Soldier's Orphan's Home Opened - 1864
Soldier's Orphan's Home Opened - 1864

The Soldiers' Orphans' Home, at Lawrence , Iowa , just above Farmington , was opened July 13, 1864 .  Mrs. Annie Wittenmeyer was the originator of the movement for establishment of this Home.  She called a convention at Muscatine , October 7, 1863 , for the purpose of providing support and education for the orphans of Iowans who lost their lives in the war.  A society called the Iowa State Orphan Asylum was founded and the first meeting of the trustees held at Des Moines in 1864.

A Mr. Howell, of Keokuk, was chairman and it was his duty to lease a suitable building, get furniture and solicit donations.  He rented a large brick building in Lawrence , now a part of Farmington .  A committee was appointed to furnish the home and on July 13 it was opened.

In three weeks' time 21 children were admitted and during the next six months 70 were admitted, and there were more applications.

The Home was sustained by popular subscription until 1866 when the state of Iowa provided for it and provided also for numerous other Homes in several counties.

E. H. Alton, formerly of Birmingham , but now of Fairfield , was one of the children who lived for a time at this home.  His father, Steven D. Alton died at the hospital at Vicksburg in 1862.  Mr. Alton can not remember his father as he went away to war when Elmer was but a small boy.  After his father's death, he and his brothers, I. S. and Elliott, and Samuel, and his sister, Marybel, were taken to the home for Soldiers' Orphans' at Farmington .

Mr. Alton remembers that three-story brick house standing near the dam and locks.  He recalls a song that the children used to sing about "a three-story brick house church full of orphans".  A Mrs Pratt was the maton. [sic]

Later the children were taken out of this home and as Mr. Alton remembers, packed like pigs in [article ends]

Source: clippings from scrapbook located in the Van Buren Co. Genealogical Society Library, Keosauqua, IA

Contributed by Volunteer Transcriber Paul French


Van Buren Co. GenWeb Project