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State Agent’s Report

 Owatonna, Minnesota, February 13, 1904

 To the Superintendent of the State Public School

 Dear Sir:

 When Mrs. Lewis and I took the Clark children from Backus, Mrs. Clark represented that her relatives were well to do people and would help her to get and care for the children or take them.

 I took pains and time to visit her two brothers at Spirit Lake, Iowa, the only ones living there.  There is another brother living near Spencer, but I did not know it at time I was there or would have seen him.  But I had a long plain talk with the two at Spirit Lake who told me frankly of their own condition and also about the brother at Spencer.  The latter is married, has two children, has bought 80 acres of land which he is endeavouring to pay for from the products of the farm.  The brothers at Spirit Lake, James and Henry Morrow, do not own any property, are working together to get a little ahead.  James is not married.  Henry is but has no children yet.  They have recently sold off all their grain and other things and will move to a place west of Devils Lake, North Dakota, where they have each taken claims, homesteads.  They told me they had very little means, had helped Mrs. Clark every year, but could not take the children nor agree to help Mrs. Clark much.  Henry said he would take Ellen if we would agree to keep her until he got settled out west and in a position to properly care for her.  They have no buildings on their claims yet.  I asked them if they were Catholics and if we should decide to place the children in homes if they desired them placed in Catholic families.  They said so far as they were concerned they did not care which, but would just as soon they would go into protestant homes.

 Then when I was in the western part of the state, I ran over to Brookings to see Mrs. George Stoddard, Mrs. Clark’s sister.  These are nice people.  Mrs. Stoddard superior to Mrs. Clark intellectually and otherwise keeps her home nicely.  Mr. Stoddard is clerk of the village and superintendent of the water and electric light plant.  But they are not in a position to take the children or assist Mrs. Clark.  They have only their salary, have a daughter of their own to provide for and do not feel able to take the children or help the mother.  Mrs. Stoddard took it to heart very much, said Mrs. Clark had written to them begging that they do something.  She cried very hard, could not get over it or become reconciled to the thought of the children being given to strangers.  I think she would have been willing to take some of them, but Mr. Stoddard would not.

 After looking this up and studying over it I do not see how it is possible for Mrs. Clark to get any help from her relatives, or get in circumstances herself so as to take them.  She has written and appealed to all her relatives but they do not respond.

 I think the best thing is to place them in good protestant homes.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Stoddard preferred that they should go into protestant homes.

 Yours truly,
Frank Lewis
State Agent

Letter, 1904-02-13

A report from Frank Lewis, State Agent, to Galen Merrill, Superintendent of the State Public School.

Owner of originalMinnesota Historical Society
Date13 Feb 1904
AlbumsOwatonna State Public School

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