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History of Andover Township
The Orphans Home

Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County IL, 1885

Transcribed by Susie Martin-Rott

 This institution was chartered as the "Orphans Home and Farm School of the Scandinavian Augustana Synod," November 13, 1872, the charter members being Jonas Swenson, A. Andreen,P. M. Sannquist, A. G. Setterdahl, Victor Setterdahl, S. P. Lindell, S. A. Peterson, Samuel Hoogner, Gustav Johnson, Jonas W. Larson, S. P.

Johnson and Jonas Westerlund.

The institution had its beginning in the town of Swedona, in 1868, by S. Peter Lindell and wife. It was but a small beginning.  They conducted it until 1871, when it was removed to Andover under the supervision of Mr. Lindell, for the Synod.

The property now used in Andover was purchased in 1871. It was purchased in the names of Rev. Swanson, and after his death conveyed by the courts to the institution. The buildings on the property were sufficient for temporary purposes. New buildings were added in 1881.  The new house has 12 large rooms and accommodates 62 children, its full capacity.

The objects and the Christian works and charities of this institution make it one of the most admired institutions in the world. It is a home for poor orphans, and we know of no place that comes nearer to supplying the poor unfortunate little ones for their loss of parents and their natural homes. In religion they train them according to the faith of the Luteran Church, but yet more important, they give them a practical education, well grounded in the rudiments of learning and thoroughly trained to work and prepare them to successfully enter upon the duties of life. In this home they are kept until 18 years of age, when they are supplied with good wardrobes and the amount of money to do for themselves, the house in every instance securing those who desire it suitable places in private families.

To every one of its children, it is always their home, and no parents watch more carefully after their own flesh and blood than does the institution of its wards. Each year they hold a 4th-of-July reunion, and those who are too far away to attend write letters, and thus the family of children know the whereabouts and doings of their Home brothers and sisters. Thus the sacred relations of parent and child, brothers and sisters, are continued through life, and at last these orphans are blest with loving parents who never die.

Mr. Lindell, who came to Andover with the Home, opened here with 17 children as inmates; and that he successfully conducted it until the time of his death, in December, 1881, is fully evidenced by the fact that it increased in that time to 45 children. Mr. Lindell and wife did all the work of teaching and superintending the Home during their incumbency.

John S. Swensson succeeded Mr. Lindell. He is now in charge, and there are 62 orphans cared for in the school.

Children are received into the institution of the ages from 2 years to 12 years.

The main new building is a plain, but very substantial structure, and comfortable; two stories; is 38 x 42 feet and 22 feet high. The old building, to which the new is a front, is 50 x 18 feet, story-and-a-half. The new building cost $3,364. There is a cellar under the entire building and it is all heated by a furnace. The buildings were paid for by contributions from different congregations. The Home is maintained by the farm of 280 acres belonging to it and from charitable contributions, especially from Sunday-schools of the different Lutheran Churches.

The Orphans' Home was under the supervision of the Synod to 1876, and since that time the Illinois Conference, Augustana Synod, has had the control.

It probably should have been stated above that in the case one of the Home children is unfortunate or afflicted after leaving the institution, the doors are always open to him or her to return and partake of the substitute for a mother's love and care.

We fear the people of Henry County are not generally aware of the existence and holy work going on in their midst--of this sunshiny spot, where the tender unfortunates are taken and they partake of that wholesome and real charity that certainly, to our mind, is a blessing to see and blessed to aid and encourage.

The present directors of the Home are Rev. Erl Carlson, Rev. J. Vickstrand, R. T. Setterhahl, G. Johnson, S.A. Peterson, S. Hoogner and G. Bengston.