Historical Copies of the Orphanage Newsletter “The Bugle” and Census

Recently a wonderful lady, we’ll call “Sally”, donated several soft copies of the old orphanage newsletter to our website, as well as a compiled census of 1897-1920.  Thank you so much, Sally, for preserving this valuable history for others to enjoy!  Hopefully, this will aid folks in their historical and genealogical research.

Here are the PFD files for your enjoyment!

IOOFOrphanageCensusList June1940BugleNotes March1941BugleNotes November1940BugleNotes

Brief History of the Orphanage (1927)

Organized in August, 1896, by a number of Lodges in the vicinity of Sunbury, for the care and protection of orphans of Odd Fellows.  Under legislation by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, all Lodges in the Home District were given voice and vote in the Home Corporation in 1920.

The property of 276 acres of land, situated on a hillside in a beautiful location, has a Main Building with two large wings, a smaller building known as the Nursery Annex, a fine large school house, with the Home conducting its own school; a barn, the largest in the county, and other buildings such as the garage, central heating plant, etc.  The Home property is valued at about $225, 000.

The property is mostly farm land of very fine quality; some of it is woodland, with numerous fields devoted to gardening, farming, and pasturage for the fine herd of cattle maintained by the Institution, supplying the children with pure milk.  The surplus milk is sold in the town of Sunbury, three miles distant.

There are about 160 children in the Home receiving educational advantages, including high school courses, domestic training for the girls, and vocational and manual training for the boys.  A large band composed of the boys, is recognized as surpassing many ordinary bands in the quality of its music.  The girls have organized an orchestra which is equally popular among the friends of the Home.

The health of the children is carefully watched, and any who enter the Home in an undeveloped physical condition speedily become strong and vigorous under the watchful care and attention given them at the Home.

Very careful attention is given to religious and moral training, and with but few exceptions, all the older children are members of various churches in the town of Sunbury.

The Home issues a monthly paper, “Bugle Notes”, affording a medium of communication between the children and their friends among the Lodges of the District.

Wolfe, Ida F. (1927).  Album of Odd Fellows Homes, Minneapolis, MN., Pg. 81

More Info

From: https://familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/10193322
The I.O.O.F. Orphanage at Sunbury, Pennsylvania.
· 18 September 2014 ·
From approximately 1922 to the middle of 1928, Kimber Hartman was the superintendent of the I.O.O.F orphanage at Sunbury, Pennsylvania. His wife Ellie was the matron.
I.O.O.F stands for The Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The organization is an international fellowship based on service to the needy. It was originally established in the United States in the 1800s and for many years’ devoted significant resources to running orphanages for the children of its members who had lost a parent.  Kimber was a member of the I.O.O.F. Saltzberg Lodge #646 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, since merged with the Latrobe Lodge. His membership allowed him to be placed in the superintendent position. It is noted that only I.O.O.F members in high standing would have been considered for a position like this.
The Sunbury orphanage was established in 1896 by several lodges in the Sunbury vicinity. It was located on two hundred seventy six acres of farm land. It had a main building with two large wings, a smaller building known as the nursery annex, a large school house with the home conducting its own school. The barn that was part of the orphanage was the largest barn in the county for a time.

The orphanage was designed to accommodate one hundred sixty children. Both boys and girls could attend up to the age of eighteen. They had to have had a deceased parent who was an “Odd Fellow” or a “Rebekah”, the corresponding women’s organization.  Classes were offered through twelfth grade. In tenth grade, students would have to choose an “academic, commercial, or shop” track. Girls were trained in domestic skills as well. In addition to school, the orphanage life consisted of farm chores as the orphanage was supposed to be self-sufficient in food and at times, energy.  In some of the early periods, it would dig its own coal to heat the premises. Excess food and milk produced on the orphanage was taken into Sunbury to be sold. The children received free regular medical and dental care. In addition, it was considered a perk that the children received fresh milk everyday as opposed to bottled milk by virtue of living at the orphanage.  Kimber and Ellie resigned their positions due to Ellie’s health. They were both held in high regard for their service at the orphanage.


NOTE: Most of this information was obtained through the I.O.O.F Grand Lodge at 1001 West Harrisburg, Pike, Middletown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The orphanage records were merged with this facility when it closed sometime before 1980. Kimber’s name is listed once on a 1933 report showing his death and his membership lodge number. He and his wife are also mentioned in a follow up report by the new superintendent shortly after they left the orphanage. The details about the lodge itself were taken from Album of Odd Fellows Home, edited by Ida F. Wolfe, published by The Joseph M. Wolfe Company, 2007 Willow Avenue, North, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1927. See page 81. Other generic documents at the lodge were also consulted.


Read an article in the September 1, 2008 Daily Item about the Sunbury Orphanage reunion.