The Ohio Reform School


The Ohio Reform School was organized by acts of the General Assembly passed in 1856 and 1857. Outcry for such an institution arose when visitors inspecting conditions at the Ohio Penitentiary discovered that boys as young as 14 were being housed there. The farm was established on an 1170-acre tract of land five miles south of Lancaster in Fairfield County.

Boys were first admitted to the school in 1858. From the beginning, the farm used the cottage method for housing the juvenile offenders. Boys 1018 were housed in groups of forty in a cottage. Charles Reemelin, the first director, though that by grouping boys in this manner and providing them with educational and moral instruction and supervised labor, they could more successfully be guided towards becoming productive members of society. Reemelin desired that the boys be treated more like pupils than prisoners.

Farming was the main occupation taught at the school. The name of the school was the State Reform Farm from 1858 to 1884. Training in welding, plumbing, carpentry, sheet metal work, and electricity were added and, in 1884, it became known as the Boys Industrial School. In 1964 the name was changed to the Fairfield School for Boys.

The inmate case records provide space for name and family history, offense, education, health, employment and miscellaneous comments, usually on use of tobacco and profanity. Some of the entries include comments about what became of the boys after discharge. In 1913 more information was added including more detailed family data. There is no known index to the records.

This Web page has abstracts on boys in the school with Marion connections and covers the years 1858 to 1875. These records were extracted from Family History Library microfilm 0928914.


George Berry
Case #: 1721, Volume 2 page 435
Received: 21 May 1873
Born: 29 Dec 1858 LaRue Ohio
Father: S.H. Berry, dead
Mother: Julia, living
Occupation: Farmers
Residence: Larue Ohio
Offence: Incorrigibility
Nationality: American
Discharged: 9 Mar 1877, went home to Xenia Ohio
Hair brown, eyes brown
Charles Bosse
Case #: 1241, Volume 2 page 195
Received: 20 May 1870
Born: Ohio
Age: 7 last January
Father: Francis, watch repairer, living
Mother: Louisa, dead
Residence: Waldo Ohio
Offence: Incorrigibility
Nationality: German
Discharged: 8 May 1873
Richard Bosse
Case #: 1240, Volume 2 page 193
Received: 20 May 1870
Born: Ohio
Age: 11 last October
Father: Francis, watch repairer, living
Mother: Louisa, dead
Residence: Waldo Ohio
Offence: Incorrigibility
Nationality: German
Discharged: 8 May 1873
Jesse Clark
Case #: 1351, Volume 2 page 267
Received: 3 Feb 1871
Born: Don't know where
Age: about 13 years
Father: William, dead
Mother: Don't know; abandoned her children
Residence: Has none
Offence: Sentenced by Probate Court of Marion County for stealing
Nationality: Don't know
No education. Has been traveling, wandering from place to place. A very hard boy.
Escaped: 14 Dec 1874
Anthony Flaherty
Case #: 1948, Volume 2 page 585
Received: 11 Sep 1874
Born: 1 Feb 1859
Father: dead
Mother: Bridget Flaherty, living
Occupation: Washerwoman
Residence: Marion Ohio
Offence: Burglary
Nationality: Irish
Escaped: 17 May 1875
George Hies
Case #: 950, Volume 2 page 3
Received: 24 Mar 1868
Born: 18 Feb 1860 Marion Ohio
Father: Nicholas, farmer, living
Mother: dead
Residence: Marion Ohio
Offense: Vagrancy & incorrigibility
Nationality: German
John Kennedy
Case #: 1775, Volume 2 page 471
Received: 22 Aug 1873
Born: 25 Dec 1855 NY
Father: Unknown
Mother: Unknown
Residence: Unknown
Offence: Sentenced by Probate Court of Marion County for Petit Larceny
Nationality: Irish
Attended school some in Marion
Discharged: 15 Apr 1875, went to Marion
Charles Lewis
Case #: 1579, Volume 2 page 339
Received: 15 Jul 1872
Born: Marion Ohio
Born: 19 Feb 1862
Father: William, dead
Mother: Anna, living
Occupation: Keeps store
Residence: Marion Ohio
Offence: Incorrigibility
Nationality: American
Never attended school much. Hair dark, eyes blue
Francis F. Lewis
Case #: 1667, Volume 2 page 399
Received: 18 Feb 1873
Born: 3 Sep 1861 Marion Ohio
Father: dead
Mother: Julia, living LaRue, Marion County
Offence: Incorrigibility
Nationality: American
Discharged: 1 Mar 1878, went home to LaRue
Hair light, eyes blue
Charles Miller
Case #: 1106, Volume 2 page 105
Received: 16 Apr 1869
Born: Galion Ohio
Age: 12 in June
Father: William, RR conductor, living
Mother: Susan, living
Residence: Gallion
Offence: Petty larceny
Discharged: 14 Sep 1871, went home to Galion
Thomas Nolel
Case #: 311, Volume 1 page 208
Received: 6 Jul 1861
Born: 3 Jun 1845 Boston Mass
Father: Michael Nolel, resides Marion Ohio, tailor
Mother: dead
Stepmother: Ann Nolel
Nationality: Irish
Discharged: 10 May 1862
Peter OBrien
Case #: 1774, Volume 2 page 469
Received: 22 Aug 1873
Born: 2 Jul 1862 England
Father: dead
Mother: Mary Fitzgerald
Occupation: Laborer
Residence: Marion Ohio
Offence: Incorrigibility
Nationality: Irish
Daniel Ryan
Case #: 1906, Volume 2 page 557
Received: 23 Jun 1874
Born: 29 Feb 1871 Ohio
Father: Michael Ryan
Mother: Jeanny Ryan, dead
Offence: Sentenced by Probate Court of Marion County for Incorrigibility
Nationality: Irish
Escaped: 19 Jun 1875, returned 25 Jul 1875
Escaped: 29 Dec 1875
Everett M. Smith
Case #: 1720, Volume 2 page 433
Received: 21 May 1873
Born: 20 Nov 1859 Marion County
Father: Samuel, dead
Mother: Lucy, living
Occupation: Farmer
Residence: Marion Ohio
Offence: Incorrigibility
Nationality: American
Discharged: 3 Sep 1875, went to Marion Ohio
Hair brown, eyes brown
William Woods
Case #: 442, Volume 1 page 294
Received: 16 Mar 1863
Born: Marion Ohio, age 11 years, 4 months
Father: Charles Woods, dead 3 years
Mother: Eliza Jane Woods, resides in Mansfield Ohio
Offence: Burglary, sentenced to 3 years
Brother Benjamin admitted the same day (born Delaware, Ohio; age nearly 14)
William Woods
Case #: 701, Volume 1 page 468
Received: 6 Oct 1865 (second admittance)
Age: 13
Mother: employment disreputable, now in penitentiary in Mansfield
Discharged: 1868