Saturday, September 27, 2014

Researching Orphanages and Children's Homes

Children Institutions in Kansas City 1918 - 1920
Keeping in mind that Kansas City was a railroad station hub, the second largest in the nation, competing only with Chicago, in the 1918-1920 era, know that it also was also a hub for abandoned children and maternity homes.  The 21 April 1919 Kansas City Times article named the following orphanages: The Children’s Home, The Life Line Mission (KS), The Negro Orphans” Home, the Gillis Orphans” Home (MO). However, know that there were plenty more. Many of the children were abandoned without a name or any clue to parentage.

One Well-Known Children’s Home – Life Line Mission
According to the 17 Feb 1918 Kansas City Star newspaper, Life Line Mission was “an institution devoted to the care of children under four years old.”  Turning to local newspapers using the mission names as the keywords, may lead the family researchers to uncovering an ancestor’s past.  The local newspaper may be your key to adoptions and misplaced children research. Plus you may learn a bit more about the law and social practices.

For one, it was clearly illegal to bring destitute persons to Kansas. A 12 Feb 1918 Kansas City Times article gives details on the arrest of Dr. Hartman for bringing three “destitute persons” - two women and a baby- to Rosedale, KS. Dr. Hartman owned a maternity home in the Rosedale township (later part of Kansas City, Kansas) that borders the Kansas City, MO. state line. But much more can be learned about the children’s home that Hartman used to drop off several children.   

Children of Life Line Mission: 1918-1920
A Kansas City Star and Kansas City Times keyword search for Life Line Mission from 1918 - 1920 proffered several children’s names.

Francis, Jack and Wallace, 20 July 1920, Kansas City Times, Three Babes Want A Home. One is 5 years old (Francis), Another Blue-Eyed and Chubby; Third Seldom Cries,  Jack and Wallace were not yet one year old. Both Jack and Wallace were left at Union Station (KCMO) “The mother of Wallace is known…” Ten month old Jack is dark complexion, with black eyes and dark brown hair “He was given to a woman to hold and she found she had a baby on her hands that did not belong to her.”  pg. 11, Co 1.  Wallace’s mother was 18 years old with black hair and dark eyes and small of stature and visits her son. Three month old “Wallace is blue eyed a [?] blond and fat.”

Emanuel Lissner, 15 Oct 1918, Kansas City Times. …the 3 year old son of Louis Lissner died yesterday of pneumonia at the Life Line Mission, Kansas. He had a sister Gertrude Lisner. Funeral services held at home of Albert Lissner, 1323 Summit St. Buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Stultz children 27 Feb 1919, Kansas City Times. Belle, 5 years old, Beulah 3 years old. Seek Father of Two Children. Homes for Kiddies Will Be Obtained if Relatives Are Not Found. Father Lem Stultz. Mother died of influenza.

William J. Harvey, 29 Sept 1919, Kansas City, Times.  William J. Harvey about 5 months old was left on a porch with a note and a bundle of clothes. His father was “lost in the service.”

Infant Child Sydnor, 9 Feb 1920, Kansas City Times. Mrs. Jessie Sydnor’s Child Ill at Life Line Mission (KS). Mother Jessie Sydnor.

Peter Lyons, 28 Aug 1919, Kansas City, Times. Peter Lyons, four year old son of Mrs. May Lyons was at the Mission for one week. While his mother was sick, he was to stay with his aunt, sister of May Lyons, Mrs. Wm. Hunter.  However, he “became lost.” Peter was found wandering the street, but was returned to his mother.

Striegel Keota Eagle, Keokuk County, Iowa, 11 April 1918. Elmer Pipes grandson of Mrs. Striegel of Keota, Iowa.  He was kidnapped by his mother, Louise Pipes Quinette. Father [I or J] S Pipes. I. S. Pipes divorced his wife 4 years prior. Note: appears as Pipes, may read Piper.

Other Places to Research
The Missouri Valley Special Collections is chocked full of hints, tips and surprises.  In narrowing 1920’s children’s home, we turned to the Jackson County Institutional Homes documents that provides us with the Jackson County institutions [under the direct control of the County Court," including the "McCune Home for Boys, Jackson County Home for the Aged and Infirm, the Jackson County Girls' Parental Home, the Jackson County Home for Aged and Infirm Negroes, the Jackson County Home for Negro Boys, the Detention Home. This collection includes the photos.

Adult Residences
Of course not all housing institutions were for children. The Helping Hand Institute was an institution at 523 Grand Avenue in Kansas City, MO for "worthy homeless men" and some women and children not able to find work. Again, the newspaper will be the researcher’s friend.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers.