Photo dated 1907-1916
Over the years, many have asked about the State Industrial School for Boys. I contacted the Waukesha Historical Society to find out what records they may have.
Our collection contains individual records for the Wisconsin State Industrial School for Boys from 1906 to 1923.
- Volume 1: Reports on individual students 1906-1909
- Volume 2: Reports on individual students 1920
- Volume 3: Reports on individual students 1921
- Volume 4: Reports on individual students 1922
- Volume 5: Reports on individual students 1923
They also suggested that since the school was a state school, perhaps contact the Wisconsin Historical Society (www.WisconsinHistory.org) to find out if they have any additional records.
Source: History of Waukesha County, 1880
Printed in Chicago by the Western Historical Company
The Wisconsin Industrial School for Boys, in the midst of a beautiful artificial park on one side, and a natural one on the other, on the banks for the Fox River and near the Prairie du Chien Division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, on Section 9, in the town and county of Waukesha, consists of ten buildings of brick and Waukesha limestone--mostly the latter; two of wood and stone, besides various barns, sheds and out-buildings. It is, in one view, the most important of our many State charitable, penal and reformatory institutions, and certainly has the most beautiful situation and surroundings. It is not the largest, or costliest, or oldest; but as it is a place for the molding of character and habits of a large number of those who are to have the various affairs of the future in charge, it is, so far as it reaches decidedly the most important of our state institutions.
Those committed to its charge are largely unfortunates. Some of them are born with malformations of mental faculties, with vicious tempers and low, brutal tendencies. These are the most unfortunate class with which the school has to deal. They are not responsible for their vicious tempers and evil dispositions any more than for their existence of physical appearance. They have defects which no reformatory school, be it never so strict of liberal, kind or harsh in its course of training, can wipe out, or completely bring into subjugation. None of them, however, leave the institution in as deplorable a condition as that is which they entered, and many of them are so thoroughly taught in the art of self-government that they become the best of citizens; but others, returning with their unfortunate natural viciousness to their old haunts, overcome and forget all the influence of the Industrial school, and rapidly fall to ruin or cells in the State Prison. Some are the victims of unfortunate marriages, quarreling, drinking, thieving, slothful parents; others are merely bright, intelligent boys with an extra amount of spirit and mischievousness, and others are wandering orphans who come within the scope of the law governing the commitment of children to the institution. Of all such a good account can be given. They rapidly yield to the beneficial influences brought to bear in the schools, workshop and chapel, and become, in a reasonably short time, good boys, and ultimately the very best of citizens. In fact, the good, dispositioned (sic) boys of intelligence sent out from the Industrial School are, as a general thing, much better prepared to cope single-handed with the affairs of the world, than those of equal ability who have not received such training.
Having all these peculiarities of the subjects to be dealt with in view, and also the beneficial results to them and the community at large, the State Industrial School for Boys must be considered the most important of all the State institutions.
The existence of the Industrial School is due in a great measure to the labors of the Sentinel and Free Democrat newspapers, of Milwaukee, neither of which, for many months lost any opportunity of urging the necessity and benefits of a reformatory institution of this character. The first law looking to its establishment was passed March 7, 1857, for "a house of refuge for juvenile delinquents of the State of Wisconsin." The buildings were to be erected under the supervision of three Commissioners, who should, on the completion of them, certify the fact to each County Clerk in the State. Under this law the Governor appointed W.D. Bacon, of Waukesha, Edwin Palmer, of Milwaukee, and Martin Mitchell, of Oshkosh, Commissioners to locate and erect a building suitable for such purpose.
The commissioners at once organized and entered upon the discharge of their duties. Houses of refuge to reform youth, separate from prisoners, were then in their infancy. The first one erected in this country was built in New York City but thirty-two years before, and not until May, 1857, had the subject of juvenile reform elicited among its friends sufficient interest to cause them to meet to convention for consultation and discussion as to improved plans of building, government and classification.
Such convention assembled in New York City on the 12th, 13th, 14th days of May, 1857. Seventeen institutions were represented, ten having the name and title of "House of Refuge;" three, "State Reform School;" two, "Reform School;" one, "Asylum and Farm School;" and one, "State Industrial School for Girls."
The Commissioners sought the advice and experience of the most devoted philanthropists connected with the new work, and from William R. Lincoln, Superintendent of the Maine State Reform School, obtained the outlines of a plan of building which they adopted, having regard to the division of its inmates into families (of thirty-six boys in each), and so planned that each boy would have a separate room to himself. Each room, whether large or small, had separate ventilating flues, both for the admission of pure and escape of foul air.
The plan of the first buildings consisted of three detached parallel buildings, each fifty feet distance from the other, and united by a corridor nine feet wide, extending crosswise through the center of each building, adapting all, in their internal accommodation and external view, to one building.
But one building was erected, that being of sufficient capacity for the State at that time. Each building was planned to furnish complete accommodations for officers, schoolroom, hospital, living rooms for family of Superintendent, kitchen, dining-room, wash-room, and bedrooms for officers, servants and inmates, both boys and girls (the law at that time sent girls also to the House of Refuge), and eighty separate rooms for inmates. The tree buildings, if built, would have furnished rooms for Superintendent and his family, officers and servants, and four hundred rooms for inmates.
The building erected was 57x94 feet, and three stories high above basement, which, from the window sills of the basement, was above ground. Its location was determined, after due examination of various places in the state, to be at Waukesha, the citizens of Waukesha voting to tax the town for $6,000, with which they purchased sixty acres of land for a site. The buildings were to be of stone. Stone being abundant at Waukesha, could be furnished much cheaper than at any other city desiring its location, and would save, in cost of building at Waukesha, several thousand dollars to the state in the price of stone. This more than overbalanced offers of a pecuniary consideration proposed by any other corporation. The act to establish a House of Refuge, required it to be "located where the citizens shall contribute the largest sum toward the erection," and "said Commissioners shall take into consideration any materials or money to aid in the erection thereof." Thus the matter of material alone would have secured the location of the institution at Waukesha.
But there were other things favorable at Waukesha. The soil of the site was a superior, rich garden mold, well watered, the Fox River flowing through diagonally. The original site also included the now famous Bethesda mineral spring, which the Commissioners reported "as of pure limpid water, discharging a large stream, forming a pond six rods in diameter, often full of pickeral (sic), bass, and other fish common in Wisconsin streams." Before Bethesda was discovered to be medicinal, sixteen acres of land, of the original site, including the spring, were exchanged, by the State of Wisconsin, for an equal quantity of other land.
After erecting one building, the Commissioners, according to the act providing for the "House of Refuge," certified to the fact, and the Governor issued a formal proclamation to the public.
The school was formally opened on Wednesday, July 23, 1860, by the various State officials, Board of Managers, and a large congregation of inhabitants of the State. The dedicatory address was made by J.B.D. Cogswell of Milwaukee. After giving a full history of the workings of reformatory schools in other States and countries, he closes as follows: "With such cheering precedents to encourage us, we dedicate this building to the uses of the State Reform School of Wisconsin. No more eligible or attractive site could have been selected for the purpose. It is easy of access, yet sufficiently removed form the great town and the bustling village, full of temptations to the weak and unsettled boy. We are an agricultural community, and the institution is fitly established among these pleasant fields, suitable for successful tillage. The sturdy boy shall here learn the rudiments of agriculture, to be thereafter practiced for his own benefit upon the generous prairies or amid the virgin forests of Wisconsin. They shall be taught to love labor for its own sake, and in the pleasing alternative of toil and play, his wild spirit shall grow calm and peaceful. In the spacious and convenient halls it shall find everything necessary for his comfort and instruction. The site of his home is beautiful as well as eligible. Brought up yonder grassy slope at first a careless and wayward vagrant, he shall go away in due time, manly and free, self-reliant yet impressed with a sense of moral responsibility. No longer the juvenile delinquent, he shall leave the reform school to assume and discharge the duties of an American freeman and citizen.
"Permit me, your Excellency [Gov. A.W. Randall], to congratulate you upon your good fortune, that you are enabled, during your administration, to inaugurate so many useful and memorable charities of the State. Hereafter, doubtless, you will recur to such occasions as the present as among the most pleasing reminiscences of your official career. We congratulate you, gentleman of the building commission, upon the auspicious termination of your faithful protracted labors. Long as these firm walls shall stand, they shall hear witness of your patient skill, foresight and fidelity. Finally, fellow-citizens, philanthropists, fathers and mothers, who guard your little ones in cheerful homes and with tender solitude, let us felicitate each other that to-day(sic) we witness a home opened for orphaned and homeless children. Hereafter, upon this spot shall be sown seed which shall ripen into a nobler fruitage (sic) than all the golden grain and husbandmen garner to-day(sic). Some seed, it is true, shall fall by the wayside, and the unclean birds shall devour it up. But other seed shall fill into good ground and bring forth fruit. Happy he who, in the providence of God, shall be privileged to plant and nourish the germ of goodness in the fruitful but desolate heart of the orphan and vagrant child. may he ever home to hear, hereafter, those inspiring words of Divine commendation: "For inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, he have done it unto me.""
Remarks were also made by Lieut. Gov. Butler G. Noble, Secretary of State Louis P. Harvey, and others, after which Gov. Alexander W. Randall, a citizen of Waukesha formerly proclaimed the institution open for the purposes of contemplated in the act creating it. He further said: "I will not attempt to add anything to what has been said as to the objects of these buildings, but will simply say that this is an institution which has long been needed by the State. That we have it now, is mainly due to the efforts of a few men who have long since pressed its necessity. Among the newspapers of the State which have urged its establishment, I may name the Milwaukee Sentinel and Free Democrat, and their editors, who, in the columns of their papers. lost no occasion of urging the utility of an institution of this character. I desire particularly at this time to speak of the services of a humble man in connection, who labored efficiently, in season and out of season, to this end. I refer to John W. Hinton, of Milwaukee, formerly connected with the reportorial corps of the Milwaukee Sentinel. I will say only one word more. It is hoped that this school will be productive of great good; that it will make the boys who are sent here good men; that they will learn here that utility is the great object of life, and that it is better to be very good, than very wise or very great. If they learn these things here, they will have learned what it is the object of this school to inculcate."
The school was now open to receive inmates, according to law, as follows:
Section 12. The said managers and Superintendents shall receive and take into said House of Refuge all male children under the age of eighteen years, and all female children under the age of seventeen, who shall be legally committed to said House of Refuge as vagrants, or on conviction of any criminal offense by any court having authority to make such commitments; and the said managers shall have power to place the said children committed to their care during the minority of said children, at such employments and cause them to be instruction in such branches of useful knowledge as shall be suited to their years and capacities; and they shall have power, in their discretion, to bind out said children, with their consent or the consent of their parents or guardians, if they have any, as apprentices or servants, during their minority, to such persons and at such places, to learn such proper trades and employments as, in the judgment, will be most for their information and amendment and the future benefit and advantage of such children: Presided, That the charge and power of said managers upon and over the said children shall not extend, in the case of females, beyond the age of twenty-one years, and provided, also, that the religious opinions of the inmates shall not be interfered with.
The law also required managers to publish the names of the inmates; but this was never done, their first report declaring that, in their opinion, " good policy and the interests of the inmates forbade such publication.: The managers furnished this reason for disobeying that portion of the enactment: "If that was the intention of the law, it was certainly, we think, a mistake; for, while more or less of a stigma will, in the public mind, attach to those who are inmates of the Reform School, there should be as little publicly as possible of their names in that connection. They should be taught to look forward to the future with hope; to blot out as much as possible, the past, which is beyond their control; and when reformed, as we trust many of them will be, and become useful citizens, far from the scenes of their early errors, they ought not to be confronted by their names in a report like this, to cause them injury and good to none."
The Legislature did not compel the managers to obey the clause referred to, and afterward amended it.
The first inmates were three juveniles from the city of Milwaukee, who were committed, and received at the institution, August 1, 1860. Several girls were also committed that year--nearly all from Milwaukee--and female delinquents continued to be sent until 1871; but the plan was not a good one, as will be seen by the first report, which said: "Of the seven girls committed, five had been connected with low dance-houses, or homes of ill-fame. The chapter of our statutes on the subject of vagrancy, in my opinion, needs a careful review. Surely, it was never intended that the school should be the receptacle for abandoned females, nor that the denizens of every low brothel should be thrown into our family circle. Vice is a contagion of the most terrible virulence, and when concentrated in mind, matured in the pathway of criminal indulgence, it will overlap all barriers and fasten with deadly fangs upon the comparatively innocent and respecting. No human efforts can counteract the contaminating influence." From that time, fewer abandoned females were received, and finally, in 1871, only boys were committed to the institution.
At first there was no provision for discharging inmates; that is, nothing could be done but open the doors of the institution and let those whose terms had expired wander whither they would, no funds being available to transport them home or to any place where employment could be obtained. This was soon after remedied, and now each one, on his discharge, is given a good suit of clothes and transportation to his former or any new home.
A system of manual labor was instituted at once, and all inmates in good health were required to devote a certain number of hours to whatever was necessary to be done. Farm labor and putting the grounds about the building into shape were first in order; on the 1st of September, 1860, the shoe-shop was opened; in October, of the same year, the tailor-shop, and the girls were at once put at sewing and knitting. These departments are still in active operation and turn out all the shoes, boots, mittens, socks, pantaloons, coats, caps and all other wearing apparel necessary for inmates. The "repairing room" turns out all necessary mending and repairing. The laundry, kitchen and carpenter-shop are necessary adjuncts of the institution, but turn out no work that is a source of income to the State. They afford practical instruction to the boys connected with them. The business of manufacturing as a source of profit and at the same time as a means of thorough instruction to the inmates, is in the boot and shoe shop and sock and mitten factory. The first year nothing of profit to the State was turned out, except 100 pairs of button shoes. The school then contained but comparatively few inmates and all of them were ragged and unskilled. Their own personal wants, therefore demanded most of their attention. A broom-factory was run for about ten years, but was never a source of much profit, and has been discontinued. The same is true of the business of chair making. The manufacture of boots, shoes, socks, mittens and suspenders, however, and not only is a means of teaching the boys useful trades, but is now a source of profit. During 1879, about 40,000 pairs of socks and mittens were knit, and the shoe-shop turns out fifty cases of the best quality of hand-made boots and shoes per week. These are of a superior quality, and therefore the demand still exceeds the supply, at good prices. In fact the demand exceeds the products in all the manufacturing departments of the Industrial School.
The C.M. & St. Paul Railway has provided a side-track near the school buildings, thus making shipping facilities of more than ordinary convenience.
On the farm, which consists of 233 acres of good land, are twenty-nine milch cows, twenty-one horses and numerous calves, poultry and pigs. Its products are oats, corn, beans, potatoes, and all the vegetables and other cereals (except wheat), common to the climate. These products, as food, are valued at $5,000 per year, or more, at wholesale rates.
The inmates have an abundance of good, wholesome food. meats are generally served to them in limited quantities, but they may have all the bread and vegetables they desire. All food is of the best quality, purchased by the Superintendent at such favorable bargains as he can make. The report of 1879 shows some of the subsistence as follows: Flour barrels, 860; beef, pounds, 35,500; potatoes, bushels, 1,175; cheese, pounds, 1,032; butter, pounds,10,139; eggs, dozens, 1,429; sugar, pounds, 9,326; sirup (sic), gallons, 1,165. This subsistence is furnished at a cost of 7 cents per day per capita for the inmates; but as all employees have their subsistence from the common store, it would reduce the cost per inmate, per day to about 5 cents. The total cost for salaries, fuel, subsistence, and all other items, is $100.86 per capita per year, for the inmates, or 27 3-5 cents per day per capita.
A complete history of each inmate is kept at the school in a book prepared for the purpose, as well as birthplace, age, occupation, habits, and condition of parents. This record of the history of the parents nearly always discloses some good reason why a reformatory school of the kind under consideration is necessary; and it is due to a majority of the boys confined in it to state that their parents are actually more deserving of prison discipline than the children. As a general thing the parents of vicious and depraved boys are drunkards and loafers.
A most perfect system of labor record is in force, as well as a similar system of records of the conduct, health, proficiency, behavior and progress of each inmate. The Superintendent knows precisely where his watchman were at any particular hour of any day or night, also where any particular inmate was; knows how many pairs of socks have been washed ruing the year; how many repaired, and the same with any and all other articles. He can tell, also, how many loaves of bread are baked, consumed or wasted; and has the same accurate knowledge of all other matters, even to the number of quarts of milk produced on the farm and how many consumed.
A temperance society, called the Band of Hope, existed in the school for many years. It was not of any practical use in the institution, as the boys have neither liquors nor tobacco; but they took a strong pledge and were taught that when they left the school the obligation was to go with them all through life. A cornet band, with good instruments, is maintained in the school, and once each week a good teacher furnishes them with instruction. To belong to this band a good record in the school is necessary, as well as some musical genius. The boys take great pride in their band, and frequently make proficient musicians. Applications to become members of the band are frequent, thus showing their appreciation of it.
The first main building was destroyed by fire on the night of the 10th of January, 1866. Although of stone, every part of the building was so intimately connected with every other part, that it was wrapt (sic) in flames in an almost incredibly short space of time. The fire was set by an inmate who had in some manner obtained a match with which he lighted shavings cut from his bedstead, starting the blaze int he opening of the ventilator in his room. All the inmates and employees escaped unharmed, though with little time to spare.
His object was to escape, but he failed. He was sent to the county jail, to which he set fire for the same purpose, a few days later, and had it not been for the accidental and fortunate discovery of the fire at 2 o'clock in the morning, by Mrs. Dewey K. Warren, wife of the Sheriff, he would have burned the jail also. Later, he was sent to the State Prison.
A small wooden building, used as a boot and shoe shop, and the wooden portion of what is now "No. 10," did not burn. Into these and some board board barracks, hastily built for the purpose, the inmates were crowded. The weather was severe and these barracks, consisting only of inch boards, afforded but little protection, and for the balance of the winter all connected with the school had a hard time of it.
In the spring of 1866, the present main building (which was enlarged to twice its original size since 1873), and Nos. 1 and 2, all of Waukesha limestone, were erected. Afterward as the number of inmates increased, other buildings were erected as follows: No. 3, in 1868; No. 4, in 1871; Nos. 5,7, and 10, in 1873; No. 6 in 1875; Nos. 8 and 9, in 1879; and shoe factory in 1871, and the crrection (sic) house in 1877. These are all of the splendid Waukesha limestone, three and four stories high, except the upper stories of the two which escaped the fire of 1866, which are wood. The stone for Nos. 8 and 9, for the large correction house and for the horse-barn and two or three additions, were all dressed by inmates, and make by far the best looking buildings of the group. All have slate roofs, good ventilation and ample furnaces. The different buildings not used for shops, kitchen, laundry and similar purposes, are called "family buildings," and are used as schoolrooms, playrooms, sleeping dormitories, dining and bathing rooms for the several "families," into which all the inmates are divided. Each family is in charge of a ??? and woman who are, to a certain extent responsible for the conduct and progress of those under their charge. In these buildings, all the branches usually taught in common schools are thoroughly pursued under competent teachers; light, innocent games and amusements are permitted, and every Saturday bathing and a change of clothing is required.
Boys are required to aid in cooking, washing, ironing, cleaning the rooms and doing the work necessary about an institution of this kind and size. They thus learn to do all kinds of labor in the best possible manner.
The chapel exercises on Sunday all exceedingly interesting. All inmates assemble to listen to regular services by some of the local ministers, who serve free of charge, at 8 o'clock. The reform school choir, composed of rich, melodious and well-trained voices, furnishes the music, though every inmate is provided with a song-book, and a majority of the school join in the singing with apparent earnestness and pleasure. Behavior on these occasions is better, no doubt, than it would be on the part of the same number of boys taken at random from the wealthiest community in the State.
A good library is provided in the main building, which contains 800 volumes of books and Various Wisconsin newspapers and other periodicals. Books can be taken from the library on Saturday and kept one week. The reading-room contains 275 volumes of books and various newspapers. All inmates are allowed to receive papers, books and letters from their friends, after careful inspection to see that nothing objectionable enters. They are allowed to write once each month to parents or friends at the expense of the State, and also once each month at their own expense.
There has always been a system of advancement for good, and punishment for bad behavior. It is rigid but just. When necessary incorrigible boys are, in addition to various other punishments, put into a billing called the House of Correction. Such as are confined in this building have no play hours, cannot communicate with each other in any manner, are required to sleep separately in locked and grated cells; but they have the same privileges of the school and library as all others. The idea of a House of Correction originated with A.D. Hendrickson, when he was Superintendent.
On entering the institution, each boy is washed, furnished with a new uniform and given some good advice--told that if he is studious, industrious and obedient, he will be well trained and can the sooner be released. On leaving, he is clothed and transported, at State expense to his former or any new home.
Some of the more important by-laws adopted by the Board of Managers are as follows:
"SECTION 13. All accounts for the supplies of the institution, for contracts of the Superintended and for salaries of officers and employes (sic), must be endorsed as correct by the Superintendent, before the same will be audited and allowed by the Board of Managers."
"SEC. 14. The salary of the Superintendent shall be at the rate of $1,200 per year, and of the Matron $400 per year, and of the Assistant Superintendent $1,000 per year, to be paid quarterly; and they shall reside in the institution, and devote all their time and labor to the service thereof."
"SEC. 15. The officers and employes (sic) are expected to board in the institution at the expense of the State, but, with the exception of the family of the Superintendent and the person in charge of the farmhouse, no person not an officer or employee shall board in the institution; provided, however, that this rule may be suspended by a majority of the board, in extraordinary contingencies."
"SEC. 16. The Superintendent shall enter in a book, to be provided for that purpose, the name, age, birthplace, whence and by whom committed, the time of reception, and obtain, as nearly as possible, a brief, correct history and description of the person of each individual committed to the institution, the delinquency for which committed, when discharged and, if apprenticed, the name and place of residence of the person to whom apprenticed, and, in case of death, the time and cause thereof, and such record shall be, at all times, open to the inspection of each member of the board."
"SEC. 17. The Superintendent shall present to the Board of Managers, at the regular October meeting, a report showing the number of inmates at the beginning of the year, the number received and discharged during the year, the number remaining at the date of the report, and what disposition has been made of those sent from the institution during the year. He shall also cause to be kept in books provided for that purpose a correct account of expenditures, and on what account made; and also a correct account of receipts from any source, showing from what source, under appropriate heads, and present an abstract of the same with his annual report, together with such suggestions as he may deem beneficial."
"SEC. 18. No cruel or unnecessary punishment shall be inflicted upon any inmate, and no corporal punishment shall be administered in any case, except by the Superintendent, or by his express instruction."
"SEC. 19. The average length of time inmates shall remain in the institution shall not be less than two years, and no inmate shall be sent out on ticket before that period, without the concurrence of the Superintendent and at least two members of the Board of Managers."
The more important rules made by the Superintendent, for the government of inmates are as follows:
"RULE 6. The man in charge of the family is expected to be with the family at all times when the boys are in the family building or yard, and especially when in the playroom yard or dormitory, and he will be held responsible for the condition of their clothing, the cleanliness of their persons, and their general good behavior. In addition to his duties as a family officer, he will be required to fill the position of teacher, overseer of shop, or such other position as may assigned him by the Superintendent."
"RULE 7. The woman in charge of the family building is expected (with the assistance of the boys detailed for that purpose) to keep the whole building, its furniture, beds and bedding, clean and in order; to be present in the dining-room at each meal, to preserver order, and to see that the food is of a suitable quality, properly prepared and properly served, and to report to the Matron anything objectionable in reference to the food. When not engaged in the performance of the duties mentioned, she is expected to make and repair the bedding and the boys' clothing (except their woolen outside garments). The man and woman in charge of a family are expected, as far as they may be able, to supply the place of father and mother to the boys in their charge, and their government shall be parental in all respects."
"RULE 8. Visitors will be received at the school from 9 to 12 A.M. and from 2 to 5 P.M., on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays only. Visitors will first record their names at the reception room, when they will be furnished with an escort. It is not expected that persons will stroll over the grounds unattended, or indulge in conversation with the inmates. In view of the large number of inmates, employes (sic) and of their friends, it is not expected that visits will be frequent or prolonged, as no provision is made for entertainment."
"RULE 9. All donations intended for the inmates, from whatever source, must be placed directly in charge of the Matron, to be delivered or disbursed by her for their use and benefits. No inmate is permitted to have the custody of money, or to deposit the same with any one but the Matron."
"RULE 10. Innocent games, amusements and sports are to be encouraged and may be freely indulged in by the inmates, but all profane and indecent language, all obscene books or papers, the use of intoxicating drinks or tobacco, every species of gambling, and all disorderly and immoral practices are prohibited, and this rule is intended to be obligatory upon all persons connected with the institution."
"RULE 13. No visits will be received on Sunday, except from those in attendance upon the moral and religious exercises. A general invitation is extended to persons desirous of imparting moral and religious instruction to the inmates, either on Sunday, or at the daily evening exercises; provided, the rule excluding everything of a sectarian character, and any interference with the religious opinions of the inmates, shall be strictly adhered to."
The legislative enactments authorizing and governing the Wisconsin Industrial School for Boys has been amended and repealed so often that no little misapprehension has existed in various counties as to the scope, benefits and object of the institution. The important statutes at present are these:
"SEC. 1,543. All idle persons who, not having visible means to maintain themselves, live without employment; all persons wandering abroad and lodging in groceries, beer-houses, outhouses, market places, sheds or barns, or in the open air, and not giving a good account of themselves; all common drunkards, all lewd, wanton, lascivious persons in speech or behavior; all persons wandering abroad or begging, or who go about from door to door, or place themselves in the streets, highways, passages or other public places, or beg or receive alms, shall be deemed vagrants."
"SEC. 1,547. Any male child under the age of ten years, and any female child under the age of sixteen years, besides such as are included in Section 1,543, who shall be found begging or receiving alms, either directly or under pretense of selling or offering anything for sale in any public street or place, for that purpose, or wandering in public places as one of the class known as rag-pickers, or wandering without having any home, abode or proper guardianship, or destitute because an orphan, or having a parent undergoing imprisonment or otherwise, or who frequent the company of reputed thieves or of lewd, wanton or lascivious persons in speech or behavior, or notorious resorts of bad character, or is an inmate of any house of ill-fame or poor-house, whether in company with a parent or otherwise, or has been abandoned in any way by parents or guardians, and nay child with the ages aforesaid, upon petition of his parents, guardian, or, if none, those having him in charge, showing that the welfare and best interests of the child require it, may be brought before any Judge of a Court of Record of any county and committed to an industrial school, in the manner and for the time provided in this chapter, and subject to like appeal. If for any reason the commitment of any such child cannot be executed at the school designated, the Judge may afterward amend the judgment or commitment by substituting some other such school, and in case of boys so committed, who shall remain in any school after arriving at the age of ten years, the commitment may be amended by the Judge making the same, by substituting the Wisconsin Industrial School for Boys. If the commitment be made on the petition of the parents, guardians or persons having the child in charge, the Judge may, in his discretion, require them to pay the whole or any part of the expense of his maintenance, according to their ability.
"SEC. 4,961. The Wisconsin Industrial School for Boys, at Waukesha, shall be the place of confinement and institution of all male children, between the ages of ten and sixteen years who shall be legally committed to the said Wisconsin Industrial School for Boys, as vagrants or on the conviction of any criminal offense, or for incorrigible or vicious conduct, by any court having competent authority to make said commitment.
"SEC. 4,962. The managers of said school are hereby clothed with the sole authority to discharge any child or children from said Industrial School who shall have been legally committed thereto; and such power shall rest solely with said Board of Managers, subject to the power of the Executive to grant pardons, and they shall have power to return to the court, justice or other authorities ordering or directing said child to be committed, when, in the judgment of said managers, they may deem said child an improper subject for their care and management, or who shall be found incorrigible, or whose continuance in the school may deem prejudicial to the management and discipline thereof, or who, in their judgment, ought to be removed from the school for any cause."
"SEC. 4,963. The Superintendent of said school shall charge to each of the several counties in the State, in a book provided by him for that purpose, the sum of $1 per week for the care and maintenance of each person in said school who has been committed thereto as a vagrant, or by reason of incorrigible or vicious conduct, from each of such counties respectively; and the cost of the original commitment of all persons to said school shall be chargeable to the county from which the person committed to said school is sent; and the Superintendent of said school shall procure the arrest and return of any person therefrom; and any Justice of the Peace, Marshall or Constable, upon information of such escape, shall arrest and return any such fugitive as mentioned above."
"SEC. 4,964. The Superintendent of said school shall keep an accurate account of the amount due from each county for the support of persons therefrom, and shall annually, on or before the 10th of October in each year, report to the Secretary of the State the amount which may then be due fron (sic) each county for the year ending on the 1st day of October preceding' which report shall state the name of each person for whom such account is rendered, the number of weeks which such person has been in said school during said year, and the amount charged for each of said persons respectively; and such report shall be verified by the oat of said Superintendent as to its correctness. The Secretary of State shall add the amount due from any county in this State, for the support of such persons, to the State tax apportioned to said county, and such amount shall be collected and paid into the State treasury for the use of said school."
"SEC. 4,968. The courts and several magistrate in any county in the State may, at their discretion, sentence to the school any such male child who may be convicted of any petit larceny or misdemeanor, and the several courts may, in their discretion, send to the said school any such male child who shall be convicted before them of any offense, which, under existing laws, would be punishable by imprisonment in the State prison, and the County Judge and the Judges of municipal courts of any county in this State may, in their discretion, commit to the said school any male child having a legal residence in said county, and being between the ages of ten and sixteen years, which, upon complaint and due proof, is found to be a vagrant, or so incorrigible and vicious that a due regard for the morals and welfare of such child manifestly requires that he shall be committed to said school; but, in all cases, the terms of commitment shall not be less than to the age of twenty-one years."
"SEC. 4,969. The managers of said school shall have power in their discretion, to restore any persons duly committed to said school to the care of his parents or guardian before the expiration date of his minority, if, in their judgment, it would be most for the future benefit and advantage of such person."
When any inmate is allowed to leave the school to resume his home with parents, or apprentice himself to farmers or others, he only receives a ticket-of-leave; and, whenever his conduct is not what the ticket-of-leave requires, he is claimed by the officers of the institution, and returned to it without process of law, to serve again until he shall again have earned such a record as will entitle him to another trial discharge.
The following circular, or receipt, is sent to every parent or guardian, when a new inmate is received:
"The Board of Managers of this institution take this method of informing you that __________________ has been received as an inmate of this school, to remain until twenty-one years of age, unless sooner discharged by the board. This school is not a place of punishment, nor a prison, but a reformatory, where the inmates are trained to industrious and virtuous habits, and instructed in those branches of useful knowledge usually taught in our public schools. They are provided with a pleasant home, with suitable labor, such as will enable them to earn an honest living after they leave school. They have their regular hours for rest and recreation. They are well fed and clothed, and carefully nursed in sickness. A competent physician is prepared to attend upon them when needed. They are furnished such moral and religious instruction as is suited for their capacities and circumstances. In order to reform their characters and establish correct principles and habits of industry, inmates must remain here a sufficient length of time, and what is sufficient is wisely left to the discretion of the managers. In the exercise of this discretion, the previous history of the inmate, the character of the delinquency, the conduct of the inmate while here, and the influences of the home to which he is to be returned, are all to be taken into consideration.
"The inmates are permitted to write to their friends once a month, or once a fortnight, if postage stamps are furnished them. It is not expected that presents of food or clothing will be sent to inmates, as they are supplied with both by the State. Nothing unsuited to the health or condition of the boy will be delivered to him. All articles are examined, and it is a useless expense and trouble to send anything deemed injurious or unnecessary. In all cases of serious illness, the friends of inmates are promptly notified. It is not intended to prohibit visits from friends, but no provision is made for entertainment, and they cannot be frequent or prolonged. The best way to shorten the period of the boy's detention in the school is to observe carefully the foregoing suggestions, to abstain from any effort to release him until his conduct and standing justify it, and, in the mean time, to let him understand that upon his own efforts and advancement he must mainly rely for his discharge. Avoid saying or doing anything to render a boy restless or uneasy, and you may hasten rather than delay his release.
"The rule adopted by the board provides, " The average length of time inmates shall remain in the institution shall not be less than two years." The observance of this will save trouble to all concerned."
From its organization to the present time, the managers of the State Industrial School for boys appointed by the various Governors for terms of three years, in such manner that a portion of them shall rotate out of office each year, have been as follows:
1860-61--Appointed by Alexander W. Randall: L.F. Frisby, of West Bend Thomas Reynolds, of Madison Henry Williams, of Milwaukee Cicero Comstock, of Milwaukee John B. Dousman, of Milwaukee Andrew E. Elmore, of Mukwonago George S. Barnum, of Waukau Talbot C. Dousman, of Waterville Isaac Lain, of Waukesha 1862-63-- Talbot C. Dousman, of Waterville Charles R. Gibbs, of Janesville Edward O'Neill, of Milwaukee Andrew E. Elmore, of Mukwonago Cicero Comstock, of Milwaukee 1864-- Andrew E. Elmore, of Green Bay John Hodgson, of Waukesha Edward O'Neill, of Milwaukee William Blair, of Waukesha C.C. Sholes, of Kenosha 1865-69-- Andrew E. Elmore, Green Bay Charles R. Gibbs, Whitewater William Blair, Waukesha Edward O'Neill, Milwaukee John Hodgson, Waukesha 1870-71-- Edward O'Neill, Milwaukee William Blair, Waukesha Edwin Hurlbut, Oconomowoc Charles R. Gibbs, Whitewater Andrew E. Elmore, Fort Howard 1872-78-- William Blair, Waukesha Edward O'Neill, Milwaukee Charles R. Gibbs, Whitewater Andrew E. Elmore, Green Bay Samuel A. Randles, Waukesha 1874-- Andrew E. Elmore, Fort Howard Samuel A. Randles, Waukesha Charles Jonas, Racine Edward O'Neill, Milwaukee William Blair, Waukesha 1875-- William Blair, Waukesha Edward O'Neill, Milwaukee Charles Jonas, Racine Andrew E. Elmore, Fort Howard Edwin Hurlbut, Oconomowoc 1876-79-- Charles R. Gibbs, Whitewater Andrew E. Elmore, Fort Howard John Mather, East Troy William Blair, Waukesha Edward O'Neill, Milwaukee
During the first three years, Mr. Elmore was Secretary; the fourth year, Secretary and Treasurer, and since that time has continuously held the office of Treasurer of the Industrial School.
The different Superintendents have been:
Dr. Moses Barrett, 1860 to 1865
A.D. Hendrickson, 1865 to 1877
S.J.M. Putnam, from January, 1877, to April 20, 1879
William H. Sleep, who had been responsibly connected with the school during ten years, the present Superintendent, who formally appointed in December, 1879, though he had been acting that capacity several months previously.
A.D. Hendrickson is now Assistant Superintendent, and John F. C. Legler, Clerk of the School and Secretary to the Board of Managers.
Owing to sickness among officers and inmates, and to various official changes during 1879, inventory of the property of the Industrial School was taken; but from the inventory of 1878, and an estimate of other betterments, the value of the property may be approximated, as follows:
Real estate, 233 acres, $12,500; main building, $37,000; family buildings, Nos. 1,2,3,5, and 6, of stone, $60,000; 7 and 8, of wood and stone, $9,000; shop and factory, $17,000; Correction house, $14,000; barn and carriage house, $1,500; stone cellar, $1,500; farm house and other out-buildings, of wood, $700; furniture, fixtures, farm tools, library and miscellaneous stock, $24,119.91; total $77,319.91. Since 1878, one large double family building and stone connections between the shops, costing $17,000; an ice-house costing $1,100, and a gas machine and pipes, costing $800, have been added; total $18,900; grand total, $96,219.91. This inventory is all put in at cost price. About $2,000 should be added for cattle, hogs and poultry, which, being raised on the farm, represent no cost to the State. But, to show the actual value of the Industrial School property, there should be added to fund from the factories since 1878, making an estate worth, with all its artificial parks and other improvements, at least $150,000.
The actual number of new commitments from July, 1860, to September 30, 1870, was 1,693, or twenty-seven less than the footings of the above table. [table does not appear here] This table was made up from the printed annual reports, in some of which, in the early years of the institution, re-commitments were included, erroneously, in the report of the number of subjects received for the year, thus making the apparent number of new inmates greater than the real number. Some counties, and they are by no means of better morals and habits than the others, have never availed themselves of the benefits of the Industrial School, and some never send vicious, vagrant, or incorrigible boys to the institution for the reason that it would entail an annual expense of $52 for each subject upon the county. The counties which have sent no subjects are Barron, Bayfield, Buffalo, Douglas, Kewaunee, Pepin, Shawano, and the counties erected during the last year or two. The judicial officers of other counties deem it a privilege to be able to commit criminals and various incorrigible boys to a reformatory institution of this kind. A glance at the above table will discover which counties these are.
Up to 1871, when girls were no longer committed to this school, 129 of them were confined within its walls. They were taught the various household arts, and received the same course of mental and moral training as the boys.
The Industrial School has cost annually, the following sums: 1860, $ 4,953.81 1861, $ 7,021.79 1862, $ 6,370.84 1863, $ 7,263.67 1864, $12,456.53 1865, $19,756.47 1866, $24,026.14 1867, $24,247.56 1868, $24,741.83 1869, $24,982.34 1870, $32,103.04 1871, $32,387.95 1872, $36,538.71 1873, $42,472.64 1874, $48,453.02 1875, $45,156.70 1876, $48,148.49 1877, $46,321.31 1878, $48,421.45 1879, $42,866.72
This makes a total charge to "current expenses" of $560,234.78, which does not include any expenditures for buildings, permanent improvements of real estate. This has been finished by $116,049.50, paid by the different counties, at the rate of $1 each, per week, for the vagrants and incorrigibles, and also by the products of the farm and workshops. This total amount of "current expenses," $560,234.78, divided by the total number of commitments, 1,693, makes the total cost, per capita, a trifle less than $331, during the twenty years the institution has been in working order.
The amounts appropriated by the State Legislature, for the different years, for "current expenses," are as follows:
1860, $ 3,500 1861, $10,550 1862, $ 6,500 1863, $ 5,500 1864, $12,004.50 1865, $20,500 1866, $16,000 1867, $14,000 1868, $20,500 1869, $25,000 1870, $37,000 1871, $37,000 1872, $33,450 1873, $27,500 1874, $31,000 1875, $28,000 1876, $28,000 1877, $44,000 1878, $35,000 1879, $34,000
Total $432,004.50. The difference between the total amounts appropriated, $432,004.50, and the total amount charged to "current expenses" ($560,234.78, is $128,230.28. This amount being paid by counties and earned by the inmates, their earnings, however, being exclusive of the valuable improvements made on the property, and the very large amount of food raised each year, upon the farm, for their support. The income form inmate labor is greater now than ever before, and is constantly increasing, and the appropriations from the State, outside of those for building expenses, are constantly decreasing.
The State Industrial School for Boys, Waukesha, reported to the State superintendent 318 boys as present October 1, 1876, and 364 October 1, 1877, an increase greater than could be well accommodated till a new building then in process of erection should be completed. The institution is meant to be what its name indicates, an industrial school, and not a prison; a means for preventing crime, not for punishing it; a place of cheerful industry where the miseducation of ignorant or vicious parents may be corrected and such training given, such habits and principles inculcated, as will qualify the boys for ordinary pursuits and make them useful members of society. The older boys are required to go to school 4 hours each day and to work 5 hours, with 2 intermissions of half an hour each. The younger ones must attend school the same length of time, but need work only 4 hours daily. In the twenty years since the school was organized it has had more than one thousand boys under training, and its managers have had the pleasure of seeing a large proportion of them become good citizens. - (State report.) (Source: Report of the Commissioner of Education for the year 1877 part 1 Washington: Government Printing Office, 1879)
Wisconsin Blue Book 1901
Excerpt from The Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin 1901.
pages 519-520 (transcribed by Tina Vickery)
Industrial School for Boys
The Wisconsin Industrial School for Boys is situated about three- fourths of a mile west of the railroad depots in the village of Waukesha, the county seat of Waukesha county.
It was organized as a house of refuge and opened in 1860. The name was afterward changed to "State Reform School," and again to "Wisconsin Industrial School for Boys," its present title. The buildings are located on the southern bank of Fox river, in view of the trains as they pass to and from Milwaukee and Madison, presenting an attractive sight to the traveling public and furnishing good evidence of the parental care of the State authorities for the juvenile wards within its borders.
The buildings include a main central edifice, three stories high, used for the residence of the superintendent's family, office, chapel, school rooms, reading room and library, officers' kitchen, dining and lodging rooms, furnace room and cellar. On March 26, 1898, the factory building with all its contents, was destroyed by fire, the loss being about $40,000.00. The Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State authorized an indebtedness of $40,000.00, and a new building was built during the summer of 1898.
On the east of the main central building are three family buildings, three stories high, each with a dining hall, play room, bath room, dressing room, hospital room, officers' rooms, dormitory and store room.
On the west of the main central buildings are four family buildings like those on the east in all respects, with the exception of the building at the west end of this line, which is a wooden building with a stone basement.
In the rear of this line of buildings is the shop building, 38x258 feet, three stories high, which embraces boot factory, sock and knitting factory, tailor shop, carpenter shop, engine room, laundry and steam drying room, bath rooms, store, store rooms, bakery and cellar, and three family buildings with room for fifty boys each.
There is on the farm, which consists of 404 acres of land, a comfortable house, a stone carriage and horse barn, two stories high, built in the most substantial manner, three convenient wooden barns, with sheds for cattle, wagons and farm machinery, and cellars for roots.
The total amount paid from the State Treasury up to Oct. 1, 1900, for real estate, buildings, improvements, repairs, and current expenses is $2,111,793.25. The whole number of enrollments since the opening of the school, August 3, 1860, is 4,702, of whom 328 were present September 30, 1900.
The average number of boys the past year was 324, as against 301 the previous year, and the current expenses were $61,060.54, as against $65,135.51.
The Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin. Complied and published under the direction of Wm. H. Froehlich, Secretary of State. 1901. page 519 - 520
Other Links for the Wisconsin Industrial School for Boys
The Industrial School for Boys is in the 1900 census
Waukesha County, 1st Ward ED 145, Sheet 4A
Excerpt from the Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin 1907
pages 727-728 (transcribed by Lori Nemuth)
The Reform School History
Waukesha City Website (includes a few photos)