Genealogy Trails

The County Asylum — Superintendents of the County Asylum—The First Orphans' Home at Spiceland
The Aged Person's Home and Orphan Asylum for the German Baptist Church of the Southern District of Indiana
The Bundy Home at Spiceland—The County Board of Charities and Corrections.


The buildings and belongings of the establishment where the county's poor arc cared for ought to be a matter of more interest to the people of Henry than is generally manifested. Caring for those unfortunate persons who have from any cause, become unable to care for themselves, has been accepted by the countv com-missioners as a duty, ever since the meeting of the first board, in 1822. and. although the arrangement for the comfort of paupers may have seemed parsimonious at times, surroundirg circumstances must be taken into account. Tt would never do to make the fare, comforts, and general attractiveness of the asylum such that able-bodied, but lazy, shiftless, persons, of whom there are a few in every community, would seek for a residence at the county home, and besides the item, "on account of poor." has ever been a large one in the "budget" of Henry County, and it is largely on the increase.

On March 8, 1839, Commissioners Shawhan, Corwine and Ball, purchased of William Silver a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, about one mile northwest of New Castle, for the sum of $2,000. In "May following, a contract was made with John D. Fooshee for keeping the paupers as well as the building of a "poor house" and it was also ordered that '"'all persons who are now, or may hereafter become, a county- charge, shall be removed, as the law directs, to the poor house provided for that purpose/'

Just what sort of a house this was to be (probably built of logs) or the price paid to the man who bought it the records do not show. but. on the 4th of January. 1844. a special session of the board was called to receive sealed proposals for the building of another house, which was to be of brick with a cellar under one wing, fourteen by thirty feet. The size of said building is not specified, but it was to have a porch on three sides of the same, with fourteen posts and banisters between from which it may be inferred that it was of considerable size. The brick were to be burned on the place, and all the sills, sleepers, posts, and plates were to be got off the farm. The brick work was to be painted reel and penciled with white, and the porch painted drab. John Shroyer. Miles Murphey. and Dr. Joel Reed were appointed to superintend the building of the said house. John H. Polsley under-took the work for $1,100, and was allowed, for extra work, the sum of twenty dollars.   The superintendents each received twenty dollars for their services.

This building was burned down and the paupers rendered homeless. "May 9. 1855. when the commissioners promptly ordered the building of another and more commodious structure at an expense of about $7,000 which is the present countv asvlum. since considerablv remodeled and enlarged.

Mark Modlin was the superintendent of the county asylum at the time of its destruction by fire. He then moved onto his farm, three and one half miles west of New Castle, the same farm being now occupied by his son. Alcander Modlin. and here under contract with the county commissioners, he kept the county paupers until March, i860, when the new building was ready for occupancy, and when the unfortunates were brought in and given into the care of the new superintendent. Alvis Haguewood.

For two or three rears after the asylum was established, the contract was made with Fooshee to care for the paupers that might, from time to time, be sent to him at the rate of  $1.25 per head per week, with some little extra allowance in "extreme cases.'' he paying $150 for the rent of the farm.

In 1841 the commissioners resolved to turn over a new leaf, and so they let the contract to "board, clothe and feed" all paupers, and "to treat them in a humane manner, and especiallv to attend to the moral instruction of said paupers." to Samuel Hoover and Mark Modlin. for three years from March 1. 1842. at one dollar per capita per week, they paying $125 for rent of the farm. At the end of this time, they called for "sealed proposals" for keeping the paupers, raising the rent of the farm to $150. The position had come to be looked upon as being so desirable that there was strife over it and Mr. Fooshee instituted an unsuccessful suit to secure possession of it. after the contract was awarded to other parties for three vears. In 1844. he was a successful applicant, giving twenty five dollars more than had been previouslv paid for the use of the farm, and agreeing to take, "board, clothe, feed, and lodge." and morally instruct all paupers, for sixty two and one half cents per head per week, and bring in no other charge whatever. This was quite a coming down, but, after he had given bond to the satisfaction of the board, he seems to have "flew the track,'" and Mark Modlin was awarded the prize at seventy five cents per head per week, for one year.

Afterward the rent of the farm was reduced to Sioo per year, and seventy five cents per week was allowed for keeping the paupers, and to fiboard. clothe, feed, humanely treat, and morally instruct."  &c, which was cheap as dirt.

It is pleasant to know that our late commissioners have turned over still another leaf, and do not let that important charge on the sole condition of economy, and yet there is no loud complaint on this score.

The farm has been enlarged to about three hundred acres, much of the later purchases being first class bottom land. John \Y. Bell is the present 'superintendent, having under his charge now. about fifty persons nearly equally divided in sex. The annual average cost for maintenance for each inmate is estimated by Superintendent Bell to be about forty dollars. The value of the land without improvements, is stated by the same authority to be $60 per acre and that the value of the improvements is $12,000. thus making the value of the farm at the rate of one hundred dollars per acre. However, in the opinion of the author of this History, Superintendent Bell's value of the land is entirely too low. The author thinks the land alone, without the buildings is worth $100 per acre. Value of personal property of all kinds is $4,000. The buildings are heated by steam, the county owning and operating its own plant. Mrs. Mary E. Bell, wife of the superintendent, is the matron of the asylum. The annual salaries paid at the present time, are: superintendent, $500: matron. $130, the county paying for the services of extra hands when needed.


The following is approximately a correct list of the superintendents of the county asylum and the time for which they served respectively: John D. Fooshee. 1839 to March. 1842: Samuel Hoover and Mark Modlin, March. 1842, to September, 1842; Mark Modlin, September. 1842. to May. 1853: Jacob Batdorf, May. 1853, (short time) : Anthonv Livezey. 1853 to 1855: Mark Modlin. 1855 to March. 1860: Alvis Haguewood. March, 1860, to March, 1867: Joel R. Hutson, March. 1867. to March, 1869: Mahlon D. Harvey. March, 1869. to March. 1878: Daniel Harvey. March, 1878. to September. 1880: John W. Bell. September, 1880. to September. 1885: Daniel Harvey. September. 1885, to September. 1893; Mahlon D. Harvey. September. 1893. to September. 1897: Joel R. Frazier. September. 1897. to September. 1899: John W. Bell. September. 1899. present incumbent.

William Silver, who sold the first land purchased by the county for the county asylum farm, was a pioneer merchant of New Castle, and Judge Martin L. Bundy, being requested to give his personal recollection of Mr. Silver, says:

"William Silver came to New Castle in 1830 from Warren County. Ohio, and opened a dry goods store. He was then a young married man. He subsequently purchased the lot on which now stands the Shroyer Building and he built thereon a frame building for a store room and residence and continued his business until 1838. when he removed to Pendleton. The carpenter who did the work was Dr. James Y. Wayman. then a young man.

"At the time Silver came, Judge Jehu T. Elliott and Miles Murphey were young men and both applicants for a clerkship in his store. Silver chose Murphey because he had $160 which he could lend him and Elliott had no money. This circumstance made Murphey a merchant and Elliott a lawyer in life time business.

"Silver owned and sold to the county, the present poor farm or asylum. Prior to this, paupers were auctioned to the person who would take them for the least price."


Miss Susan Fussell, of Chester County, Pennsylvania, in March, 1877, visited a county home conducted by a family named Johnson at Danville, Indiana, for the care of the county children of Hendricks County, and having under her charge certain soldiers' orphan children, was impressed with the plan employed in Hendricks County. In April of the same year she moved to Spiceland, Henry County, with five of the soldiers' orphan children, these alone remaining of the ten children of whom she had assumed charge in 1865, after the war. The plan for a home similar to that in Hendricks County was formed in her mind.

"In September, 1877, she applied to the county commissioners of Henry county, Cyrus Van Matre, William D. Cooper and Ithamer W. Stuart, for the children then in the county asylum, offering for the sum of twenty five cents per day per child, to feed, clothe, nurse, and educate them, until suitable homes could be found for them. •

"The proposition was kept before the commissioners at every session of their court for almost three years before they acceded to it, and then it was accepted on condition that Miss Fussell receive twenty three cents instead of twenty five cents per day for each child.

"So thoroughly convinced was she of die practicability and excellence of the plan, and of the great need of something being done to give these children a chance for an independent and honorable life that she consented to the terms, March, 1880, rented a suitable house at her own expense and at the same time contributed $500 to the institution which was never repaid to her. and received into the home on June 8, 1880. the nine children sent her from the Henry County Asylum."

It was largely due to the efforts of Miss Fussell and others interested in the work that the General Assembly, April 7, 1881. passed a law authorizing the county commissioners in each county to appoint as matron, a woman of good moral character, and judgment, and suitable age. having experience in the care and training of children and to put in her care, at some suitable and convenient place not connected with the county asylum, all pauper children of sound mind between the ages of one and sixteen years. The matron was to be paid not less than twenty five and not more than thirty cents daily for each inmate. Accordingly, after the passage of this law, the commissioners paid Miss Fussell twenty five cents daily per child instead of twenty three cents.

The law made it the duty of the commissioners to appoint a "committee of three competent persons *  *  *  to examine into the condition of the home and the manner in which the children therein are kept and treated by the matron * at least once every three months and report to the board the result of their examination.

The commissioners, June 1882. appointed Mrs. Martha A. White, of Spiceland; Mrs. William M. Ewing. of Knightstown, and Mrs. Sarah A. R. Boor, of New Castle, to serve on this committee, the duties of which in a more limited sphere, were very similar to those of the present county board of charities. Later. Mrs. Ewing, removing to Kansas. Mrs. Maggie Watson, of Dunreith, was appointed to fill her place. When, April 1, 1887, Miss Fussell having become incapaciated through illness and age to act as matron and carry on the heavy duties involved, resigned. Mrs. Watson gave up her place as a member of the committee to permit the appointment of Miss Fussell, who lived near the home and was so familiar with the work. Miss Fussell served faithfullv as did the other two ladies, until her death, July 19. 1889, when her sister, Ada Fussell. succeeded her. The committee as constituted, continued its service unbrokenly as long as the Spiceland Home was maintained. .

After the plan was arranged with Miss Fussell in 1880. the county leased the property in Spiceland where the home was kept during its existence. A year later, June 24. 1881. the property was purchased of Edmund and James White for $2,500. It was rented to Miss Fussell at S144 annually for the house and $25 for the ground which consisted of about seven acres. The house and buildings were continually enlarged and improved. The grounds were beautified with flower beds and walks and with fruit trees and garden. Much of the expense of this was borne by Miss Fussell who frequently contributed from her private purse to the success of her plan and to the welfare of the children. The property acquired by the commissioners, with improvements, grew in value to $4,200. Prior to 1885. the rate per child was raised to thirty cents daily and was so maintained.

After the plan was arranged with Miss Fussell in 1880. the county leased trie property in Spiceland where the home was kept during its existence. A year later. June 24, 1881. the property was purchased of Edmund and James White for $2,500. It was rented to Miss Fussell at $144 annually for the house and $25 for the ground which consisted of about seven acres. The house and buildings were continually enlarged and improved. The grounds were beautified with flower beds and walks and with fruit trees and garden. Much of the expense of this was borne by Miss Fussell who frequently contributed from her private purse to the success of her plan and to the welfare of the children. The property acquired by the commissioners, with improvements, grew in value to $4,200. Prior to 1885, the rate per child was raised to thirty cents daily and was so maintained.

Miss Fussell was greatly assisted in her work by her sister. Miss Ada Fits-sell, who served without compensation and greatly improved the education of the children by her kindergarten work. They were taught useful facts and methods of house work and various out door employments. Instructors were provided for them.  The care and attention were of the best.

Under the supervision of the founder and her sister, the home continued to flourish. About ninety children had been cared for and at least two thirds of them had found good homes in the county, up to the year 1887. In this year, in April, failing health made necessary the resignation of Miss Fussell as matron. Miss Martha E. Hadley was appointed to the position and filled the same faithfully and efficiently during the continued existence of the home.

On October 31. 1893. a contract was made by the commissioners, with Julia E. Work, superintendent of the Northern Indiana Orphans' Home at Laporte. Indiana, to deliver to her from the Spiceland Home, twenty two children who were to be cared for by her and placed in private homes, she to receive $35 for each child when placed in a private home. This contract annulled a similar one previously made on September. 28. 1893. with the Children's Home Society of Indianap-olis, the latter having been for $50 per child instead of $35. There had been considerable agitation concerning the expense attached to the care of the children and there was a dissension among the commissioners and interested county officers regarding the advisability of maintaining the County Or-phan's Home at Spiceland. The money side prevailed: the conveniences resulting from years of hard and patient work were overlooked; the congenial surroundings which made the children, happy and content, completely lost their value. It was decided that it would be cheaper for the county to enter into the contract with Mrs. Work.

On December 5. 1893. the commissioners contracted with the German Baptist Home at Honey Creek to care for the dependent children of the county, not then transferred to Mrs. Work's Home, at the rate of "five children at fortv cents each.-daily, ten children at thirty five cents each, daily, fifteen children at thirty cents each, daily, or forty children at twenty five cents each, daily" that institution to be free from taxation while acting as servant of the county. This contract removed the few remaining children from Spiceland and gave the finishing blow to the Home at that place, which had been in existence for more than thirteen years.

The home at Spiceland was sold for a greatly reduced sum in consideration of the improvements made on it and the advantages it offered. The work of a noble woman was brought to naught. Miss Fussell had died before the creation for which she had labored so unsparingly, was wrecked. She was thus spared the pain of seeing her life work destroyed. The Home, which had promised so much for the children and for the countv. was no more.

The author of this History acknowledges himself indebted to that noble, charitable woman, a former member of the committee for the Spiceland Orphans' Home, Mrs. Sarah A. R. Boor, for the information contained in this article.


The beginning of organized effort for the care of aged members and orphan children of the German "Baptist Congregation in the Southern District of Indiana began to be discussed as early as 1881. and the work began to take form about that date, by the circulation of subscription papers in the several congregations of the district and the soliciting of means to secure a site, and funds for building. In 1883. an amount of sufficient importance had been secured to permit of organiza-tion which was effected at a meeting held at Beech Grove in the northern part of Henry County in 1883. Five trustees were selected into whose hands was placed the power of taking out articles of association. The names of the first board of trustees with the length of time for which they were chosen, were as follows: Jacob W. Yost, five years; Tames M. Wyatt. four years; John Hart, three years; John L. Krall. two years; Joseph D. Xeher. one year.

On March 1. 1883, Jacob W. Yost. James M. Wyatt. and John L. Krall met Jacob P. Miller, on the farm near Honey Creek. Henry County. Indiana, where the home now stands, and completed negotiations for its purchase by which they were to secure one hundred and forty acres of land for the sum of seven thousand dollars, four thousand of which was paid in cash. Jacob P. Miller, donating one thousand dollars of this amount.

Articles of association, drawn by Frank W. Fitzhugh. a lawyer of New Castle, were entered into on July 31. 1883. and transcribed into a book which is in possession ct the secretary. The corporate seal as set out in article eight of the above mentioned articles of association was designed by David W. Kinsey and others. The legend "Pro Deo, Ecclesia et Re Publica'' (For God, The Church and the State) is understood to have been contributed by Adolph Rogers, of New Castle. The names subscribed to the articles of association are John Hart, of Beechy Mire, Union County, Indiana: Jacob W. Yost. Sulphur Springs. Henry County. Indiana, and Tames M. Wyatt Hagerstown. Wavne Countv. Indiana. In Decernber of the same year in a district meeting held near the home in the Upper Fall Creek Church, David F. Hoover was selected as one of the trustees instead of Joseph D. Neher. deceased.

In 1886, the first building was erected by Waltz and Thornburgh. of Hagerstown. Indiana, at a cost of S3.000. It did its duty well but was considered insufficient for the growing work and in 1901. a second building was erected. Isaac H. Miller, of Middletown. being the architect, which cost about $2,500. and is fitted out for the aged people and is called "The Home." while the old building is called "The Orphanage.*"

The first superintendent employed by the trustees was John S. McCarty. of Clarksville. Indiana. He remained at the head of the institution for six years, and was succeeded by John Brunk. of Middletown. Indiana, who held the position for five.years. Calvin Hooke succeeded John Brunk but gave over the work to his successor at the end of one year. A. C. Snowberger took charge of the work in September. 1898 and continued for four years, when the present superintendent. Moses Smelzer. of Noblesville. took charge.

The first inmate was Jane Orr. of Ladoga. Montgomery County. Indiana, who entered the home. December 30. 1886. and remained there nearly twelve years. Since she entered many have come and gone for whom the final step of life has been made pleasant and happy in this excellent home. Many poor children have been provided with good homes through the agency of this institution, and twice, the county of Henry has contracted with this home to care for its dependent children.

In 1899. General Assembly passed a law forbidding the detention of dependents between the ages of three and seventeen years for more than ten days in the County Poor Asylum. Tn 1901. this was amended, increasing the length of time to sixty days.

The first contract made by the Henry County Commissioners with the German Baptist Home to care for its children was made December 5. 1893. as hereto-fore stated. On April 10. 190T. the second contract was made by the commissioners with the German Baptist Home to care for its dependent children at the rate of twenty five cents per day for each child. This contract continued in force until May 1. 1905. when the Bundy Home at Spiceland. was opened. Part of the children at the Baptist Home and a few still remaining at Plymouth were taken to Spiceland .and owing to the greater convenience of the Spiceland Home, the commissioners decided to send all future dependents of proper age to that place.

Following the abandonment of the first County Orphan's Home which had been maintained at Spiceland since 18S0. the children dependent on the county were in part taken to a home then superintended by Julia E. Work at Laporte. Indiana, who subsequently removed to Plymouth. Marshall County, Indiana, and has since maintained there the well known Plymouth Home which has grown to such large size. Until April 10, 1901," children continued to be sent to the home of Mrs. Work but the inconvenience of taking children such a distance and the expense attached to the trip decided the board to send all county children to the Baptist institution. Still another advantage sought by the commissioners in mak-ing the change to the Baptist establishment was to give the children the benefit of a more individual attention than could be accorded them in the Plvmouth Home which had grown very large. The Baptist home not only offered its cleanliness and well kept apartments as an inducement, but in addition, it could give the children more of the home life than could be given them in the larger place where so much routine and svstem is necessarv.

Thus for years the German Baptist Home has been very closely associated with the other benevolent institutions of the county. Many homeless children have found here a good residence or through this institution, have been taken into good homes.   Its care has always been of the best and the conditions surrounding the home are very pleasant.

The author of this History acknowledges himself indebted to the Reverend David F. Hoover "for the information contained in this article. In the opinion of the author, it is owing to the attention and care that David F. Hoover has devoted to this home that it has reached its present high degree of excellence and has accomplished so much good.

THE BTJNDY HOME AT SPICELAND. On May i, 1905. for the second time, an institution for the care of orphan and homeless children was opened at Spiceland. The "Children's Home" as it is known, was the result of a joint conference of the commissioners of the counties of Henry and Rush. The joint meeting of the commissioners came after a proposition made by Mrs. Ella Bundy, formerly in charge of the home at Rushville. to establish a home for the dependent children of the two counties. Spiceland was selected by the commissioners as the most desirable location for such a home, on account of its convenient location and the many advantages offered there for the care of children.

Acting largely on the advice of the commissioners of the two counties, Mrs. Bundy purchased the Kersey K. Kirk home in the west part of Spiceland. adjoining the academv on the western boundary. It is a fine piece of land particularly adapted for its present use. It contains six acres and has a large house, barn, and other buildings. The property was purchased for $4,000 and Mrs. Bundy has since greatly improved and added to it. at an additional expense of $1,200. Large dormitories have been arranged for the boys and for the girls.  Play rooms and other conveniences for the children have been fitted up. The house now contains fourteen rooms.

The commissioners of the counties of Henrv and Rush entered into a three year's contract with Mrs. Bundy. after the purchase of the land, to care for all county children between the ages of two and seventeen at the rate of twenty five cents per day, per child, and for all children under that age at the rate of $3.00 per week.   For this price. Mrs. Bundy feeds, clothes, educates and otherwise exercises maternal care over the children, doctoring them when ill. at her own expense, save in case of contagious disease.

The place was bought on March 2, 1905, and was opened for the reception of the children on May 1st. At present there are twenty five children under the care of Mrs. Bundy. Seventeen of these are boys and eight are girls. Twelve of the children are from Henry County and thirteen are from Rush. They range in age from nine months to fifteen vears.

Practically the entire ground surrounding the house, with the exception of nearly an acre, which is in grass and is used for a play ground, is under cultivation. Mrs. Bundy raises a great variety of fruits and vegetables and interests the children in the cultivation so that they all have some little task to do each day and not only keep out of mischief but are benefited by the knowledge they gain. The children are also taught in a general way. the work of caring for the house, so that in a short time they acquire a knowledge of practical things which will always be of use to them. The children are kept clean and are apparently happy. Their food is of the best and their dining quarters are light, airy and very clean. Their dormitories and beds are extremely neat and as comfortable as the most fastidious could desire.

Only one inconvenience is now noticeable in the home, this being the case with which parents from either county may come to see their children. The tendency of such visits is to make the children homesick and dissatisfied. Parents, in some cases too, are inclined to have their children cared for at the expense of the county, if they can see them frequently, whereas if the visit was not so convenient, they would care for them themselves. This difficulty will be overcome soon, however, by the strict enforcement of a ruling limiting the number and frequency of the visits of the parents.


The following, from section one of an act passed in 1899. by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana, for the purpose of providing ''Boards of County Charities and Corrections," resulted in the appointment. June 19. 1902. of such a

board in the county of Henry, by Judge William O. Barnard, then presiding. "Be it enacted ........ that in each county of the State the judge of the circuit court may, and upon the petition of fifteen reputable citizens, shall appoint six persons not'more than three of whom shall be of the same political party or belief, and not more than four of whom shall be men. who shall constitute a Board of County Charities and Corrections, to serve without compensation, two of whom, as indicated by the judge of the circuit court, shall serve for one (1) year, two for two (2) years, and two for three (3) years, and upon the resignation or expiration of the term of each, his or her successor shall in like manner be appointed for the term of three (3) years."

The members of this board as constituted by Judge Barnard were John H. Hewitt living east of New Castle. Benjamin S. Parker, and Mrs. Julia A. Loer of New Castle, Mrs. Anna D. Welsh of Middletown, William S. Moffat of Kennard. and Mrs. Richard Wagoner of Knightstown. Mr. Parker and Mrs. Loer served the full three years. Mr. Hewitt and Mrs. Wagoner were appointed for the two-year term.   Mr- Moffat and Mrs. Welsh were assigned to the short term, one year. Up to the present time, all members of the board have been re-appointed at the expiration of their respective terms by Judge Barnard's successor, Judge John M. Morris.

The law providing for the creation of the board, directs that a chairman and secretary shall be elected at the first meeting of the board which shall be "within one week after receiving the notice of appointment." At the present time and since the board was organized, the officers have been John H. Hewitt, Chairman, and Mrs. Anna D. Welsh. Secretary.

This board acts as "the eyes and ears of the county." It has no executive power. Its duties consist in visiting the various lockups, county poor asylum, orphan's home, jail, "and any other charitable or correctional institutions, receiving support from public funds, that may exist in the least once each quarter.'" and reporting to the county commissioners once each quarter the results of such visits and investigations. Similar reports are transmitted to the state board of charities which at all times acts as an advisory- board and in some measure directs the work and actions of the county board.

The chief benefit of the board is in the publicity it is empowered and author-ized to give to the methods used in conducting the county benevolent institutions, and to the condition in which it finds them. Jt acts as an advisor to the county commissioners and at all times may report to the commissioners such plans for improvement or remedy as it deems advisable. It tends to act as a check on carelessness or mis-management on the part of county officers having charge of these institutions.

The law provides that "'the county council in each county shall appropriate and the board of county commissioners shall allow, not to exceed fifty dollars ($50) each year for the actual expenses of said Board of County Charities and Corrections." The economy of the Henry County board is apparent from the fact that the entire expense of the board for the term of its existence has not yet exceeded twenty dollars. The amount is trifling when compared with the possibilities for cood which exist in this board.

Source: Hazzard's History of Henry County.

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