State of Wisconsin School for Dependant Children at Sparta - MonroeCoWI
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State of Wisconsin School for Dependant Children
Sparta, Monroe Co, Wisconsin

This building was used by the state of Wisconsin as a state institution and has many differing names depending upon the time frame, and what document or agency is involved.. Some of the names it has been referred are as follows: Sparta Boys Home, State Public School at Sparta, Wisconsin Child Center, State of Wisconsin - School for Dependent Children, Home for Dependent Children, Indian School, Winnebago Indian School, and The Tuberculosis Sanitorium. Other general references to consider are sanatiorium or orphanage. A limited history is noted below.

From 1889 to 1938, it was officially called the State Public School.

Around 1900, it may have been utilized as an Indian School. Later, it was re-named and recycled for another use by the State as a sanitarium or orphanage.

Prior to about 1905, it was sometimes called the Home for Dependent Children, and was an orphanage of sorts for children who either had no parents or close relatives to look after them. Sometimes such children came to the attention of law enforcement for petty crimes such as stealing, acts of vandalism, not attending school and /or being in destitute circumstances. These children normally became wards of the state. However, some of these children did not become wards of the State School and were adopted either formally or informally by those who knew of their circumstances.

In 1947, it was re-named Wisconsin Child Center.

When searching for your ancestors who were in this institution, keep in mind that many things might have happened other than a legal adoption. For example, the child might have been taken in by a WI couple who needed a farm-hand or hired help and "informally" adopted - meaning the child might have taken their name, but it was not legally binding. This was not an uncommon practice back then. In cases like this, there may not be any records of "adoption", such as an announcement in a newspaper, or a reference in the "adoptive parents" will. Sometimes, the child may be listed in newspaper accounts before being sentenced to the Boys Home, and listed in a later census as an adopted son. These conflicts in records may be confusing if the word "adopted" is taken literally.

The records of the school are held by the State Historical Society's archives division at Madison, Wisconsin, but only documents with non-identifying information such as reports of the State Public School are available for public use.

Researchers can check with the WI Dept of Corrections / Juvenile Justice or the Juneau County Department of Social Services to see if there are any surviving records for the residents of the home; the Juneau County Courthouse (Mauston) Register of Deeds for pertinent vital record: Wisconsin newspapers; and the appropriate federal or state census. Other organizations which may be helpful are The Juneau County Historical Society and the Monroe County Local History Museum & Research Room.

Names of individuals who were residents, as submitted by researchers, can be found by clicking on the "Children of Sparta Home" on the left menu.

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