second opinion regarding medical treatment for one’s child.
In future articles we will report more about the financial incentives of the medical industry to remove custody of a child from the parents, thereby gaining access to the vast amount of financial resources available via Medicaid to purchase drugs for these children.
Many reports have already been published documenting how children who are wards of the State are taking many more prescription drugs than those living with their families. Foster parents or parents of adopted children are often required to administer these drugs whether they agree or not. The medical institution also has the legal right to use these children in drug experiments.
By Steven R. Isham M.A., L.B.S.W.
Special to Health Impact News
Child ‘protection’ is one of the biggest businesses in the country. We spend $12 billion a year on it.
A recent CDC study, The Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in the United States and Implications for Prevention, found the total lifetime estimated financial costs associated with just one year of cases associated with child protection services is approximately $124 billion. 
The State of Arizona has increased the percentage of kids in out-of-home placement by almost 50% between 9/30/2007 and 9/30/2012. That is 20% higher than the next closest state, Oregon, who increased only 20% in those five years. Nationwide 41 states actually lowered the percentage of children in out-of-home placements. Arizona has recently passed the mark of more than 16,000 children in out-of-home placements and is still increasing this trend. 
Why would Arizona be continuing to take more children than ever before and adopt out so many of these children to other families? Is it about the money?
Certainly, “yes”, the state government and the state economy needs every business opportunity it can achieve, and the taking of children by the state and adopting these children to others is a financial windfall for the State of Arizona, the state budget and the economy. It is easily a billion dollar business, and growing every day in Arizona.
According to Wall St., Arizona is the 45th worst run state in the nation, has a poverty rate of 18.6%, the 9th highest in the nation, and a 2013 unemployment rate of 8.0%, 12th highest in the country. 
So why does Arizona lead the nation in percentage of children removed from their parents’ homes?
So after millions of dollars in services, thousands of employees from hundreds of businesses, both state and federal, including in-state and out-of-state experts, are the children being protected ending up in safe and secure environments? Are the children being treated better or worse in state custody?
A reasonable taxpayer would assume that children are going from a bad environment to a good environment, a sick environment to a healing environment. We would assume they are going to a new environment totally void of any more suffering or trauma, safe from abuse or neglect of any kind, right?
Some of these children have suffered more trauma by being taken by CPS than they ever suffered in their own homes. Being taken from your own home and placed in another home with strangers while often not having any clue why, is extremely traumatizing. The impact is just like that of an illegal kidnapping; but in these cases the kidnapping is totally legal.
Or, imagine being told that your mother tried to harm you when in fact nothing ever happened. Purely speculative areas that are not researched but are based on diagnoses like Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (MSBP) and others are often made up signs and symptoms to qualify the child for a disability that can receive massive amounts of federal funding.
According to Cornell University, about 68% of all child protective cases “do not involve child maltreatment.” 
According to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) in Washington, the calculated average is for every 1 abused child removed from an abusive home, there are 17 children removed from loving non-offending homes nationwide. 
Take a look at statistics of children who are removed from their families by CPS:
Number of Cases per 100,000 children in the United States. These numbers come from The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) in Washington D. C. 
Children in CPS custody:
Children in Parent Custody:
A child in CPS custody is:
One local hospital in Arizona was billing the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (Medicaid) over one million dollars a year on one child, but then the same physicians/hospitals were testifying in “kiddie court” there was nothing wrong with the child. The Mom must have done something? The true medical condition of the child was never given to the judge!
Poverty is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect. According to one frequently cited federal study, children in families earning below $15,000 a year are 22 times as likely to be considered maltreated as kids in families with incomes above $30,000. These numbers are readily available through documents CPS Investigators have about AHCCCS (Medicaid)  It is also well known that these parents cannot afford private attorneys to represent them and fight to get their children back. They must rely on court-appointed attorneys who are generally quick to encourage them to settle with the State, and lose all custody of their children.
There seems to be a trend in this area as certain Arizona hospitals have relationships with pharmaceutical companies and there seems to be a parallel between CPS reports, the genetics of the child, the medical conditions of the child, Arizona elected officials, and the research of the pharmaceutical company. The numbers are difficult to find, but apparently some parents have found their children in those research studies.
There are several cases where there is no evidence whatsoever of any neglect, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse and CPS is called by the physician or hospital involved. In many of these cases there is specific evidence and expert testimony, from nationally recognized experts, of medical mistakes or care below the community standards. Interestingly, CPS has never done an investigation of many of these cases and yet severs the rights of the parent as quickly as possible. “Bazinga” the medical malpractice disappears, saving hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements, legal fees, and increased liability insurance costs.
Federal Government Incentives
The United States Federal Government, through an array of laws and grants, provides billions of dollars in incentives to states to take children from their parents. Arizona takes more percentage wise than any other state.
People who do not have children and want children create a market for children. Where is there an endless availability of children? Child Protective Services! The younger and healthier the child the more adoptable that child will be. Younger and healthier children are significantly more adoptable. A reasonable person might conclude the demand is so high that there could possibly be a connection between this demand and the increase in the taking of children before they ever leave the hospital.
It is easier to build a round pizza puzzle with 1,000 pieces, than find the exact money a state gets per child from the moment CPS takes that child and then from month to month. The amount most consistently quoted and spoken about is $6,000.00 per month.
“For instance, in the case of foster care, the present reimbursement to state and local government for each child taken into foster care is approximately $6000/month. Yet the foster care provider (the foster parent) receives only somewhere around $600/month. Allowing about the same for administrative costs, each child in foster care is worth about $5000/month; that’s pure profit on the bottom line!” 
On October 11, 2014, Arizona Central reported the following:
“Arizona had the second-largest increase in the nation over the decade, adding 7,296 children to Texas’ 8,294 (which has 4x the population of Arizona). There were 15,751 foster kids in Arizona at the end of March, according to the latest numbers from the state.” (Data given on March 2013) 
Assuming these numbers are correct, and the accepted dollar amount is correct:
Most American’s find it nearly impossible to believe that our own Government, both state and federal, would allow some scheme this obscene to be perpetrated against the American family unit and our precious children. And yet, there is so much evidence that something perverse is happening that it begs for an independent audit by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Department of Justice.
A few questions that I believe should be addressed during both investigations:
About the Author
Steven R. Isham has educated, advocated, and fought for children and families since 1975, going on 40 years. His experience spans education, special education, school administration, behavioral health, juvenile justice, developmental disabilities, curriculum development, coaching, author of a book on Child and Family Advocacy and service to others throughout his career.
1. Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect Rival Other Major Public Health Problems – The Center for Disease Control (CDC)
2. Child Protective Services (CPS) Oversight Committee – Overview Presentation – October 17, 2013 – Arizona Department of Economic Security
3. The Best and Worst Run States in America: A Survey of All 50 – By Alexander E.M. Hess, Thomas C. Frohlich, Alexander Kent and Ashley C. Allen – December 3, 2014 6:20 pm EST
The Best and Worst Run States in America: A Survey of All 50 – 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/special-report/2014/12/03/the-best-and-worst-run-states-in-america-a-survey-of-all-50-3/#ixzz3Mea7YyiC
4. The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) in Washington. http://ndacan.cornell.edu/datasets/dataset-details.cfm?ID=187
6. Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections – March 2009 Performance Audit – http://www.azauditor.gov/Reports/State_Agencies/Agencies/Juvenile_Corrections_Department_of/Performance/09-02/09-02.pdf
7. Many Arizona foster children living far from home – By Mary K. Reinhart – Sept. 1, 2012 11:35 PM – The Republic | azcentral.com – http://archive.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2012/09/01/20120901arizona-foster-children-far-home.html#ixzz3ND5dtH7L
8. On Child Protective Services, Part 4: Follow the Money – Posted on May 8, 2013 by Michael Minkoff – http://politicaloutcast.com/2013/05/on-child-protective-services-part-4-follow-the-money/
9. Number of kids in Arizona’s foster-care system up – Miranda Rivers, Cronkite News 9:44 p.m. MST October 11, 2014 – http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/2014/10/12/arizona-foster-care-system-more-kids/17143057/
10. Demographics: Child Welfare Summary: Arizona: 2009, 2010,
Just more sickness in the land of the psychopaths. And you didn’t even touch on the number of CPS kidnapped kids that get shipped out to pedophile rings – whoops – I mean go missing every year.
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy January 5, 2015
Adoption was a 13 Billion Dollar industry in the USA in 2013. And yes, the new same sex marriage laws and growing infertility rates ALL increase the demand for children.. the younger and whiter the better.
There is same serious tax fraud going on all over the industry.. from the state incentives for CPS removal which is documented here to the double payments of birthmother medical expenses paid by both the state and adoptive parents.
What people don’t want to realize is that CPS removal isn’t what happens to “others” or “bad people”; no one is safe anymore. Fathers’ routinely get denied their rights to their children via adoption, mothers are lied to every day to convince them to relinquish their children, and often, doctors, hospitals, social workers, CPC’s and the adoption agencies and lawyers are all working in tandem. Meanwhile, we all want to think that the parents targeted must have “done something” to deserve this, but they are just like everyone else. No one ants to see that until it’s YOUR child getting sold off and you realize that there is nothing you can do!
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that ALL children adopted have trauma. Adoptees have 4 times higher a risk of suicide and they are over represented in both the prison and mental health industry by as high as 80%. So much for “better life.” Our own government is separating families and destroying our future.
“When a mother is forced to choose between the child and the culture, there is something abhorrently cruel and unconsidered about that culture. A culture that requires harm to one’s soul in order to follow the cultures prescriptions is a very sick culture indeed. This ‘culture’ can be the one a woman lives in, but more damning yet, it can be the one she carries around and complies with within her own mind…..” — Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I do not blog here as often as I do at Lara Hentz on wordpress. I blog weekly but am on hiatus until May.
This blog you are reading is about my research.
On May 16th 2009, White Bison began a 40-day, 6800 mile cross-country journey to present and former Indian School sites. It’s goal is to promote awareness, dialogue and forgiveness among Native peoples for the historical trauma of the Indian Boarding School Era which began in 1879.
Find out more about this journey.
May 16th, 2009
|Chemawa Indian School – Salem, OR|
May 17th, 2009
|Warm Springs Agency Boarding School – Warm Springs, OR|
May 19th, 2009
|Fort Hall Indian Boarding School – Fort Hall, ID|
May 21st, 2009
|St. Stephens High School – Riverton, WY|
May 24th, 2009
|Stewart Indian School – Carson City, NV|
May 26th, 2009
|Sherman Indian School – Riverside, CA|
May 27th, 2009
|Phoenix Indian School – Phoenix, AZ|
May 31st, 2009
|Albuquerque Indian School – Albuquerque, NM|
June 2nd, 2009
|Concho Indian School, El Reno, OK-Not a public event|
June 3rd, 2009
|Riverside Indian School – Anadarko, OK|
June 4th, 2009
|Sequoyah High School – Tahlequah, OK|
June 5th, 2009
|Haskell Indian Nations University – Lawrence, KS|
June 6th, 2009
|Genoa Indian Industrial School – Genoa, NE – Not a public event|
June 8th, 2009
|Rapid City, SD|
June 9th, 2009
|Morris Indian School – Morris, MN – Not a public event|
June 10th, 2009
|White Earth Indian School – White Earth, MN|
June 11th, 2009
|Red Lake Indian School – Red Lake, MN|
June 12th, 2009
|Leech Lake Indian School – Cass Lake, MN|
June 14th, 2009
|Lac du Flambeau Boarding School – Lac du Flambeau, WI|
June 15th, 2009
|Oneida Indian Boarding School – Oneida, WI|
June 17th, 2009
|Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial School – Mt. Pleasant, MI|
June 19th, 2009
|Thomas Indian School – Gowanda, NY|
June 21st, 2009
|Carlisle Indian School – Carlisle, PA|
June 24th, 2009
|National Museum of the American Indian – Washington, D.C|
Everyone has a story to tell; at Highland Heights there were probably hundreds of stories, events, circumstances and situations worthy of telling. These are but a few that have been offered to the site. There should be more, and we encourage their inclusion in the website. Perhaps reading some of these will jog the memory of others. We hope you will contact us with yours.
In either 1948 or 1949, a strong storm blew through New England with New Haven suffering a large portion of the damage. The winds were so strong, just short of hurricane strength, that a chimney was blown over on the girl’s north wing. A young girl who was saying her rosary as punishment for misbehaving barely escaped the weight of the bricks as they crashed through the roof close to where she was kneeling. Emergency services were called in and the boys from the south wing were enlisted to help remove the debris and transport some of the undamaged furniture to their side of the school. Adding to the problem was the ruptured fire extinguisher system that sprayed gallons of water throughout the area. Temporary arrangements were made for the girls to occupy a portion of the boy’s side until repairs could be made.
A Coca-Cola vending machine was located just outside the kitchen in the basement. Six ounce, glass bottles of coke were dispensed at a cost of just five cents and permission could be obtained from the house mothers to purchase one of the soft drinks. However, enterprising young people at Highland Heights found they could use a weighted slug instead of a coin to obtain the soft drink. Still others had found that they could reach into the machine where the bottles came out and manipulate the next bottle to be dispensed until it slid out of the machine at no cost.
The driveway leading up to the third level at the side of the gymnasium was off-limits, except with the permission of Mr. (Coach) Davin, the recreation director. The driveway ended at the sidewalk in front of the gymnasium. During the winter, permission was granted for sledders to come down the driveway and continue along the sidewalk in front of the gym. Another driveway led into the first level playground at the other end of the gymnasium sidewalk, where the sledder could turn to end their ride. The same driveway into the first level also had a right turn down a cobblestone driveway to the front of the main building. It was forbidden for anyone to ride their sled down that driveway but some children, being the way they are, invariably challenged the rule and finished the ride to the main entrance. Sometimes they even went beyond, to where the driveway to the front also came up from another point on Highland Street. Severe punishment was levied for such disobedience, but there was always another boy who was willing to gamble that he wouldn’t get caught.
Kite flying was a prevalent pastime at Highland Heights. There was a boy who once flew a kite out 3,000 feet in a quest to reach East Rock. The effort fell short but ultimately created a disciplinary situation. When it was time to go back inside, it took the boy a lot longer to bring the kite in than he had planned. As a result, corporeal punishment was meted accordingly. When the boy finally got to go on a hike to East Rock, he realized that it might have been almost impossible to sail a kite on the two miles of string it would have required for such a feat. And what would have happened if the kite came down with all that string stretched out? Would that have earned him more disciplinary activity? Fortunately, it never happened.
For dozens of years, the residents of Highland Heights were treated to their own beach on Long Island Sound, just outside of New Haven, Connecticut. There was never a major safety incident until the late 1950s. Sadly, a young ten year old boy became the first and only drowning victim at the Silver Sands beach.
The laundry facilities for Highland Heights were located on the girl’s side of the first level playground. It was comprised of two floors with the steam presses on the lower level, which was actually below the playground. At the playground level there was a boardwalk with spaces between the wood to allow the steam to rise and disperse from below. In the winter you could find several girls standing on the boardwalk to take advantage of the warm air rising to the surface.
The biggest concern was to inadvertently drop something of value while on the boardwalk. Many an item had been lost that way. On one occasion a live turtle was spotted below the boardwalk. How it got there is anyone’s guess; he was a good-sized box turtle. Fortunately, it was learned that there was an access door from the courtyard to the area below the boardwalk. Permission was given to a boy to go into the area just outside the windows of the steam room and to rescue the turtle.
As a result of the misguided turtle, the girls came to realize the potential for mischievous boys to be found below the boardwalk. Thereafter, it was a shared measure of safety for the girls to always be on the lookout for boys who might be somewhere they did not belong, seeking sights they should not have been investigating. No one knew for sure how many shameful sightings were initiated before the potential activity was discovered, nor was is possible to prevent completely the successful accomplishments of a few very determined youngsters.
Highland Heights had its full-time nurse. During the 1940s and 1950s the infirmary was run by Miss Catherine Coffey. Among the things remembered about the infirmary Miss Coffey oversaw was the constant smell of Noxzema. Some of the treatments for the ills of the children at Highland Heights included lining up during the winter months for our spoonfuls of castor oil, which was used as both a preventative and a treatment for colds. Some of the girls remember the application of hot vinegar in the treatment of head lice. ‘Painful’ is the way one girl described it.
Vitamins were provided in the interest of maintaining good health. Unfortunately, they were taken without providing water to wash them down. Physicals were given by a real doctor when new children arrived at Highland Heights, although he was only available on an as needed basis. Periodically he would be called upon to conduct additional physicals to update children’s records. He was frequently called in to diagnose an illness and recommend treatment for some of the more serious ailments such as tonsillitis, mumps, whooping cough, measles, or chicken pox. Small pox vaccinations were also administered if none had previously been acquired. Of course if it was a contagious disease, the child would be sent to a real hospital to prevent an epidemic.
A dentist also showed up periodically to do examinations and some minor drilling of smaller cavities. There was a small room off the auditorium that was set up for just these occasions. Eye examinations were also given infrequently and a local New Haven Optometrist was employed as needed to provide the recommended glasses.
Fortunately, epidemics were avoided for the most part. In the late 1940s there was a minor epidemic of yellow jaundice. But no serious repercussions resulted from it and all of the children who contracted it easily recovered with no further affects.
The boys had a shower room in the basement where once every week or two each of the three divisions went down a stairway to the showers, wearing a linen toga. The toga was worn while taking a shower. There was a room full of showerheads, some of which did not work (but we didn’t know which ones until the water was turned on). There was only one control for all the showers and the Sister in charge determined the right temperature, with the help of one of her ‘pet’ boys.
The girls in each of their divisions had a room with a bath tub that was only emptied after five or six girls had used it. The ‘pets’ got the first bath in the clean water; otherwise, there was little choice in the matter of who got the dirtiest water.
Beyond the baths and showers, personal hygiene took place in the dayrooms where an area in each division, boys and girls, was set aside with rows of sinks at which washing oneself as completely as possible, without going fully naked, was achieved every day.
There were movies every Friday night. They consisted of at least one cartoon, i.e., Tom and Jerry, the two black crows Heckle and Jeckle, Popeye, Mighty Mouse, Woody Woodpecker, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Porky Pig, and others. There was also a newsreel and, of course, a main feature. Westerns were among the more frequently shown. There was no such thing as a rating system as we have today. There was only the censorship of the Catholic Church. In fact, one movie managed to get past the critical eye of the censors and, when a woman in one film was shown partially naked in a bath tub (nothing was actually revealed), the movie was stopped and we were sent back to our respective divisions.
Visiting Sunday was a joy to anticipate. Parents and relatives would come to visit with the children twice a month on Sunday afternoons. Children would pace their dayrooms, looking out the windows to see if they recognized the vehicle coming up the driveway or the family member coming up the sidewalk. Names would be called and everyone waited to hear theirs. Unfortunately, relatives did not always arrive on every visiting Sunday. As the day wore on and names were not called, it became obvious who had been disappointed. The fact is, some children never had a visitor. One had to wonder how they felt as almost everyone else went to the auditorium, at least occasionally, to be reunited, if only briefly, with their families.
On the boys’ side of Highland Heights, the nuns in charge of each division, Baby Boys, Upstairs Boys, and Victory Boys, had a numbering system by which they identified each of the boys. Former residents don’t know why numbers were often used rather than names but they were. Oddly enough, when one moved up to an older division, the number ID changed, so one would have to get used to being called by a different number. Kind of reminds one of another type of institution where numbers are used, doesn’t it?
As pointed out in the History section, the Highland Heights complex was divided by wings, the girls in one wing of the building, the boys in the other. Even the first level playground had its imaginary dividing line and it spelled trouble if boys and girls were caught socializing too blatantly with the opposite sex.
As one became older, there were more activities made available that allowed a limited amount of interaction between genders. However, monitoring was very strict and acceptable distances were expected and maintained at all times. One of the few exceptions was the occasional trip to a roller skating rink in downtown New Haven. There it was possible and even forgiven if a boy and girl held hands while skating. Perhaps a few more daring rendezvous’ were arranged during these permitted moments of social discovery. Some of these post-skating arrangements have come to light from former residents. They have since become memories of the heart. Regardless of the installed restrictions, nature somehow has its way.
A past resident of Highland Heights wrote this story. He used it as part of his brother’s eulogy when he recently passed. It was a tribute to the hero he saw in his brother.
Circa 1951, my mother (single parent) needed emergency surgery and there were no relatives in the state to watch us so, at what seemed like the middle of the night, my five siblings and I were brought “temporarily” to two City orphanages. The youngest three were taken to St. Anthony’s (near the railroad station in New Haven) while my older brother and sister and myself were taken to Highland Heights. My older sister was taken to the girl’s wing, while my brother (age 7) and I (age 6) were taken to the boy’s dormitory by a very authoritarian nun.
The room seemed very large and full of metal frame beds. We made our way to an empty bed and I was instructed to get undressed and put on the pajamas that she handed me, then get into bed. She would not let me keep my underwear on, however, and insisted that I strip completely in front of her before donning the PJs. I was then told not to get out of bed, for any reason, until the lights were turned on in the morning. We were not asked if we needed to go to the bathroom and I was much too scared of that nun to tell her I had some serious business to do. I watched to see where she put my brother to bed. The nun then walked away down a long hallway. I waited for as long as I could, to be sure everyone was asleep. I was so scared, but knew my brother would know just what to do. I got out of bed and quietly made my way over to my brother’s bed where I woke him up and told him about my problem. He had spotted a bathroom on our way in and he would take me there and keep a lookout.
So there we went, keeping low and quiet, like a couple of commandos, until we got to the door-less bathroom where I went into a door-less stall. Then just as I started to do my business, my brother motioned to me that the nun was coming back. I couldn’t flush the toilet because she would hear it and the only place to hide was a rag closet. So into the closet we went to await our fate; certain death, I thought. Somehow, the nun passes the bathroom into the dormitory and back down the hallway again without noticing the two empty beds. We were finally safe to finish our business and return to our beds.
Many of Highland Heights’ alumni started in St. Anthony’s in New Haven, CT. In the late 1920s, St Anthony’s, the church, began taking in orphaned, abandoned, or children in temporary need who were under the age of four. New Haven had two orphanages at the time, one run by the City, the other, St. Francis/Highland Heights, was run by the Catholic Charities. Neither of these had the facilities to take care of children under four years old. Many families that were destined for orphanages were split up due to the age restrictions. The younger ones went to St. Anthony’s, where they specialized in the under-age-four group. Eventually, as the young child became older, they were transferred to one of the other orphanages. St. Anthony’s, the Catholic Church, is still functioning as such, but has long since discontinued its infant orphan care.
Most of the children at St Francis Orphan Asylum during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, were not actually orphans. They had a least one living parent. It was the circumstances of their family life that brought them to the orphanage also known as Highland Heights. Visiting Sundays allowed the children the opportunity to renew and reinforce the love of their parent or parents, even if they did not totally understand the circumstances that placed them where they were.
A seven year old girl kept an 8” x 10” photograph of her mother in her locker where she could look at it and experience the love she felt for her. When another, older girl began showing the exact picture to all the other girls, claiming the beautiful lady in the photo was her mother, the six year old was expectedly upset, especially when she checked her locker and found the photo missing. An understandable scuffle ensued when the younger girl tried to retrieve the picture of her mother, explaining to all who would listen that the photo had been stolen from her locker and that it was really her mother.
Subsequently, the nun in charge interceded and forcefully escorted the six year old to her office. When it was explained what was going, the nuns approach was something as follows. “Now Missy, we must learn to share with each other.” The little girl’s response was, “But she stole my mother’s picture and was saying it was her mother.” As the lesson continued, the nun countered with, “Now, now, Missy. She doesn’t have a mother and she only has the picture. You have the real mother, now don’t you?” Then came the ultimate slap in the face. “That will be three licks for fighting.”
‘Licks’ were whacks on outstretched hands with a long strap almost one-half inch thick, made up with two outer layers of rubber and an inner layer of leather. What an amazing lesson for a seven year old who was only trying to defend her right to possess her own picture of her own mother. The older girl merely received a reprimand. After all, she was a true orphan, wasn’t she? Such is sometimes the case in institutional life.
See Census of Children HERE
In 1852, four Catholic Sisters of Mercy were sent to New Haven, Connecticut from Providence Rhode Island to teach at the newly expanded parochial school known as St. Mary’s. The day they arrived at their temporary Mercy Convent on George Street, their attention was directed to two little girls in desperate need of a home. Through a spontaneous act of kindness, the girls were taken in to share the small residence in downtown New Haven. So began the inadvertent founding of the orphanage that would later be called Highland Heights.
By 1854, the number of young girls under the care of the four Sisters had grown to fifteen and a larger facility was necessary. A new St Mary’s Convent was found and established in a building on Church Street. One section of the convent was reserved for the children and was called St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum.
Within ten years, the number of residents at St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum had once again outgrown the limited space available. In addition, it was determined the building on Church Street was more compatible to business purposes than to the activities of children; therefore, another location was sought. On April 6, 1864, Eli Whitney Jr., son of the great industrialist who invented the cotton gin, donated a gift of approximately twelve acres to the Catholic Church for the needs of their orphanage. At the time, there was a cottage on the property which would have to be enlarged to accommodate the increased occupancy. With the completion of the necessary modifications, on June 2, 1864, 44 girls and the four Sisters of Mercy were transferred from the heart of downtown New Haven to an open stretch of countryside lying along Highland Street between Whitney Avenue and Prospect Street. Two years later, the number of girls had increased to ninety, and two orphaned boys were listed among the residents. Several adjoining buildings on the property were pressed into service but conditions were becoming less than favorable.
By 1873, it was recognized that another expansion would be necessary to accommodate the steadily increasing number of both girls and boys. In the meantime, the orphanage had been renamed St. Francis Orphan Asylum, after the Saint who was known for helping the poor, and boasted a corporate management comprised of church and community leaders. During a meeting of the corporation in February 1873, plans were approved for the construction of what would become the main brick building, which they thought would be sufficient to house three hundred residents. The building was ready for occupancy in November of 1876.
Ten years later there were more boys at the orphanage than girls and more nuns were assigned to the school. As a result, more room was required for classrooms, dormitories, dining halls, and administration offices. By the mid 1890s, the south wing for boys was under construction. When it was finally ready for occupancy in 1896, there were one-hundred and ninety-four boys and one-hundred girls in residence, and plans were put in place for a north wing for girls. By 1906, the north wing and added laundry area were completed. During construction, the dining areas were expanded and provisions were made for more spacious playrooms, a larger chapel and kitchen, an auditorium, Sister’s Community Room and more living quarters for the nuns and the home’s chaplain.
By Thomas Max Safley: