There were two Lyman Schools - one in Berlin for younger
boys and then the school in Westborough. I noticed on the 1920 census
published on ancestry.com that there was a listing of the boys housed there
at Westboro at that time. Perhaps other census' contain similar information.
The adults listed were Ira Dudley and his wife Sarah. Mr. Dudley
was headmaster. There was a third gentleman listed but his name was
familiar to me.
Another woman reader wrote me:
Her family had connections to the school and some of my ancestors were teachers and one was even a headmaster in the later years. Her mother has old photos of boys standing in groups outside of the schools but there is no way to date the photos and there are no listings of the boys names. Unfortunately the photos are also taken from a distance making identification of individuals impossible.
Between Nov 1, 1848 and March 4, 1902 there were 7,784
(!) boys entered in the record books of the institution. The school was
a school as much as it was a jail for under-age children who were too young to go to jail and had no other place to go. I have read
numerous accounts of the Lyman School from various times and get the impression that it was a place of discipline and punishment,
isolation and confinement. Twice in the 1800’s the board of directors were removed by the governor, there was one fire that
destroyed 2/3 of the entire school, and children regularly escaped from the school and were never found again.
As a new internee I started at Lyman Hall where I was
taught the rules and regulations. I was also evaluated
by the "house parents", Mr. and Mrs. Stearn, to determine
my final cottage of residence. I had been remanded by the
Court in Worcester, Massachusetts into the custody of
the YSB for the crime of arson.
There had been no such crime. However, I accidentally
burned down a barn at an orphanage with a solid-fuel
rocket I had constructed under the tutelage of a high-
school physics teacher. Nevertheless, in the state of
Massachusetts in those days, the Judge of the Juvenile
Court was the Judge, the Jury, and the Law. There
were no free lawyers in those days!
Also, the State Police Fire Marshall investigating,
convinced me that somebody had to pay for burning down
the barn and depriving the other boys of their livelihood.
The Orphanage was a "work farm" where boys were forced
to do farm-work to compensate the cost of their food
I had been sentenced by the YSB to a term of 700 credits.
It was usual to earn 100 credits a month if one behaved.
After the first month, I was moved to Worcester Cottage.
The Cottage Master was Mr. McCabe. Since I had an amateur
radio license, call sign K1KLR, and since I Mr. Sandani,
also a "Ham" radio operator, was the Cottage Master at
Westfield Cottage, I was eventually transferred to Westfield
to finish up my first term at Lyman. I helped teach Morse
Code classes at Mr. Sandini's radio club.
I was sent home on probation after my seventh month, having
fulfilled my obligation to the juvenile court system in
the state of Massachusetts.
I returned a couple months later for "re-placement" because
my probation officer found that I had an incompatible
home situation (the reason why I had been in an orphanage
in the first place).
After an initial re-indoctrination period, I started to
meet people at Lyman School that took a great interest in
helping me become a successful member of society. First
there was Rev. F. "Bob" Brown, the Protestant Chaplin. Then
there was the superintendent, Mr. Boris and the general
manager, Mr. Kenny. These people, and others, took an
active role in supporting me through some new programs.
I became the first internee of Lyman School to attend
"outside" school. I attended Westboro High School. I
even got a week-end job at a TV repair shop in
Westboro, and spent many week-ends away from the
Lyman School "campus" with the Alden family in
I also became one of the first to attend summer camp at the
Morgan Memorial Fresh Air Camp at South Athol Massachusetts.
Bob Brown provided some extra support when I believe
others would have abandoned me. While at camp, Cabin 5,
the cabin where I was staying, burned to the ground.
This happened during a severe lightening storm when
most everybody, including myself, was at the cafeteria
building. Most everybody thought that the building had
been struck by lightening.
However, the State Police Fire Marshall that investigated
was the same person who had investigated the fire at the
Orphanage. He recognized me and claimed that I must have
started it, forcing the proprietors to send me back to
Lyman School (no trial, just guilt without evidence).
Rev. Brown came to the camp and brought me back to Lyman
School. However, with his help, I was eventually exonerated
and the proprietors of the summer camp asked that I come
to their Boston foster home, the Charles Hayden Memorial Inn.
I lived at the Hayden Inn in Boston and attended High
School in Roslindale until I reached the age of 18.
Then I moved to Amherst and took a job as a TV repairman.
I studied to obtain a FCC First Class Radiotelephone
License and before I was old enough to vote, I was the
Chief Engineer of a television station, WATR-TV Waterbury,
Connecticut. Later, I earned an engineering degree and
made a career designing radio and television transmitters.
When the broadcast equipment industry declined, I moved
into medical electronics where I have been designing
equipment and software ever since. I am certainly
successful. I own an airplane, have a Commercial
Pilots License, have several US Patents, and even
play the piano. Not too bad!
So, the Lyman School was good to me. I'm sure it was
also good to many others, in fact becoming the only
"home" that many boys can remember. Most of the juveniles
were incarcerated for such crimes as:
(1) Stubborn child. Translation: Kid couldn't get along with
his step-father after a number of beatings.
(2) Breaking and Entering. Translation: Kid built a "fort"
in an abandoned building. In the daytime that would only get
him beat up by the cops. In the nighttime, it was a
felony and he'd get beat up by the whole system.
(3) Grand theft auto. Translation: '54 chevy left running
at the 'Bunny Hop'. Kid takes it around the block.
I once met a "real" criminal at Lyman School. However, a
good lawyer probably could have gotten him off if juveniles
had been afforded the same rights as their parents. He had
killed his step-father after the drunk beat up his mother.
My generation was likely one of the most abused by the police
and the court system in the state of Massachusetts. For instance,
when I was incarcerated at the YSB, I noticed that you could
always tell if a kid was from Dorchester. Kids from Dorchester
always arrived beat-up. That's what cops in Dorchester did for
I could tell you about the YSB, but that's a history that
needs a fresh cup of coffee.
Richard B. Johnson
i rember the cottage masters,
mr reardon,mr garcia,mr marsherelli,mr messier,mr and mrs sherwood,mr and mrs stern, mrs evans
i rember the detail line with mr looney...the catholic priest father fallon
the buildings we lived in elms.hillside.oak,worcester,wachusetts,overlook,sunset,westview,chauncy and lyman hall
i worked in the laundry with mr cleaves.....
i have good memories of the school
coming from the dorchester area of boston i wasnt used
to wide open spaces.i made some life-long friends there too.i even
married the sister of one of the boys i met there
i'll say one thing about lyman school i grew up there.in learned responsibility there.
i'm sure there are horror stories but i didnt have any bad expieriences.
i now live in south dakota about as far away as i can be from westboro
i remember mr garcia very well.he was like a father to
a lot of us.i was in new york city when i heard of his son's death.mr
garcia used to take two or three of us out to work with him as a bricklayer.he taught me how to be one.
i liked working in the laundry especially in the winter
for obvious reasons.it was warm there.i can remember the good people of
worcester who would come up and put on talent shows.
we had football and basketball teams....we also went on trips to see holy cross play football.
the food was great there....a went back there a few years ago.i noticed that overlook cottage burned down.
Dick Bolt wrote:
Do you have anything
to add to the history based site ? Photos ? Documents ? Memories ? Etc?
Dick in MD
eddie menten wrote:
i was in lyman school in the early 60's.i remember it very well
Editor's note, I think Eddie was on a Navy ship in WWII,
so he really must have been at the Lyman School in 40s!