Sesquicentennial Corner—July


When St. Francis Home / St. Francis Orphanage, that is, the Citizens’ Hospital and Orphan Asylum, was founded 150 years ago, most of those who came were from the Tiffin area, but after 1871 when a new building was built, they came from all over the diocese, that is, the Cleveland Diocese, and even as far as Chicago and New York.

To support the work, Father Bihn began receiving many donations for the orphans; some parishes had special collections for them.  Some elderly brought their patrimonies.  Some guardians or the families could contribute to an orphan’s support.  If guardians could not contribute to a child’s support, they and the children and the institution signed an “Indenture of Apprenticeship,” wherein the guardians surrendered “all right to care and custody” of the children and the children bound themselves to stay, usually until they were 16 or 18 and to obey the rules and regulations.  The institutions bound itself to provide for the children, “care for them properly in health and sickness, give them a suitable education in the common school branches, and do all in its power to train them as good Christians.”

Much of the food came from the gardens and the farm.  Some providers in the community helped keep the costs down.  Tiffin physicians gratuitously provided medical services.  Dentists provided their services without charge, the orphanage only having to pay for materials.  One former orphan remembered that local physicians, Dr. Maurice and Dr. Paul Leahy “adopted the orphans.”  As a youngster, she often sat on the doctors’ laps she would often tell.

Without much money to support so many, Father Bihn successfully approached the Seneca County Auditor in 1886 for the institution to be tax exempt.  In 1925, when St. Francis Orphanage, came under the jurisdiction of Toledo Catholic Charities, Catholic Charities helped provide support for the children.  The institution has endured over these 150 years through the good works and generosity of many.