Saint Joseph's Industrial School and Orphanage, and later Home for the Aged, Bethany, Oklahoma.

It opened in 1912 and by the time it closed in the 1965 several thousand children, and aged, had been cared for by the facility.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Sixty-Four Tots Housed at Saint Joseph's Orphanage" (1914)

A news article in the Oklahoman of 1914 shared how the facility had grown. "Sixty-four Tots Housed at Saint Joseph's Orphanage" (Nov. 22, 1914) recounted how the facility had been open only about two and a half years (1912), it was conveniently located on a train line, and covered forty acres.

The main building had 20 rooms which included spaces for classes, sleeping, store rooms, dining rooms, kitchen, a combined clothing/sewing room, and in separate building  a combined carpenter and printing shop, there was Father John's residence and numerous outbuildings.

All aspects of the facility were designed to support the mission of the facility to serve in an industrial arts training capacity.  The clothing/sewing room was were girls sorted donated clothes and learned to alter or sew new clothes for their fellow "inmates" as they were called on the census.  The kitchen was where girls learned to prepare, cook and serve food under the tutelage of the sisters.  Father John had experience in newspaper work and had insisted on the printing aspect. Along with carpentry skills, boys learned to manage, plant, grow, and sell agricultural products.

In that time period, self-sufficiency was a standard for everyone and especially for charitable institutions.  They raised their own chickens and may have had cows for milk as well.  They had a kitchen garden and no doubt planted fruit trees at some point.

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