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    photo of the Fifth Annual Report dated February 22, 1862

    Life at the Home

    There were 9 women and 64 children from age 2 to 12 at the Home in 1861. Of the children, 32 were county charges, 26 were kept without compensation, and 6 were boarders. Children from 3 families were boarding while their fathers were in the Civil War. At least in one case, the Home took in a boy orphaned by his father’s death in the war. 

    The Home used 8 barrels of flour per month and 30 quarts of milk per day. Like today, friends of the Home sent useful donations including: clothing, fruit and vegetables, chicken and apples for Thanksgiving, a 300-pound deer from the NYS Game Commission, ice cream, two ice-cream freezers, a gas stove, toys, a rocking horse, kites, $25 for Victrola records, books, a magazine subscription, handkerchiefs, Christmas wreaths, and tickets to shows.    

    Illness was a constant problem. Two children died during the Home’s first epidemic of scarlet fever in March 1861. In 1862, the Board no longer accepted homeless women, concentrating its efforts solely on children. By 1868, the Home stopped taking children as paying borders.

    A resolution was passed in 1869 stating “that $100 and a suit of clothes for a boy of 21, and $50 and suit of clothes or an equivalent for a girl at 18 on arriving at age, be specified in the indenturing papers.” Most children would eventually become domestics or be indentured to a farm.

    Children were educated at the Home but attended local churches. They did “as much housework as was consistent with their ages and school duties.” The matron received an annual salary of $300, and the average cost of keeping a child was $1.69 per week.