Historical Marker Recognizes Orphanage Site
120 Year Later: Friday, October 14, 2022
It was a Sioux Falls landmark for decades. It was a home for thousands of children—some for a few weeks and others for months or years. The old Children’s Home Society Orphanage opened in 1902 at 10th and Cliff in Sioux Falls.
On October 14, 2022—120 years later—a group gathered for the unveiling of a historical marker recognizing the site of the old orphanage. A collection of current and past employees, board members, interested community members and children who had lived at the stone orphanage braved the cold winds to see the marker. See a video of the unveiling here.
Among the speakers was Deb Moritz, former staff member who is knowledgeable about CHS history. Excerpts from her remarks follow.
“Today we gather on the four acres of land that was the site for the landmark Children’s Home Society. Imagine it—a 45 by 93-foot, 33-room, 2-½-story structure made from Sioux Falls quartzite.
And it was right here, from 1902 until 1968, that more than 10,000 children were cared for. They were victims of abuse, abandonment, or poverty.
For just a few minutes, let’s travel back in time. If we were to pull back the curtain to see what was happening here, on any given day, what would we see?
We would see Elizabeth Sherrard and her sister, Margaret, sitting among baskets of donated clothing, spools of thread, jars of buttons, and bits of trim, to repurpose clothing that would fit the children in their care.
We would see William Sherrard in his office, long after the children had gone to bed, writing what would become the first child protection laws for South Dakota.
We would see Mira Beveridge–a woman who served Children’s Home for 49 years, making careful records of donations: gifts of money, chickens, eggs, potatoes, clothing, coal, canned goods, flour, and even hay for the milk cow. One entry included a gift from two boys who each sent $1 from money they earned trapping gophers.
We would see the Sherrards’ West River assistant, Allie Jewell, bringing five children to the home. These children were living in a one-room house with one window, but were never allowed outside, even to go to the bathroom. Their hair had never been cut, and they had not been bathed in several years. They slept on dirty rags. Their lives would change that day. And there are thousands of stories like this.
I’ve shared a few names with you from our history. And there are so many more—-staff, board members, volunteers, and donors. Their stories of sacrifice, persistence, vision, and tireless effort should fill us—- not only with inspiration, but also with gratitude.
We are standing on the shoulders of those people today.”
Posted on October 19, 2022