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Pennsylvania's Soldiers' Orphan Schools


Harford School



This institution is located at Harford, Susquehanna county, six miles from Montrose Station, on the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad. Its location is an elevated one, being on a spur of the Blue Ridge. The water and air are pure, and the climate cool and healthy.
The "Harford University" was formerly located here. This was a select classical school, established in 1817, and for many years conducted by Professor Lyman Richardson. These buildings and an adjoining farm of one hundred and twenty-five acres were, in the autumn of 1865, purchased by Professor Chas. W. Deans, on the recommendation of the then Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans, Hon. Thos. H. Burrowes, for a soldiers' orphan school. The buildings were repaired and remodelled and additional ones erected.
The school was opened on the 7th of November, 1865, Mr. Deans being Principal, which position he retained until March, 1868, when Professor Henry S. Sweet took charge, and has remained in control ever since, with the exception of the year 1873, during which Dr. H. N. Pennepacker had supervision of the institution.
'Eighteen children were in attendance at the opening of the school, but enough were admitted to raise the number to one hundred before the year closed. Additions were frequent, and the school constantly increased until the year 1871, when the maximum number was reached, there being then one hundred and seventy-four in attendance. Since that time the school has slowly decreased. There are at present one hundred and sixty-three on the roll.
During the first year the school was fully organized. Competent persons were procured to superintend the various industrial departments. Lessons were given to the girls in the various domestic duties, as well as in the use of the needle and sewing-machine; and the boys were taught how to do "chores" and to work on the farm. Habits of industry were thus formed, and that degree of skill acquired, which has enabled many of the orphans, on leaving school at sixteen years of age, to secure good positions.
The system of making work-details being observed, no child has been robbed of his or her opportunities for study. A full and experienced corps of teachers have been employed, and the school properly graded according to the proficiency of the pupils. All the common and higher English branches have been thoroughly taught, and occasionally lessons in the ancient languages have been imparted. Especial attention has been given to those desiring to become teachers, and many are offered schools immediately after leaving the orphan school, and have proved themselves competent. Five, accepting the gratuity of the State, have received a normal school training; and permission has been granted by the State Superintendent to several others who will soon accept of the privilege so generously provided. Quite a number have remained at the school after becoming sixteen, being supported by friends or by their own labor, while others have continued their studies at other institutions than the normals schools. Vocal music has not been neglected, there being daily practice, and weekly instruction in the art of reading music. Lessons are also given, to those who desire it, in instrumental music.
Drill in military tactics has, for a number of years, been required daily when the weather was favorable---company movements being understood by the boys.
Religious observances and instruction have formed an interesting feature of the school since its origin. The pupils have, at all periods of its history, been required to repair to the main school-room at eight o'clock in the morning and at seven in the evening for devotional exercises, which have often been interspersed with short lectures on manners and morals. Religious services have been conducted at the school alternately by ministers of the various religious denominations residing in the vicinity. On Sundays, all the pupils have regulary attended Sunday-school, which is conducted by the Principal, assisted by the teachers and various employees.
From 1871 to 1874 the boarding department was conducted separately by Mr. Chas. S. Hallstead. This was transferred, at the latter date, to Mr. A. J. Seamans, who still boards the school.
The sanitary condition of the school has always been excellent. During the year 1871, however, typhoid fever prevalling in the vicinity, the orphans did not escape the epidemic. Five cases proved fatal. Besides these there has been one sudden death, one from erysipelas, one from diphtheria, and two from dropsy. No serious accident has ever befallen any of the pupils. The school has passed through the ordinary diseases of childhood without any fatal results. A hospital is connected with the institution under the charge of an excellent nurse, but it has been vacant the greater part of the time.
We give herewith a Teachers Report officially connected with the school since its organization.


  • ArticleDonated by Charles Faust, Send email to: charlesfaust@juno.com
    from "Pennsylvania's Soldiers' Orphan Schools" by James Laughery Paul; 1877


  • Orphan Letter to Home
  • News Article:1873
  • Orphans in Harford Cemetery
  • 1880 Census Harford Twp.
  • 1877 Annual Soldiers Orphan Report
  • 1897 Annual Soldiers Orphan Report
  • 1898 List of Soldiers' Orphans

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