In 1869, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans Home opened in Xenia, Ohio, after much lobbying from the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans’ organization that was established in 1866 to support veterans of the Civil War. The institution originated as a home for children of veterans of the war who had died, or those children of veterans whose families lacked sufficient resources to care for them. Over a span of 128 years, however, the home’s mission grew, accepting children of veterans of all military conflicts that occurred during its existence before eventually closing its doors in 1997. Residents of the home received a traditional education as well as training in a trade before being released at the age of eighteen.
Ohio Memory includes a number of items documenting the history of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home. Greene County Records Center and Archives has contributed several photographs that were part of a time capsule placed in the cornerstone of the Greene County Courthouse in 1901 and opened in 2001.
The State Library of Ohio has also digitized a portion of its collection of annual reports from this institution–documents which include photos and rosters of students and employees. The student rosters contain a wealth of information of interest to genealogical researchers, including student names, counties of origin, parents’ names, the father’s military unit, and vital statistics for parents. Because children also learned a trade at the home, some report years include rosters that list the trade in which the student was engaged. For some researchers, these documents provide a well-rounded picture of one generation of their ancestors, sometimes more.
Additional annual reports from the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home are to be digitized in the very near future. Meanwhile, please enjoy learning more about this valuable and fascinating institution!
Thank you to Shannon Kupfer, Digital/Tangible Media Cataloger at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!