Preserving the past
Sometime next summer, we’ll be moving. The Diakon Ministry Support offices located at Mechanicsburg, Pa., that is.
Essentially, the lease for our part of the building at 960 Century Drive will come to an end and we’ll be relocating to other space—though programs such as Diakon Family Life Services and Diakon Adoption & Foster Care will remain at 960 Century, however—more on all of this later.
Beyond the usual concerns of such a move—there’s no way I’m going to be able to move all these old files and publications we’ve never had time to organize—I have responsibility for a space we call “the history closet.” In it are a number of items related to the history of the Tressler Orphans Home, along with old board reports and numerous files.
We’ll take care to place in protected storage old records and files, some of which relate to the history of Lutheran Social Services of Maryland, which merged with Tressler Lutheran Services in the 1990s, but we may also have to secure temporary space for some historical artifacts (for example, a uniform worn by youths in the Tressler Orphans Home Boys Band) until we can develop a historical center in permanent Diakon space.
One item I’ll keep with me, however, is a large bound volume into which, in flourishes of ink, have been inscribed the names of nearly all of the children served by the Tressler Orphans Home
That’s an important goal for us, given the long and storied legacies we continue of both Tressler and the Topton Orphans Home.
One item I’ll keep with me, however, is a large bound volume into which, in ornate flourishes of black inkwell ink, have been inscribed the names of nearly all of the children served by the Tressler Orphans Home from the late 1800s through its closure in the early 1960s (similar records exist at The Lutheran Home at Topton, overseen there by a senior living resident who also grew up at the home).
Each single-line entry in the Tressler book includes the name of the child, date and location of birth, the date he or she entered the home, whether a “church orphan” or referred by another source and the accompanying fee, “by whom indentured”—an interesting characterization of the person placing the child in the home—the date the child left the home, and his or her destination if known.
At least five to eight times a year, I receive an email or, more often, a telephone call from someone researching the genealogy of a parent, grandparent or other relative who lived at the home. And so out comes the book from the history closet.
It’s extremely gratifying to be able to locate at least some of the sought-after information and, often, fill in missing details about the past of the inquirer’s loved one.
The joy in the voice at the other end of the line is usually quite apparent, so that is certainly one book that will make the move with me.
By William Swanger
Senior Vice President
Corporate Communications & Public Relations
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