|Privately organized in late 1865 by a group of
Salem women, the Children's Aid Society had as their first objective
a refuge "for orphaned and friendless children" anywhere
in the state.
Charter members of the society were Mrs. J. L. Parrish, Mrs.
S. A. Clarke, Mrs. Julia Smith, and Mrs. J. H. Moores. They
placed deserving children in private homes until a facility
could be secured for properly caring for the youngsters. This
was accomplished in 1869 when the Glen Oaks Orphans' Home
was built in East Salem on ten acres of land donated by Mrs.
Parrish. This parcel of land was across from what would later
become the Insane Asylum property.
Private donations and memberships in the society on the part
of public spirited citizens proved sufficient to maintain
the home until 1872 when the society requested aid from the
Legislature. That initial grant of $3,000 for operating expenses
continued for the next twenty-five years. The county also
Vice Presidents of the society were appointed for each county
in the state. Their responsibilities involved finding and
transporting any needy children to the Salem home, where the
Board of Managers were charged with finding good adoptive
homes for the children.
Examples of these adoptions are documented in a number of
sources in Marion County records, such as the County Commissioners
Court journals, County Court records, probate documents, Marion
County Miscellaneous Records, Public Welfare records for the
county, and Oregon Laws for Adoptions and Name Changes. Although
adoption records are sealed even for these early years, there
are ways of finding out who these fortunate youngsters were
who found secure homes after the tragic loss of a mother or
By 1886, the original two-story facility had been outgrown.
Once again the Legislature stepped in with an increased one-time
grant and an offer of brick to build a new home on the property.
In addition, another five acres was added to the Homes
property to plant an orchard and garden for self-sufficiency.
In 1887 a two-story comfortable home with electric lighting,
pumped-in water, and a basement furnace for heating was completed.
Outside, "cement walks and a graveled driveway give easy
access, while flowers, ornamental trees and shrubs please
the eye and give an air of cheerful comfort to the whole premises."
Anywhere from a dozen to thirty children from all over the
state made their residence at the orphanage. When funds were
available, a teacher was hired to instruct the youngsters;
when that was impossible, they attended local schools.
After thirty-three years in existence, the Glen Oaks Orphans'
Home ceased operation in 1898 due to a lack of funding by
the Legislature. Homes were found for as many of the twenty-three
children in the Orphanage as possible. Three remaining children
were sent to Portland's Gardiner Home. The building itself
was turned over to the state and became the second location
of Salem's hospital in 1900.
The Children's Aid Society, however, made one stipulation
to that sale: three beds would be kept in reserve for any
indigent youngster needing medical treatment. The society
requested that the ward be named the "Elizabeth Parrish
ward" in honor of the lady who had first conceived the
idea of the orphans home and who had donated its original
plot of land.
Researched and written by Sue Bell.
Oregon Statesman. 13 Apr. 1887, p. 3; 1 Jan. 1899 p.22.; 11
Jan. 1899, p.5; 6 Jan. 1900, p. 6.
Salem Daily Record 23 June 1867, p. 2.
Willamette Farmer 29 March 1869, p. 1
"First Biennial Report of the State Board of Charities
and Corrections"--1892, p. 299.
Marion County Deeds, April 1879.