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Children's Services Board (Children's Home)

UNION COUNTY CHILDREN’S SERVICES BOARD
(1884-1973)

On March 20, 1866, the Ohio General Assembly, in response to a dramatic increase of homeless children following the Civil War, authorized boards of county commissioners to construct children’s homes and to levy taxes to pay for them.  Previously, overseers of the poor and directors of infirmaries cared for indigent children.  The children’s home was designated as an “asylum” for all persons under the age of sixteen whom, “by reason of orphanage, or neglect or inability of parents to provide for them” were destitute.  The 1866 legislation also established a five member board of trustees for such homes appointed by the board of county commissioners.  The trustees were authorized to hire a superintendent, who was to administer the home, provide foster homes for children, arrange adoptions and maintain records of admission, discharge and adoption of children.

This law was replaced on March 22, 1876, with a new statute, that while keeping most of the previous law’s provisions, reduced the number of trustees to three and provided them with a three year term with one to be chosen annually and also authorized adjoining counties to establish district children’s homes with five trustees with a five year term with one selected annually.  Seven years later on April 9, 1883, the General Assembly passed an act “to provide for the protection of children.”  This law prohibited admitting children who were eligible for a children’s home to the county infirmary, unless the children were separated from the adult inmates or were under the age of four and under the care of their mother at the infirmary.  Counties were given the option of either providing a separate facility at the infirmary, contracting with another county children’s home for the care of their children or establishing their own children’s home.  The effective date of the legislation was January 1, 1884.

Union County previous to the 1883 legislation kept their indigent children at the County Infirmary.  The new law demanded, however, a change of the status quo.  In their September 1883 Infirmary Report the Infirmary Directors reported twenty-six children under the age of sixteen, thirteen males and thirteen females, had been kept at the Infirmary during the year.  Nine of these children had been placed in homes leaving seventeen children, eight males and nine females.  The Commissioners decided that it would be more economical to construct a district children’s home.

A joint session of the Delaware and Union County Commissioners was held on November 9, 1883, at the village of Magnetic Springs in Union County.  There the Boards unanimously agreed to pursue a joint children’s home if a suitable site could be found.  Commissioner Louis Bush of Delaware and Commissioner Nathan Howard of Union were selected to investigate sites for the proposed building.  A common location could not be agreed upon and after many “hitches,” including a special meeting between the Union County Commissioners, Infirmary Directors and community ladies in January 1884, it was decided to operate a single Union County Children’s Home.  Sending children to another county’s children’s home, another viable option, was deemed too expensive.  On March 31, 1884, Commissioners Uriah Cahill, Nathan Howard and Luther Liggett with the cooperation of the Infirmary Directors established the Union County Children’s Home.

The Board of Commissioners, upon the recommendation of the Infirmary Directors, leased the house and six acre property of W.L. Gibson, situated one mile east of Marysville on the Marysville and Delaware Gravel Road in Paris Township.  The terms of the lease were for one year at a rate of $125, with an optional second year extension at $120.  They appointed W.L. Curry, one year term, Reverend Hamilton J. Bigley, two year term, and Peleg Cranston, three year term, as Trustees of the Children’s Home.  Edwin B. Turner was hired as superintendent with his wife being appointed matron and teacher of the children at a combined salary of $240 per year.  Cranston resigned his position in April and T.M. Brannon was appointed on April 12, 1884, to replace him.  The Children’s Home accepted children who were orphaned, abandoned, neglected, inadequately provided for by the parents, or after 1906 placed in the home by the juvenile court.

Children's Home Trustees

 W.L. Curry (1884-1891)  Gwynn Sanders (1936-1942)
 Hamilton J. Bigley (1884-1886)  Kenneth Davis (1937-1941)
 Peleg Cranston (1884-1884)  L.M. Fairbanks (1937-1939)
 T.M. Brannon (1884-1886) J oana S. Beightler (1939-1954)
 Thomas P. Shields (1886-1892)  L.M. Fairbanks (1941-1956)
 James B. Whelpley (1886-1890)  F.G. Bittikofer (1942-1943)
 F.T. Arthur (1890-1908)  L.P. Rupright (1943-1959)
 W.H. Loveless (1891-1904)  John W. Daily (1946-1955)
 George W. Moore (1892-1895)  Willella Kennedy (1950-1959)
 Charles Nicol (1893-1901)  L.E. Benton (1954-1957)
 Philip Rupright (1895-1907)  Luther L. Liggett (1955-1960)
 William S. Lee (1901-1902)  Elizabeth DeVoss (1956-1962)
 Thomas P. Shields (1902-1912)  Richard B. Reese (1957-1957)
 George Rittenhouse (1904-1910)  Lucille Stephens (1957-1961)
 T.J. Williams (1907-1918)  Carl Gugle (1960-1961)
 Joseph M. Hawn (1908-1919)  Ernestine Herd (1960-1964)
 C.D. Webb (1910-1922)  David Thompson (1960-1963)
 W.L. Blaney (1912-1923)  Joseph Detwiler (1961-1966)
 O.R. Klipstine (1918-1923)  Huston H. Tallman (1962-1966)
 Lester W. Cline (1919-1922)  Vera Black (1962-1962)
 G. Casper Scheiderer (1922-1937)  Georgia Auer (1962-1964)
 Lou E. Graham (1922-1950)  John C. Wagner (1963-1966)
 Celinda Morey (1923-1925)  Wilber George (1964-1967)
 C.M. Jones (1923-1936)  Joseph P. Morse (1964-1967)
 Laura Weidman (1925-1946)  Dorothy J. Crabbe (1966-1967)
 Fay Bell (1930-1935)  Albert O. Grooms (1966-1967)
 C.V. Zuspan (1935-1937)  Josephine Mitchell (1967-1967)
 Roy Cron (1936-1936)    

 

It was also decided at the March 31 Commissioners’ meeting that the house had to be expanded to accommodate all of the children.  The bid of S.A. Fleck was accepted on April 12, 1884, and the contract was let for $524.50.  The construction was finished later that spring.  Before its completion, however, on April 21, 1884, the children from the infirmary, fifteen total, were transferred to the new Children’s Home.  Three more additional children were also accepted from Darby Township that same day making the total occupancy eighteen in the confined quarters of the existing structure.  Shortly thereafter, on April 26, the trustees submitted a quarterly budget of $568 to the Board of County Commissioners.

The Commissioners resolved to place a question on the November 1886 ballot in regards to the appropriation of ten thousand dollars for the “purchase of grounds and the erection of buildings thereon for the purpose of a Children’s Home.”  The measure passed 2,721 to 1,482 and on January 10, 1887, the County Commissioners purchased the ninety-five acre farm of J.W. Tilton, along the Marysville and Delaware Gravel Road, for sixty-five dollars an acre for the “purpose of establishing a Children’s Home.”  The Children’s Home Trustees considered the “building now on the grounds as entirely inadequate”, but hoped that in the near future a “suitable” building would be built to “accommodate and comfort these unfortunate children.”  It would be, however, twenty-two years before their wish was granted.  On April 4, the children were transferred to newly purchased Children’s Home.

Union County Children's Home - 1897

Union County Children's Home - 1897

Shortly after the move, April 11, the Commissioner purchased a lot 20x100 feet in Oakdale Cemetery for the burial of deceased children from the Children’s Home.  Up to that point in time, only two children had died at the Home.  In 1893, the number of trustees was increased to four and their terms were likewise increased, so as one would rotate off every year.  The year 1895 saw many changes to the Children’s Home property.  On February 25, H.C. Andrews was awarded a contract to construct a new barn on the property which was completed on July 1 for the cost of $775.  Shortly after Christmas 1895, December 28, D. Sharrer & Sons finished a $592.81 addition to the Children’s Home, which included an extra dormitory for the boys and a classroom.

In the fall of 1908, the Children’s Home matron reported to the Marysville Republican that there were twenty-four children in the home and their health was all good.  She continued saying, that the home received a favorable review from the State Board of Charities, the State regulatory agency for Children’s Homes, and that over one thousand quarts of fruit had been canned for the winter.  She finished by reporting that three boys had joined the U.S. Navy and they had received letters from all three, one of whom was serving in the Atlantic Fleet and was “enjoying the sights in this trip around the world.”  There were things, however, that were not so good, that the report failed to mention.

The Trustees of the Children’s Home had long recognized the fact that the current home was “inadequate,” and by late 1907, the County Commissioners had come to the same conclusion, with increasing pressures from the general public.  In one instance a large piece of plaster, measuring five foot square, fell from the ceiling of the nursery.  The Evening Tribune reported that “fortunately there was no one in the room at the time, the little folks who had occupied the room only a few minutes before having been taken to the dining room for supper.”  The same article also editorialized that the “miserable condition of the present Home, and its actually unsafe and unsanitary condition are enough to convince anyone that the county” requires a new Children’s Home.  Proposals for a new Children’s Home were discussed throughout 1907 and 1908 and finally on April 19, 1909, architect J.C. Weidman was appointed to prepare plans for the construction of a new Children’s Home.

Shortly thereafter, the Commissioners, Auditor, Children’s Home Trustees, and the architect took a tour of the new Logan County Children’s Home in Bellefontaine.  There they received several suggestions from the Logan County officials in regards to the proposed construction of the Union County Children’s Home.  On May 10, the Commissioners reviewed plans prepared by Weidman and with “minor changes” approved the plans.  Two weeks later the Commissioners began advertising for bids for the Children’s Home.  On July 19, the Commissioners accepted the bid of W.R. Weidman & Company for $9,190 with $365 allowed for alterations.  Construction began almost immediately on the new building with the first bricks being laid on August 7, 1909.

Union County Children's Home - c1930

Union County Children's Home - c1930

The brick work was finished the first part of September.  Later that month the Commissioners, under the recommendation of the architect, decided to move the kitchen of the new structure from the first floor to the basement and finish it accordingly.  W.R. Weidman was appropriated a further $155.40 to execute the change order.  On September 27, the Commissioners authorized the Auditor to issue $14,500 in bonds to pay the expenses of constructing the Children’s Home and also levied a tax on real and personal property to pay for the bond issue.  Charles Reed was also paid $63 to move three buildings on the Children Home property, while Weidman & Company received an additional $50 for the moving and demolition of the old Children’s Home, which remains were sold in March 1910.  The completion date on the new building was December 1 and the final payment made to Weidman on July 9, 1910.  The new thirty room building was a brick structure measuring 44x63 feet, two stories high with a slate roof.  The basement spanned the entire structure and was finished with yellow pine woodwork.  It included bathrooms, closets, a large kitchen, fire proof furnace room and was illuminated with acetylene lights.

In late 1933, with a burgeoning population, 48 at the time, the commissioners decided that an addition was need to the children’s home.  A two story addition, 18x27 feet, was erected in the rear of the main building which included a full basement.  The addition was to be used for a kitchen and nursery.  The addition was made entirely of brick, which was done by Frank Hatfield and son, George Hatfield of Marysville.  Martin Dellinger, also of Marysville, was in charge of the carpentry work.  Most of the work was done in January 1934, with the asbestos shingle roof being completed at the end of the month.  The entire project was completed at the beginning of February.

 

In 1930, a fifth member was added to the board of trustees and everyone’s terms were likewise increased, so as one would rotate off every year.  The children’s home trustees became the child welfare board on January 1, 1946, and the juvenile court judge, or their appointee, replaced one of the five appointed members.  This board could provide foster home care for children and hire an executive secretary – who was often the superintendent of the home – to administer a child welfare program.  The board, since that time often closed the county children’s home with the approval of the board of county commissioners and state department of public welfare.  In January 1967, it was announced that the state “would not approve the Children’s Home for present use.”  The Board acted accordingly and the Union County Children’s Home was closed on June 29, 1967.  The Children’s Welfare Board provided for unfortunate children through public and private service agencies and foster homes.  On August 15, 1969, the board became the children’s’ services board.  On December 26, 1972, through a resolution of the Board of County Commissioners the Union County Children’s Services Board was merged with the County Department of Public Welfare, now the Department of Job and Family Services.  This was made effective on January 31, 1973, and with it the Children’s Services Board no longer functions as a separate and independent entity in Union County.

Children’s Services Board records are open to the public, with the exception of records pertaining to medical information and adoption §149.43(A)(1), Ohio Revised Code.

RECORDS OF THE UNION COUNTY CHILDREN’S SERVICES BOARD

 Board of Trustees of Children’s Home Minutes (1884-1943)
 Children’s Home Register (RESTRICTED) (1884-1961)
 Classification of Receipts and Expenditures (1911-1972)
 Docket of Bills Filed – Children’s Home (1919-1950)
 Visitors’ Register (1888-1922)
 Voucher Register (1908-1913)