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Title Info for : Soldiers and Sailors Childrens Home
Soldiers and Sailors Childrens Home
In the summer of 1865 a meeting was called in the office of Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton to make plans for the establishment of a home for disabled Civil War soldiers and sailors. A former military hospital in Indianapolis served temporarily as a home until a more suitable location could be found. Early in 1866 the “Knightstown Springs” in Rush County, with 54 acres of ground, including a hotel and other buildings, was purchased. Disabled veterans were housed in the hotel. A handful of soldiers’ orphans were put up in a cottage across the road. In 1867, when private funding proved insufficient, the State of Indiana took over the facility. The Indiana Soldier’s and Seamen’s Home formally opened on June 15, 1867. Besides disabled soldiers and seamen, the law creating the Home provided that widows and orphans of veterans be admitted. By 1872 orphans outnumbered disabled soldiers and sailors. When a fire that year destroyed the old hotel building, the veterans were removed to the National Military Home at Dayton, Ohio. A separate facility, the Indiana State Soldiers’ Home, was erected for disabled veterans and their widows at Lafayette, Indiana, in 1896. From 1872 forward, the Knightstown home was solely a facility for children. It was renamed the Indiana Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home. From 1879 to 1887 the state’s Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children was operated in conjunction with the Orphans’ Home. The two institutions were separated in 1887 with the creation of the Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth at Fort Wayne. The Knightstown home was renamed the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home in 1887. The name changed again in 1929 to the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home. The Home’s mission broadened during these years to include care and education of not only orphans of soldiers, but children of all Indiana veterans unable to provide for their support. The age limit for discharge from the Home was raised from 16 to 18 years in 1921-22. Enrollment reached a peak of 1,010 children in 1935. By that time the Home occupied 287 acres and had thirty buildings, including a hospital, a chapel, and separate cottages—called Divisions—for boys and girls. The Home’s first school opened in 1870, with separate departments for primary, intermediate, and higher education. Commencement exercises began in 1890. The first four-year high school class graduated in 1923. Morton Memorial High School was erected in 1927. Vocational training began in 1872 when the Industrial Department was established to offer chair caning. A separate Industrial Building was completed in 1888, housing courses in printing, carpentry, sewing, baking, and shoe making. The Home’s dairy and farms provided agricultural training. Military training has been an educational component for many years. The Home’s Alumni Association was organized in 1892 and remains active today. Notable graduates have included U.S. Army General Paul Mayo, entertainer Monte Blue, journalist Frederick McCormick, and pro football player Tim Brown. In recent years the Home’s mission changed to include comprehensive care and education for a wide variety of “at-risk” Indiana youth. Both college preparatory and vocation education programs continued to be offered, along with counseling, psychological and health care, spiritual development, and varied social and recreational opportunities. Faced with declining enrollments and a deteriorating physical plant, the Home closed in May 2009. The property was transferred to the Indiana National Guard. All of the Home’s records have been transferred to the Indiana State Archives. This searchable database is an index to seven sets of records from the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home. These are: Applications for Admission; Admission Books; Discharge Books; Discharge Cards; School Record Cards; Indenture Papers; and the 1909 catalog of pupils published by the Home. Not all records are available for every child. Consult the index to see what is available. Names of children admitted after October 1995 are not included in this index for reasons of privacy. Student educational records and social service case files transferred to the Indiana State Archives are confidential and open only with the consent of the student or guardian. Inquiries concerning records from the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home should be directed to the Indiana State Archives at
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