Children and grown people, too, must have periods of rest and recreation. The school, of course, had regular hours of recess. Then after supper (which was always eaten before sunset as “lamp oil” was never abundant) the work division was free, and until the bell rang for family worship all joined in noisy, jolly play. On Sunday after Sunday school, in order that brothers and sisters or other relatives might meet occasionally in untrammelled social intercourse, they were permitted to assemble on the campus in summer, in the chapel in winter. This plan carried out in full soon included all the children; for the very few who had no relatives were by special favor granted the same indulgence. They were always under the care of one or more person in authority who were not near enough to restrain their reasonable enjoyment. They were free to enjoy themselves in any way they pleased, if within proper bounds. Gamboling on the grass or sitting about in groups they showed by their merry peals of laughter how much this relaxation was to them; and it is only just to them to say that they never abused this privilege.

     Christmas was a week of freedom except for necessary work, and, as all freely helped with that, it was little more than play. Santa Claus never failed to come with his sleigh filled to overflowing with all kinds of Christmas presents. Besides all manner of toys to please and help make a noise, the children had a substantial feast and a dainty dessert. Once we had a Christmas tree, but the affair was too stupendous to be repeated.

     An annual picnic on the grounds appointed by the trustees became a settled feature. It was left to the option of the Superintendent to select and announce the time of this event each year. It was generally in the fall. On the appointed day companies of men, women and children came from all parts of the State, bringing boxes and baskets, filled with everything necessary to a feast. It was the orphans’ picnic, given by their friends, who contributed so bountifully that the “left overs” amply supplied the needs of the next day. On this occasion all work not absolutely necessary was suspended. This day of free social intercourse with friends was always pleasantly remembered. If the schedule of the trains detained the company until in the night, the Home would get up a school exhibition for their entertainment. Next day some members of the party were tired, very tired in body, but refreshed in spirit.

     The citizens of Lauderdale station, ever mindful of their helpless neighbors, provided for their entertainment whenever an opportunity presented itself. Knowing that whatever is called “a show” has especial attractions for children and grown persons as well, they prevailed upon the proprietors of sleight of hand performances, etc., to give the Home a benefit whenever it was possible to do so. If it was an outdoor performance, the Home was invited and accorded the best position for observing it. If the young people of the town got up a home entertainment, they were sure to give the children one evening's performance in their own Home.  Doubtless they were repaid by witnessing the children’s
hearty demonstrations of pleasure. So we were treated to many "shows," but never to a "circus."

     As to employees, each one was permitted a vacation of a month each year (one at a time).  We could take it all at once or in two divisions at our option.  Some of us usually found time the first division of two weeks; others took a vacation every two or three years.

Back to Menu


     Besides whooping cough and sore eyes, already mentioned, the Home suffered from an epidemic of malarial fever in the summer and fall of 1869. 

     Comparatively few of the beneficiaries escaped an attack; a score or more were sick at the same time and many of them died, mostly girls. But to dwell upon this period would unnecessarily harrow the feelings. The reader can imagine all the anxiety, weariness, care and suffering incident to such a time. I should not mention it, but for the fact that it was a true, though very sad, episode in the life of the Home.

Back to Menu


     In the fall or early winter of 1869 the managers were notified that the property of “The Springs” had reverted to the heirs of the former owner by virtue of the sale’s having been effected during their minority. So the orphans were again homeless. 

     The hearts of their guardians and friends trembled with anxiety, but not for a long time,- Jehovah-jirch! During the last years of the war, the Federal Government had established a military post, a mile or more from Lauderdale station, on the west side of the railroad.  After the surrender, many superannuated negroes and colored children were carried there and given a temporary asylum, much to the relief of their former masters.  When the soldiers were withdrawn, the Quakers took possession of the post, with the intention of supporting and training the negro children still on hand.  The managers of this school were in full sympathy with the work of the Confederate Orphans’ Home, and the Superintendent of that institution sometimes visited us. But just as this seeming disaster fell upon our Home, the Quakers for reasons satisfactory to themselves, decided to abandon the work, and the place was for sale. Our officers bought it and a small adjoining farm. 

     Forthwith the Home was moved by installments. There were over two hundred of us with our personal and family belongings to be moved a distance of three miles, more or less. We had at our disposal for this purpose, two yoke of oxen, one pair of mules and two wagons, a horse and buggy, and one pony, owned conjointly by the Home and the Superintendent. This was a month of rollicking fun to the little ones. To the employees and the older children the fatigue was mitigated by the satisfaction of knowing it would never have to be repeated.

Back to Menu


     The post occupied two adjacent hills, connected by a foot-bridge spanning the intervening hollow. The boys under charge of the Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Jud. Thigpen, a teacher and necessary domestic employees were domiciled on one hill, “the boys’ hill.” The Superintendent, with the remainder of the inmates, occupied the other, “the girls’ hill.” There was a comfortable settlement on the farm near by, and two trusted employees with their children occupied the dwelling. Although we were somewhat scattered, all met in the chapel on the “girls’ hill” for family prayers, Sunday school and Sunday afternoon recreation in social intercourse. The locality had no beauty, but it was high and had a dry, pure atmosphere and plenty of good freestone water. 

    The buildings, roughly constructed, were sufficient in number, but not so well arranged as those at the Springs; none were ceiled except a few rooms in the Federal officers’ quarters. But the title was secure and the situation healthful. The farm was also more productive than the one we had left. So that what seemed to be an irreparable loss proved a desirable gain. 

     The old Federal guardhouse, situated in the one side of the yard on the “girls’ hill,” was turned into a printing office. How shy, for a time, the little ones were of this building! They had known something of soldiers with guns arresting men and taking them to prison. They learned in some way that this house, with the sentry’s box near by, was a prison; to their minds a prison was a jail, and a jail was a horror to be avoided. It was long before they learned there was nothing in it to be dreaded by them.

Back to Menu


     On January 13, 1871, our Superintendent, Prof. S. S. Cranberry, died. His health had been seriously declining for several years, but he never gave up and when the summons came, he “fell at his post.”  This was a grievous bereavement; a personal loss to every inmate of the Home. The Board of Trustees missed thereafter the helpful counsel of a practical mind, and the whole community lost the silent influence of a correct life.

     Dr. T. J. Deupree, then of Noxubee county, Miss., was chosen to succeed him. As he did not reside in the Home, Dr. Sid Kennedy, of Lauderdale county, was appointed to act in his absence.  The former made us frequent and extended visits;  the latter came out almost daily and besides caring for the sick he took charge of contributions, correspondence, etc.  During the incumbency of Dr. Deupree a large brick building of three stories was erected at very small cost. The bricks were all made by the boys of the Home, and enough of them were sold to almost, if not entirely, pay the bills of the brick masons. Much of the lumber used was generously contributed by the mills on the Mobile and Ohio railroad, below Lauderdale station.

     In January, 1873, Rev. A. D. Trimble, of Tennessee, who had conducted the concerts, was put in charge of the Home.  After him came Captain Tower, for a short time.  He was succeeded by Rev. R. N. Hall, of Raymond, Miss.  The established routine of work, including the publication of the Orphans’ Home Banner was kept up during the incumbency of all the Superintendents.  Rev. R. N. Hall also built and operated a grist mill, which added materially to the support of the institution, besides training some of the boys in a profitable industry. 

     In addition to the usual religious services he preached regularly in the chapel, and in the course of time organized a Baptist church there.  He was the last Superintendent, his administration continuing to the close of the Home, which resulted from natural causes in the course of a few years.  The purpose for which the Home had been projected (that of caring for and training helpless orphans of Confederate soldiers) had been achieved.  For several years there had been but few applicants.  There were few, if any really helpless Confederate orphans left.  In fact, after a few years had passed and the condition of the country had improved, mothers and friends of the children became able to provide for them either in their own homes or to procure positions where they could make a comfortable support, preserve a spirit of independence and contribute something to the public weal.  A few of the girls, about four or six, by consent of the trustees married and thereby secured comfortable homes. 

     Thus they left from time to time, till about 1878 the remaining ones were easily provided for in the outside world.  As the Home had done its special work and there was no opening then for a change in its purpose, the property was sold to a private party.  Several years afterwards the large brick building was burned.

Back to Menu

Copyright 2001 - Ellen Pack - All Rights Reserved