Day 66: History Lesson (Pre-1912)

In these final weeks of the 100 days of sharing – we will be continuing with the “history lesson” from our first post with “chunks” of a timeline we plan to share in its entirety this fall.   Here, without further adieu, is the first “chunk” or Catholic Charities history in Cleveland – everything before the charity was officially established.

Please note, as most things dating back this long ago, some conflicting dates or facts may have been recorded – if you discover any discrepancies or errors, contact Samantha at smealy(at)clevelandcatholiccharities(dot)org to correct the error.


April 1847
Establishment of Diocese of Cleveland in the northern Ohio territory
with Bishop Louis A. Rappe serving as Bishop of Cleveland (1847 – 1870).

St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum for Females is established
for homeless females, run by the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, from France.

Bishop Rappe brought Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine from his native France in 1851 for the purpose of establishing a hospital.  The property on Monroe St. off W. 25th Street wasn’t ready  until 1852 – when St. Joseph Hospital was started.  By 1856, the sisters felt the need to care for abandoned and orphaned children – sometimes the children of patients who died. The hospital was closed in 1856 and St. Vincent’s Orphanage was established in the same building- which was later rebuilt.

St. Joseph Orphanage for Girls is established
in the “country” (E. 60th and Woodland) accepting the younger girls from St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum (up to age 8) [the two programs served up to 250 orphaned girls  at the turn of the century in 1900’s; the St. Joseph facility expands and houses all the girls in 1894; becomes St. Joseph Home for the Aged after 1947; the girls are transferred to Parmadale in 1948].

St. Vincent Charity Hospital opens
to “all the people of Cleveland.”

June, 1865
Society of St. Vincent de Paul is established
by Bishop Amadeus Rappe, to visit the poor in their homes and to “bring them succor in kind, and also to afford them religious consolidation.”

Little Sisters of the Poor
receive their first “guests” in their Home for the Aged.

DePaul Maternity and Infant Home was established
in conjunction with the St. Ann’s Maternity Hospital by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.  They also start the St. Ann’s Infant Asylum in this year, to care for the smallest children: foundlings or infants of the unwed mothers sheltered in the Maternity Home.

By this year there are 5 parishes with Conferences of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul with visiting committees to call upon families in need.  Funds came from collections in meetings and from parishes.

An Orphan’s Fair raises close to $ 8,000 to be divided between 3 hospitals and an infant home.  “Begging tours” conducted by Sisters to raise funds to operate institutions are beginning to be described as “precarious” and “inadequate” as well as “distasteful” to the Bishop, pastors and the people.

All girls at St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum (all ages through 19) are transferred to St. Joseph Orphanage for Girls to expanded site on Woodland.

Home of the Holy Family is established
by Ellen Donovan originally outside of diocesan auspices.  The original plan was to establish a Roman Catholic religious community to serve the poor, and orphaned children, but rather it became an orphanage with funds from sewing and begging.  Ellen’s sister Theresa and others assisted.  [The home eventually received funds from Catholic Charities Corporation when it was first created in the early 1900’s; children eventually transferred to Parmadale in 1952].

The Cleveland Catholic Federation is assembled to promote the cause of the Catholic Welfare Institutions of the Diocese.  The Federation is formed with two members from each parish of the Diocese.

The Catholic Ladies Aid Society is formed as an auxiliary of the Cleveland Catholic Federation to assist with special projects for children.

St. Anthony’s Home for Boys is founded
under Bishop Ignatius F. Horstmann (Bishop of Cleveland from 1892 – 1908).

1907 – 1909
The Catherine Horstmann Home, named in honor of Bishop Horstmann’s mother, is opened by the St. Catherine Protective Association of the Catholic Ladies Aid Society for high school girls and unemployed women to get training in new skills.  The Labor Bureau of the St. Catherine Protective Association finds them jobs. [This operation later joined the House of Good Shepherd and became Marycrest (1946)].

The Traveler’s Aid service is sponsored by the Catholic Ladies Aid Society in the Union Depot to assist newcomers to Cleveland.

March 1909
Cleveland Catholic Federation solicits funds for orphans

October 1909
Bishop John P. Farrelly (Bishop of Cleveland from 1909 – 1921) appoints panel to study welfare needs of diocese and funding sources

April 1910
Board of Charities
formed with Fr. Gilbert Jennings, Chair; Fr. LeBlond, Secretary

Home of the Holy Family relocates to 18120 Puritas.

October 1911
Board of Charities recommends a home for orphans be established in cooperation with Cleveland Humane Society and Juvenile Court; recommends appointment of director to oversee welfare facilities of diocese;   pastors on the Board assess themselves to pay $1.50 for each family in their parish to support the welfare facilities.  Bishop Farrelly addresses letter to all parishes to adopt board’s recommendation.

Nov 1911
Bishop Farrelly appoints 28 yr old Fr. Charles H. LeBlond (’09) as first  Director of Diocesan Charities. 

The Catholic Charities Bureau of the St. Vincent DePaul Society is established for the purpose of providing coordinated formal social services. This is the result of a study of the Diocese’s welfare needs by the Diocesan Director of Charities and the Board of Charities.  It is the central agency and office of Catholic Charities of Cleveland with Father Charles LeBlond as Director, located in the Electric Building in the heart of Cleveland’s business district. Diocesan Catholic Population = 300,000 in 17 counties.  There are 750 orphans in 4 orphanages; 150 infants in one infant home (St. Ann’s); 9 hospitals; a home for working boys (St. Anthony’s); a home for working girls (St. Mary’s); a house of the Good Shepherd Sisters; a home for the Aged operated by Little Sisters of the Poor.  First staff:  Director LeBlond, Juvenile Court worker to investigate the status of court referred orphans/dependents, Catholic Ladies Aid Society volunteers working with Traveler’s Aid.

March 1912
Fr. LeBlond opens first Catholic Charities office
at East 9th and Prospect.

Catholic facilities in existence at this time:  4 orphanages; 1 infant home (St. Ann’s); 9 Catholic hospitals; St. Anthony’s home for working boys; Catherine Horstmann home for working girls; St. Mary’s home for dependent women; Good Shepherd Home for the Aged.

June 1912
Cleveland hosts National Conference of Charities and Corrections.


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