Monday, May 14, 2012

St. Joseph's Home - "One of the Oldest Childcare Centers in the Country"


St. Joseph Home Complex 1965


I find it interesting that whenever I check my blog stats, consistently the most visited posts are the ones I did on St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill, New York.  If I still lived in that area, I would be inclined to do additional research on the home and the children it housed in order to assist other genealogists.

Our research field trip to Peekskill in 2010 included a visit to the Field Library. I called ahead to make sure that the Local History Specialist was available to give us access to the Colin T. Naylor Archives where the files on St. Joseph’s Home reside.  Down in the archives I was able to browse through the files and copy whatever I needed. I copied an article written by Radford Curdy from the Peekskill Evening Star dated Friday, December 3, 1965 on the 100th Anniversary of the Franciscan Sisters arrival in America. The article featured the above photo. 

It was Mr. Curdy who wrote that St. Joseph’s Home was “one of the oldest childcare centers in the country.”  He reports that the Franciscan Sisters order began in 1857 in Gemona, Italy; in 1865 the Franciscan Friars requested teachers for the German parish of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City.  Three sisters of the Franciscan order answered the call and arrived in New York in December 1865. The need for teachers and childcare expanded during this time, which prompted the order to purchase the Townsend Estate in Peekskill. The property had a wonderful location as it overlooked the Hudson River.

The sisters first opened a boarding school for girls, Our Lady of Angels Academy. That academy was moved to Highland Falls, later into Ladycliff College, in order for the facility to house more children, male and female and become known as St. Joseph’s Home. 

When St. Joseph’s Home opened in 1879 it had 25 children; by 1899, just a year before my grandfather was there, the home housed 1,100 children.

I thank Mr. Curdy for his article and Franciscan Sister M. Jane Thomas Gorman for her March 1, 1947 Fordham University Dissertation for the history on St. Joseph’s Home.

Please see Carmen Velez’ comment on my March 10, 2011 blog post on St. Joseph’s Home if you wish to connect with other St. Joseph’s alumni.  There is a Facebook page and alumni events listed. 

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