Delaware County, Indiana


By: Shirley Pearson

If you have any information regarding the orphans' home, please email Gina Richardson


Before 1890, orphans in Delaware County were housed at the Delaware County Infirmary on the Selma Pike (Indiana 32) east of Muncie.

The first orphans home was built in 1890. It stood on the west side of Walnut Street on the North side of White River. This area is now part of the Minnetrista Cultural Center. The Delaware County Orphans' Home was a four story brick building that served for 16 years, with Sophia Jump as matron.

Frank C. and Elizabeth (Brady) Ball built their home west of this building and often had the orphans as guests in their own home.

Land was acquired by the county from Nehemiah Powers in 1906 for a modern building. The new building was built on this 40 acre plot on the Yorktown Pike (Indiana 32) west of Muncie.

(Source: Materials from Muncie Public Library, edited and written by Shirley Pearson)

Delaware County was organized in 1827, but it took several years before the establishment of a home or institution for the care of orphaned children. Some found the idea of an institution repugnant, even though in the years between 1838 and 1892, those orphaned children not taken in by relatives or family friends, faced the prospect of being "indentured or bound". This legal custom of indenture existed in Indiana, binding children out to service by formal indenture, a practice which perhaps sometimes resulted happily for the "bound" boy or girl, but which more often, no doubt, resulted quite to the contrary, is recalled by looking through the time-stained book of "Indentures" on file in the office of the recorder of Delaware county. Eventually, the evil tales of mistreatment reported from this system secured a repeal of the indenture law in Indiana, and underscored the need for an orphanage.

(Source: History of Delaware County, Indiana, Frank Haimbaugh, 1924, Vol I, edited excerpts)

More on this topic on the history page.