Lenawee County Michigan State Industrial School For Girls

Several times a year we receive questions about the Industrial School for Girls in Adrian and if therecords are available and if so how can they be accessed. The following article was found in Memoirs ofLenawee County Michigan, Volume 1, Richard Illenden Bonner, Editor, 1909. It gives us a very good look atthe school, its functions, its history to that time:

State Industrial School for Girls

One of the best and most important of all the public institutions of Michigan is the Industrial Home forGirls, located at Adrian. It was mainly founded by the efforts of that grand Quakeress, "Aunt"Laura Haviland, whose home was for so many years in this county, and who for nearly thirty years was sopotent a factor in the great anti-slavery controversy that ended in the war of 1861-65. The StateIndustrial Home was created by act of the legislature of 1879, under the administration of Gov. Charles M.Croswell. The first Board of Control, under the act, to choose location and provide buildings, appointofficers, etc., was as follows: Charles T. Gorham, of Marshall; William H. Waldby, of Adrian; Mrs. S. L.Fuller, of Grand Rapids; Mrs. C. B. Stebbins, of Lansing; Miss Emma Hall, of Ypsilanti, with GovernorCroswell as ex-officio member.

The beautiful site was donated by the citizens of Adrian, and consistedof forty acres of land, with the buildings thereon, together with $3,000; but since that time adjacentground has been purchased until there are now 113 acres of the most productive soil, with two farmhousesand adequate barns. The first building constructed was Clark cottage which, although not entirely finished,was occupied Aug. 3, 1881. Miss Viola Wood, now Mrs. John I. Knapp, of Adrian, was the first cottagemanager appointed, with Miss Seaver, of Adrian, as teacher, and Miss Myrick as housekeeper. The Home wasfounded on the cottage, or family system. There are now twelve buildings, the cottages bring named andknown as follows: The Administration Building, Clark Cottage, Croswell Cottage, Gilespie Cottage, HavilandCottage, Central Cottage, Palmer Cottage, Alger Cottage, and Bliss Cottage.

There is a school buildingwith a corps of teachers, and a graded school; a fine chapel, with a Sunday school each Sabbath morning andservices in the afternoon, supplied by pastors of the city. Catholic services are held twice each month,a priest coming for mass and confession, and the Sisters each month for catechism. A fine hospital hasbeen erected, with all modern appointments, and supplied with an appointed lady physician. There is alsoa complete and through cooking school, where a class is daily under instruction of a competent teacher.

Each girl is detailed for a certain period to look after all the domestic duties in the cottages, allbecoming proficient in this important branch of household lore. Washing, ironing, mending, cleaning anddecoration are also looked after. A sewing school is in operation, and every girl is taught to sew, putgarments together and make calico dresses. During this preliminary instruction, when any girl shows anaptitude for sewing, cutting, and fitting, she is advanced to the dress-making department where custom workis done. There is a horticultural department, and all learn the cultivation and propagation of plants,shrubs, and flowers. Music is taught in many branches, and all the ordinary accomplishments so acceptableand necessary in a happy home, are sought to be developed as much as possible. There is a fine orchestraselected from among the girls with musical talent in the Home.

When the Board and Superintendent aresatisfied that girls are qualified, morally and otherwise, and it is to their welfare to leave the Home,places are found for them in the families of the farmers of the state. Great care is exercised in regardto these allotments, and girls can be called in at any time. Each girl receives a salary of from $1.50 to$2.50 per week, and a stipulated portion is returned quarterly to the Home and given the proper credit, theamount being returned to them upon receiving their final discharge. Since the foundation there have beenbut three superintendents. Miss Emma Hall was the first, taking charge June 27, 1881. After three yearsof hard service she was succeeded by Miss Margaret Scott, who remained in charge until 1891, in August ofwhich year the present superintendent, Mrs. Lucy M. Sickels, was installed. The Home is now in finecondition, and people who thoroughly understand its workings appreciate the wisdom of its founding and theresultant good to the people of the state."

The records from the Industrial School for girls are held by the Archives of Michigan in Lansing.ALMOST ALL, repeat ALL, records are CLOSED!!! They can be accessed only by the person themselves. Therefore,anyone who was at the school, say in 1885, and is now on the other side (passed), well, those records areclosed and not accessible by researchers. The school was founded "1879 for the reception, care, andtraining of convicted female juvenile offenders between the ages of seven and twenty". This quote perthe history given to me when I inquired at the Archives about the school. After 1925 the school was known asthe Girl's Training School. Now known as the Adrian Training School.

The following information was found in the work "Early Adrian", presented by the AmericanAssociation of University Women, Adrian, Michigan, 1964, Swenk-Tuttle Press, revised 1973.

The State of Michigan's Girl's Training School

The State Industrial Home, or as it is now known, the Girl's Training School of Michigan, was created bythe Michigan Legislature in 1879 while Adrian's own famous citizen, Charles M. Croswell, was governor.Several Michigan cities wanted this industrial school whidh the state had decided to build, but under theleadership of Mrs. Cortland B. (Eliza Smith) Stebbins, whose husband was Superintendent of PublicInstruction, the institution was established in Adrian. Adrian's cause was made even stronger by thedonation of land by local residents, a $5000 donation by Mr. Elihu Clark and the enthusiastic support ofAunt Laura Haviland.

The first building was Clark Cottage, erected in 1881 to honor Elihu Clark. Others build throught he yearsinclude Gillespie, Croswell, Haviland (named in honor of Aunt Laura), Alger and Bliss. Early coursesoffered cooking, sewing, homemaking, horticulture and music. In the first twenty years of the school,nearly 2,000 girls were accepted who ranged in years from eight through twenty-one. A large percentage ofthe girls accepted and educated became fine citizens when they return to normal living conditions.

Girls are committed by the Juvenile Division of several Probate Courts of Michigan and are supposed to bebetween the ages of twelve and seventeen but legal jurisdiction extends to nineteen years of age.

The school offers group living experiences in cottages under the guidance of housemothers. Size of groupsvary from fourteen to thirty girls. Social advantages in living and working with others in the homelikecottages help the girls make a better adjustment to problems that might otherwise become unbearable.

There is an ungraded remedial school which includes commercial and homemaking courses. Vocational andtraining courses are given in cosmetology, steam laundry, hand laundry, sewing, arts and crafts, greenhouse,storehouse and clinic. Many recreational opportunities are provided for the girls. Under Mrs. WallaceWatt's outstanding guidance, emphasis was placed on rehabilitation to meet each girl's individual needs.The school is now coeducational."

Pictures of the School and Students

From Adrian Daily Times
Feb. 11, 1904


Sarah Hamilton one of the inmates of the Industrial home, died thereWednesday night, of tuberculosis. She would have been fourteen years oldhad she lived till May next, and has been a state charge since three yearsof age, at which time her mother died, and Sarah, with two other children,were placed in the Coldwater school. She was brought here last July by Mr.Parker, agent for Emmet county, from Harbor Springs, and was not well at thetime, but was not sent to the hospital until September. The girl was simplya waif, as no one knows where her father is or any relatives or friends.The remains will be buried from Conklin & Mott's undertaking rooms thisafternoon.

Found in the Adrian Times and Espositor Tuesday Dec 26, 1882

Christmas at the Reform School for Girls

The Holiday festivities began at the school Saturday evening at 6 0'clock. Officers and pupils and a few of the friends of the school,assembled in the chapel at the appointed hour, to enjoy some appropriate music, and a beautiful Christmas tree.

While the school and friends were assembling, the tree was being lighted, and immediately the exercises began with a song"Merry, Merry Christmas," by the school, which was sung well and with spirit, and accompanied by the organ. Then followeda beautiful quartette "The night has fallen on Bethlehem's plain," by Mr. And Mrs. Alf. Johnson, Miss Mason and Mr. Bennett, ofAdrian, the school joining in the chorus. A solo by Miss Mason, and another quartette, all rendered in their usual artistic manner, werevery highly appreciated by the girls.

Two little misses added greatly to the enjoyment of the occasion, little Jessie Miller by reciting "Kris Kringle is coming to town," and little May Consaul by singing in her wee voice, "Two little hands to work for Jesus."

The Christmas tree was a large and handsome one, the gift of Mr. Steere, from his nursery, and was as heavily laden as could be withgifts, chiefly for the pupils. Not a child of the 91 present failed to receive a gift, and all fared nearly equally well, while manyreceived just what they wanted most, judging from their exclamations of delight and apparent satisfaction.

To the allowance which the board of control thought proper to be spent for useful gifts for each girl, much was added by the generosityand ingenuity of officers and employees and friends of the school, so the girls felt that Santa Claus had been unusually generous to them.

The officers showed us some very excellent work done by the pupils, with materials furnished them, and spoke of the greater skill shownby the girls in making Christmas gifts this year then last.

One does not often see a brighter, or more orderly holiday audience than was assembled in the beautiful chapel of the school, and theexcellent attention and deportment of the entire school showed discipline and thorough training.

When the tree was shorn of its glory, and the gifts were all distributed, Hon. C. R. Miller was called on, and made brief remarks,introducing Senator Shaw, who in a very happy manner expressed his satisfaction in the occasion and his interest in the school.

The evening's services were closed with a beautiful song by the quartette of friends mentioned above, and the girls gathered theirtreasures, and in an orderly manner marched out, to the music of the organ.

The Christmas celebration was continued on Sabbath morning by a Christmas service, held in the chapel at the usual hour for Sabbathservice, in which each pupil had a special part. It consisted of music and selections of scriptures to illustrate the birth, character,teachings, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. The pupils rendered it with very gratifying earnestness and promptness.

In the afternoon the girls listened to an interesting letter from Bishop Gillispie, chairman of the board of corrections and charities.

On Monday, Christmas day, a dinner of chicken pie was served in each family, and the boxes form home friends were distributed to such ashad home and friends, and a rest from the usual industries and school work completed the Christmas celebration, which was so successful asto be long remembered by all who participated in them.

Rev. Prof. Estabrook, of Olivet college, gave the school a most happy surprise Christmas morning by an early visit, lasting three hours.He addressed the pupils in the chapel.

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