Friday, August 14, 2020


Marker Details

Historical Marker:

Springfield Home for the Friendless/Family Service Center

Image Courtesy of Elaine Shemoney Evans
The marker is located at the northeast corner of the intersection of South Grand Avenue and 7th Street, Springfield.
Dedication Date:
Dedication By:
The Family Service Center; Descendants of Mary Jane Tully, one of the first refugee orphans to arrive in 1865; and The Illinois State Historical Society.

Marker Description:
Founded on February 12, 1863, the 54th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, the Springfield Home for the Friendless was established as a temporary shelter for children, widows, and the destitute displaced by Civil War and economic hardship. The Home for the Friendless Movement started in New England and gradually moved west. Springfield co-founder and land developer Elijah Iles donated several acres for the Home at the corner of 8th and South Grand, and fund-raising for the building began soon after.

Shortly after Christmas in 1864, several dozen refugees from war-torn Arkansas were sent by boat and rail from Fort Smith, a Union stronghold on the edge of Indian Territory, to Springfield. Reverend Francis Springer, U.S. Army Chaplain at Fort Smith and founder of the Lutheran Church in Springfield, arranged for passage of the refugees, who began arriving at the Home for the Friendless on January 19, 1865. Springer, a former neighbor and friend of Abraham Lincoln, continued to send refuges to the Home until well after the war.

The Home for the Friendless was renamed the Children’s Service Bureau in the 1920s. It has been in continuous operation at this location for 150 years, offering foster care, adoption, and family support services, while tending to the needs of thousands of underprivileged children and their families.

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