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Beloit, Iowa Orphanage Hosts Reunion

August 10, 2014, 10:56 PM by Kathleen Serie

Beloit, Iowa Orphanage Hosts Reunion

This weekend, nearly 150 people gathered to remember an orphanage home in Beloit, Iowa, just across the border from Canton.

The Beloit Orphanage was started in 1890, and was relocated to Ames, Iowa in 1944. Almost 40 years later, the children's home became part of the Lutheran Services in Iowa. This organization is celebrating their 150th anniversary this summer by remembering the state's orphanages, including Beloit.

The event featured photos, stories, and even open tours of the old orphanage site. Many of the guests in attendance had personal connections to the home, including Shirley Horner. Two of her aunts and one of her uncles grew up in Beloit after their father left the family. Even though they've all passed away, Horner says one of these aunts visited the children's home whenever she had the chance.

"Every time she came home she had to come by and see what was left of Beloit, and she always said that they had good care, people were very good to her, and they all turned out very well," Sioux Falls Resident Shirley Horner said.

Corky Minor is a local Beloit historian, and she agrees that this orphanage was a positive place.

"It sounded like the kids had a real good upbringing. They took so many hours of religion and Norwegian and they did their schooling, and they taught them all a trade so when they got out in life, they could do anything," Beloit historian Corky Minor said.

By 1942, the home had cared for 984 children, and had a farm with over 600 acres of land. Today, this farm is still in operation.

There are a couple buildings standing from when the orphanage was in operation, including a corn crib and horse barn.

From what Minor tells, there were a lot of happy memories that took place on these grounds.

"One time at Christmas they went and got Christmas gifts, and they ended up getting 17 gifts a piece for all the kids, and that's a lot of gifts back at that time," Minor said. 

Minor says people still come to visit the Beloit orphanage throughout the year, and she learns something new about the former children's home with each guest.

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