Past and Present of Hardin County, Iowa
ed. by William J. Moir
Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen, 1911
Submitted by Linda Suarez
The Industrial School for Boys
Although not a local institution, the Boys' Industrial School, at Eldora, which was established by the state, naturally finds a place in the educational chapter of this work. At first it was known as the Reform School and was established by an act of the Legislature in March, 1868, at Salem, Henry County. It was under the management of a board of trustees, made up one from each congressional district. These trustees immediately leased the old Iowa Manual Labor Institute, and on October 7th of that year admitted its first inmate. The law at first admitted both sexes under eighteen years of age. The trustees were at once instructed to organize a separate school for girls.
In 1872 the school was permanently located at Eldora, Hardin county, and forty-five thousand dollars appropriated for necessary buildings.
In 1876 the law was so amended that only children over seven and under sixteen years of age could be admitted. Up to 1880 there had been admitted to this school, now known as Industrial School for Boys, eight hundred and eighteen persons. A similar institution was established by the state at Mitchellville, near Des Moines, for girls.
In this school the inmates are taught the elements of education, especially the useful branches, and are also trained in some regular course of labor, as is best suited to their age and capacity and their natural bent of mind. They are kept, usually, until they have reached the age of twenty-one, unless allowed to go before because of their manly conduct. Various trades are taught these erring boys, some whom have gone out into life to become the best of citizens and all possessed of better education and morals than when first taken into the institution. This is not a prison, but a compulsory educational institution. It is a school where wayward boys are brought under the influence of Christian instruction and taught by example, as well as by precept, the better ways of life. It is really a training school where moral, intellectual and industrial education of the child is carried on at one and the same time.
The sum of thirteen dollars per month is apportioned by the state as the expense of the state for each boy, while sixteen dollars is allowed each girl at the similar institution for the girls at Mitchellville.
The buildings are numerous and modern in their construction. They are their own best history and monument as they stand today.
The Institution Described by Hon. W. J. Moir
We are indebted to the able article written by Hon. W. J. Moir, at the request of the state authorities, in 1900, on the Industrial School for Boys at Eldora, which reads substantially as follows:
Gentlemen of the Board of Control of the State of Iowa: Your request that I prepare for publication in your bulletin a history of the "location, organization, and operation of the Industrial School for Boys," has been received. And while it is somewhat difficult for me to unlock the chambers of my memory and recall transactions of over thirty years ago, and well knowing the fact that nearly all of the participants in those transactions have gone beyond the shores of the eternal morning, I realize full well the fact that I engage in a difficult undertaking. Nevertheless, I will try as best I can to comply with your kind invitation.
Long before any law was enacted in this state for the establishment of a reform school (as it was first called) for juvenile offenders, many good men were agitating the benefit that might be derived from such a school.
And, being impressed with the good results that were being accomplished in the Ohio reform school, and entertaining the opinion that it was more in accord with the civilization of the age to labor rather for prevention of crime than to punish the criminal, this matter was brought to the attention of the General Assembly, and culminated in the introduction of a bill in the senate of the twelfth General Assembly by the late John A. Parvin, of Muscatine county, and through his earnest efforts, and that of Senators William Larrabee, of Fayette county; T. W. Woolson, of Henry county; John R. Needham, of Mahaska county, and Representative Mark A. Dasheill, of Warren county; John A. Kasson, of Polk county; John D. Hunter, of Hamilton county; Thomas B. Knapp, of Hardin county, and other influential men, in both houses, the bill became a law, was published in the Daily Register and Evening Statesman, and was approved by Governor Merrill on the 31st day of March, 1868.
The law provided for the appointment by the General Assembly of one trustee from each congressional district, of which at that time there were six.
By the act of the fourteenth General Assembly the number was changed to five, no two of whom should be from the same congressional district. The first board of trustees elected were Isaac T. Gibson, of Henry county; John A. Parvin, of Muscatine county; E. O. Clemans, of Deleware county; J. D. Ladd, of Wappello county; Mark A. Dasheill, of Warren county, and W. J. Moir, of Hardin county. And the law provided that they should be so classified that two of the trustees should go out of office every two years and that they should receive no compensation except the same mileage going to and returning from their place of meeting that was allowed to the members of the Iowa Legislature.
It empowered them to appoint a superintendent and such other officers as in their judgment the wants of the school might require, determine their salaries, discharge them at pleasure, and appoint others in their place.
The law also provided that any boy under eighteen years of age who was guilty of any crime except murder, or who was found to be incorrigible, might be committed to the custody of the superintendent of the school for reformation, instruction and correction, and there to be trained in piety, morality and such industrial pursuits as might be adapted to his age and capability, and there to be kept until he attained his majority, unless sooner discharged by the trustees (after being one year in the school), as a reward for good conduct and upon satisfactory evidence of reformation. Any boy could work his way out in one year.
The sixteenth General Assembly amended the law do that only boys of over seven and under the age of sixteen years could be admitted to the school, but many over the age of sixteen lied a bit to prevent them from being sent to the penitentiary. As an illustration, in the early days of the school, a Bohemian boy was sent to the school. He lived with a minister in the city of Chicago; on Saturday night he doffed his own clothes and donned a fine broadcloth suit belonging to the preacher, started out, landed in Davenport, Iowa, hired a livery team, sold it and put the money in his pocket, was arrested and sent to the reform school. While attending a meeting of the board, I met him in the barn at work and accused him of being over eighteen years of age. He finally admitted that he was twenty-two years of age. I asked him how he deceived the court and asked him if he swore to his age; he said he did and upon being asked if he was not ashamed to swear to a lie, he replied, with a good deal of sang froid, that he was "justified in saying anything, doing anything, or swearing to anything to keep out of the d----d penitentiary." He soon ran away and they never heard of him again.
Some good people have been inclined to treat the school as a purely penal institution; it was never so intended by its founders, or by those who control its workings. No iron cells or high walls are to be found there; the children are treated as kindly as they could be at home, and some more kindly. About one-half of them can neither read nor write, and have refused to attend the free schools of Iowa. They never have learned to work or obey.
There they learn for the first time that they must obey; there they are compelled to attend school and, if they remain long enough, many are blessed with a common school education.
Philanthropists have discovered the fact that children are more properly the subjects of discipline than punishment. That "as the twig is bent the tree is inclined." Thus houses of refuge and schools of moral reform are to be found in all of our large cities and in all civilized nations of the earth and are the exact opposite of penal institutions, where persons are sent for punishment.
And it is with great pleasure that I learn that in many of our prisons the work of reformation has been begun and if the bill of Representative Stewart, now before the Iowa Legislature, becomes a law, it will be a grand step in the right direction.
The law of 1868 also provided that the trustees of the Iowa Reform School should accept the proposition of the trustees of what was then known as White’s Iowa Manual Labor Institution," made by them to the General Assembly, leased the same for a term of years, and at once proceeded to prepare for and open a reform school thereon, and appropriated the sum of fifteen thousand dollars for that purpose and also the sum of four thousand to pay salaries of officers and employees.
This labor institute was located in the north part of Lee county and consisted of fourteen hundred acres of land, with several farm dwellings thereon, and a large brick building two stories high, with walls up and roof on.
On the 28th day of April, 1868, the trustees met on the premises designated, took the oath of office and proceeded, by casting lots, to determine the length of time each trustee was to serve, which resulted: M. A. Dasheill and J. D. Ladd drew the short term for two years; Isaac T. Gibson and E. O. Clemans drew the term for four years, and John A. Parvin and William J. Moir drew the long term for six years.
The board then appointed John A. Parvin for president, which office he held with honor to the state, the board and to himself for a period of eighteen years, and died at his home near Muscatine, Iowa, on March 15, 1887. He was born in New Jersey November 10, 1807. He was one of the framers of one of the constitutions of our state; was an able and influential member for many years of the General Assembly of our commonwealth and deserved to be long remembered as one of the benefactors of mankind. Especially should he be kindly remembered by the boys of the Iowa Industrial School, who, when Senator Parvin died, lost one of their truest and best friends. He was kind and true and ever felt like saying –
"Give to me the happy mind,
That will ever seek and find
Something fair, something kind,
All the wide world over."
M. A. Dasheill was appointed secretary and held that office until 1876, and no man ever performed his duty more faithfully than he. He was born in Dearborn county, Indiana; was a graduate of a medical college in Indianapolis; was a member of the eleventh and twelfth General Assemblies and senator in the fourteenth, fifteenth, eighteenth and nineteenth and occupied a proud position as one of the early law-makers of Iowa. He is now hale and hearty and is practicing medicine and surgery at Indianola, Iowa.
Isaac T. Gibson was appointed treasurer, and gave bonds in the sum of ten thousand dollars, and although he remained on the board but a short time, he made an honest and capable office. I am informed that he is still living in California.
J. D. Ladd and E. O. Clemans, who served but one term, were men of excellent business ability, and rendered the school most faithful service while on the board.
W. J. Moir, with the exception of about three years, remained on the board until July 1, 1898, at which time the board of control took charge of the school.
At this same meeting by-laws and rules were adopted for the regulation of the board of the institution.
The board leased from the trustees of said Labor Institute the tract of land, with the appurtenances thereto, for a term of ten years, but with a proviso that said lease might terminate at any time at the will of the board.
The board at once took the necessary steps to finish the brick building. The contract for that purpose was given to Messrs. Clark and Haddock, who were the lowest bidders, and they made such rapid progress with their work that on the 21st day of September, 1868, the board gave notice, as required by law, that the school was ready to receive boys, and on the 7th day of October, 1868, the first boy committed to the school was received from Jasper county.
At the July meeting in 1868, the board appointed Joseph McCarthy, of Bloomfield, Iowa, superintendent, and his wife matron, at a yearly salary of one thousand three hundred dollars for both.
Mr. McCarthy had previously been a successful school teacher and entered upon his new field of labor with his whole soul, and labored with all his power and ability to make the school a success. He remained superintendent until July, 1875, when he tendered his resignation, which was accepted by the board and he returned to his former home, where he now resides. Mr. McCarthy did not possess that suavity of manner that some men possess, and though of seemingly rough exterior, had a good true heart within, was kind yet firm in his discipline, and made a far better superintendent than he had credit for. He it was who formulated the system of grading that is now substantially in use, and many of his precepts with regard to discipline were held in remembrance.
His wife, Mrs. McCarthy, made a kind matron and worked hard early and late for the comfort and good of the boys, being well liked by both them and the employees.
At the regular meeting of the board, October 27, 1869, it was ascertained that forty-five boys had been admitted to the school, and it became apparent to every member of the board that the Legislature had made a mistake in locating the school and in ordering money to be spent in erecting the necessary buildings, and in making the needed improvements on leased lands, and especially on land that could not be purchased at any price by the state. And it was apparent that if the school board should remain eight years longer, until the termination of the lease, that family buildings, shops, etc., would have to be erected, which the board deemed unwise so to erect on leased lands. And in their report to the thirteenth General Assembly they urged the necessity of a permanent location for the school, but the General Assembly failed to respond.
That same assembly appointed the Rev. T. E. Corkhill, of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, to succeed I. T. Gibson, who took his seat on the board at their quarterly meeting April 27, 1870, and was appointed treasurer, which office he held for four years.
At the meeting of the board in April, 1876, he was appointed secretary, and held the office until he was appointed president of the board, on account of the death of the late Thomas Mitchell.
Thomas E. Corkhill was a native of the isle of Man, was an eloquent preacher in the Methodist Episcopal church, and was one of the most God-like men that I ever had the honor and pleasure of being associated with, his whole aim in life being to do good. He died in his home in Mount Pleasant, July 2, 1897. "And if one flower could be placed upon his grave for every good act performed by him during his long life, he would now rest beneath a mountain of flowers." He was a worthy, capable and honest member of the board for twenty-five years.
J. P. Ketchum, of Iowa county, was also elected a trustee at the same session, but only met with us two times, when he tendered his resignation, moved to Chicago, and the board thus lost the services of a valuable member.
Upon his resignation the Hon. J. D. Hunter, of Hamilton county, was, by Governor C. C. Carpenter, appointed in his place, and to him more than to any other man are the people of Eldora indebted for the location of the Iowa Industrial School near that city, and the kindness thus bestowed will ever be held in fond remembrance by its citizens.
In 1873 he tendered his resignation, and W. L. Vestal, of the county of Buena Vista, was appointed his successor and took his seat as a member of the board at the April meeting in 1873.
During the session of the fourteenth General Assembly, Eleazer Andrews, of Hardin county, was elected trustee, and took his seat on the board at the April meeting, 1874. In April, 1878, he tendered his resignation and W. J. Moir was, by Governor Gear, appointed his successor, and in 1878 was appointed treasurer, and held that office until July 1, 1898. During that period of twenty years he received and paid out in the support fund the sum of $958, 526.50, and $27,030.75 in all other funds, making a total of $1,228,557.25 expended for the benefit and upbuilding of the school.
During the session of the nineteenth General Assembly, the Hon. Thomas Mitchell, of Mitchellville, was elected trustee and took his seat on the board April 6, 1882.
"Uncle" Thomas Mitchell (as he was familiarly called) was one of the early pioneers of the state, having come to the then territory in 1840. He was sheriff of Polk county in 1857, was elected representative in 1873, was senator in the fifteenth and sixteenth General Assemblies, was gallant yet kind in debate, that left no sting behind. His public and private life was above reproach and without blemish. His greatness was his goodness, and his goodness his greatness, and he was one of the grandest men that the state of Iowa was ever blessed with. Upon the retirement of Mr. Parvin he was appointed president and occupied that position until his death, which occurred at his home in Mitchellville, Iowa, July 15, 1894, beloved and respected by all who knew his goodness and worth. He died, as he lived, rejoicing in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
During the session of the seventeenth General Assembly, W. G. Stewart, of Dubuque county, and J. H. Morehead, of Linn county, were elected trustees and first met with the board April 26, 1876. Mr. Stewart was a Democrat in politics, a man of large business experience, genial and kind, and was of great assistance while he remained on the board, which was only one term. Mr. Morehead was a man who took great interest in the school, was of excellent judgment, wise in counsel, and rendered efficient service while he was a member of the board, which was only for one term.
In the year 1887 Mrs. B. J. Hall tendered her resignation as trustee, and Dr. G. L. Getz, a gentleman of culture of the county of Marshall, was by Governor Larrabee appointed her successor and took his seat on the board July 27, 1887. He was a man of wide experience as a physician and surgeon and was of valuable aid in suggesting sanitary regulations for the school. He is still in active practice in the city of Marshalltown.
J. M. Gilchrist, of the same city, was, by the twenty-fifth General Assembly, appointed trustee to succeed Doctor Getz, and met with the board for the first time July 11, 1894. On the retirement of Doctor Corkhill, he was appointed secretary and remained on the board and held that office while the trustees had charge of the school. It was a source of great gratification to the other members when he became one of its number. He was one of those jolly, kind-hearted men that we all love to meet, and, no matter whether fortune favored or frowned, he was the same genial friend. He was honored and respected by his co-laborers and by the employees of the school, no member of the board being more honored by the boys in the school than was John M. Gilchrist.
Upon the decease of the Hon. Thomas Mitchell, M. H. Davis, of Mitchellville, Iowa, was by the governor appointed to fill his unexpired term, and took his seat with the board April 9, 1895, and was subsequently elected to the office by the Legislature. On account of his mercantile experiences, business ability and sterling integrity, he made a very valuable member of the board.
Rev. Henry Naumann, a widely known and influential member and minister in the Methodist Episcopal church, of the city of Burlington, Iowa, was by the twenty-sixth General Assembly appointed to succeed Mr. Corkhill, and presented his commission and took his seat on the board April 15, 1896. He was German by birth, could preach in both German and English, was a man of superior ability, and never lost an opportunity to confer a favor upon the boys of the school. It was through his influence, and at his request, that the Iowa Industrial School Band, with the superintendent, matron and the writer, were honored with an invitation to attend the Iowa semi-centennial celebration in the city of Burlington, in 1896, and where the band had the honor of playing to delighted thousands, and no man rejoiced more in listening to the splendid music of the boys’ band than died Rev. Henry Naumann.
Being informed that the Rev. L. D. Lewelling, of Wichita, Kansas, ex-superintendent of the girls department, has been invited to write a history of that department, I have thought it more appropriate for him to speak at length of Mrs. B. J. Hall, Miss Margaret Appleton and Mrs. M. A. Loomis, the female members of the board, and will only say that they were all of excellent judgment, and to their wise counsel much credit is due for the success that attended the schools while they were on the board.
While the thirteenth General Assembly failed to respond to the request of the board as set forth in their biennial report, asking it to make the necessary arrangements for a permanent location for the school, so again in their second biennial report, with eighty-five boys on hand and more coming, they urged with more zeal and with facts and figures presented, the selection of a permanent home for the school.
In response, the fourteenth General Assembly enacted a law, authorizing the board to make a permanent location, and appropriated forty-five thousand dollars for the erection of suitable buildings; this law took effect by publication on April 25, 1872.
At their regular meeting in April, 1872, the trustees gave notice that they would receive and consider offers from any city or county that desired the location of the school in their vicinity. A number of offers and requests for its location were received. Des Moines, Ottumwa, Oskaloosa, Muscatine and Eldora each presenting their merits and tendered liberal donations of land and money.
The citizens of Eldora tendered the state four hundred acres of prairie land and forty acres of timber land, and subsequently they bought and presented to the state eighty acres more land, and the state purchased for the school two hundred and forty acres of land, making a farm of seven hundred and twenty acres now held by the state for the benefit of the school.
After visiting the contesting points, and inspecting the offers made, the board selected Eldora, in Hardin county, as the best location, all things considered, and with the improvements made, trees planted, green lawn and blooming flowers, no more charming spot can be found in Iowa.
A committee of three of the trustees was then appointed to visit the reform schools of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, for the purpose of inspecting the buildings, style, etc., and to obtain such information as could be obtained regarding the schools in those states.
We liked best the Ohio cottage plan, with main building,, and in our report recommended that plan, which was adopted and steps were at once taken to erect family buildings, No. 1, thirty-seven by fifty-six feet, two stories high, one hundred feet, which was for some time used for the main building, for kitchen, dining hall, office, sleeping rooms and chapel.
These buildings were erected in the summer of 1872 and in the month of April, 1873, the school, consisting of one hundred and sixteen boys, was removed to its new home.
The school now has six family buildings, one hospital building (now used for a family building), one main building, two workshop buildings, one barn, sixty by one hundred feet, one ice house, one vegetable storehouse, one laundry building and one chapel, all erected prior to July 1, 1898.
Upon the resignation of Joseph McCarthy as superintendent, and at a special meeting held September 29, 1875, the Rev. Charles Johnson, of the state of Michigan, was appointed to succeed him, and his wife, Mrs. E. A. Johnson, was selected as matron. Mr. Johnson was good, well-meaning man, kind to the boys, and tried to do his duty faithfully, but lacked somewhat in business capacity and in executive ability.
uring his administration, in 1876, what is now a portion of the main building was enclosed, but no finished; the appropriation heretofore made had been expended and a debt contracted of over eight thousand dollars. We appealed to the Legislature to make an appropriation to pay this debt and finish a portion of the main building.
The legislative committee came and returned and did not make a very favorable report. Among other things, they said, regarding the tower on the main building, " that it ought to be the architect’s architectural tombstone, " and, instead of giving us the appropriation we asked for, they at the same session cut down our monthly per capita from ten dollars to eight dollars.
These were indeed dark and dismal days in the history of the school, but, plucky and undismayed, with the aid of the successor of Mr. Johnson and that of B. J. Miles, who was assistant superintendent, and with only eight dollars per month per capita, from the 23rd day of May, 1878, the date of my appointment as treasurer, until the 1st day of October, 1879, we extinguished that debt and at the same time supported the school in a manner to be sure that was not what might be called very high-toned. But by using ropes for reins, homemade quilts for blankets, sorghum for sugar, fat pork for beef steak, potatoes for sweet cake, and other vegetables for pie, and doing a very large amount of mending and patching, we lived and the Legislature of 1880, seeing we were determined to live and thrive, gave us an appropriation of seven thousand dollars to finish the basement, first story and three rooms in the second story of the main building, and one thousand six hundred dollars to take down the "architect’s tombstone," which consisted of sixty-two thousand bricks erected on a wooden truss, without proper support.
The same General Assembly appropriated one thousand two hundred dollars for water supply, two thousand dollars for repairs, three hundred dollars for library and three hundred and twelve dollars for tools, and in the same act the superintendent was required to utilize the labor of the boys in the construction of building, which method had been and has been followed and has been a great saving to the state.
At the meeting of the board November 1, 1877, the resignation of Charles Johnson, which had been previously tendered, was accepted and the Rev. E. H. Winans, of Mount Pleasant, Henry county, Iowa, was appointed his successor, and Mrs. M. S. Winans, his wife, was selected matron, their joint salary being fixed at one thousand five hundred dollars. Rev. Winans proved to be a wide-awake man, of good business tact, worked faithfully for the success of the school, and aided very materially in uplifting the school and placing it on a sound financial basis, which was a source of sincere gratification to its every true friend and entitled him to their grateful consideration. Mrs. Winans was a quiet, pleasant lady and filled her place to the best of her ability.
In July, 1880, Mr. Winans tendered his resignation, to take effect November 1, 1880, and on that day returned to his home in Mount Pleasant and subsequently removed to California, where he now resides.
On the said first day of November, 1880, B. J. Miles was appointed superintendent and immediately entered upon the duties of his office. His wife, Anna B. Miles, was appointed matron.
Mr. Miles began working in the institution as teacher November 1, 1872. On October 1, 1873, he was promoted to the position of family manager and held that position until June 1, 1876, when he resigned to attend medical college. On February 1, 1878, he was tendered the office of assistant superintendent and held that office until he was appointed to the office of superintendent, as aforesaid, November 1, 1880, which position he has held up to the present time, with the exception of one year from September 1, 1891, to September 1, 1892, when D. M. Crouse, his faithful assistant superintendent, held that position temporarily, while Mr. Miles held a similar position in the state of Oregon. At the urgent request of the board, Mr. Miles returned. By education, many years of experience and wide observation, he had made himself familiar with reformatory work. He has grown up with the school and knows its every want; is a superior judge of human nature, as is evidenced in the selection of his subordinate officers and his pleasant and harmonious intercourse with the world at large. The Almighty has richly endowed him, mentally and physically, morally and socially, with those peculiar and excellent attributes that so well fit him for the noble work in which he is now engaged. And from personal knowledge and almost daily observation, for nearly thirty years, I unhesitatingly say that to this skill, fine executive ability, earnest work and never-tiring energy, the Iowa Industrial School is more indebted than to any other person for its past prosperity and present popularity.
Mrs. Miles has also been for a long time identified with this kind of reformatory work, both in the girls’ and boys’ departments. She has made it a life-long work and study and has occupied every position held by a female in the school. When the laundry lady was taken sick, she took her place; when the kitchen lady was gone on a vacation, she became bridget; when the boys were sick with fever, no one more tenderly than she could moisten the parched lips or bathe the fevered brow. She has ever been a kind mother to the erring boy, who, when he accidentally cut his finger, knew where to go to find sympathy and a clean bandage. And when the little seven-year-old boy arrives at the school, crying and homesick among total strangers, no one could take him in her lap and soothe his sorrow like Mrs. Miles. And when they left the school, no one could or did receive a sweeter good-bye then she, and in the passing years, as she has traveled in different portions of the state, no mother could be hailed with more delight by the boys she met than their former beloved matron.
As I before mentioned, the Legislature of 1878 cut down our support allowance from ten to eight dollars per month per capita, and it so remained until the session of the Legislature in 1896, when, at our urgent request, it was raised again to ten dollars.
I may be asked, is not eight dollars enough and if we succeeded in running the school from 1878 to 1896 on that sum, why not continue to do so? I answer, by practicing the most rigid economy, even to miserly stinginess, by getting along for a time without many things we ought to have, to keep the getting along for a time without many things we ought to have, to keep the school up to the standard of like schools in other states, in which from two hundred to three hundred dollars per annum for pupils is paid, instead of ninety-six dollars, as it was in this state; and by letting an experienced officer go, because we could not pay him what he was offered for like services in other states, we could and did get along. And when it was remembered that all salaries must be paid, that not only clothing and food (except what is raised on the farm), with all beds, bedding and bedsteads, all fuel, all farming implements and carpets, all tableware, and kitchen furniture, all horses, mules and cows and in fact over a hundred other things too numerous to mention, had to be paid for out of the support fund, every fair-minded man will concede that ten dollars is none too much for the support of the school as it ought to be supported in this, the best state in the world.
In the twentieth General Assembly the late Enoch W. Eastman, who was then senator, introduced a bill which became a law, and changed the name from Reform School to Industrial School.
Regarding the operation of the school, I will briefly state that when transferred it was divided into seven families, graded according to size and age. The main object is education to the capacity of the pupil and education is compulsory. There were ten grades, arranged according to capacity of the pupils, who were required to attend school for hours each day summer and winter, except a portion of the summer, when the older boys were kept out to assist in farm work. Have also a well arranged Sunday school, and chapel exercises every Sunday afternoon, except the first Sunday in each month, when the boys are given the privilege of writing letters to their friends.
Have had in operation many years a shoe shop and tailor shop where the making and mending is done for the boys and where they have an opportunity to learn these trades; have had in operation also at various times other branches of trade, such as making brooms, carpenter work, blacksmithing, painting, fancy sewing and embroidery, in which the boys are engaged four hours each day. The remaining hours of the day they spend their time in eating, sleeping and playing.
Each family building is so arranged that the basement is used for a play and wash room, the first floor for the school room and room for the family manager, and the second and third floors for dormitories.
All the boys eat in a large dining room in the main building. Since the school was organized up to the time it was transferred to the board of control, July 1, 1898, two thousand four hundred and ninety-two boys have been admitted. All have been benefited, more or less, and taught to read and write, and about seventy-five per cent of them have been reformed in their habits and purposes in life and will live to be a blessing to the state that has so kindly cared for them and has so mercifully saved them from a life of crime, disgrace and ruin.
On the first day of July, 1898, the boys’ department, with four hundred and ninety-seven boys, with four thousand nine hundred and eighty dollars in the support fund and one thousand two hundred sixty-six dollars and three cents in other funds, and all the boys in good health, was transferred to and taken charge of by the said board of control, with the best wishes of the old board of trustees for its success in reclaiming the wayward boy and in helping him to become an honored member of society.
In writing this brief history of the school and of those who in the long past have assisted in making that history, I have been governed by a well-remembered maxim given me by my good old Scotch father when I left the paternal home to seek a home in the West, and it was this: "If ye canna say any gude o’ a body dinna say ony ul."
And if any living eye should trace these lines and notice a word of commendation given the beholder, I beseech them not to imagine that I have indulged in flattery. The truth is never flattery and kind words never die, and I fully endorse the sentiment of the Rev. Thomas DeWitt Talmage, when he said, "I had rather my friends would give me one fragrant flower while I live, than pile a thousand upon my coffin when I am dead."
In concluding the history of this institution, the publishers have taken pains to secure the following additional matter concerning the school and its management since the above article was prepared by Hon. W. J. Moir, in 1900:
Superintendent Miles continued in charge of the school twenty-four years, up to July, 1904, when he resigned and was succeeded by Col. L. D. Drake, of Boonville, Missouri, who served until April, 1907, and was followed by the present incumbent, W. L. Kuser. The assistant superintendent is George H. Iliff; Henry W. Elliott, steward; Dr. William E. Whitney, physician, and Mrs. Susie Iliff, matron.
It is only within the past five or six years that particular stress has been laid upon the importance of learning trades at this industrial school, and the following list of trades taught shows the advancement which has been made along this line: Agriculture, baking, barbering, blacksmithing, bricklaying, carpentering, cooking, electrical engineering, floriculture, harnessmaking, laundering, painting and decorating, plastering, plumbing, printing, shoemaking, stationary engineering, steam fitting, stock-raising, tailoring, masonry and cement work.
A cold storage house, a machine shop, implement house, ice house, and other buildings have been erected by the boys under the direction of the foreman.
No history, however brief, would be complete without special mention of Hon. W. J. Moir’s long connection with the institution in an official capacity. With the exception of three years, Mr. Moir acted as trustee or treasurer from the time of the school’s inception until the board of control took charge in 1898. He has always manifested a lively interest in the welfare of the inmates, being the superintendent’s right-hand man for more than a quarter of a century. In helping to found and then care of this institution, no man in Iowa has really accomplished more than Mr. Moir.
There were, on January 1, 1911, three hundred and seventy inmates in this institution; a new hospital building, the contract price of which was ten thousand dollars, much of the work being done by the inmates themselves, was in course of construction, and the total number of acres of land owned by the institution was eight hundred in one body and forty acres of good timber land to the southeast of the main tract.