New York Boys sent to Virginia
April 7, 1880
A party of nineteen boys gathered from homes of poverty and the lodging houses of the Children’s Aid Society were to be sent to Winchester, Virginia.
It was the first party sent south by funds entrusted to Whitelaw Reed, publisher of the Tribune, but it was the seventh party under his sponsorship.
Some of those who gathered at the rooms of the Society at West Fourth Street were ragged and unkempt. Others were bright and fresh looking, having taken pains to make their appearance as prepossessing as possible.
The boys were taken downstairs and supplied with strong shoes, serviceable caps and such other clothing as they needed. Some were taken to a neighboring barber and came back looking the better for the visit.
Soon after 2:00 p.m. Mr. Whitelaw visited the rooms. He explained they were being given a chance to be, first, good boys, then good men and he wished them a pleasant journey and a prosperous future.
In the care of Agent H.A. Holt, they were taken to a restaurant near by for dinner as their train did not leave until 10:00 p.m. They would change trains in Baltimore, the Baltimore and Ohio railroad taking them to Winchester where they were to be met by a local committee and the approved applicants.
The boys making the trip were:
Charles Bancroft, who would be 16 the next week. His father had been a shipchandler, but Charles has been an orphan for four years. He had an older brother somewhere in Ohio. Charles had stayed with a man named Clayton Hollingsworth for a while, then went to a cracker and cake bakery in Philadelphia. After 8 months of that, he worked on a farm at Vincent Town, then came to Neward and worked in a jewelry store. His pay of $2.50 a week was not enough for his keep, so he came to the Society for aid.
Thomas Blenner, 16, had been born in Australia, but had been an orphan for 10 years. A fisherman, John Horn, had brought him to the United States. At the age of 12 Thomas went to Hoboken and was a coal presser on a Bremerhaven Steamer for 6 months. He said he had “not a friend in the world.”
Thomas J. Burns, 19, was the most decently dressed boy of the crowd. His father, a night watchman, had died 3 years ago; his mother a year later. He had worked as an elevator boy at the New York Hotel, but thought he could make a better man of himself in the country.
David Carroll, a strong, healthy looking youth of 17, he was the son of a book canvasser. His mother had been dead for 3 years and his father didn’t make enough to support the two of them. An older brother working at a printing office on Pearl Street couldn’t help out.
Thomas Conklin, 17, had been an orphan for 3 years. After his mother died, he worked for $2.00 a week on a farm at 184th Street and 10th Avenue, but couldn’t live on that wage.
Charles Dixon, 16, was born in Philadelphia, the son of a ship’s cook. Charles had worked as a cabin boy before his father died 2 years before. The family moved to New York and his mother worked in the kitchen of the Grand Central Hotel. Charles had worked for 9 months at an oyster business but had been out of work for 5 weeks.
Joseph Donovan, 15, was the son of a slater. Both of his parents were living, but his father had little work and his mother was weak. There were 3 other children in the family. Joseph carried a letter of recommendation of excellent character from a Brooklyn baker for whom he had worked.
George Elle, was pale, but handsome-faced boy of 16. His father, a carpenter, had died 4 years before, but his mother was living. George had suffered a nervous breakdown and had only recently been released from the New York Hospital where he had been for a year. He felt he should not be a burden on his mother.
Thomas Handley, 17, had lost his mother 5 years ago and his father had left him to take care of himself. Thomas had worked on the Connecticut Stone boats fro a time and had received some assistance from an aunt. He had saved some money while working in a tobacco factory, but had used it up during the past three weeks of slack business.
Edward Louden, 17, was born in America and was a half-orphan, his father living in Jersey City. Edward had worked for the past 3 months in a Jersey City grocery.
Ralph Marshall, 17, was an only child and an orphan. His parents had died within a week of each other and had been buried by the Free Masons, his father being a member. Ralph had tried to support himself as a bootblack.
John McCoy, 14, was the son of a bottler who had made $12 a week, but his father died 6 years ago. Three months ago his mother had broken up the house and sent his sister and 2 brothers to Philadelphia while she went to a place as a servant. John had also worked as a bottler with his chum, Charlie Dixon, who urged him to come on this trip.
William McMahon, 17, had both parents living at 448 West 29th Street, but was joining this party with the consent of his father. He brought good recommendation from his employer at a fish market.
George W. Miller, 16, was an only child. His father, a grain elevator captain had died 2 years before and his mother had left George with a grandmother. When she died, he was placed with his other grandmother. She ahd a son who had gone to Illinois years ago and was doing well, and had no objection to George making this trip.
William O’Hearn, was 16. His father was a carpenter from Ireland, but found it difficult to support the family of 9. His father was willing for him to go south.
George Smith, didn’t give his age, but said he had lived all over, though he had been born in Troy and had been an orphan for 4 years. He had worked some on the Erie Canal. He expressed concern over how the Southerners would accept him for being from the North.
William Stewart, 16, was an only child. He was born in Springfield. His father, a moulder, had been dead for 5 years. His mother had moved to Boston to work and they had corresponded regularly until a year ago when his letters were returned through the Dead Letter Office. William had worked in a grocery for 4 years, but came to New York when the grocer sold out. He had been in New York, but had been unable to find work.
Robert Thomson, 14, came to the Children’s Aid Society from the Juvenile Asylum. His father had died in the war. His mother sewed and took in washings fro support. Robert had worked in a paper bag factory for $3.50 a week until he was discharged, but that was 2 years ago and he had delivered himself to the Juvenile Asylum.
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