Atchison County, Kansas

State Orphans' Home

All persons who have any books which they would be willing to donate to the soldiers' orphans, now have a chance of doing so, as the state soldiers' orphans' home have made a request Lewis Post G.A.R. that they send what books that they may collect for the home.  Anyone having a book to give to this charitable institution, can hand it to any member of the G.A.R. or Woman's Relief Corps, and the same will be sent to the soldiers' state orphans' home for the children to read.
(Dodge City Times ~ January 24, 1889)

Captain John Seaton of Atchison purchased 100 tickets for the matinee performance of Uncle Tom's Cabin Saturday afternoon and gave them to children at the Orphans' home.
(People's Voice ~ Wellington, KS ~ October 18, 1894)


The superintendent of the soldiers' Orphans' home at Atchison reports that there are at present 133 children in the home and there are 50 applicants that cannot be admitted on account of the crowded condition of the institution.
(Barton County Democrat ~ December 27, 1894)

Soldiers' Orphans' home items:  There are children in the home from almost every county in the state.  The largest number from any one county comes from Atchison county, the number being twenty-two.  The ages of the children at the home range from 2 to 17 years.  Some of the children are studyingn geography, high arithmetic and physiology.  One hundred and fifty-four have been discharged from teh home, having reached 17 years of age, and 134 remains.  It costs about $20,000 a year to run the home.  An appropriation of $500 is badly needed for clearing a lot of timber land on the home grounds, and also for fencing.  About $100 is also badly needed with which to purchase books for the library.
(Dodge City Globe-Republican ~ February 22, 1895)


State Home at Atchison for Neglected Children Also

George N. Newton says that the scope of the work of the State Orphans' home at Atchison is not generally understood.

His attention was called to this fact when a boy was sent to the state industrial school this week, it was reported, because he could not be admitted to the orphans' home as his parents are both living.

Mr. Newton said today:

"The Atchison Home was founded in 1887 under the name of Soldiers' Orphans' home.  In 1909 the name was changed to State's Orphan home.  However, from the beginning its beneficiaries were all children of the state who came under the specifications for admission, which as given on page 551 of report of board of control, is as follows:  'All dependent, neglected or ill-treated children who are residents of the state of Kansas.'  Certainly a very simple and easily understood provision.  The report goes on to say:  'The following taken from the record of 21 years.  We find as a result of such examination, the causes of such dependency to be; the death of one or both parents, insanity of one or both parents, rarely of both of them, domestic discord, resulting in separation, drunkenness and intemperance on the part of the father, and immorality of parents, rendering them unfit to have care and custody of their children.'

"The following records appear of interest:

" 'Father abandoned the family; mother poor and unable to support the family.'

"In a slightly less ratio appears:  'Father a drunkard and mother poor.'

"Occasionally this appears:  'Mother abandoned the family.'

"So it will be seen the home is an orphans' home in name only.  As a very large majority of those cared for since its establishment until July 1, 1910, 1879 in all have one or both parents living.

"In other states institutions of this kind are called 'state public schools for dependent and ill-treated children,' instead of orphans' home.

"It would amply repay any one to visit this school, as did the writer not long since, for the sole purpose of information as to its purpose and plans of work.  No dependent child, unless it be at the same time a 'delinquent' can be, or is, sent to the industrial school.  And no state is more careful in this than Kansas, and where there is a question of delinquent tendencies he or she is first given a chance in the orphans' home, and transferred if found necessary."
(Topeka State Journal ~ May 11, 1912


A carefully prepared plan for a state receiving home for children at the State Orphan's Home here failed to materialize because the state legislature got in a hurry and failed to enact an appropriation for the board and lodging and incidental expenses for the children it was to serve.

Although both the house and senate passed the original bill for the receiving home and it became a law when Governor Andrew Schoeppel signed it, the appropriation of $25,000 it carried provided only for physicians, nurses, equipment and other technical items needed.  Other expenses were to be taken care of through an appropriation of $14,000 additional, which was trimmed to $11,000 by the senate after it had passed the house, then cut some more and finally eliminated entirely.  In this sad state it was sent back to the house where it died, unattended and unsung, when the legislature adjourned.

One of the few bills specifically recommended by Governor Schoeppel in his message to the legislature, the receiving home measure had been painstakingly shaped by the legislative council prior to the session.  It was the result of more than three years of advance study by a citizens' advisory committee organized at the suggestion of the late Bishop James Wise, which carried out its work with the cooperation of Payne Ratner when he was governor.

When it was decided the State Orphans' home had been designated the receiving center, Atchison, of course, was delighted.  The city's residents appreciated the honor, and it was a nice compliment for the institution and its management.  Under the terms of the bill, children would have been sent to the receiving home to go through a clinic conducted by personnel trained in psychology and other sciences.  Then these scientists would have reported their findings to the probate judges of the counties from which the children came, with recommendations concerning treatment needed and the proper institutions to provide it.  Most probate judges admit they are not qualified to make such decisions without expert advice.

The receiving home seemed almost a "must" item in the early days of the 1843 legislative session and no one doubted that it would be created.  Especially necessary as a wartime measure because of the large number of mothers working and fathers fighting for their country, a condition likely to increase by leaps and bounds the number of children to become state wards, the project seemed essential.

But the frailty of state legislators prevailed.  In a hurry to finish up the session and get home, they messed up the receiving home appropriation bill without which the project could not be established, and now it must wait two years before another appropriation measure can be presented.  Until that time the receiving home will lie dormant unless Governor Schoeppel should call a special session of the legislature to act upon it, together with a large number of other important measures left in midair when the regular session became somewhat questionable history.
(Atchison Daily Globe ~ Tuesday ~ March 23, 1943 ~ Page 1)


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