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Edgar County
Children's Home Page

Transcribed and contributed by
Jane A. Fullington

Edgar County Children's Home
A History and Transcriptions
From 1897-1900

All information provided by the Edgar County Children's Home is used with their permission and is their property. These pages are not to be copied or reproduced without their permission. Every attempt has been made to accurately transcribe the information contained herein. Please feel free to submit any corrections to the host of this site.

Organized 1896 Erected 1899

History of the Children's Home

Railroads, Orphan Trains, and a need for the Children's Home

Paris, Illinois, for many years played a major role as a railroad hub. Trains from Cincinnati to Kansas City and from Chicago to most points south passed through this ever growing and bustling town. At the peak of this robust growth, approximately seven different railroads intersected in the Paris community. Also during this period, there was a major influx of immigration in the eastern portion of the United States, and with this influx came poverty and despair to some of those living in that area.

In about 1853, a young minister by the name of Charles Brace, had gone to New York City to finish his seminary training. Seeing the poverty, neglect, abuse and abandonment of the children on the streets there, he formed the Children's Aid Society later in 1853. Between 1854 and 1929, more than 100,000 children were sent by "orphan trains" to new homes in the agricultural communities of the expanding middle and western states. "The great duty," he wrote, "is to get utterly out of their surroundings and to send them away to kind Christian homes in the country." Thus, the "orphan trains" began.

The "orphan trains" are one of the main reasons the Children's Home was founded. With the many railroads intersecting in Paris, some children would jump the trains when they would stop for coal and water, and end up wandering the streets in search of food and a roof over their heads. Not really knowing why they were being sent to these unknown places. The town soon became overrun with orphans and thus the need for the Children's Home was realized.

The Edgar County Children's Home History

Prior to the organization of the Edgar County Children's Home in February, 1898, the Kings Daughters' Society of the First Methodist Church of Paris opened a home for children in October, 1896 on East Edgar Street in the old third ward school house which was located at the present site of the High School tennis courts. The use of the school building was made possible through the courtesy of the school board.

Previous to the opening of this home for children, the care of dependent children was the duty of the township supervisors and frequently the children were cared for at the County Farm situated northeast of Paris. Also a number of children were placed in homes through the Chicago office of The American Home Finding Association. However, neither of these arrangements proved a satisfactory solution of the problem. Children's organizations in Eastern States sent carloads of children into the State of Illinois and into Edgar County. Many of these children proved after a difficult adjustment period, to be worthy additions to the community, while others through lack of proper advantages in the adjustment period proved otherwise.

The States of the Middle West passed laws to restrain the Eastern States from dumping the children here in a society then unorganized to care for the children. This legislation was followed by additional legislation and local group activity to better the conditions of dependent children. Local church organizations joined in this work, just as here in Edgar County the Kings Daughters first took up the work.

Thus it was with this background that a group of the people of Edgar County clearly saw the need for a permanent children's home and determined to provide such a home in Edgar County. They organized the present Edgar County Children's Home and a charter was granted to the charitable corporation on February 9, 1898.

In 1899, James A. Eads and Clara M. Eads, his wife, gave ten acres of land to the Home, being the present site of the home. This land formed a portion of the first land purchased by James A. Eads in Illinois because of his love of its similarity to the blue grass region of his birth in Kentucky. In 1898, the voters of Edgar County voted a special tax of $10,000 with which to construct a building for the home. In March, 1899, construction was commenced and in January, 1900, the original portion of the present building was occupied. Over the years the original building has been enlarged and other necessary buildings constructed.

With a knowledgeable and involved Board of Directors, constituency awareness, and competent administrators, the Children's Home has continued its tradition of being a responsible and responsive agency by changes based on demonstrated needs for more than 100 years.

Transcriptions from the Edgar County Children's Home
1897 1898 1899
34 Entries 29 Entries 31 Entries
    Includes 2 from 1900

For further information regarding any entries here or other information, please contact the Edgar County Children's Home at the link below.

Edgar County Children's Home
300 South Eads Avenue
Paris, IL 61944
(217) 465-6451
Fax: (217) 465-1272

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