Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Historic Preservation Society Mobile

Records of the Protestant Orphan Asylum Society (Box 19)

Volume 1 1839-1845

On the 2nd of Decbr 1839 the ladies of the several protestant churches in the city of Mobile held a meeting in the Hall of the Franklin Society to organize a Protestant Orphan Asylum Society &c
Mrs Smelt was called to the chair, & Mrs Livingston appointed secretary.
A discussion having taken place in regard to the Episcopal Orphan Asylum Society (so called) it was on motion Resolved that this society be organized without reference to the other, or its funds.
A constitution for the government of the society was presented by Mrs McAlpine and after being duly considered it was accepted, with some slight amendments, and adopted as follows.
Article 1st This society shall be called to the Protestant Orphan Asylum Society
Art 2nd The officers of this society shall be a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.
Art 3rd. This various officers of this society shall be elected by ballot in regular annual rotation, from each of the religious denominations association for its formation and well-being
Art 4th A board of managers shall be elected by ballot, from each of the denominations associated.
Art 5th There shall be two regular general meetings of the society, one on the first Monday in December and the other on the first Monday in May. Also regular monthly meetings.
Art 6th It shall be the duty of the President, to preside at the general meetings of the society, and to cause to be executed and observed such rules and regulations as may be adopted by the society, or prescribed by the Board of Managers
Art 7th. It shall be the duty of the secretary to keep  a record of the proceedings of the society at its general and monthly meetings
Art 8th It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to receive collect and keep an account of the funds of the society, and disburse the same on the written warrant of the President, signed by one or more of the Board of Managers.
Art 9th. The Board of Managers shall select and appoint the matron of the asylum and determine the amount and manner of her compensation.
Art 10th It shall be the duty of the Board of Managers to prescribe rules and regulations for the direction of the matron in the management of the orphans and the general concerns of the asylum.
Art 11th The assistants shall be procured by the matron, and paid by the warrant of the President such compensation as shall be previously fixed by the Board of Managers
Art 12th. All orphans in the city of Mobile and its vicinity under the age of ten years may be received into the asylum, under such rules and restrictions as may from time to time be adopted by the Board of Managers.
Art 13th The vice president shall perform the duties of the President in her absence.
Art 14th Every member of this society shall pay to the Treasurer, the sum of five dollars annually and each member shall be entitled to vote for officers and attend all meetings of the society.
Art 15th The president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and Board of Managers first elected shall continue in office until the first Monday in Decbr 1840 at which time, and at the same time in each and every year thereafter, an election by ballot shall be held for said officers.
Art 16th The foregoing constitution shall not be altered or amended except by the vote of a majority of the members of the society ? and not under six months from the time such alteration or amendment shall be proposed in writing in general or called meetings.
The meeting then proceeded to elect officers for the ensuing year, and the following ladies were elected.
Mrs L. Stickney, President [h = Henry]
Mrs D. Gascoigne, Vice-President [h= Charles, com mer]
Mrs C. Hale, Secretary [h = William, lawyer]
Mrs A E Campbell, Treasurer
Mrs M Alderson
Mrs S Martin
Mrs E Hamilton
Mrs C Ketchum
Mrs E Heard
Mrs L G Chandler
Mrs P Hale
Mrs L Rockwell Board of Managers
The society then adjourned to meet again at the Franklin Hall on Monday Decbr 8th
Sarah G Chandler
Sec P.O.A.S.

Dec 8 1839
Mrs Wm Hale (Baptist) resigns as secretary and as a managers, Sarah Chandler elected as secretary, Mrs Lyon and Mr Davis elected as new managers
'that such children as had lost either parent or both, be considered as orphans ? and that the seventeen orphans heretofore collected and supported, by the old Orphan Society be received and taken under the charge and direction of this society'

Dec 9 1839
Committee formed to visit 'Committee of Relief for the City of Mobile with a petition shewing the necessities of the society and soliciting funds for its support and success'
Also intend to petition legislature for relief, managers instructed to 'use their influence in collecting funds'. No building to house orphans so 'boarded at Mrs Smith's at eleven dollars per month'

Dec 11 1839
Children 'inspected 7 their situation in every respect, ascertained to be comfortable'
Anyone wishing to remove a child has to apply in writing

Dec 13 1839
Mrs Hamilton takes Emily and Jane Basham out of orphan house
Mrs Onge takes her two children

Jan 2 1840
Mrs Davis resigns, Mrs Miller elected

Feb 2 1840
Children of Mr & Mrs Spaulding received 'until arrangements could be made to deliver them to their relatives, or it be ascertained that they have not a sufficiency from their father's estate for their maintenance.'
'the treasurer reported that a little association at Claiborne, of eight girls from six to fifteen years of age, had made a liberal donation [$132.17] to the society, it was on motion resolved that the secretary make an acknowledgement of thank to them in behalf of the society.' [Juvenile Society of Claiborne]
Matron Mrs Smith thanked 'for her kindness' towards children
Mr Vigus thanked for giving a series of lectures for benefit of society.
Mrs Rockwell and Mrs Miller resign , Mrs J B Toulmin & Mrs Sidney Smith elected
Ladies accept offer of new orphan house, free of rent till xmas
'Mrs Smith having declined to serve any longer as matron, Mrs Farro was unanimously elected for the term of nine months, upon condition of fully discharging her duties as a mother to the children' paid $10 per month
Mrs Plunkett applies to get Francis McGlen, society to speak to doctor about 'condition of Mr McGlen, the father, and decide whether the society has control over his children'
Mrs Gascoigne takes Caroline Spaulding for 3 months 'said child to be delivered to her uncles when called for'

March 2 1840
Mrs Jones adopts Caroline Spaulding ? Spaulding children to be baptised as Methodists
Society resolved to vaccinate the children
Money put aside for the orphan's school room

April 2 1840
Notes the incorporation of society by legislature
Mrs John H Jones takes Virginia Spaulding
Eliza Burnes accepted for one month despite being over 10 yrs old

April 29 1840
Two children of Mr Taylor, a lunatic, accepted
Mrs [Mary M] Livingston elected in place of Mrs Martin
Mrs Stringer elected for the Unitarian Church

May 2 1840
Semi annual report
Had 25 children in it's care since Dec 1839, currently 7 boys, 9 girls; others have been placed with families 'whose character and circumstances justify the belief that an advantageous arrangement has been made for their present comfort and future welfare'
Praise the new orphan house as the children 'are more immediately under the control and inspection of the society, and more entirely withdrawn from the influence and evils of a promiscuous association'
Children get religious instruction and 'a number of young ladies have associated themselves for the purpose of teaching the children and they alternately devote two hours each day to this laudable and benevolent purpose. Their services are duly appreciated, and the fruits of their labor are already felt.'
Treasurer reports funds of $2095.71 as of May 2nd, expenses are $128.78 per month. Income totalling $2824.53 incl from subs $240, $1000 from the Relief Committee, $812 from church collections at xmas ? money deposited with the 'Planters and Merchants Bank of Mobile in which institution it does not draw interest. It is probably that these funds might have been more profitably invested in individual securities, but in consultation with the Managers of the Society, it was decided that the safety of its resources was not to be hazarded for the chance of making an addition to them, through the interest of loans.
Society 'pleads the orphans cause and seeks to afford him amid his bereavements and the misfortunes of his situation the endearments and consolations of a home. A cause so intimately connected with out happiness as a people, and our prosperity as a city, will be sustained and encouraged as long as the public have confidence in the benevolence of the society's aims, and the usefulness of its operations.'
William Jones given up to his aunt in NY, society pays $15 towards cost of travel
Society to contact relatives of the Taylor children to see if they might take them off their hands
Mrs Randall (Baptist) elected

June 2 1840
Mr Williamson takes George Alden from asylum
'Another application was made for one of the orphans which was not accepted ? and it was on motion resolved that the society dispose not of any child without the highest regard to its benefit.'
Mr Taylor returns to Mobile and takes his children away ? society compensated for their board

July 2 1840
John Spaulding (infant) dies
Application to take Mary Jones, society resolves to 'enquire into the character and circumstances of the applicant'

Aug 2 1840
Children moved to new asylum at Summerville
Application for Mary Jones granted

Sept 2 1840
Mr Williamson gets George Spaulding
Mrs Homer of Baptist church elected
Mrs Thyne (matron) applies for her 3 children to be accepted ? rejected

Oct 2 1840
Board resolves to repair the asylum, roof, windows, etc
John Thyne, Michael Thyne and Jerry O'Bryan accepted into asylum
Children allowed weak tea and coffee twice a day
Monthly allowance of asylum
1 lb tea
6 lbs coffee
3 bushels sweet potatoes
1 barrel Irish potatoes
25 lbs rice
16 lbs butter
1 quart milk per day
$15 meat
$5 wood
$5 incidental expenses

Nov 2 1840
Matron resigns

Dec 8 1840
Annual report shows 27 children cared for, currently 6 boys and 4 girls,
Children taken from asylum given 'instruction in trade and occupations as will qualify them for future usefulness'
'without the liberal assistance of the community and beneficient action of the society, all of them would have been thrown upon the cold charity of the world, and many in all probability would have added to the misery of orphanage, the formation of bad habits, and the guilt of some degrading crime'
end of year financial balance $1321.70
Elections
Mrs E W Heard 1st directress, Methodist
Mrs Mary Alderson 2nd directress, Episcopal
Mrs A E Campbell secretary, Unitarian
Mrs L Lyon, treasurer, Presbyterian
Mrs D Gascoigne, Meth
Mrs T J McCoy, Meth [h = Thomas  J, merchant]
Mrs Sidney Smith, Uni [h = merchant]
Mrs T Stringer, Uni [h = Thomas, merchant]
Mrs Livingston, Epis [h = Robert, merchant]
Mrs Joseph Hall, Epis
Mrs Ketchum, Pres [h = Ralph, cotton broker]
Mrs McCoy, Pres
No Baptist members as no reps at meeting

Dec 1840
Mrs Dysart elected matron at $500 pr yr

Jan 1841
Donation of $10 and piece of calico to Mrs Tussal former matron who had just had a baby

Feb 2nd 1841
'An application was made in behalf of Mary Jane Nithercote, which after some discussion it was thought inexpedient to grant, upon the following considerations viz, that the design of this asylum was to afford protection and support to destitute orphans ? that the father of the said Mary Jane was a mechanic engaged in the exercise of his trade, and as it appeared able and willing to support his child, and though it was known to several of that ladies that the child had suffered from want of careful and judicious management it did not appear that this case fell properly under the design of this institution.'

April 6, 1841
'in consideration of the difficulty of procuring ladies to act as managers' allow temporary appointment of managers for one month.
Agree to accept 4 children, 2 of them month old twins after being 'deserted by both parents', despite rule that those with 2 parents not admitted ? situation presented by a laborer 'of no relationship to them' ? children not admitted in the end as parents returned for them

May 2 1841
Tres reports that society entitled to $5 month from city for each child ? but city slow in paying

May 27 1841
Mrs Dysart matron resigns, Mrs Garrett elected in her place @ $30 per month and a free place for her grand-daughter

Nov 30 1841
Problems over elections, should be a lady of the Presbyterian or Unitarian congregation really  - agree to petition legislature to change act of incorp so that annual rotation in officers not needed

Dec 4 1841
Annual meeting, lots of problems over elections, several ladies elected to 1st directress post, but decline from serving. Eventually Mrs Alderson from the Epis church elected, even though not the Epis church's turn.

Jan 3 1843
Write to Mr Sellers and Mr Evans to take their children back out of the asylum now they have returned to Mobile
Discussion of funds in the bank 'some diversity of opinion being express'd' finally agreed to seek advice of three men, Mr George Cleveland, Jr., [comm. Mer] Mr William Sayre [com mer ? cf Montgomery], Mr [William J] Ledyard [dry goods mer]

Jan 5 1843
Men recommend an interest bearing certificate of deposit on the Bank of Mobile

Jan 2 1844
'The little girl, Charlotte Nethercott is returned for the present, the lady having given up housekeeping and it being inconvenient to keep her just now but expects to take her again'

Feb 6 1844
Mrs Hamilton (meth) resigns as 'the affliction of her family and other numerous engagements rendering it inconvenient for her to discharge the duties of the office'
'One of the servants wished her wages raised. It was not granted, ten dols a month being thought sufficient.'

April 2 1844
'An application was made by Judge Bridges for a little girl to adopt as his own. It being thought a very desirable situation his application was granted and permission was given him to select on of the age and character he desired'

May 6 1844
Committee appointed to 'address a communication to the committee in charge of the funds of the old O A Society ? laying before them the necessity of commencing a new building this year and respectfully urging them to come to some conclusion about the funds and if they will not consent, the society must endeavour to raise the means'
Carpenter by name of Harris gets A Kirkhuff to adopt as his son, and educate him, giving him $100 and a set of tools at 21 yrs old.

May 14 1844
'An application was made to admit two children in to the asylum whose mother wished to got to the Widow's Row, after much discussion it was concluded that as the mother was in good health she was the proper person to have charge of her children and her application was refused.'

June 4 1844
Eventually get some money from the city, $668.80 in total

1st Tuesday in October 1844
committee on funds says it has tried to talk to Mrs McCoy, Mrs Fowler, and Mrs Smith who control the funds of the former Orphan Asylum Society, but not response as yet.

Nov 30th 1844
'There being a meeting of the Old Orphan A S  at the same hour, several ladies from our society went over. The result of the meeting was that they determined to appropriate the funds in their hands to the original object  - the building of an asylum.'

Dec 3 1844
Report that Money from old OAS given to POAS with thanks
Ellen St John elected secretary

Jan 13 1845
Membership increased, 30 new members, 'Several ladies from the Baptist church were present for the first time' Mrs Jewett, Mrs Bliss and Mrs Soiree elected as managers from that church

March 18 1845
Committee of gentlemen appointed to find site for new asylum, report  they have found one

May 1845
Semi annual secretary's report 'It is with regret I say there has not been that unity of feeling among the ladies which has heretofore existed' esp over the matron ? some felt her too old for the job. Matron 'Mrs Garrett has set this matter with regard to herself to rest by quietly resigning her situation and leaving the city' but they acknowledge that 'the deficiencies might in part by ascribed to the managers' and they need to be 'more vigilent'

Volume 2 1846-7; 1851-1854

June 2 1846
'A note was recvd from the revd clergy of the city declining to perform divine service at the asylum on Sundays and stating the reasons which had induced this determination. Resolved therefore that the children of suitable age be regularly taken to the different churches of the city one month to each church'

November 1846
'During the dispute between the butchers of Mobile and the city authorities, the former very considerately agreed to furnish meat to the asylum gratis.'

Feb 2 1847
Mr Yuille [mech assoc] gets Abram Jones on a month's trial ? Mrs Yuille now a subscriber

March 2 1847
Abram Jones returned
'The matron reported to the visiting committee that one of the children had been decoyed away by its mother, & a similar attempt made upon another. Resolved that necessary precautions be taken to avoid further recurrence of the same.'

Volume 3 1847-51

April 4 1848
'Resolved that the children in the institution should be encouraged in acts of industry & good behaviour' decide to give presents to those who do so

Sept 5 1848
'A man named James Sewel presented himself requesting permission to take the three daughters of Mrs Lee (whom he married) to his own home. The ladies did not like his appearance & thought it best not to let him have them. And sent for the mother of the girls to hear her wish respecting them, they are unwilling to leave the asylum'

Oct 3 1848
Mrs Sewel, formerly Mrs Lee, whose husband wished to take her three daughters out of the asylum came and said it was her wish they should remain in the asylum.' Elizabeth Lee M James Sewel Aug 25 1846  [Marriages of Mobile County, Alabama, 1813-155, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1985), 96]

March 6 1849
'Another child, that was left last month by a mother who is compelled to labor, offered a compensation for the care of her infant at the asylum. It was decided that it involved too great care for the matron, and was not strictly a subject for the asylum.'

May 6 1851
School not doing so well 'attributable to the absence of servants & confinement of the older girls to the domestic department'
Society plans a May party for the children ? hopes they have 'a happy time'

Vol 2: June 1 1852
'much unpleasant feeling existing between the Matron & teacher & a succession of difficulties arising therefrom, it was thought best to dismiss the teacher. The secretary requested to inform her that her services would not be required after the 10th of June.

Dec 7 1852
Annual Report notes 52 children in asylum

Oct 3 1854
'During the past month a fire took place at the asylum caused by one of the little boys throwing hot ashes on some dry materials under the cowshed, that together with the wood house & privies were consumed. No insurance, & the loss estimated over three hundred dollars.
The office in which the building was insured having failed, it is now insured in the Merchants & Fireman's offices.'

Volume 4 1854-1861

May 1 1855
'It being understood that Mrs Johnson was married, the society deem it expedient she should remove her children from the asylum'

May 6 1855
'Mrs Young having received a permit to replace her children in the asylum from the 1st directress, who not knowing of her conduct on a previous occasion with regard to her children requested Mr Pike not to receive them until further orders were given'

June 4 1857
'Mrs Willin not be allowed to have her child visit her  as it causes dissatisfaction'

March 3 1858
'Complaint having again been made of unkind treatment of Charlotte Bouhagen by Mrs Rogers.' Committee appointed to look into it.

April 6 1858
Society receives legacy of $10,000 from will of late James Battle. Appoints WM Ledgard, Duke W Goodman, Danl Wheeler, & Danl McNeil to advise on investing the money

May 4 1858
'Application from Mrs Hall for one of the largest girls, rejected. ..
The services of the larger girls are much needed & therefore they feel it their duty to refuse all such applications'

June 1 1858
Legacy of James Battle - $5,000 lent to Moses Waring and $5,000 to Mr Gage, both secured on mortgages on real estate

July 6 1858
'Application for two children to be received in the asylum whose parents are in jail for burglary they having four children. Mrs Harwood appointed to visit & if protestants to receive the two eldest and retain them until Oct, then if the parents are convicted it may be found necessary to take them all, provided the father will consent to bind them to the asylum.'

Feb 2 1859
'Application from Mrs Murphy to admit a lame child. The relatives being Catholics & having an institution connected with their own church in which they would place the child, the application was declined.'

April 5 1859
'Application from Mr W G Johnson for either Jane Bryant or Virginia Watts rejected; as it was understood he wished them as servants.'

June 7 1859
'Mrs Harwood reported the case of a poor woman who had died leaving an infant a few days old in charge of Mrs Calahan. Mrs McBride proposed to leave it with her until nov if it lives & pay her $1.50 per week. Approved.'

Dec 6 1859
Ordered 'that we have 50 copies of the constitution, with an amendment of /57 printed.'

Feb 7 1860
'Dr Anderson's application for Robert Johnson declined'
'E.F. Geisinger requested to take Henry Father under his care & learn him the shoe trade, approved'

Feb 14 1860
Big debate over Mr & Mrs Batchelor, teacher and matron at asylum. Apparently ordered not to keep their 3 sons at asylum, but they did not remove them immediately. Ladies speak up for both sides, eventually give the pair 3 months notice so that board can appoint those 'whom we shall expect to obey more promptly, and cheerfully, the wishes of the board'

Dec 2 1860
Reports no of children as 21 girls, 45 boys, 66 total

Jan 2 1861
'Application from Mr Lyman Dunn for his three children, who had been placed in the asylum by his wife, who had deserted him. It was unanimously carried  by vote that his children should be sent to him where he resided near Cahaba'

Jan 8 1861
'Mr Frederick Smyth's application for a little girl rejected on account of Mrs Smyth's being a catholic'

March 5 1861
Admittance of Andrew Jackson and Josiah Hatchett 'their mother agreeing to leave them undisturbed for twelve months'
'the children of Lyman Dunn, who were to have been sent to their father at Cahaba, by order of the board on the 2nd January, were at the asylum on 22 of Feby six weeks after. Mr Benjamin was then requested to send them to their mother if she would not allow them to go their father'

April 2 1861
'The case of Albert Covington (or Nash) was brought up. Ms Lockwood moved tha the boy should be given up to his uncle provided said uncle should subscribe to the conditions the ladies of the board proposed'

May 7 1861
'Albert Covington still remains in the asylum his uncle refusing to comply with the rule of the institution in order to obtain him'

Sept 1861
Managers determine to defend Mr Benjamin from accusation of whipping one of the girls [Amanda Cox] in the newspapers
'We desire to retain Mr & Mrs Benjamin as our superintendent and teacher for the present & we cheerfully pardon the unfortunate, accidental punishment of Amanda Cox & esteem his services in all particulars as truly beneficial to our institution'

Volume 5 1861-64

Mar 4 1862
'Mr McNeill kindly offered the use of his vault, for the box containing the papers of the society, and think he can promise to preserve it under all circumstances, as his office is in the same building with the British consul, and will be protected by the British flag in case of danger.'