St. Aloysius Orphanage
1852 - 1945
"Whosoever Shall Receive One of Such Children in My Name Receiveth Me. Mark 9-36"
Nov. 28, 1924
Hon. John H. McCoy, Judge of County Court, Decatur, Ill.
Pursuant to a request by Fannie A. Bivans of your city who addressed our Sister Superior and which letter has been handed me for reply.
The communication is in the form of an inquiry regarding the four Schweiss children who are making their home with us, and while it pleases us to be asked for an explanation which affords us a
certain amount of satisfaction, and on the other hand it seems that someone is meddling into something of which they know very little, and this brings on a feeling of resentment hard to repress.
Our records show that these children were admitted to our home, on or about October 19, 1922, about two weeks after their mother died, by their Uncle, Mr. David J. Cantrell, who is also their
guardian and executor of Mrs. Schweiss’s last will and testament.
It has been intimated that the children have been harshly treated but to what extent has not been stated, but enough to demand an investigation and to this I will reply, by stating, that none
of our children are mistreated or abused, and am ready to admit that all children are kept under certain restrictions, but not unreasonably, nor any more than in any well regulated family.
For this we stand ready to challenge anyone to prove that this is not the fact, not only this, I claim, that all our children are given a far better home than is given children on the outside,
regardless of what remuneration is given us in return. There is also no distinction between those who pay board, and those that do not, all are treated alike.
The sisters look after the moral, physical, spiritual and intellectual training and general welfare of the children, while the Board of Administration, of which I am one, looks after the financial management.
It happens once in a great while that someone either through prejudice or ignorance, selfish motive or other reasons try to stir up trouble, but so far we have never had any trouble to fully vindicate out action.
As to the physical condition of these four girls must say that they are well liked, they Are of various dispositions and temperaments, and are always treated with kindness and consideration.
It is also stated to me, that Mr. Cantrell did not act like an uncle and did not call on them often enough, to which I will say that he did, and when the school period did not prevent he would give
them a good time at his home, which is some miles in the country and he has them now, took them out last Wednesday and will return them on Saturday when the thanksgiving vacation ends.
Some people think that they can lavish their affection on children by calling on them and put their little minds full of more mature troubles, and by so doing injure them more than benefit them.
Some of the institutions permit visitors once a month; while with us it is once a week.
With some it would be far better if they never called, but it is hard to make exceptions.
Our institution is not a new organization, in fact we claim it to be the oldest in the state of Illinois, the society was organized in 1852 and since 1861 we have has our own home, it being under
the management of the same Sisterhood for all of these years and we point with just pride to our past record which has been most satisfactory, as our citizens will testify to, and our society
with its 1000 members stand ready to defend the charitable Sisters in their noble work and many sacrifices, both day and night for the poor and unfortunate children.
As an illustration of what interest and care is given our children will cite the Scarlet Fever epidemic early this year which was the worst we had in fourteen years. We had about 15 cases in
our isolation hospital, a building separated from our main building, we had two of our best doctors, two professional nurses whose fees alone were between five and six hundred dollars and
not a penny extra of our extra costs were charged to any on the children’s accounts.
As proof of the high regard in which our home is held by our County Judge Charles Nauert will state that two children were placed in our home and later the Guardian saw fit to take them out
without the Courts consent, and as soon as this came to his attention, and not on our part either, but an outsider, he immediately sent an officer after them and brought them back to our
home, greatly to our surprise.
We had another case recently, in which a mother brought legal action for the custody of her child in the Court at Garden City, Kansas, and in this case the children were awarded to us.
Was informed by the Sister Superior that some lady visitor called recently and made some disparaging remark about the pale look on the face of one of the girls, which is only natural for some,
also expressed some surprise that one of the girls suffered a broken arm, which came about by an acy[sic] of disobedience, she and the others went on the Merry-Go-Round and fell off.
During the regular appointed time to play the children are under the supervision of one of the Sisters. The girls arm is fully healed and left no bad results. No charge for medical attention
was made in this case.
As to the regular charges for the children will state where children are left with financial means we ask a reasonable fee, which in this case is only $2.00 per week, for each one, which
practically covers everything, board, lodging, schooling, medical care, clothing, shoes and many other things.
Nothing is left undone to give all a proper education, the smaller children are taught in our own class rooms, and those in the grades from the fifth up are sent to St. Francis School,
the largest parish school in the city.
Our children have no time to roam the streets at night, as many others do to their own ruination. Ours are taught regular duties, with plenty of healthful recreations. At night each one
has their own bed, in clean and well ventilated dormitories, each have their own locker in which they can keep their own belongings, teaching them individuality.
The older children are given such duties to perform as is deemed good for them, such as helping in the kitchen, dining room or dormitory and never taken advantage of, or overworked.
Good food is very essential for young children and I can say our children are all well fed, as I do the buying, and know that they get plenty milk, no coffee, none but the best butter, no oleo, fruits at various times. I know
they get better food than I got when I was of their age, and the Board of Administration wants them to have it.
For play and recreation they have their out-door playgrounds and when the weather is bad they have rooms in-doors, plenty of music is provided, as we have a player piano recently purchased,
three phonographs, two organs, one radio set which keeps them in touch with the outside world and last and not least, toys galore. No holiday passes without their special favors in the way
of recreation, or at the table in the way of delicacies, such as, cakes, candies, ice cream or other dainties.
Now I think I have given this matter sufficient attention, but if any fair-minded, or unprejudiced person thinks that I have overlooked anything, or exaggerated, then let them speak up and
I will further try to familiarize them with our work, if I can, and with this I will close.
Awaiting your further requests and reply, Respectfully Yours
[Letters rescued from St. Aloysius Orphanage by Janet Peters - Submitted by Tammy Peters Bruns - Transcribed by Cinda Head]
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