IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.
new content added 05/08/2022

Odds & Ends
Clayton County Orphans

National, state, charitable and private organizations took in orphans and children with parents who were unable to care for them. These agencies attempted to place the children in homes. In some cases the child may have been placed in an orphanage or home, but eventually returned to their family if circumstances changed.

The information on this page has been compiled for Clayton Co. IAGenWeb from the sources given. It will be updated as additional information is found - contributions are welcome. Please use as a guide only, not as an official record.

Unless otherwise credited, the articles and/or information have been transcribed by S. Ferrall.
All Research Notes are by S. Ferrall. Any assumptions made should be independently verified.

Additional information may be found on the Orphan Train Rider's To Iowa - IAGenWeb project


1863 - 1876

Soldiers' Orphans' Home
Waterloo, Black Hawk co. Iowa
Clayton co. orphans appearing on the list of names


Iowa Children's Home Organized 1888

Iowa's Children's Home
Davenport, Scott co. Iowa
Des Moines, Polk co. Iowa

The Iowa Children's Home Society has dedicated with appropriate services it's new State home in Des Moines. the structure is a fine three-story brick with all modern appointments, erected at a cost of $15,000. It was dedicated practically free from debt.

The society was organized in 1888 at Davenport, where the home remained until 1895, when headquarters were removed to Des Moines. It grew rapidly and larger quarters became necessary. The work of the society is in many ways remarkable. It has never received a dollar from Iowa. Its work of recruiting homeless children is carried on by district superintendents. The support comes from private subscriptions.

While the society works very quietly, the report of Superintendent Burnette demonstrated it is doing a great work. Since organized in Iowa the society has cared for 1,442 children, of whom 1,169 have been placed in good homes; 61 died; 14 were placed in State institutions, while but 46 became dissatisfied with their homes of adoption.

The ages of inmates vary from 2 to 14 years, but no child is kept longer than necessary to find for him a good home.

~Elkader Register, Friday, February 4, 1898


American Home Finding Association aka Orphan's Home at Ottumwa

The Orphan's Home was incorporated in 1899 and carries a permit of the Secretary of State to do business in Iowa. They have bought and equipped a modern building of thirty-three rooms and conduct a private school with their own teacher in charge. They have the endorsement of the Board of Control of State institutions and have received and placed in families over 3000 children.
~extracted from a longer article in the Elkader Register, October 25, 1923



1895 Census, St. Francis Convent, Dubuque City, Ward 5, Dubuque County, Iowa - Children in St. Mary's Orphan Home:
Mary Kossuth, age 12, single, b. Clayton co. IA, parents foreign born, Student



In the matter of Fred Spoers, Mamie Spoers, Charles Brown and Andy Brown, children abandoned by their parents and in the custody of the county, at the poor house. It is ordered that they be committed to the Iowa Children's Home Society. The Spoer children are aged respectively 7 and 5 years and have been in the county poor house 3 and 1/2 years. The Brown children are aged 5 and 4 years and have been in the county poor house for over two years. It is said that these children are from Elk township. (District Court column)

Fred Spoers, aged 7 years; Minnie Spoers, aged 5 years; Charles Brown, aged 5 years; Andy Brown, aged 4 years; Clarence Parker, aged 5 years and Agusta Parker, aged 3 years, were taken to the headquarters of the Iowa Children's Home Society at Des Moines, on Tuesday last by Miss Clare Lunbeck, District Superintendent of the Home.
~Elkader Argus, Thursday, April 8, 1897

Miss Clara Lumbeck, Supt. Of the Iowa Home for children, was in town over Sunday and addressed meetings at the M. E. and Congregational churches. Monday Miss Lumbeck visited the county farm and made arrangements with the Board of Supervisors whereby she took four children from the farm and two of the Parker children from Highland. These she will provide with suitable homes. This is much better for the county and a great deal better for the poor deserted ones, who may now have an opportunity to better their condition. They looked like bright children.
~Elkader Register, Friday, April 9, 1897; Our Local Scrap-Bag” section, page 5, column 3 [contritubed by Ken Johnson]

On verbal petition of Miss Clara Lunbeck, the Board concented that the Iowa Children's Home Society take Clarence Parker to the Home for Feeble-Minded children at Glenwood, Iowa.
~Elkader Register, September 17, 1897

Ordered, that Fred Spores, an inmate of the Iowa Children's Home Society, at Des Moines, be sent to the Institute for Feeble Minded Children, at Glenwood, Iowa, expenses of transportation to be borne by Iowa Children's Home Society.
~Elkader Argus, April 14, 1898 (Board of Supervisors proceedings)



Willie Merritt, a child adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Genz a few years ago, was returned Tuesday to the Home Finding Association at Chicago. The boy had found a good home with the Genz family, but his conduct of late has been anything but agreeable, so it was decided upon to return him to the Association. It was supposed and he partly admitted to having started the fire which consumed the barn belonging to Mr. Genz about two weeks ago. - Guttenberg Press.
~Elkader Register, Thur., 08 May 1902. Local News columns ~contributed by Reid R. Johnson


Miss Lumbeck representative of the Iowa Childrens' Home Society of Des Moines, was in the city last Wednesday, taking with her Wesley Bass.
~McGregor News, Wednesday, October 15, 1902

J.G. Hempel, County Auditor, be and is hereby authorized to draw warrant for Fifty Dollars in favor of Miss Clara Lunbeck, District Supt. of Iowa Children's Home Society, for care and keeping of boy, Wesley Bass.
~McGregor News, Wednesday, November 26, 1902 (Board of Supervisors columns)

Research Notes for Wesley Bass: He is shown to be in the 5th Grade, McGregor public school as of August 1900. The 1900 U.S. census enumerates him as 10 y/o s/o Charles & Altie Bass, living in Mendon twp. He drowned 08/13/1904.

From the Malvern Leader, Malvern, Mills co. IA, August 25, 1904:
"Wesley Bass, a 14 year old boy who made his home with Dr. S.C. Hatton at Riverton, was drowned in the Nishnabotna river Saturday of last week. The body was not recovered until Monday, following. He had gone in swimming with about 35 other boys and was not missed until the others dressed after the plunge and a suit of clothes was found on the bank."

WPA records for Fremont county, show burial of Wesley Bass, an orphan, buried in Riverside cemetery on the lot of Dr. D.C. Hatton (correct initials are S.C., ie: Sebastian C. Hatton, M.D.). Dr. & Mrs. Hatton were in the process of adopting Wesley at the time of his death.

See also: Wesley Bass obituary



Yesterday Miss Clara Lunbeck, division superintendent for the Iowa Childrens' Home Society, came to take to the Home at Des Moines, the little daughter of Lillian Ellsworth, the county paying the customary charge of $50 to the society for taking the child. At the same time, Miss Ellsworth left for Nebraska where she has found a home with an aunt.
~Elkader Argus, Wednesday, April 29, 1903

Related story, same source:
Sheriff Dittmer and wife last week conveyed to the Girl's Industrial School at Mitchellville, Emily Ellsworth, of McGregor. The girl is but 15 years old but is the mother of a child whose father is unknown. She is a sister of Lillian Ellsworth who was tried for the murder of Henry Wilson and the child is said to bear on its head marks identical with the wounds that caused the death of Wilson.

See also: Lillian Ellsworth Murder Trial



Etta Brown, of Ottumwa, representing the American Home Finding association, was in town last week and took two destitute children to homes where they will be cared for.
~Elkader Register, February 11, 1904 (McGregor column) Note: the children weren't named in the article

Through the instrumentality of Mrs. Mary Schrock, agent for the Equitable Life Insurance Co., of Des Moines, Mrs. Hugh McIver and her three little girls were sent to the American Home Finding Association of Ottumwa. The history of McIver's cruelty to his family and his final windup at the state penitentiary at Anamosa is well known to the people of Clayton Co., Etta Brown representative of the Home Association of this district assisted in having this woman and her children admitted at the home.
~Garnavillo Press, Friday, February 26, 1904; pg 4

Research Notes - Enumerated on the 1900 U.S. census, Millville twp. are: Hugh McIver (b. 12/1841, Scotland); his wife Mary (b. 4/1855, Iowa), they'd been married 27years & she was the mother of 11 (all living at that time). Their children living with them (all born in IA): William (b. 5/1882), Robert (b. 3/1885), Maggie (b. 1/1887), Joseph (b. 1/1889), Gordon (b. 9/1891), Glenn (b. 6/1894) & Archie (b. 7/1898).

Enumerated on the 1905 IA State census, Turkey River are: Hugh McIver, Mary A., Willy, Gordon, Glen & Archy. There are no daughters in the 1905 household, and Mary has returned to the household.

Possible children of Hugh & Mary, are 10 y/o Helen McIver, 8 y/o Dennis McIver, 6 y/o [Lu or Liv] McIver & 2 y/o Margaret McIver who are living in Des Moines at the Iowa Childrens Home per the 1915 IA State census. NO confirmation is given that Hugh & Mary are parents of these children

Miss Lunbeck, of Charles City, solicitor for the Iowa Childrens' Home Society, of Des Moines, gave an interesting address on the work of the society at the Congregational church Sunday morning. Miss Lunbeck has in the past taken a number of children from this county to provide homes for them. During the past week she has taken four Tompkins children from North McGregor, two Ellsworth children from McGregor, and a Cooper baby from Edgewood. The society is engaged in a good work and has an able representative in Miss Lunbeck.
~Elkader Argus, Wednesday, April 13, 1904

Miss Lumbeck, representative of the Iowa Childrens' Home secured the custody of the two little Adams girls, they will be taken shortly to the Home in Des Moines.
~McGregor News, Wednesday, April 20, 1904

Miss Mabel C. Stewart of Ottumwa, Iowa, representing the American Home Finding Association, left at 2:35 p.m. Friday, having in charge Albert Henry, who is to be placed in a home.
~McGregor News, Wednesday, May 18 1904; pg 5

W. W. Davidson was at Edgewood Monday and made arrangements to consign Rose Trouslee, an orphan, to the care of the American Home Finding Association of Ottumwa.
~Guttenberg Press, Friday, July 8, 1904, pg 1

Mrs. Meyers, agent for the Iowa Childrens' Home Society, last week took to that institution two children of Henry Cooper, of Lodomillo township.
~Elkader Argus, Wednesday, November 2, 1904

The family of Jas. T. Hyde has received from the Iowa Childrens' Home Society, a girl eleven years of age, who will make her home with them. The little lady made the journey from Muscatine alone last Friday. - Argus
~Elkader Register, Thursday, December 8, 1904 (Local news column)

Research Notes - The 11 y/o girl could possibly be Veronica Short, age 17, born Iowa, father born N. Jersey & mother born Ohio. She is enumerated on the 1910, U.S. census Boardman twp. as a servant in the James Hyde family. James, a widower; two teenage sons; his mother; and a brother. I could not find Veronica in census records before or after 1910.



George Peterson, son of the late J.A. Peterson, left for Cedar Rapids yesterday, to enter a home secured for him by the American Home Finding Association.
~North Iowa Times, Thursday, January 26, 1905, pg 3 (Local Mention column)

Research Notes - John A. Peterson was a Civil War veteran who died in December 1904 at the Soldiers' Home in Marshalltown, IA. His wife also died in 1904. Their son George was adopted. See J.A. Peterson's obituary.
-The family was enumerated on the 1900 U.S. census in Mendon twp.: John A. (b. 01/1851, IL), his wife Irene J. (b. 06/1853, PA), their son George E. (b.. 8/1888 WI) and John's mother-in-law Mary M. Sharrow (b. 07/1830 PA).
-The 1911 Return of Marriage: George Edward Peterson, age 24, b. Chippewa Falls, WI, farmer, Mendon twp., 1st marriage, parents John A. & Getha (Sharow) Peterson AND Anna May Baylis, age 19, b. Mendon twp., 1st marriage, parents Covil & Louisa (Davidson) Baylis; date: 09/20/1911
-The WWI Draft Registration (6/5/1917) of George E. Peterson, age 28y gives the following information: Born 08/26/1888 in Chippewa Falls, WI; occupation - Switchman, C.M. & St. Paul RR, No. McGregor, IA; married with wife & child; military service - Coxwain, U.S. Navy, 4 yrs
-Mrs. Mary H. Casper, of Ottumwa, was in town the latter part of last week soliciting funds for the American Home Finding Association of that city which has done and is still doing splendid work in caring or and finding homes for needy children. It is a charity worthy of the support of everyone. Mrs. Casper reports that George Peterson of McGregor, who was cared for by this association, is now in the navy doing good work for Uncle Sam and that he has won a medal for saving the life of an officer.~Elkader Register, Thursday, October 17, 1918
-1925 IA State census, McGregor, Mendon twp., Clayton co. IA enumerated George Peterson, age 36, b. 1889 WI & his daughter Louise, 12y born Iowa. George gives his parents as John A. Peterson and Agatha Sharrow (both deceased). Louise's parents as George Peterson & May Bayless. George's wife is not in the household.
-Anna May (Baylis) Peterson died in 1937, and is buried in Bateman cemetery, Chippewa co., WI
-George E. Peterson died Feb 3, 1980 in Missouri. Obituary & Gravestone (indicates WWI service)

The Clayton County Supervisors authorized payments to the Iowa Soldiers Orphan home for the care of children in August 1905 (no names given); and to St. Mary's Orphan Home for the care of the Regel children to Sept. 1, 1905.
~North Iowa Times, September 14, 1905 (Supervisors Proceedings)

Monday Mrs. E.R. Meyers, of the Iowa Childrens' Home Society, of Des Moines, came here and on her return, took with her Frank Peck aged 4 and Orin Dudley Peck age 3. They were taken to the Home until they can be placed in good, suitable homes.
~North Iowa Times, Thursday, November 30, 1905

Research Notes: The young boys were sons of Minnie Peck, who died 11/14/1905. They, and their 2 older brothers (Herbert & Charley), lived with their mother and grandmother Emily (Chase) Peck. It is most likely that the 2 youngest were placed because grandmother Emily could not care for so many young grandchildren.

Herbert & Charley Peck - the two oldest boys remained in North McGregor (Marquette) when their young brothers were placed for adoption. Herbert made the honor roll in school several times, married, removed to Michigan and then Florida. He died May 31, 1974. Charley married in 1918, was a mayor of Marquette & active in political and social happenings in the town. He died in Marquette in 1983 and is buried in Pleasant Grove cemetery. Both Herbert & Charley give differing names for their father, depending on the record. Herbert: Joseph Peck (marriage record). Charley: Joseph or Henry Peck (1925 IA State census, WWI draft registration). Charles H. Peck obituary

Orin Dudley Peck -
1910 U.S. Census, Granville twp., Putnam co., Illinois
Elmer Leighton, HOH, age 35, b. Iowa, proprietor Dry Goods store
Belle Leighton, wife, age 34, b. Eng, immigrated 1881
Orin D. Leighton, son - adopted, age 7, b. Iowa, parents birthplace unknown

1920 U.S. Census, Granville twp., Putnam co., Illinois
Age 17, continues to live with Elmer & Belle Leighton

1923 Knox College, IL - Dudley is listed as a student in the school directory

1930 U.S. Census, Chicago, Cook co., Illinois
Dudley C. Leighton, HOH, renting, age 27, married, Clothing salesman
Ernesta B. Leighton, wife, age 27, married, b. N.H., Bank Stenographer

1930 U.S Census, Chicago, Cook co., Illinois
Dudley & Ernesta have a 5 y/odaughter, Iona Belle Leighton. Census also indicates he completed 4 yrs of college.

Delayed Birth Certificate - 1942
Orin Dudley Peck Leighton
Born North McGregor, Clayton county, Iowa on Dec. 29, 1902.
Father: unknown.
Mother: Minnie Peck.
Legitimate: No
Basis of knowledge for the answers on the form: Information from certified copy of Adoption Decree.
Signed Martha McCord (relationship - none), Sept. 9, 1942, Polk co., Iowa

Additional records indicate he went by Dudley Orin Leighton as an adult.

Texas Death certificate (ancestry)
Dudley Orin Leighton died July 17, 1975 in Houston, Harris co., Texas. Usual residence: Palm Harbor, Pinellas co., FL. DOB: 12/29/1902 in Iowa. Father: Elmer A. Leighton. Mother: Isabell (Oysten) Leighton. Occupation: Salesman. Married. Cremated.



Among the indictments brought by the Grand Jury at its recent session was one against Fred Roeben, who lived near Motor. He was indicted on the charge of raping his own daughter. His wife died last Spring, leaving a family of ten children. The county authorities have taken charge of the children.
Mrs. Hettie R. Gage, assistant superintendent of the American Home Finding Association, has been in town this week, making arrangements to take the Raben [sic] children to the home.
~Elkader Register, Thursday, January 18, 1906. More about the Roeben children



About ten o'clock last Tuesday night, Roy Haywood, a boy of about 15 years, ran away from the home of Wm. Roach, who lives about three miles west of Elkader, and made his way to Elkader, where he hunted up Sheriff Dittmer and asked for protection from those who had promised to make a home for him. For about two years the boy has made his home with the Roach family having been placed with them by an Orphans' Home Finding Society of Ottumwa. The boy is a pitiable looking object. He wore only a shirt and overalls and shoes no underwear or stockings. His overalls are so badly torn as to scarcely cover him. On his body are marks which bear out his story of cruelty inflicted upon him. His right eye is still bruised, caused, so he says, by a blow inflicted by a club in the hands of Roach over six weeks ago and which the boy says deprived hi of his sight for several days. On his leg are to be seen now the marks of pitchfork tines inflicted over a year ago and neighbors tell this morning of knowing when they were made upon him. His lip is scarred and swollen by having been thrown against a manger for not watering the horses according to the orders of his master. The boy is polite and fairly bright, although he says he has been to school but a little time since bound out. Of lack of food he does not complain seriously although he says that last winter he sucked eggs because he did not get enough to eat and was badly punished when caught at it.

Sheriff Dittmer kept the boy over night and this morning took hi down town and provided him with a new outfit of clothes and will take care of him until his future is determined. County Attorney Geske will investigate the boy's story and communicate with the society which has him in charge. This is not the first case of this nature to occur in this county and it is time that a stop be made to this system of peonage. The Societies which provide these hoes for the children seem to think that their full duty is performed when they placed them and make no further effort to look after or keep in touch with them. The boy says he never has been visited by a representative of the society and that so far as he knows they have no further interest in him. Brutality and inhuman treatment such as the frail body of this boy is evidence of, and should not be tolerated in a civilized community and it is surprising that neighbors who must have known of it have not reported it.
~Elkader Argus, Wednesday, August 14, 1907; pg 5

Miss Amelia Pickering, of Cedar Rapids, agent for the Ottumwa Orphans' Home Finding Society, was in town yesterday, looking after the affairs of Ray Greenwood [sic], the boy who ran away from the Roach home. We understand that she made a satisfactory settlement of the boy's interests with Mr. Roach, who declares he has been misrepresented in the matter.
~Elkader Register, Thusday, August 22, 1907

Mrs. Pickering, of Marshalltown, agent for the Orphans' Home Finding Society, of Ottumwa, who was called here to look after the case Roy Haywood, the boy who ran away from the Roach home, has found a new home for the boy and placed him with the family of Wm. Weymouth, of Wagner township. Mr. Roach paid the lady's expenses in coming here to look up the master.

Mrs. Pickering was rather indignant about the condition of affairs regarding the waife, as she found them, and as a result of her trip she expects that hereafter the society will take better care of the children and keep in close touch with them. She departed Saturday, taking with her two other children who had been placed in this vicinity and will find new homes for them.
~Elkader Argus, Wednesday, August 28, 1907 (Note: the other 2 children were not named)

Research Notes for Roy Haywood - The 1910 U.S. census, Jackson, Lucas co. IA enumerates 19 y/o Roy Haywood, single, born Iowa, living in the household of Claude & Catharine Fierce working as a hired hand / laborer.



Mrs. Pickering, representative of the Children's Home at Ottumwa, was in the city Friday, taking the three children of Len Adams, ranging in age, three, six and eight years old, to the institution. - from the McGregor News
~Elkader Register and Argus, Thursday, March 26, 1908

Mrs. Amelia Pickering, a representative of the Home Finding Association, came here last week on request of Lensford Adams, and took his three children to the Home at Ottumwa.
~North Iowa Times, Thursday, March 26, 1908, pg 5 (Local News column)



Sheriff Bergemeyer, County Attorney Davidson and Clerk M.G. Hagensick went to McGregor Friday to attend court before Judge Springer of New Hampton, who sent Irene Gertrude Tiffany, 6 years old, Bernice Tiffany 4 years old, and Alice Tiffany 2 years old, the children of Joe Tiffany, who is an inmate of the county home, to the Iowa Childrens' Home Society in Des Moines.
~Elkader Register, Thursday, July 11, 1918

Genevieve Rose Tiffany (born May 7, 1918) was ordered by the court to be given into the custody of the American Home Finding Ass'n at Ottumwa, Iowa.
~Elkader Register, November 7, 1918 (court records column, juvenile hearings)

Research Notes:
- Joseph Tiffany, age 48, a butcher, and Ellen (Attwood) Tiffany were married for the 2nd time in Elkader May 18, 1902. Ella died 3/11/1907. According to her obit she 1st was married to W.H. Bowers & they had a son and 2 daughters (Merrill Bowers, Mrs. Orpha Rogers & Mrs. Ora Longfield). She married Joe Tiffany for the 1st time in 1888 and they must have divorced some time after then remarried: Elkader Argus 5/21/1902 "Joseph Tiffany and his former wife, Ella Tiffany, were re-united in marriage Monday by Justice Hofer."

- Joseph Tiffany, a widower, and Nettie Stone, age 24, were married in Guttenberg May 4, 1911. Nettie most likely was the mother of the 3 daughters taken to the orphan home in Des Moines. Joe & Nettie also had another daughter, Geneveve Rose, b. 5/7/1918, reported in the Elkader Register of 5/23/1918.

- Joseph Tiffany, age 57, was enumerated on the 1920 U.S. census living in Oelwein, Fayette co., IA. He is shown to be a widower, b. NY, occupation 'fish monger' & owning a fish shop. He is living in a lodging home with several others.

-The 1920 U.S. Census, Le Roy, Mower co., MN enumerated a Nettie Tiffany, age 32, divorced, b. IA living with her brother Fred Curtin, a widower, and his 2 young daughters. Unknown if this is the same Nettie who married Joe Tiffany.

- Genevieve Rose Tiffany Wald Taylor, b. 5/7/1918, was adopted by Clarence R. & Caroline Wald. (1925, 1930 & 1940 U.S. census) SSDI = d. 11/24/2001, Ft. Worth, TX


A baby boy was brought to the Harry Wiethorn home last Wednesday, from the American Home Finding Association at Ottumwa. The baby is seven months old and has already won the hearts of its new parents. He is a bright little fellow that has fallen into a good home. May he be a blessing to them.
~Monona Leader, Thursday, January 14, 1932; pg 5 (Locals column)

Research Notes - Baptism Records of St. Paul Lutheran, Monona (ancestry.com database) record the baptism of Ronald William Wiethorn, born 06/15/1931, adopted at Ottumwa, IA, baptised 2/12/1932; adoptive parents Harry Wiethorn & Ella Kaiser; sponsors William Wiethorn & Mathilda Kaiser

-Wartburg College, Waverly, IA, Fortress Yearbook, 1950: photo of Ronald Wiethorn (ancestry.com database)
-Ronald died 08/29/2007 & is buried in All Saints of the Desert Church cemetery, Sun City, AZ; Gravestone

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ewing and Ira Moore motored to Davenport Saturday. Mr. and Mrs. Ewing brought back a three months old baby girl from the Soldiers Orphan Home which they have adopted. They have named the little miss Betty Lou.
~Volga City News, September 14, 1932


The five sons of George and Marguerite Frye of Clayton, who had been deserted by their parents, were placed in the custody of the Lutheran Home Finding society in Fort Dodge. ~Clayton County Register, October 25, 1939

Research notes:
- George & Marguerite V. (McGill) Frye
- 1930 U.S. Census, Clayton co. IA: Frye, George - HOH, age 29, 1st marriage at age 28, born WI, occupation: fisherman & Frye, Margurite - wife, age 14, 1st marriage at age 13, born Iowa. There are no children in the household. Next door neighbors are Ray & Nellie McGill and children. Margurite's parents?
- Found on an Ancestry tree. Names, dates & adopted surname's of the sons should be independently verified:
Theodore D. (1932) - adopted name Grell; Robert (1934) - adopted name Tietz; James M. (1935) - adopted name Grell; Paul L. (1936) - no further information & un-named sibling (possibly deceased or still living)


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