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Children's Home

Children's Home. Orphanages began opening in the U. S. in the 1830s, encouraged by increased urbanization and immigration. There were few until the Civil War quickly multiplied the number of children without food and shelter. In Butler County more than 300 men lost their lives in the 1861-1865 conflict. The suffering caused by that war extended to thousands, including orphaned children.

In January 1869, several Hamilton women met with a goal of "not only giving the children shelter and food, but training their minds that they may become useful men and women." That led to incorporation of the Children's Home Association of Butler County under the leadership of eight trustees.

In May 1869 a house on North C Street was rented at $25 a month. The eight-room house on the west side of C Street between Park and Wayne avenues was placed under the supervision of Mrs. William Tweedy, the first matron.

Later that month, five fatherless boys became the first residents of the home, which served the youth of the area for more than 115 years. Charitable contributions and a variety of fund-raising events -- including concerts and lawn fetes -- sustained the home that soon was too small to handle the demand.

In 1875, the generosity of two Hamilton industrialists and philanthropists enabled the association to expand operations. Clark Lane and E. J. Dyer, partners in business, offered $10,000 if the women could raise $2,000. (Lane also was responsible for starting the Lane Public Library that serves the Hamilton-Fairfield-Oxford area.)

After the successful finance campaign, the group bought the Dyer farm near the top of the South D Street hill. The stone house, built about 1850, became the center of what would be the campus of the Butler County Children's Home for 110 years. The home moved to its new quarters in September 1875. By the mid 1880s, the home had a staff of more than 20 adults serving 210 children. Starting in 1872, the association had received some financial support from the Butler County commissioners. But throughout its history -- as facilities were modernized and expanded and as services changed -- the home relied heavily on public donations of money and time. In its final years in the 1970s and 1980s, the home's mission changed to helping about 50 to 60 abused and neglected children, including some from outside the county. It also acquired houses in other Hamilton neighborhoods. The name was changed to Miami Valley Children's Home in 1977. It closed in September 1985.