I had wondered why an orphanage had not existed in Warrick County, Indiana before the opening of one in March 1882. While researching in the newspaper trying to find an answer to this question I found an article in the 19 February 1881 issue of the Boonville Enquirer stating, "A bill for Orphans' and Dependent Children's Homes was passed by the Senate." I then searched for the law to determine when it passed the full Assembly. The bill was approved 7 April 1881 giving specific instructions on how the County Commissioners should proceed. The County Commissioners could provide up to 30 cents per child per day for their care. The Warrick County Commissioners provided 25 cents per child per day for their care. See the images below.
Photo courtesy of Warrick County Museum, 217 S. First Street, Boonville,
The Warrick County Orphans Home opened its doors early in 1882. The first matron of the home was Mrs. Maggie Dillingham. She was the matron of the home until December 1882 when Ed and Malinda Meece assumed control of it.1 In its beginning, the earliest volume, “Register of the Inmates of the Orphans’Home Warrick County, Indiana”2 has sketchy information on the children who resided in the home and poorly documents whom they were bound out to and when they were returned to the home.
There is no documentation in the register from 21 March 1883 until 22 December 1886 when a new handwriting begins.
I believe this handwriting to be that of Elizabeth Barnett who states, in a newspaper article, “I took charge of the Home four years and four months ago.”3 Elizabeth Barnett gave a much better accounting of the events of the home during her time as Matron.
The next matron was Mary E. Wilson who began work on 1 April 1891 and was removed for neglect the following year, on 30 March 1892. Mary E. Wilson did not know how to write; all of the indentures, in the "Articles of Apprenticeship", where she bound out children are signed with an “X her mark”. The documentation in the “Register of Inmates” during her time as matron, was most likely entered by another person.
The volume, Articles of Apprenticeship 1831 – 19074, held in the Recorders Office, Warrick County courthouse, adds a few more details regarding what became of the children and to whom they were bound out. This volume, though sketchy at times, does name most of the various matrons of the home.
From the beginning, of the opening of the Warrick County Orphans Home, the matron of the Home bound out the children to persons to have as adoptees or as servants depending on the family’s choice. The Orphans' Home Association officers began binding out children from the Home 1 August 1896 and continued through the remainder of the volume Articles of Apprenticeship, of which ending date is 26 September 1907.
Prior to the opening of the Orphans Home you will find ‘pauper children’ bound out by the township overseers of the poor. On 29 July 1831 “Louisa Maria Hinkley, a pauper, was bound out to A. M. Phelps until she is of age which will expire August 8, 1841.” The overseers of the poor for Ohio Township were James Lenn and Lyndon Hines. Their signatures and A. M. Phelps are inscribed at the bottom of her indenture.4
1. Orphan’s Home Boonville Enquirer, issue 2 December 1882
2. Register of the Inmates of the Orphans’Home Warrick County, Indiana
3. Elizabeth Barnett Matron Boonville Enquirer, issue 4 April 1891
4. Articles of Apprenticeship 1831 – 1907
Photo courtesy of Warrick County Museum, 217 S. First Street, Boonville, Indiana
These Individuals Served as Trustee for the Warrick County Orphan’s Home.
Seated: Mrs. Charlie Metz, Jenny Shafer, Lavina Smith, Libby Shafer, Tollie Perigo, Louisa Armstrong, Louisa Fiebig, Mollie Allen.
Standing: Harriet Fisher, Ab McCool, Mrs. George Trimble, Charles Armstrong, Louise Wylie, Bert Picker and William Allen.
After the formation of the Warrick County Orphans' Home Association, at sometime in the early years the Association purchased graves for orphans who died while in residence at the orphanage. They purchased 12 graves in Block 2, Lot 291 in Maple Grove Cemetery. I walked Lot 291 with the manager of Maple Grove Cemetery and there are no markers on this Lot. There is no documentation on which children are buried on this lot. The plat of the cemetery does list this as the graves purchased for the orphanage. The only thing we can assume is the children, documented as having died at the orphanage, that have obituaries, death records or funeral home records are most likely buried on Lot 291.
If you have questions or problems with this site, email the County Coordinator. Please to not ask for specfic research on your family. I am unable to do your personal research. I do not live in Indiana and do not have access to additional records.
If you have questions, contributions, or problems with this site, email:
Coordinator - Marsha Bryant