Twenty-five Years In Orphanage


By Edith Brown
Published by THE LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO,
Fri. March 28, 1952.

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Butler Hall has faithfully served for many years.  Once again it comes to life in Miss Brown's story. Have a good look for its days are numbered.  It is condemned and will be wrecked soon.

April 1st, 1927, I arrived in Farmington, into something altogether new to me. W. S. Stinson, the superintendent, took me to Butler Hall, the large brick building which 115 children called their home. I shall never forget that first evening. I felt like throwing up my hands and quiting and at the end of the first week as housemother to thirteen pre-school age boys and girls I was completely discouraged. Mrs. Stinson with fine understanding assigned me to another group; I helped Mrs. Sproul, who was housemother of forty girls of school age. Slowly I recovered my bearings and from then on grew into my work and soon came to love it.

In those days we had only one building for housing our family of 123 persons. You see its picture on this page. The kitchen and laundry were in the basement. The reception room, study hall, dining room, and three rooms for workers were on the first floor. When the weather was bad, forty-five boys had no other place to play except in the hall and study hall, if it was not in use.

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On the second floor were two large dormitories for thirty boys. Next to them was a room for fifteen small boys. Across the hall was what we called the babies' dorm. Here thirteen pre-school age girls and boys lived with their supervisor. Two supervisors were in charge of the groups of boys already mentioned. The housemothers of the last two dormitories had no rooms except one small corner of the dorm--no privacy whatever.

The third floor housed all the school-age girls with their two supervisors.

Our hospital was the little cottage where our middle size boys live now. The superintendent and his family lived in the White Cottage, just recently vacated by our older girls when they moved to the New Cottage last December.

There were two gardens where our administration building is now, a tool shed and a barn. We had a small farm at the edge of town where we kept the cows during the day. They were brought in to be milked morning and evening.

Mrs. Stinson became superintendent upon the death of her husband in 1930. She was succeeded by the Rev. Peter Fischer. During his six years with us the new administration building was built. The old building had to be condemned as unsafe, and first to move were the girls on the third floor. Still we had not nearly enough space. First and second floor of the new building were crowded.

In 1942 the two wings were added which helped some. In 1945, we were proud owners of some 200 acres of farmland, and here Dr. Walker, the fourth superintendent in the life of the home (as well as the sixth), built the two cottages for our older boys. Then my dream came true; the thirteen small girls, five to nine years old, and myself moved to the south wing of the new building. Here we have lived happily ever since.

The latest addition to our home is the New Cottage for our big girls. It was built during Mr. Griffin's three years with us.

We have gone a long ways from the era of long black stockings and granite plates and cups, and how well we remember the discomfort of the winter months because of inadequate heating in Butler Hall.

I, for one, appreciate what God has seen fit to put into the hearts of our friends to do for the Orphanage at Farmington.

The happiest hours of my life are when I hear of our boys and girls out in the world rendering some service to others. We have ministers, doctors, nurses, teachers, business men, housewives, and last but not least, some have given their lives in battle that our country might remain a Christian land.

Published by THE LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO, Fri. March 28, 1952.

NOTE:  This orphanage later became known as the Presbyterian Home for Children of Farmington, Missouri.