I have noticed a number of views on the blogs I did regarding St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill, New York, so I thought I would expand on that information and add more photos.
In June of 1900 the Nunn family, who lived at 2030 First Avenue, New York, was struggling. Katherine had just given birth to her eleventh child, Charles Casper, born in May 1900. Her husband, Joseph, died in early June 1900. Thirteen-year-old Elizabeth was left to care for her siblings while attending to her father’s business. It was a losing battle. On June 12, 1900 the City of New York’s Department of Public Charities arrived at 2030 First Avenue and took the children, with the exception of Elizabeth and infant Charles Casper. The children were placed with the Sisters of the 3rd Order of St. Francis St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill, New York. Elizabeth might have stayed with the Lewis family who lived in the same building, and who also had a large family. Baby Charles died in September of that year. The mother, Katherine, was admitted to the Manhattan State Hospital on June 26, 1900 for dementia. She died there seventeen years later on May 12, 1917 of Typhoid Fever. It is possible Katherine is buried on Hart’s Island, NY.
“Charity is the very center of Catholicism,” states the dissertation of Sister M. Jane Thomas Gorman FMSC. During the mid-1800s, the Catholic Church reacted to the numbers of children throughout the country that no longer had family support. Catholic children were being placed in non-Catholic institutions, which threatened the core of their Catholic heritage.
On July 24, 1880 the first boy was admitted, and by 1899 St. Joseph’s was like a miniature city housing 1100 residents. The school offered traditional education courses, technical training, sewing, household arts, shoemaking, carpentry, baking and gardening. Travis Point, on the Hudson, provided bathing accommodations. For chores done, the children received a daily salary of 12 cents; one cent fine for not doing their lessons was imposed. “St. Joseph’s was one of the first institutional schools to be placed under the New York State Regents.”
In 1932, while chaplain at St. Joseph’s Home, Fr. Michael McGuire wrote the New Baltimore Catechism that was published in 1942.
The school celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1979; an arson fire destroyed the buildings and the school was taken down in January 1980.
In 1904 the home housed a total of 1,009 children, 711 of which were from New York City. By 1905, residents numbered 1,056, with 787 from New York City. The 1905 New York Census for the Fifth Election District Peekskill, NY St. Joseph’s Home shows the Nunn children in residence:
Emma Nunn age 6
Emilie Nunn age 8
Joseph Nunn age 9
Katie Nunn age 12
George Nunn age 13
One hundred ten years separate me from when my grandfather walked these grounds of St. Joseph’s Home. Visiting there provided me with a better understanding of his growing up years. And if he only knew – maybe he does – that I found him a century later.