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From: Mary LaFlam <>
Subject: [NY-Orphanages] St.Josephs Orphanage Ogdensburg, NY
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 15:55:51 -0400


The Grey Nuns of Ogdensburg, NY

Founders of the Ogdensburg Hospital



The Ogdensburg, NY story of the Grey Nuns begins in 1863. Sister Dorothy
Kirby, acting in the name
of the Grey Nuns in Ottawa, Ontario purchased some property in the
growing settlement of
Ogdensburg. This was the Nathon Ford stone mansion. Father LeMercier,
the first paster of Notre
Dame church, had invited the Grey Nuns to be teachers in his parish. In
September 1863 eight Grey
Nuns opened Our Lady of Victory Academy, a boarding school. During this
period, both the parochial
and the public school systems developed rapidly in Ogdensburg. Our Lady
of Victory Academy was
closed by 1879.

Although the Grey Nuns first came to Ogdensburg as teachers, in 1885
Bishop Edgar P. Wadhams
asked them to provide care for the orphans, the aged and the sick poor.
In doing so, they returned to
the original work of their community. The Grey Nuns had started as a
religious community devoted to
providing care for destitute and sick people. That story dates back to
1737 in Montreal and Margurerite
D'Youville.

Bishop Wadhams also appealed to the civic-minded citizens of Ogdensburg
to address the problem of
the ill and the poor. A board of managers was elected to establish the
Ogdensburg City Hospital and
Orphan Asylum in the Grey Nun's Convent. The bishop assured the board:

"The Grey Nuns who own the Ford Mansion have consented to give the use
of it, in perpetuity, gratis.
They will take charge of it and no better guarantee could be required to
insure the best of care for the
sick and destitute as well as the greatest possible economy in the
management of the institution. Due
care will be taken that the inmates are provided with religious
attendance that they or their friends may
require. By this means as well as by others it is intended to have the
Hospital and Asylum supply a
want long felt in the city."

The Ogdensburg City Hospital and Orphan Asylum was opened in November
1885. Sister Mary
Patrick came from Ottawa to be administrator of the intuition, and
Sister St. Stephen was placed in
charge of the hospital department. The number of patients grew so
rapidly that a new building for the
hospital became necessary. A generous donation from George Hall, mayor
of Ogdensburg, helped the
board to complete a 60 bed hospital by May of 1902. This was just across
the street from the Grey
Nun Convent and is the present location of the hospital.

In order to assure adequately trained personnel to care for the sick,
the Grey Nuns started a school of
nursing in 1902 and graduated their first class of seven students in
1905. In the early years of the
school the students worked seven days a week with shifts from 7 am to 7
pm. Once a week, if
possible, each student had time off between 2 and 9 pm, with three hours
off on Sunday. The annual
vacation was two weeks. Their pay was $5 a month and they furnished
their own uniforms and books.
Their residence was the fourth floor of the hospital. The school of
nursing closed in 1968 after having
provided training for hundreds of nurses in the North Country area.

In 1899 Grey Nuns were sent to staff St. John's Hospital to care for
people with contagious diseases
such as typhoid and scarlet fever. This hospital was in a house one the
Black Lake Road. Starting in
1930 this hospital was used solely for patients with tuberculosis (TB).
St. John's Hospital had a
contract with St. Lawrence County to provide care for all the TB cases
at $27 a week. About 40
patients could be accommodated. St. John's Hospital was also the
headquarters for the TB clinics. As
the incidence of tuberculosis declined, there was no long need for this
type of intuition. St. John's was
converted to a nursing home which continued until the old building had
to be closed in 1955.

After a separate hospital had been erected in Ogdensburg in 1902, care
of the orphans and the aged
continued in the Ford Mansion, which was now referred to as St. Joseph's
Home. The hospital and St.
Joseph's Home became separate entities in 1917. The name of the hospital
was changed to the A.
Barton Hepburn Hospital in recognition of Mr.Hepburn's generosity to the
building find.

With changing trends in child welfare, St. Joseph's Home had closed out
its children's programs by
1960. From the time it started in 1885, the orphanage had cared for a
total of 4,677 children.

The need to provide care for the aged continues. By 1960 the board of
St. Joseph's Home decided that
the Ford Mansion, which had served the Grey Nuns for many years, was
inadequate for the growing
needs. St. Joseph's Home, now a skilled nursing facility or nursing
home, was built at the corner of
Lafayette and Franklin Streets in Ogdensburg. It continues to be
administered by the Grey Nuns under
the direction of a Board of Managers. Grey Nuns were the administrators
of the A. Barton Hepburn
Hospital until the late 1970s. They continue to be represented on the
board.

>From the time the small community of Grey Nuns came to Ogdensburg in
1863, they served in
whatever capacity they were needed. This was their vocation, their way
of serving God. The larger
community benefited from their labors. Their habit is rarely worn today,
but the spirit of the Grey Nuns
lives on. Two of the institutions they started, the hospital and St.
Joseph's Home, continue to provide
essential services in Ogdensburg.

The American order split from the Canadian order in the 1920s and added
Sacred Heart to their name.
The order staffed St. Mary's School in Potsdam when it first opened in
1959. The Grey Nuns
concluded a long career in the North Country as administrators, nurses,
social workers and teachers
when their order decided to close the Grey Nuns convent in Potsdam in
June, 1997.


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