Finding a Good Home in Rural New York, c. 1904

Recent days have found me knee deep in online newspaper research at a website known as NYS Historical Newspapers. It’s a site  you’ll find indispensable if you’re researching  ancestors who resided anywhere in New York State. Best of all it’s free!

Log on, click on a county, and enter a few names and dates to see what turns up.

GeneaJourneys readers can can look forward to some fascinating looks at the past through contemporary newspaper reports on people who lived in the hamlets and villages of rural Franklin and St. Lawrence counties  just miles from the Canadian border.  That’s where my Desmond ancestors hail from.

Some items I’ll be posting relate to long gone family members, while others are items I  happened across  in searching for those ancestors. All of them, though, give an inside glimpse of what life was like a century ago in rural areas of northern New York.

Here’s one which needs a bit more research on my part, as it lists many people whose names (in purple) populate my family tree.  Are they actually my ancestors?  Only more digging and time will tell, but the story is a fascinating one about a train full of boys from New York City in hopes of being adopted by local townspeople. Read on to see how things turned out:


Ogdensburg Advance and St. Lawrence Weekly Democrat, March 17, 1904, page 4. Image provided by Northern New York Library Network.

Twenty-one Boys from New York Protectory Adopted.

Those Taking the Little Fellows

Brasher Falls, March 15, 1904–…..Brother Barnum of the New York Protectory, arrived here on Saturday with twenty-one boys ranging from six to eighteen years old. Some boys had been spoken for through Father Nyhan. It was expected that nine would find homes here, but on Sunday they were all at the Catholic church where it was made known to the congregation, and in the afternoon every boy was taken with the exception of one, who was not feeling well. Six more were spoken for.

It was a sad sight to see, although they were all fine looking, bright boys. One thing we are thankful for, they all have good homes and we are sure they will be kindly treated.

In this Protectory are 1,000 boys and 800 girls.

Among those who have taken those boys are Miss Mary Burns, Owen Burns, William Daniha, Daniel Carey, John Ryan, D. J. McCarthy, David Connell, Mrs. Barnage, W. Regan, John S. Hurley, P.W. Desmond, John Sullivan, Maurice Dullea, John Desmond, Edward Rochford, Denis Crowley, William Lynch, John Hannon…

This article ran on March 17, 1904–St. Patrick’s Day–and, as it happens, most of those who took the boys in, were of Irish descent.

Let’s hope the luck of the Irish was with them all as they navigated the changes that were coming their way as a result of these adoptions.


 Copyright © 2016 Patricia Desmond Biallas





This entry was posted in American History, Newspaper Research, Social History. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Finding a Good Home in Rural New York, c. 1904

  1. Lorene Cook says:

    Looking forward to more captivating stories from this line of research, Pat. Thanks for posting.

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