Nebraska Schools and Homes

Girls Industrial School | School for Blind | School for Deaf | Old Peoples Home | Home for Feeble Minded Youth  Industrial Home | State Normal School | Home for Friendless

Girls' Industrial School of Nebraska

This institution is located at Geneva, the county seat of Fillmore County. It is under the direction and control of the state. Originally the boys and girls were in the same institution at Kearney, but the work was not satisfactory and a division of the school was made March, 1892. This school is for the purpose of giving industrial training to the juvenile incorrigible female children of the state. A full corps of teachers are employed, and every possible effort is made to instill into the minds of the children" ideas of honesty, truthfulness and morality. About 90 per cent of the 450 girls who have been trained at this school have turned out well, and a great many of them are now living in happy homes of their own.

The cost of maintenance of the school is about $10,000 per year. The attendance varies from 50 to 60, which is a little over half the capacity of the school.

The school work is much the same as that pursued in the common graded schools of the state; in addition to which, instruction in cooking, dining-room work, laundering, dressmaking, cutting and fitting, and general house-keeping is taught.

The law governing this institution was amended in 1902 so as to provide for the commitment of any girl who is vagrant or vicious, under the age of 18 years. The present buildings were erected in 1891, at a cost of about $30,000. They are ample for the accommodation of 100 inmates.

The management is under the direction of Superintendent Horace M. Clark, who was appointed three years ago, and re-appointed last year.

Nebraska School for Blind

Nebraska's school for blind youth is situated at Nebraska City and is known as the Institute for the Blind. It was opened in 1875, with Prof. Samuel Bacon, himself a blind man, as Superintendent.

The object of the school is to give to blind children the same opportunity for an education as is enjoyed by their seeing brothers and sisters. No charge is made for tuition or living, parents being required to provide clothing and transportation to and from the school only. At present 55 pupils are in attendance. It is known that quite a number of children in the state are entitled to its privileges, but through hesitation on the part of parents to send from home an afflicted child, even for its own good, coupled with a mistaken notion of the purposes of the school, or ignorance of its existence, are deprived of the benefit the school might be to them.

Pupils are taught the usual branches of the common schools from the primary grades through the High school, while in addition a thorough course in music, both vocal and instrumental, is afforded such as have an aptitude for it. Several industrial pursuits are open also; piano tuning, broom making, carpet weaving, hammock making, and bead work being taught, while girls are taught sewing, both by hand and on the machine, mending, knitting, crocheting, and cooking.

From the foregoing it will be seen that there are practically in operation three schools under one roof, three distinct sets of teachers being provided for the various departments. Hence it must follow that the expense for educating a blind child is greater than for the seeing brother or sister. During the twenty-eight years of existence of this school over 300 pupils have been in attendance, of whom 60 have completed the entire course and graduated. Many are earning a good living, and are a credit to society, who but for the school would have been a charge upon the community in which they live.

The present building has been erected at different times; the original building, now known as the East wing, was built in 1876, at a cost of $10,000; what is known as the Main building followed in 1887 at a cost of $35,000, and the West wing in 1885, at a cost of $14,000. The total cost of maintenance for the past year was about $12,000. The total appropriation for the present biennium is $44,400.

Three teachers are employed in the literary department, three in the music department, two in the industrial, and one for typewriting and library work. The Matron has two assistants, one of whom looks after the girls, and the other the boys, caring for their clothing, etc., besides attending to them in case of sickness. A physician is employed by the month to render any assistance needed from him, without cost to the pupils.

Institution for the Deaf and Dumb

This institution was founded in 1869, beginning its educational record April 1st of that year, with a class of 113 pupils. It has steadily increased in number of pupils, building accommodation, facilities for caring for children and imparting instruction.

At that time the institution was under the direction of a board of six members, and the first year's expenditures amounted to $2,995. Rev. H. W. Kuhns was interested in the establishment of this school. United States Senator J. H. Millard assisted the institution and for a number of years acted as treasurer of its funds.

The yearly enrollment now reaches about 200 pupils and the annual expenditure amounts to about $40,000. Since the founding of the school there have been five Superintendents. First was William M. French, who held the position two years. He was followed by Mr. R. H. Kinney, a teacher of the deaf from Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Kinney managed the institution for about eight years, then Mr. J. A. Gillespie and his wife, both teachers of the deaf in the Iowa school at Council Bluffs, were put in charge. They retained the position for nearly twenty years. This period marked the great growth of Nebraska as a state in population and wealth, and the wonderful development of the City of Omaha as its metropolis. In consequence the School for the Deaf grew commensurate with the development of the state. At the time Mr. Gillespie took charge, 53 pupils were reported in attendance, and at the close of his administration, in 1897, 160 deaf boys and girls were being educated at the expense of the state in this institution.

The first building erected was a three-story brick 44x60. To this was gradually added as necessity required and means were available, till now there are seven large brick buildings and three frame buildings, the whole, with furniture and equipment worth approximately $300,000. Ten acres of the grounds upon which these buildings stand were donated by citizens. Later a few acres were purchased, making in all at the present time 23 acres. This is not by any means sufficient for such an institution.

Lands contiguous with this institution are now held so high in price that it is doubtful whether any Legislature will see fit to make appropriations for further additions.

In 1897, by order of Gov. Silas A. Holcomb, H. E. Dawes was made Superintendent to supersede Mr. Gillespie. Mr. Dawes held the position three years, and was succeeded in 1901 by the present officer, R. E. Stewart, a teacher for ten years prior in the Nebraska and Iowa schools. During the administration of Mr. Dawes some valuable improvements were made.

The Legislature of 1899 appropriated $25,000 for a new school building, $7,700 for boiler house and engine room, and $6,000 for a new dynamo. The work of reconstructing, organizing, furnishing with suitable equipment, tools and household comforts has been pushed vigorously and effectively, but with stringent economy, by Mr. Stewart. Capable, trainable teachers have charge of the children in school, and the greatest possible care is exercised over them in selection and preparation of food, exercise, clothing, beds and bedding, medicines and morals. Not a death has occurred in that institution under its present management.

Pupils are trained in the industrial shops in the arts of printing, shoemaking, carpentering, laundry work, drawing and painting, and farm ing. Four graduates of the class of 1903 passed examinations to enter Gallaudet College, a national college for the deaf located in Washington, D. C. and are now in attendance.

The intent of this institution is not that of an asylum. Only those capable of being taught are accepted. A regular course of study is arranged. The school term lasts nine months. Parents pay for clothing and railroad fare for their children; all other items of maintenance are paid by the state. All who have been educated in this school have become self-supporting and law-abiding citizens. Many have established homes for themselves and are successful and happy. The children from these homes are usually endowed with all their senses.

The results of this institution have not been a waste of money, but the uplifting of a class who in ignorance are often paupers and sometimes criminals. It is an institution of which the state may well feel proud, a school to lessen poverty, misery and crime and create in their stead plenty, comfort and peace for a class who otherwise would be most unfortunate.

The Old People's Home

The Old People's Home, of Omaha, was started twenty years ago. It was formerly the "Old Ladies' Home," and was free, the Home being supported by contributions. Those entering since August, 1903, are obliged to pay $300.00 a year. Applicants are admitted on probation six months, must be 65 years old, and must have lived in Omaha three years. This institution in December, 1903, was the home of nineteen old people. The management consists of a board of nine directors and six officers, the President being Mrs. Geo. Tilden of Omaha.

Nebraska Institution for Feeble Minded Youth

This institution was established by the State of Nebraska in 1885 for the benefit of the feeble minded children between the ages of five and eighteen years, who, by reason of their affliction, are denied the educational advantages of our public schools and who, likewise, because of their physical weakness, are necessarily dependent. Children, residents of Nebraska, who are feeble minded, and those who, by reason of their being backward, are unable to receive the benefits of the common schools and ordinary methods of instruction, are entitled to care and training free of charge, except the expense of necessary clothing and transportation to and from their homes. Aside from the school duties, the girls are taught sewing, house work, cooking, and all branches of domestic employment, while the boys are instructed in brush making, carpentering, farm work, and other branches of employment that may be useful to them in after life. Seven instructors are employed.

Nebraska Industrial Home

This institution is located at Milford, and came into existence in 1888. The object for which it was founded was to shelter, protect and help reform wayward, unfortunate girls who seek the protection of the Home. With this laudable purpose in view a number of the benevolent women of Nebraska secured the establishment and control of this Home. The Legislature of 1896-7 took it from their control and placed it in the hands of the Governor. Mr. A. M. Edwards served as Superintendent until May, 1902, and was succeeded by Margaret Kealy.

In 1902 over 550 girls, of an average age of nineteen and a half years, had sought the shelter and care of the Home. Eighty-two adults and babes were cared for in 1902. Each inmate enters for a term of one year, and is taught plain and fancy cooking, laundry, general housework, and plain sewing, as well as the branches of study given in our common schools. In addition to these practical helps toward fitting them for useful lives, they receive religious instruction.

The cost of maintaining the Home is about $10,000 a year. The per capita cost of maintenance in 1902, based on the average weekly attendance (63), computed upon the entire expenditures, was $3.03 per week.

A source of revenue to the institution are the products of the forty-acre farm-^the fruit trees, vegetables, poultry, hogs and dairy products, amounting to $1,331.47, under the management of Mrs. A. M. Edwards-a good showing on a land appraisement of $2,400; an enterprise that the State has reason to feel proud of, both in its charitable work and its economical management.

State Normal School

The State Normal School, located at Peru, has five large and commodious buildings, finely equipped with all modern conveniences. The grounds are beautiful, and the location is healthful and free from the annoyances usual to the city or town. This school is ably presided over by the Principal, Professor Clarke, and a highly competent corps of instructors. Hundreds of graduates have been sent out from this school to fill the highest and most responsible positions as teachers in the best schools in Nebraska and adjoining states. The value of the Normal School is becoming a matter of common information, and school boards everywhere are demanding the normal school trained teacher.

Nebraska's last Legislature provided for a second Normal School, which was located by the authorized committee at Kearney, where grounds and suitable buildings are being provided.

State Home for the Friendless

The State Home for the Friendless is located near Lincoln on 2.07 acres of ground; has five buildings and a small greenhouse. The main building, school building and laundry are brick; the hospital and barn are frame. The first two are two stories and basement, the laundry two stories, with boiler room in basement. The main building has kitchen, store room, girls' room, children's dining room, girls' play room, boys' wash room, office, parlors, old ladies' dining room, sleeping rooms, halls, nursery, girls' dormitory and clothes room. The school building has in basement boys' play room, wash room, kindergarten room and engineer's room. First floor-chapel, school room, matron's room, boys' dormitory and wash rooms. Second floor-boys' dormitory, bath room, sleeping rooms, etc. Every department of this institution is carried on in a systematic and careful manner and is one of the most deserving public institutions in the State in the interest of charity.

Nebraska AHGP

A Condensed History of Nebraska for fifty years to date, Compiled by Geo. W. Hervey, Editor, and Published by Nebraska Farmer Co., Omaha, Nebraska, 1903.

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