The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Local History

Springfield Children's home

  From a booklet titled Souvenir Annual of Children’s Home, Springfield, MO, 1910 

"While an attempt was made in the summer of 1894 to organize a Children’s Home in Springfield, the plan under which it should operate did not formulate until October 9th, of the same year, nor become fully operative until the 16th of the following November, since which time it has never changed its original design except to add new improvements and progressions, as increased finances and a broader understanding of child-welfare made these innovations possible.

“The first idea offered was to make the Springfield work simply an auxiliary to co-operate with the Chillicothe and St. Louis Homes, and to employ a trusted agent to find permanent homes for abandoned children.

“This did not meet with the approval of the promoters, who wished to inaugurate a system that should emanate from and be thoroughly identified with the interests and charities of Springfield and the vicinity.

“When the organization was fully crystalized, it begun work with as clear a vision as inspiration could give, for it not only adopted the orphan, but considered the cause of the unfortunate ones, whose miserable, sad-hearted, discouraged parents were down in the world, and unable to provide a home for their helpless and dependent children.

“Through all the years this has caused misunderstanding and has led many to withhold their support because they were unwilling to provide for boarders.  One word explanatory of this may clear up the matter for all time. The rate of board has ever been and is now too small to justify the name of boarders for its beneficiaries. It would barely cover the expense of the plain food consumed by the child. It was adopted by the Home Association as an encouragement and temporary relief to parents who would let nothing but death cause them to give up their children, and who could, after a few months of help from the Home, take them again into a modest and perhaps meager, home of their own. The history of their work along this line has been most satisfactory, and has radiated many influences, the chiefest being the excellent training given the child while at the Home, and the impulse it has given the parent toward family conservation, the greatest and most important unit in the preservations of a country.

“The officers who labored for this philanthropy during its initial years were: Mrs. Jas. Fisher, President, Mrs. Jno. Holland, 1st Vice President, Mrs. Sutton, 2nd Vice President, Dr. W. F. Toombs, Treasurer, Mrs. S. C. Bowden, Recording Secretary, Mrs. W. R. Daniel, Corresponding Secretary.

“The first building occupied was the old Riley House at corner of East Elm and Kimbrough streets. At the end of the first year forty-eight children had been taken care of and five placed in permanent homes.

“The Home work was so blessed that four years from its organization, in addition to carin g for scores of children, the management, through the ever-responsive generosity of the people, was enabled to purchase better and more commodious apartments, the new Home was at 403 South Jefferson Street. Here the work flourished and expanded to such an extent that another move was found necessary, and a Home, at the approximate cost of $7,000 was built on a four acre tract in Pickwick Place, the land and $1,000 being the gift of Mrs. Nellie Cordz.

“From its inception to the time of the awful fire, the countenance of God lighted up the work of the Home. Scores upon scores of children were sheltered and instructed, numbers of men and women were given the impetus to a new struggle and an ultimate success, fortunate orphans were placed in permanent homes where they could grow up in the love of God and the confidence of their fellowman, and Happiness spread her graceful wings over protector and protected. Then came the tragedy. On the memorable night of December 12, 1910 the fire-fiend left a weeping group of helpless little ones standing despondent before the ashes of their once beloved home; and in the ashes of that home, a deeper and more heart-breaking tragedy within a tragedy, were buried the charred remains of three little children.

“Just why these little souls were called home to God through such an apparently cruel means of torture, is beyond the understanding of man.  Centuries before a divine life went out in torture that just such little ones might be suffered to reach the arms of their Heavenly Father; and to that same divinity must be left the mystery of the reason for this crushing blow.

“Whatever the intended mission of these deaths may have been, it awoke to slumbering; it aroused the active to greater activities; and out of the dire disaster grew, in less than two years, the present magnificent Home, that has for its foundation the Rock, Christ Jesus, and for its superstructure the love and support of the people of Springfield.

“Up to 1907 eleven hundred children have been cared for and one hundred and fifteen placed in permanent homes. There is no way of determining the number for the next five years as the records were burned.

“During the last official year, thirty-seven have been deeded to the Home and twenty-nine adopted out."

Find this article at