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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Mary Haven Home Has Long History Of Caring For Warren County Children In Need

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 23 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 345
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Many lives have been changed and memories treasured through the efforts of one fine lady, Mary Ann Klingling. With the closing of The Mary Haven Home, formerly known as the Orphan Asylum and Children's Home, one of Warren County's noted landmarks, as we know it, has gone into extinction.
Mike Coleman wrote an excellent story in The Western Star in November 1995, concerning the Mary Haven Home. He explained that a new facility on Justice Drive will now house both boys and girls, whereas in recent times, the old Home housed only boys.
The timeworn building is located about one mile west of Lebanon on the old Shakertown Pike, now Route 63. It commands a magnificent view that overlooks the Turtlecreek valley. The original building is a sizable brick structure, measuring 52 by 82 feet with three stories and a basement. It was constructed in 1874 at a cost of $23,000, furnishings included.
On June 6, 1863, Mary Ann Klingling, a German maiden lady, who resided on Broadway in Lebanon at the time, drew up a will to the amount of $40,000. This fund was to be used for the founding of an asylum "where poor white children, who have lost one or both parents, may receive a sound moral and Christian education, and if necessary, be supported during their minority." Originally, the monies were not to be used unless some individual duplicated them. If no one accepted this proposal, then it was to go to the community of Lebanon with the same stipulation. If Lebanon failed to take up the matter, the total amount would then be forwarded to the county and put into a trust fund to be used for the support and maintenance of such an institution. It was stated in the will that the income from this fund was to be offered only for the education and support of orphan "white" children. It was advised that all provisions for a "like benevolence for indigent children of all classes" be deemed proper.
On February 11, 1869, an Act of the Legislature authorized the commissioners to accept the Klingling fund and to "erect and maintain an Orphan Asylum in connection with a Children's Home." Two sets of books were to be kept, one for each institution. A just monetary portion was to be divided equally amongst each branch.
We shall now pry into the operation of the institution. In July 1896, a group of local citizens visited the establishment for a period of three hours. It was at that time operated by Rev. and Mrs. R.S. Hageman who were, respectively, superintendent and matron. The visitors first noticed the condition of the grounds, which were in an immaculate state. They made an excellent place for the children to romp and play. The interior exhibited a state of cleanliness. The second and third floor consisted of fifteen or twenty rooms that were used as sleeping rooms for the children.
The beds were smaller than the ordinary, each room containing from three to six. All were nicely made up, as if appearance counted for everything. It was remarked that they looked as comfortable as any "millionaire's couch." The reception room and the office had just been cleaned and repapered. They were nicely equipped, the furnishings being inexpensive and of a common fashion.
Each story, including the halls, had recently been repainted. No two rooms were painted alike. Because of the economic factor, few of the rooms were carpeted. Nearly three barrels of paint were used to paint the floors.
The visitors were in the basement area when the supper bell rang. They soon heard the pitter-patter of 36 pairs of little bare feet in the hall above them, and down the stairs they came. First came the girls, the largest and oldest in the lead, followed by the next largest to a little tot of two years. Then came the boys in the same order. All proceeded quietly into the dining room and were promptly seated on stools encircling the table. At the word from the superintendent, each child bowed his or her head and said Grace. The food was said to be fit for a king. Although of a common nature, it was considered most palatable. Meat was provided once a day and beef two days a week. Chicken was occasionally served, as it required six large fowl for a meal. The size of the flock could not provide this luxury as often as the children would like.
A comment was made that a brighter, more intelligent, or better-looking group of children could not be found anywhere, or among any class of people. Of the thirty-six children housed in the Home at this time, twenty-one were girls and three Negro boys were amongst the males. The majority of the children were from five to ten years of age.
The older children were taught work around the farm, this being a part of their education. Their parents or guardian gave up children placed in the Home. The superintendent had authority to place them in any home where they may be wanted, provided the individuals were respectable and capable to care for and train a child. If they were not properly cared for, they were taken away. The trustees provided a schoolhouse for nine months of the year. The cost of a teacher was $315 per annum.
A laundry was built in 1893, and afterward, no extra help was needed for the washings. The savings on this item paid for the machinery in three years. Truck patches and farm gardens often yielded more than was required for consumption. Receipts from the excess garden products some years ran as much as $200. The fifty-three acres required constant care. Wages paid the workers were surprisingly low, but the chores were done is a most professional manner.
Church was occasioned every Sunday in nearby Lebanon. One year they were taken to church in one location, the next year, another.
The summation of the visitors was that the Children's Home was better kept and operated more compassionately than any other in the State.
The Mary Haven Home was operated for more than 120 years. It was a special institution that had run its course, and has nothing but fond memories for its children and administration down through the years.


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This page created 23 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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