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Boston Female Asylum 1885

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Partial transcript of Boston Female Asylum, Board of Managers: Proceedings and Annual Reports [1] - 1885


January 27, 1885

A most unsatisfactory account was [received] of Sarah Whiton and it seemed very probable that she would be returned to the Asylum. It was Voted That in such a case an effort be made to get her taken into the Refuge.

Mr. Sylvester had written to his daughter Elsie a letter it was not thought wise for her to receive. It was therefore Voted That this letter be returned to Mr. Sylvester with the reasons for withholding it.

Voted That Mrs. Holloway be instructed to allow none of the girls to go into the streets after the gas is lighted except under the care of some older person; and to allow no girl to go out by herself after dinner.

February 24, 1885

From the statement made concerning the strange behavior of Sarah Whiton since her return to Boston it seemed not unlikely that she could be sent to an Insane Hospital. In any case it did not seem to the Managers fitting that the Asylum should any longer have charge of her and Miss Storer was empowered to make any arrangement possible to transfer her to the care of either the City or the State.

March 31, 1885

The Committee reported an application from Miss Hersey, a lady well known to Mrs. Coolidge(?-smudged), for the admission of a little girl named Curran. The father was in poor health, but sent occasionally money to his wife from New York where he had some work. Mrs. Curran worked very hard but had the board of other children to pay and could do nothing for the support of this little girl, who had been cared for by Miss Hersey. Miss Hersey was unable to do any longer what she had done for the child, who was now in Dr. Haven's Hospital, recovering from exema. It was Voted That, provided Mr. Curran will sign an obligation to give up the child, the Asylum will assume the charge of her, boarding her out if necessary till the exema is cured.

Another application came for the admission of a little girl named Vida Coggshall, who had been cared for two years by Mr. & Mrs. Wheelock, who now found it necessary to resign the charge. There seemed no reason why the child should not be adopted and it was decided to recommend Mr. & Mrs. Wheelock to place her with that view at the Temporary Home. If this experiment should not succeed they might apply again at the Asylum.

Mr. Masury who had married the mother of Alice Hanson applied to take Alice. As Mrs. Hanson's character appeared to be more than doubtful it was Voted To refuse this application.

Letters from Mr. and Mrs. Smith complaining of Ida Brenton were read. They declined keeping her and the Managers judged that on Ida's account a change would be desirable. It was Voted That Miss Ellis, Ida's guardian, write to Mr. & Mrs. Smith, requesting them to return her immediately. Full powers were given to Miss Ellis regarding a new place for Ida.

A letter was read from the father of Elsie Sylvester, in which he seemed to regret having placed his child in the Asylum and implied that some of her relations would have been willing to take her. As an aunt of good character had been heard of living in S. Boston and as on account of this letter and on account of Elsie's character it did not seem desirable to keep her in the Asylum it was Voted That the Com[mit]tee for the month Communicate with this aunt and ask her to take charge of her niece, telling he that otherwise Elsie must be sent to her father.

April 1885

The Committee reported that Elsie Sylvester's aunt preferred to have her remain in the Asylum, but would rather take her herself than have her bound out. As Elsie would be twelve years old in May it was Voted That her aunt be requested to take her at that time.

Mrs. Connelly, one of whose children had been admitted to the Asylum, now made application for the other. The Committee reported her in very poor health and able to work only three hours in the day. This matter was referred to the Committee for the next month with full powers.

Mrs. McCarty who had been deserted by her husband applied for the admission of her little girl. The application was refused on the grounds that the mother had until lately belonged in Lawrence and that the Asylum was full.

Mr. Matthew Harvey of Epping N.H. wished to take a girl from the Asylum. The place was recommended by Mr. Hoyt with whom Letty McElroy was living. It was thought that this might be a suitable place for Alice Broad and it was proposed that she be allowed to go on trial for three months if the Committee after investigations approve. There was some doubt as to Alice being strong enough for the work.

Mr. Martin applied to take his daughter Annie. He had always appeared to be a steady, respectable man and was now remarried. It was therefore Voted That Mr. Martin's request be granted.

It was reported that Mr. Turnbull could no longer keep Clara Colon on account of her stupidity and dirty habits. The girl was now with Mrs. Guething who made the same complaint and hoped she might soon be taken away. It seemed best that Clara should be taken in charge by the City or State, but as she had a mother, who, though a very unsatisfactory person, still was anxious to have her daughter, it was doubtful whether such an arrangement could be made. The case was left with the Committee to do the best that they could.

The guardian of Ida Brenton reported that she had gone to a place in Bridgewater which seemed very promising.

May 26, 1885

The Committee reported that they had found Mrs. Connelly in very poor health, apparently in consumption and able to earn but little. She thought however that she could keep the child till the middle of June and had some hope that her husband's relations might give her a home through the summer. She was very anxious to have the little girl brought up with her sister in the Asylum. Voted That went Mrs. Connolly finds she can no longer make any arrangement for the support of her child she may place her in the Asylum.

May Curran could no longer be kept at the Day Nursery and the father seemed to have disappeared so that he could not sign the books; the mother however had signed them and the little girl had been put at board with Mrs. Folsom on account of the measles at the Asylum.

Clara Colon had been placed in the Marcella St. Home whence it might be necessary to remove her to Austen Farm, as she seemed old for the Home.

Mrs. Leach had been very sick and thinking herself on her deathbed had desired to see her children. Her request had been granted.

Annie Martin had been taken by her father.

The uncle of the Dyers children had written for his nieces, having provided a suitable escort for them. Voted That the Committee make suitable arrangements for the sending away of these two children.

The guardian of Ida Brenton reported Ida so troublesome that Mrs. Williamson did not wish to keep her. Miss Ellis had found another place for Ida, apparently a very good one in another part of Bridgewater with Mr. and Mrs. Bela Forbes and had transferred her to their care. This action was approved by the Board. Miss Ellis reported that Mrs. Williamson would like another girl and suggested Alice Broad, as the place in Epping had fallen through. Miss Ellis thought Mrs. Williamson's place an excellent one and quite easy. It was Voted That Alice Broad be allowed to go to this place on trial for three months; the condition being added that she be allowed to return to the Asylum if she is obliged to give up her place for want of strength and through no fault. Miss Mixter agreed to be her guardian.

June 30, 1885

The Committee reported that the Byers children were to go to the Provinces in a week. That Elsie Sylvester had gone to her aunt.

Alice Broad was not found sufficiently strong to go to a place.

Mrs. Gwynne made application for the admission of two children named Pond, whose mother was in an Insane Asylum, and whose father was a maimed soldier in poor health. Voted That these children be admitted if they be of suitable age.

Voted That Mr. Black send his daughter Ada to Maine for six weeks in the summer.

Voted That Mary Leach, the girls employed in the house, and any other children for whom Dr. Cutler thinks it important be sent away on vacations.

A letter was read from Mrs. Gorham to whom Florence Macomber had been bound. Mrs. Gorham was in Florida in very poor health and anxious to give up the care of Florence. She had friends in Florida to whom she said she could transfer Florence. Voted That the Secretary write to Mrs. Gorham consenting to the transfer of Florence.

The report of Frances Whittington was so bad that it was Voted To give her into the charge of her mother.

July 28, 1885

The committee reported that the ages of the Pond children for whom application was made last month were suitable, but the children had not been brought, on account of a case of scarlet fever in the Temporary Home, where they had been. Dr. Cutler had been consulted, and thought it would be safe for them to come Aug. 5.

The Byers children had gone to their uncles in Nova Scotia, and Fanny had written to announce their safe arrival.

Florence Macomber had arrived from Savannah the day before, having been shipped by Mrs. Gorham. A letter received a day or two previous asked to have some one meet her at the board, and stated that Mrs. Gorham had transferred her to a lady, who after making trial of her, had refused to keep her on account of her untruthfulness, and absolute refusal to work. After some discussion of this case it was Voted That the committee of the month endeavor to find a place for Florence Macomber, the Asylum paying a moderate board, and where Florence may be taught, if possible, to work.

A letter had been thrown over from Lovering Place directed to Bertha Johnson and signed Nina. Although the letter was not amiss, the committee had felt that such communication should be prevented, and wire screens had been placed in the upper part of the windows on Lovering Place.

Mr. & Mrs. Otis A. Gray of Tiverton Four Corners, having applied for a girl, and the recommendations proving satisfactory; the place also being quiet and retired, it was Voted That Bertha Stella Johnson be bound to Mr. & Mrs. Gray.

The father of Annie Cameron had presented himself early in the month, and desired the Managers to find a place for Annie, where she could go to school. Although Annie is bound to the house, she had proved so troublesome, that the Asylum was not unwilling 5o release her, and the matron having heard of a couple somewhat advanced in life, living in Raynham, who were willing to take a girl to go to school, it was Voted That Annie Cameron be bound to Mr. & Mrs. Obed Harlow of Raynham, if the committee of the month can make suitable arrangements.

Mrs. Fairfield, who had so kindly watched over Annie Dennis, needed a girl to take her place. It was therefore Voted That Helen Ada Adams be placed with Mrs. Fairfield, if the child seems satisfactory to Mrs. Fairfield, when she sees her.

Mrs. H. H. Gilman of Union, N.H., who applied for a girl last month, had not sent her references in season for today's vote. Miss Stevens, a friend who was to see the girl had not been to do so. It was therefore Voted That the Committee have full powers to apprentice Mattie Palmer to Mr. & Mrs. H. H. Gilman, if Miss Stevens considers her a suitable girl.

Mrs. Amanda Heaton, Lyme Centre, N.H., who had previously applied for a girl, renewed her application through Miss Pickering of Portsmouth, a friend, who recommended Mrs. Heaton most highly. Miss White, the head nurse, also knew Mrs. Heaton, and considered a girl fortunate, who might be placed with her. It was Voted That Eunice Leach be bound to Mrs. Heaton.

An application from Miss Sarah M. Frost to take Lettie Hovenden and a companion to her home in West Newton for a fortnight was referred to the committee of the month.

An application from Annie Grant's sister for Annie to make her a visit was refused.

A present of cherries had been sent to the Asylum by the person with whom Mary Anderson is living.

August 25, 1885

The Committee reported that Mabel & Ida Pond had been received. Annie Cameron had gone to Mrs. Harlow of Raynham; Bertha Johnson to Mrs. Gray & was happy; & Mattie Palmer to Mrs. Gilman, which place looked promising.

Mrs. Prescott, a friend of Mrs. Gilman's wanted a girl it was Voted That Ada Adams go to her on trial.

Voted That Mrs. Moore's application for Alice Broad be refused, the place being unsuitable.

Florence Macomber having remained only a week at her last place, it was Voted That the committee for the month be empowered to place her with any of her relations they thought proper.

Mary Byrne having been found dishonest, it was Voted That Mrs. Rochemont be released from the obligation of paying her $50 at her majority. Voted That the committee for the month have full powers to remove Lily Beck from the Asylum, & dispose of her as they should think best.

An anonymous postal had been received calling attention to the work & treatment of Annie Leach by Mrs. Johnson. It was considered that the matter was not pressing(?), but could be attended to later.

It was decided that May Curran should come to the Asylum after the middle of September.

There had been trouble in the yard from boys climbing on the wall & throwing candy to the children & some notes had passed between them. It was decided to try the effect of barbed wire.

September 29, 1885

The committee for the last month reported that Alice Broad had been caught talking with men from the window in the evening, and it had been thought best to place her immediately in the country, with a stipulation that she should only be employed in light work. Satisfactory references having been obtained from Mr. & Mrs. Knowlton, Windham, N.H., Alice had been sent there, and so far was contented with her place. Voted That the action of the committee with regard to Alice Broad be confirmed.

Flossie Macomber's relations having declined having anything to do with her, and no suitable place having offered for her, she had been boarded at $2.00 a week with Mrs. Ripley of Weston, who will teach her to work. So far, Mrs. Ripley had found nothing amiss with her, except very great childishness.

Alice Whitman's mother applied for her, and her references proving satisfactory, it was Voted That her request be granted.

Frances(?) Crockett's aunt being unable to apply for her this year, as she had hoped, desired that we should keep her another year. Finne(?-same name) had been told that her stay here depended upon her good conduct.

Eunice Leach had been applied for by a Mrs. Lewis of Hyde Park, and the application being recent, and not sufficiently investigated, it was Voted That the matter be left to the committee of the month with full powers.

Mr. & Mrs. John Ramsdell of Cornish, Me, applied through a relative for a girl. Annie Grant, with her various disabilities, had been mentioned to them, and they were willing to take her. Some of the references proved very satisfactory, but as there were others yet to be received it was Voted That the matter of Annie Grant be left to the committee of the month with full powers.

An application had been received from Mrs. Stratton of Waterbury, Conn. for a girl. Mr. & Mrs. Stratton live on a small farm three miles out of the town. Her two daughters are dressmakers who are absent all day, and return home at night. They wanted a young girl to train, as company for the mother, and whom they would send to school a part of the time. As Mrs. Prescott had declined to take Ada Adams, and as the references proved satisfactory, it was Voted That Helen Ada Adams be bound to Mr. & Mrs. Stratton.

Application for Alice Hanson had been received from her step-father, Mr. Massury, and her mother. There having been grave doubts, at no late date, as to the moral character of Mrs. Massury it was Voted That the committee of the month make very special inquiries as to the character of both persons, and report at the next meeting.

Miss Storer had been to see Annie Leach, and had found nothing which did not seem perfectly right, and straight-forward. Mrs. Johnson seemed very kind, and Annie very happy.

Inquiries had been made about Lily Beck's relatives, and it was found that her mother was in Pennsylvania, and that nothing could be done with her among her relatives, and it was Voted That the committee of the month find her a suitable place to board in the country.

Voted That Charlotte E. Hovenden be bound to the house.

Mary Curran had come in from the country.

October 27, 1885: Annual Meeting

Two children, Mabel Naomi and Ida Milicent Pond, were baptized by Rev. Mr. Hale.

The prizes were distributed by the First Directress as follows:

  • To Ella E. Dodge as The Most Deserving Girl
  • To Mary E. Leach for Helpfulness
  • To Laurie H. Martin for Helpfulness
  • To Charlotte E. Hovenden for Improvement
  • To Bessie Leach for Proficiency in Studies
  • To Annie Kirby for Industry
  • To Ellen Allen for Helpfulness
  • To Ada W. Black as The Best Little Girl
  • To Emma Adelaide Anderson for Industry

Managers Meeting October 1885

Eunice Leach had gone to Mrs. Sarah E. Keith of Brockton. Good reports had come from the girls who had left, who all seemed happy in their places.

The Committee reported that no place for Lily Beck had been found. It was thought best that the Committee for the next month continue the search.

Mr. & Mrs. Masury applied again for Alice Hanson. Mr. Masury's references were very good, but very little had as yet been ascertained about Mrs. Masury, Alice's mother. Several of the Managers had a strong opinion that she was not a suitable person to have the charge of Alice, others thought there should be more proof against her before deciding. It was Voted That Mr. Masury be informed the recommendations as to his wife's character are necessary.

Mr. & Mrs. Simeon Gallup of Mystic Conn. had applied for a girl, bringing excellent references. It was Voted That the Committee for the month are authorized to furnish them with any girl over twelve years old whom they may chose.

Application was made for the admission of Margaret Curran, the older sister of Mary. The child was now boarded with a woman who treated her kindly but whose influence was not thought to be good. Miss Hersey who had long had a certain charge of the family was very anxious that she should be admitted into the Asylum. Voted That this child be admitted.

November 24, 1885

The Committee reported that Annie Kirby had gone to Mr. & Mrs. Simeon Gallop. Margaret Curran had been admitted.

Application was made for the admission of an illegitimate child named Mary King. The father had disappeared, the mother was dead & Mrs. Dorr who had taken charge of her for some time had also died. Her daughter Miss Dorr was fond of the child but unable to support her. The matter was left to the Committee of the month with power to admit the child if they see fit.

Mrs. Kennon one of whose children was in the Asylum found that she could not support the other, her health being too poor to allow her to do steady work. Voted That Mary Frances Kennon be admitted.

Mrs. Conolly who had in the spring permission to place her second child in the Asylum now wished to do so.

The mother of Jessie Harmon wished to take Jessie in the Spring. Voted That Jessie be given to her mother in the Spring if she still wishes her at that time.

Anna Roberts who had been given into the charge of her grandparents had been taken from them by an aunt and was now in the Rutland St. Home. It seemed probable that application would be made for her readmission into the Asylum. The Committee were requested to make investigations as to the character of the grand-parents and the character of the child in case this application be made.

A boarding place which promised very well had been found for Lily Beck with Mrs. J. H. O. Lovell, Oakham, Mass. The Managers agreed to pay $2.50 a week to Miss Lovell for Lily's board and clothes.

No recommendation of Mrs. Masury had been sent. Mrs. Sherman was sure that at the time of the child's admission the mother was not leading a good life.

Almina Bowdoin's misconduct had been such that there seemed no question that she ought to be sent to Lancaster, and Miss Brown was authorized to arrange with Mrs. Colburn about making the proper complaints.

Ruth Graves, who had been with Dr. Holbrook, was threatened with consumption; had been by her guardian's direction brought to Boston & examined by Dr. Cutler, by whose advice she had been placed in Miss Robbins's Hospital.

December 29, 1885

Margaret Conolly and Mary Frances Kennon had been admitted. The Committee had not ventured to admit Margaret King because Dr. Wadsworth after examination gave such a doubtful account of her eyes. After some consideration it was Voted To admit this child with the understanding that if at the proper time for her leaving the Asylum her eyesight should be too poor to admit of her going to service and if Miss Dorr be unable to provide for her she must be placed in the Almshouse. Under these circumstances it was not deemed advisable that the books should be signed.

Pleasant accounts of Lily Beck at her boarding place had been received.

Mr. Gallop seeming disappointed in Annie Kirby it was thought best to write him that if he should not wish to keep her after three months' trial he can return her to the Asylum. The Managers feared they had not been wise in allowing Annie to leave the Asylum so young.

Mr. Ramsdell wrote from Cornish Maine that Annie Grant's habits were such that he did not wish to keep her. It was thought that Mr. Ramsdell might be persuaded to keep Annie at least temporarily and Miss Brown agreed to write to him on the subject. It was possible that one of Annie's sisters might be induced to take her by & by.

Voted To give Miss Brown full powers with regard to the disposal of Almina Bowdoin.

Voted That the Committee see Mary Leach's School teacher and ascertain how many hours' study out of school are required or expected.

List of Girls who Completed their apprenticeship December 1885

  • Emma Bartlett - With Mrs. Weatherbee; doing well
  • Mary Ann Neale - Went to her relations
  • Minnie Clarke - Under the charge of her mother; doing well
  • Annie Dennis - Well married

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