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 10–18 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
Case #: 701, Volume 1 page 468 Received: 6 Oct 1865 (second admittance) Age: 13 Mother: employment disreputable, now in penitentiary in Mansfield Discharged: 1868