German Orphan Home

The General German Orphans Home was designed by Architect George A. Frederick (Prominent German Architect that designed many significant buildings of that era, including Baltimore City Hall). See the website

Photo: The General German Orphans Home 1905

The ‘Home’ is the oldest of its kind in Baltimore and still exists today. The project began in 1863 when Martin Kratt, pastor of the German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church appealed to the German population of Baltimore. On July 12, 1863, it was organized and founded as the German Protestant Orphan Association of the City of Baltimore. The name was changed in 1866 to make it non-secular, removing 'Protestant', feeling that the home would receive greater support. This change invited the entire German population to embrace and befriend the home regardless of creed, which they did.

The reports of the home were printed in German until 1896 when the reports appeared both in English and German. Around 1921 the reports were done in English only.

The original site of the home was at 69 Pratt Street near Canal (Central Avenue). It opened on July 12, 1863. They soon outgrew this facility and moved to 69 North Calvert Street. The move was made in July 1867. One of the reports that year indicated that there were 43 children, 30 of school age (22 boys and 8 girls). At that time the children attended the Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church School. Later they would also attend the Scheib and Knapp’s Schools. When the districts opened the English-German schools, most would attend the public schools. Later in the early 20s, many of the children attended public high schools. The first boy graduated from Catonsville High School in 1926. The address for the home in the Weishampel's Baltimore Guide in 1896 (pg. 83) lists Aisquith near Orleans.

Some important provisions within the 1866 constitution:

    1. The purpose of the orphanage is to admit needy and deserving orphans of both sexes, without regard to creed, of German ancestry (the grandparents from the father’s or mother’s side must have been born in Germany).

    2. Half-orphans (those who had a living mother or father) would be admitted by decree of the board of directors.

    3. The name shall be ‘The General German Orphan Asylum of the City of Baltimore’. It will continue that name.

    4. Both German and English will be taught, however, German will remain the official language of the house.

    5. All children admitted will not be less than two years, nor more than ten years.

    6. When the children become fourteen, they will leave the Home and the Board of Directors shall see that the boys are placed properly with tradesmen or businessmen, which will accept them as apprentices. Girls will be placed as domestics or choose an honorable career.

    7. Boys stay under the supervision of the house until the age of 21; girls 18.

    8. A board of 25 (which still exists)

The Home was kept liquid by the contributions of the many German organizations in the area at that time. All organizations which were members of the General German Orphan Asylum would remit 5 cents per quarter for each member they had on their books. If the contributions were not sufficient to maintain the home, the clubs could be assessed. Eventually collectors were established for specific districts and they would collect individual membership dues. This practice was discontinued when checks evolved and most members mailed their dues.

There were several committees established. One which was an important position was that of inspector. The home was inspected/visited by the inspection committee twice a week.

The home was struck with a scarlet fever outbreak around 1870. The children couldn’t be separated so the healthy and the sick lived together. The results were nineteen children infected, two died. The home always had wonderful medical care provided by several physicians.

They outgrew their Calvert Street location and in 1872, bought the property belonging to the Carmelite Sisters on Aisquith Street. The building was not suited for a children’s home so a new building was erected. It was ready for the children in 1874. It is interesting to note that on each of these moves, the home created debt. In the 1888 Baltimore City Business Directory the Home was listed at Aisquith Street near Orleans. The debt was in large part eliminated by the actions of the Ladies’ Sewing Society and the Ladies’ Auxiliary (1898), located at the same address according to the 1888 Directory. The German Orphanage celebrates twenty five years. The two groups merged in 1925. They held multiple fund raisers and in almost all of the moves help to eliminate or lessen the mortgage burden.

Their next move was the move to Catonsville. The estate ‘Belmont’, which was the estate of Talbot Albert was purchased. The property consisted of 44 acres. Walter Gieske was the architect in 1920. By 1924, the children had been relocated to Catonsville. Over the next few decades other buildings were added. A new cottage was added due to the generosity of Ferdinand Meyer; a swimming pool was added due to the generosity of Mrs. Adele Von Heine-Wilcox and in the late 50s, due to the generosity of Henry Herzinger, who had served as president of the home for many years, a recreational building was added.

The home still exists today. The name has been changed to ‘The Children’s Home’. See their website for information:

Was your ancestor an orphan?

1870 Federal Census of the General German Orphan Asylum

1880 Federal Census of the General German Orphan Asylum

1900 Federal Census of the General German Orphan Asylum

1910 Federal Census of the General German Orphan Home

Their physical location is still in Catonsville:

The Children's Home

205 Bloomsbury Ave.

Catonsville, MD 21228

PH: 410-744-7310

FAX 410-455-0071

The Presidents of the General German Orphan Home in Baltimore:

Johann Christian Krantz 1863-

Gustav Facius 1870-1875

John Lorz 1887-1891

John C. Johannesen 1918-1925 (A former ward of the home)

Henry Herzinger 1925-1955

The Superintendents of the General German Orphan Home in Baltimore:

Mr. & Mrs. Friedrich Gleichmann 1866-1879

Mr. H.L. Lang 1881-1892

Mr. & Mrs. Carl Schmied 1894-1922

Mr. & Mrs. Wiley 1935-1955

Mr. J. W. Eisenhauer 1955-1960

Mr. & Mrs. Harold T. McTeer 1960-

The Physicians of the General German Orphan Home in Baltimore:

Dr. Friedrich Hess

Dr. Frank C. Bressler (attended the home for more than forty years)

Dr. Joseph I. Kemler

Dr. Wetherbee Fort

Dr. Fred Andreae

Dr. Raymond E. Lenhard


Sources: Wikipedia; Village website at; 1900 US Federal Census; 1910 US Federal Census

Augsburg began on January 28, 1892, when Caroline Lang, a resident of Baltimore, MD, and wife of canned goods manufacturer C.C. Lang, became aware of two children without parents or a place to live. Determined to help, Mrs. Lang expressed her concern for these children with friends from Martini Lutheran Church who had gathered in honor of her birthday. The idea for a church-sponsored refuge was well received and they immediately responded by collecting $3.00 to support the orphanage fund.

The ministry quickly expanded its vision to care for seniors. After one year, Augsburg purchased its first building at 746 West Lexington Street in downtown Baltimore. In May 1892, “The Ladies Society of Augsburg Home” was established. The ladies society was instrumental in providing funds for the children’s board and renovations of the newly purchased building.

When it became clear that larger quarters were necessary to support the growing ministry, the present 52-acre property on Campfield Road was purchased in Baltimore County in 1921. Subsequently, a new facility with a capacity for 35 adults and 60 children was dedicated on November 17, 1929, with 1,200 in attendance.

Over the next few decades, Augsburg continued to expand with a number of additions, including a nursing care wing and chapel.

The orphanage was the start and the ministry to care for seniors followed shortly after. From 1892 to 1970, the orphanage cared for hundreds of children. In the 1930s more than 60 children were being cared for at one time. The only prerequisite was 1) no infants and 2) the absence of two parents. The children attended school, learned trades and even played baseball. They interacted with the many seniors…lucky kids to have so many grandparents. The care for orphans was discontinued in 1970 and the children’s wing remodeled for additional living space for seniors.

Augsburg experienced more growth in the 1980s with the addition of 61 independent living apartments, forming the “Village.” Since then, three additional buildings have been added to increase the number of independent living apartments to 138.

In the 1990s Augsburg introduced an adult day care program and assisted living program. The adult day care program was held off campus at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Perry Hall until 2007, when the program was sold.

In 2012 Augsburg completed a total renovation of its Health Center into a progressive household model which includes six neighborhoods equipped with fireplaces, sun rooms, kitchens and hydrotherapy spas.

Many churches, other groups, and individuals have supported the ministry of Augsburg over the decades. One of the biggest supporters is the Augsburg Auxiliary, which began in 1893 when the “Evangelical Lutheran Ladies’ Society of the Augsburg Home” was incorporated. This group worked tirelessly to form a Board of Directors, solicit funds, and spread the word about caring for seniors and orphans in need. They sponsored fund raisers which included fairs, bazaars, sewing circles and church dinners. They were reorganized as the ‘Ladies Aid’ and the name changed again in 1946 to the ‘Augsburg Women’s Auxiliary’. It changed again in 2007 to the ‘Augsburg Auxiliary’ eliminating the concept that only women could take part.

Today, Augsburg Lutheran Home is an accredited rehabilitation center that offers independent living (138 apartments), assisted living (64 apartments), skilled nursing (123 beds in six neighborhoods) and rehabilitation. It is owned and supported by more than 80 Lutheran Churches in the Baltimore area from the ECLA and Missouri Synods. Delegates from the supporting churches elect the Board of Directors.

Was your ancestor a resident of Augsburg?

Transcription of the 1900 U.S. Census record for 746 W. Lexington Street

Transcription of the 1910 U.S. Census record for 746 W. Lexington Street

The Directors of Augsburg:

Facility Address:

6811 Campfield Road

Gwynn Oak, MD 21207

Phone: (410) 486-4573


Beginning in 1847 a Catholic orphanage, St. Andrew's that was under the direction of SSND sisters that began with two children of German parentage. In 1854 the Redemptorists opened the facility at Central Avenue and Eden Street. This too, was an orphanage for German children. The 1888 Baltimore Business Directory lists ST. ANTHONY (German) Orphan Asylum at Central Avenue between Chew (Ashland) and Eager Sts.

Was your ancestor a resident of St. Andrew's Catholic Orphanage?

1900 U.S. Federal Census for 927-945 Central Avenue


1900 U.S. Federal Census Records for Orphanage located on Stricker Street in Baltimore


1930 Federal Census St. Vincent's

There were actually two St. Vincent Orphanages. One, the St. Vincent Male Orphan Asylum and the other, St. Vincent’s Infants Asylum.

The St. Vincent’s Male Orphan Asylum

St. Vincent's Male Orphan Asylum founded in 1840 and closed in 1960 1-2-1840 a meeting at the house of John J. Gross, Esq., was the beginning of forming an association for the purpose of founding and erecting a male orphan asylum on a lot that was recently leased for that very purpose on Front Street.

In 1941, the home was located a Five Mile Lane just within the Baltimore county line. It was at that time home to 78 boys between the ages of 6 to 14. The home was operated by the Sisters of Mercy, taking over from the Christian Brothers in 1899. It moved to the Five Mile Lane home in 1909 where it was situated on twenty eight acres, the farm of William H. Lanahan. This at the time was considered a country home.

The home was operated more like a boarding school. The children did not have to wear uniforms and all the boys were treated as individuals and at that time had 10 sisters to assist them with their problems. They were granted weekend visits with family members, earned extra money by doing chores for the institution, took education trips to other cities such as Washington and Philadelphia, had their own boy scout troop (developed by two directors, Howard E. Burkhardt and Edward Haley), and even had their own football team. There is a delightful story that the boys earned the uniforms by all of the children giving up their money earned on chores for two months along with giving up two months of movies. Maybe that is where the ‘Trouble with Angels’ got their idea. From the article in the Sunspaper in 1941, a band was also being formed.

The boys rose every morning at 6:30 and attended 7 o’clock Mass, which was followed by breakfast and outside play until classes began at 9am. Classes continued until lunch at noon, followed y recreation and then classes resuming at 1pm until 3pm. This was followed by another free period until five and then one additional hour of study prior to dinner being served at 6pm. They boys were then free to play until bedtime, which varied based on the boy’s age…younger boys at 8pm and older boys at 9pm. Can you imagine our children/grandchildren following such rules? There were different sisters that were responsible for different parts of the boys lives…school and home. They had no sisters that did both.

The new home was not without problems especially the multiple fires. A fire in July 1916 destroyed a new wing and in February, 1919, a fire destroyed the top floor which was never build. No one was injured and at his death, Adam Deupert, President of the Board of Directors for more than 50 years left $20,000 to the home so that a fire escape could be build.

The Board of Directors in 1941 at their 100th Anniversary were Archbishop Curley (honorary President), Robert McNamara, President; Frank Dougherty, First Vice-President; J.B.A. Wheltle, Second Vice President; James Claypoole Financial Secretary; Charles Malloy, Recording Secretary; and Harry Dunn, Treasurer.

St. Vincent’s Infant Asylum

St. Vincent’s Infant Asylum began operations formally on April 1, 1856 in a rented house on Druid Hill Avenue. It was incorporated in 1859. It was moved briefly to Pratt Street and this proved inadequate as well. Finally, the home moved to its new location in a new building at Division and Lafayette Streets in 1860. Initially it housed forty-seven infants. Unlike the other St. Vincent’s Male Orphan Asylum, the children here are from ages one to six years and are transferred to another home prior to reaching seven.

St. Vincent’s Orphanages grew throughout the late 1800s, with an average of 50 to 60 young children admitted annually between 1856 and 1867.

In 1888, the Daughters of Charity acquired a new property at 6700 Reisterstown Road to provide a “country home” for the children during the summer months. The institution continued to operate its original building in the winters. In 1934 the original building at Lafayette and Division Streets was sold and the sisters and children were moved to the property on Reisterstown Road.

The home, in 1919, was bursting at the seems due to the Influenza epidemic…more than 210 children entered the home, far exceeding the usual. The children, ages one day to six years was difficult, but didn’t overwhelm the good sisters.[1]

The building was converted to apartments in 1941, the Carver Hall Apartments. It suffered a major fire in 1978 and again in 2015. It was never rebuilt and the shell remains vacant.

Sources: From Baltimore Sunpaper on the 100th Anniversary

[1] Baltimore Sunpaper, ‘Infant Orphans Find Home’, January 9, 1919, page 4

John Frederick Wiessner Orphan Asylum

The John Frederick Wiessner Orphan Asylum was originally located at the S.E. corner First Street and Eastern Avenue (org. and incorporated in 1905). Brewer John Wiessner, son of George F., proprietor of the Fort Marshall Brewery, which was located in Highlandtown, founded the orphanage. It was established for children of both sexes between the ages of 3 and 10 years of age. It was Non-sectarian. The capacity of the school was 20 and it was totally supported by voluntary contributions. The original name of the home was the ‘J.F. Wiessner Children’s Asylum’.

In 1939 the home moved to 4915 Holder Avenue at the intersection of Walther Avenue where it was for 33 years. Children attended Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. The name was changed in 1947 to the John Frederick Wiessner Home for children.

While doing research for the Orphanage, I ran across a very nice article written by Fred Rasmussen and appearing in the Baltimore Sun on April 29, 1995. The article was about a wonderful woman named Ruth Brown Wallenstein, who served as the ‘House Mother’ for sixteen years, raising 36 children. To read the article go to

The Orphanage itself closed in 1980. This institution, however, is still operational today funding organizations whose sole mission is to help children. A remarkable accomplishment considering John’s own brewery was closed down. The name was changed to the John F. Wiessner Foundation, Inc., in 1989 and to the The Wiessner Foundation for Children, Inc. in 1996.

(Sources: Directory of Social Work for Baltimore and Maryland, 4th Edition, 1917, Sunpaper article, April 1995 and foundation website at