Ohio Soldier's and Sailors' Orphans' Home

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In 1869, the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans’ organization consisting of Union soldiers who fought in the American Civil War, established the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home in Xenia, Ohio. In 1870, the State of Ohio assumed control of the home. The Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home was originally located in a rented building in Xenia, Ohio, but in 1869, Xenia residents provided the GAR with 150 acres of land to build a permanent facility.

Originally, the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home provided Ohio children who lost their father in the American Civil War with a place to live. Eventually, the State of Ohio opened this institution to orphans of all military conflicts and the children of all veterans, including ones who had not died on the battlefield. In some cases, the children had not lost their parents. Due to financial difficulties, a veteran and/or his spouse might leave their children at the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home to become wards of the State of Ohio. By 1870, seventy-five students lived at the home. Between 1870 and 1901, the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home could not accept all of the children seeking assistance. In 1901, nine hundred children resided at this institution.

Children at the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home received a traditional education, as well as training in various occupations. The boys also received some military training, and upon attaining adulthood, several of the boys joined the armed forces. In 1901, the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home was the largest institution of its kind in the world. The children lived in cottages, with between forty to fifty children in each building. Eventually, the home housed only fifteen children in each cottage.

In 1978, the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home became known as the Ohio Veterans’ Children’s Home. At this point, the home also housed children deemed to be troubled. These children were typically not orphans but were the sons and daughters of live veterans. In 1997, the Ohio Veterans’ Children’s Home ceased operation.

In 1998, the State of Ohio sold the Ohio Veterans’ Children’s Home’s buildings to Legacy Ministries International, which leases the site to different businesses and organizations. The site now contains a retirement community, a Christian school, and the international headquarters of Athletes-in-Action, among other businesses. Every year, the Association of Ex-Pupils, an organization consisting of former wards of the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home or of the Ohio Veterans’ Children’s Home, holds reunions on July 4, at the home’s former grounds.

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