Warrick County Orphans' Home

The Tie That Binds                               

I had wondered why an orphanage had not existed in Warrick County, Indiana before the opening of one in March 1882. While researching in the newspaper trying to find an answer to this question I found an article in the 19 February 1881 issue of the Boonville Enquirer stating, "A bill for Orphans' and Dependent Children's Homes was passed by the Senate." I then searched for the law to determine when it passed the full Assembly. The bill was approved 7 April 1881 giving specific instructions on how the County Commissioners should proceed. The County Commissioners could provide up to 30 cents per child per day for their care. The Warrick County Commissioners provided 25 cents per child per day for their care. See the images below.


Warrick County Orphans' Home

Photo courtesy of Warrick County Museum, 217 S. First Street, Boonville, Indiana

The Warrick County Orphans Home opened its doors early in 1882. The first matron of the home was Mrs. Maggie Dillingham. She was the matron of the home until December 1882 when Ed and Malinda Meece assumed control of it.1 In its beginning, the earliest volume, “Register of the Inmates of the Orphans’Home Warrick County, Indiana”2 has sketchy information on the children who resided in the home and poorly documents whom they were bound out to and when they were returned to the home.

There is no documentation in the register from 21 March 1883 until 22 December 1886 when a new handwriting begins.

I believe this handwriting to be that of Elizabeth Barnett who states, in a newspaper article, “I took charge of the Home four years and four months ago.”3 Elizabeth Barnett gave a much better accounting of the events of the home during her time as Matron.

The next matron was Mary E. Wilson who began work on 1 April 1891 and was removed for neglect the following year, on 30 March 1892. Mary E. Wilson did not know how to write; all of the indentures, in the "Articles of Apprenticeship", where she bound out children are signed with an “X her mark”. The documentation in the “Register of Inmates” during her time as matron, was most likely entered by another person.

The volume, Articles of Apprenticeship 1831 – 19074, held in the Recorders Office, Warrick County courthouse, adds a few more details regarding what became of the children and to whom they were bound out. This volume, though sketchy at times, does name most of the various matrons of the home.

From the beginning of the opening of the Warrick County Orphans Home the matron of the Home bound out the children to persons to have as adoptees or as servants depending on the family’s choice. The Orphans' Home Association officers began binding out children from the Home 1 August 1896 and continued through the remainder of the volume of which ending date is 26 September 1907.

Prior to the opening of the Orphans Home you will find ‘pauper children’ bound out by the township overseers of the poor. On 29 July 1831 “Louisa Maria Hinkley, a pauper, was bound out to A. M. Phelps until she is of age which will expire August 8, 1841.” The overseers of the poor for Ohio Township were James Lenn and Lyndon Hines. Their signatures and A. M. Phelps are inscribed at the bottom of her indenture.4


1. Orphan’s Home Boonville Enquirer, issue 2 December 1882
2. Register of the Inmates of the Orphans’Home Warrick County, Indiana
3. Elizabeth Barnett Matron Boonville Enquirer, issue 4 April 1891
4. Articles of Apprenticeship 1831 – 1907

Photo courtesy of Warrick County Museum, 217 S. First Street, Boonville, Indiana

These Individuals Served as Trustee for the Warrick County Orphan’s Home. Date unknown.
Seated: Mrs. Charlie Metz, Jenny Shafer, Lavina Smith, Libby Shafer, Tollie Perigo, Louisa Armstrong, Louisa Fiebig, Mollie Allen.
Standing: Harriet Fisher, Ab McCool, Mrs. George Trimble, Charles Armstrong, Louise Wylie, Bert Picker and William Allen.

9 April 2002 I attempted to copy the Register of the Inmates of the Orphans’Home Warrick County, Indiana. I found the volume so large it could not be photocopied on the machine at the library. I photographed every page of the volume instead. When I returned home I discovered all of the photographs were not clear. On 15 April 2002 I returned to the library and photographed the entire volume again. I continued to have some images that were not clear. I was finally able to obtain a clearer set of photographs of the pages and the link to them is in the next paragraph.

The Register of the Inmates of the Orphans’Home Warrick County, Indiana is the first volume of records for the Orphans Home and as such contains a great deal of valuable information regarding the orphan children of Warrick County and the surrounding counties who sent children to this facility. I have used these records, since 2002, in my personal research.

History Record [second Orphans Home Register] 1910

This is the second volume of records for the Warrick County Orphans Home. These images are the complete record with a date range from 1910 to the 1930s. This is a ledger with information across two pages. The second page tells where the children went when they left the home. I have used the second page to find specific children and trace them to adulthood. Because it is difficult to follow the information across two pages and accurately determine where the children went, I have cropped the pages and joined them to make it easier for me to research these children.

I cropped the left hand page right after the child’s 'Date of Birth column' and cropped the right hand page right before the 'Religion of the Parents' column. Now when one looks at the images of the pages one can easily determine where the children went when they left the home. Be sure to look for the child to return to the home and leave a second or third time.
You will find those cropped and joined pages on the bottom of the "History Record" page.

Pauper children were indentured to families by the township overseers of the poor prior to the opening of the Warrick County Orphans' Home.
Check out these two records from the Articles of Apprenticeship 1831 – 1907 held in the Recorder’s Office at the courthouse in Warrick County, Indiana. Also available on familysearch.org in the Indiana Wills section under Warrick County.

The 1880 Boon Township, Warrick County, Indiana Federal census pages 229 C and D has a listing for the County Poor. The enumerator failed to list the Institution at the top of the pages as required in the instructions, but if one looks at line 21 one sees David Ferguson - occupation, Keeper of Co. Poor. On these two census pages one will find some of the children who are listed on the first page of the Warrick County Orphans' Home register.



I hope you enjoy exploring these newspaper articles that provide some data on the Orphans Home of Warrick County, Indiana.

If you have questions about any of the children you know who lived in the Warrick County Orphans' Home please contact me at the email address below.  You will find the children whom I have researched listed on the page "What Became of the Children?". See the link below.


What Became of the Children?


Minutes of the Warrick County Orphans' Home Association

After the formation of the Warrick County Orphans' Home Association, at sometime in the early years the Association purchased graves for orphans who died while in residence at the orphanage. They purchased 12 graves in Block 2, Lot 291 in Maple Grove Cemetery. I walked Lot 291 with the manager of Maple Grove Cemetery and there are no markers on this Lot. There is no documentation on which children are buried on this lot. The plat of the cemetery does list this as the graves purchased for the orphanage. The only thing we can assume is the children, documented as having died at the orphanage, that have obituaries, death records or funeral home records are most likely buried on Lot 291.

Created 29 June 2020    Updated 20 October 2020    

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