Eleemosynary and Charitable Institutions

Transcribed by B. McCulloch

From  History of Oneida County Vol 1. by Henry Cookinham
Chapter XXVIII

Eleemosynary and Charitable Institutions

 Utica Orphan Asylum-In 1826 a society was formed among the influential ladies in Utica known as the Female Society of Industry, the object being to procure funds for the establishment of an orphan asylum.  A charter was granted January 7, 1830, and in the same year a building was procured on the northeast corner of John and Catharine Streets.  Later the establishment was removed to the southeast corner of Chancellor Square.  In 1842 a citizens’ meeting was held in the interest of the institution, and it was decided to apply for an amendment to the charter by which children, who had one parents, might be accepted at the asylum. In 1845 the asylum was on Broadway, and in 1846 the lot was purchased at 312 Genesee Street, upon which a building was constructed and the institution was located there until 1861. Benjamin F. Jewett donated three acres of land on the corner of Genesee and Pleasant Streets and a new building was constructed on this lot in 1861 and upon this lot the building now stands.  The institution has received from time to time gifts by will and otherwise, until it has a substantial endowment.  The last gift of importance was that of Mrs. Lydia Francis, which was received by the institution through the will of Mrs. Francis, and amounted to about $65,000.  With a portion of this fund a hospital separate from the other building was erected, and was completed and occupied about a year since.  The last report of the institution, which is for the year 1911, shows that 17 of the older boys are in attendance at the public schools; it also shows that the children of the institution are instructed in kindergarten work, in Sunday school, physical exercises, and at time the older boys have received military drill.  The girls are instructed in cooking and sewing.  The balance sheet shows that the receipts during the last year were $29,069.67, and the disbursements slightly over $600 less than the receipts.

 St. John’s Orphan Asylum (Utica) was established in 1843.  Its object then was, as it is today, the care and maintenance of parentless, neglected or destitute girls from Oneida and adjoining counties.  In May, 1834, three Sisters of Charity were selected by the Superioress of the Community of Sisters of Charity of Emmitsburg, Maryland, for the new mission petitioned for by the residents of Utica.  The following letter, written a few months after the arrival of the Sisters, cannot fail to be of historic interest to the readers of this sketch: “To the Rev. Walter Quarter, Utica, NY  Dear Sir: We beg leave to call your attention and that of the congregation of St. John’s Church to the establishment of the Sisters of Charity, located on John Street, Utica, and will observe the many advantages growing out of the institution.  Introducing them as a religious community, their utility is universally acknowledged by non-Catholics as well as Catholics.  Abandoning what the world considers its comforts and conveniences, and devoting themselves exclusively to acts of piety, the education of the young, attending the deathbed of sickness in times of general distress, and in fact communicating the divine principles of Jesus, and looking to the joys of another world as a remuneration for all the privations in this. Surely the destitute little children, intended by Providence to bring into action the consummation of religion and virtue, will not want support. (Signed) J.C. Devereux.”
Minutes of the first recorded meeting:  At a meeting of the trustees of St. John’s Church, in the city of Utica, held on the 24th day of September, 1838, John C. Devereux was elected president.  There were present John C. Devereux, Nicholas Devereux, Owen O’Neil, James Barry, Michael Doyle and Michael McQuade.  The following resolution was adopted: Resolved: That independent of the amount of two hundred dollars, to be contributed by John C and Nicholas Devereux, equally, we pledge ourselves, as trustees, to contribute four hundred dollars a year toward the support of Saint John’s Asylum.
The asylum was incorporated March 28, 1849, pursuant to chapter 319 of the laws of 1848 of the state of New York.  Between 1849 and 1863 the following acted as president: Rev. Joseph Stokes and Francis Kernan.  Since 1863 the institution has been under a board of directors, the Superioress being the president.
The institution is under the charge of the Sisters of Charity.  It receives girls of every race and creed; educates them; instructs them in religion and morals, and gives them the technical training necessary to fit them for self-support.  The age of the present building will make any thinking mind conscience of the fact that its shortcomings are so serious that only a new structure will remedy the defects.  The building is 78 years old; its unfitness and dilapidation are evident, and it has long been overcrowded.  The asylum has been fortunate in receiving from Matthew A. Carton the gift of an ideal site of 22 acres on upper Genesee Street, in the locality where many of Utica’s leading charities are situated.  For the proper and safe housing of so many children a fireproof building is indispensable.
Now a new home is imperative, to build it $150,000 is needed. Of this amount $17,000 has been secured in the last three years.  This home will accommodate 300 inmates, and the projected plans comprise of an orphan asylum and a technical school.  The latter is a need surely felt in central New York.  Its scope is to fit the orphans, after they have been discharged from county maintenance, which is generally at fourteen or fifteen (the critical age at which a girl is so ill-qualified to cope with the difficulties of life), to earn a respectable livelihood.  The technical school is a self-supporting institution where the girls are instructed in dressmaking, millinery, cooking and trained service, thus making them self reliant members of society, a charity which all will concede to be most deserving.

St. Joseph’s Infant Home (Utica)- The first records of St. Joseph’s Infant Home show that it commenced its good work in caring for sick children, and that the infants were kept by different women, evidently in charge of the institution when the home was under lay management.  It is said to have been first located on Cottage street, next on Rutger, and finally at the present site.  The certificate of incorporation was obtained December 26, 1893, the first members being Rt. Rev. J.S.M. Lynch, N.J. Quinn, Miles O’Reilly, William Kernan and James J. Dwyer.  In March 1894, a new house east of the viaduct on Rutger Street was leased for forty dollars per month to be used by the managers for the purposes of the institution. February 20, 1895, three Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg, Maryland, took charge of the children, who were still under lay management.  February 1, 1897, the property on Green Street was leased, and it was later purchased by the institution. The Sisters carried on the work under the board of managers until January 23, 1899.  Having the approval of the Rt. Rev. Bishop and consent and support of the officers of the community of Emmitsburg, a transfer of the property was made, in consideration of the paying of all debts, liabilities and obligations of the corporation.  At this time the property was mortgaged and the institution heavily in debt.  There were then about 40 little children in the institution. The Sisters experienced many inconveniences, but with the support of numerous friends and good people of the vicinity, and by the holding of fairs and benefits they succeeded.  Finally in 1905 they undertook the construction of the present building, as it was imperatively demanded.  The institution is having it fair measure of success, and children from one day to seven years of age of all creeds and color are received.  During the existence of the home it has cared for more than 1,400 children of very tender age.  During the past year it sheltered and cared for 258, and at this date there are in the institution 148.  To care for these are seven Sisters of Charity, three of whom are children’s nurses.  There are also kindergarten teachers, and a number of other helpers sufficient to carry on the work in a proper manner.  The present accommodations are of modern construction, bright and airy.  There is also a beautiful chapel where services are held for the inmates, which are attended by the priests of St. Patrick’s parish.