Biography of Rev. Nelson H. Baker


Baker, Rev. Nelson H. - Sketch of the Society for the Protection of Destitute Catholic Children, and St Joseph's Orphan Asylum, West Seneca, N. Y.-Thirtyfive years ago, we incorporated our "Society for the Protection of Destitute Catholic Children at the City of Buffalo," and during these many years, this infant society has had a severe struggle for existence, beginning in absolute poverty, contracting immense debts in the action of buildings, etc., and embraced with many and great disadvantages, that the work seemed to have been blessed by God and grew and prospered, because we felt that it was His own work, gathering under its hospitable roof the little waif and homeless child, the destitute and wayward boy, until thousands of these classes have been housed, educated, instructed and adopted into homes where they have grown up a credit and an honor to society, and they have also been taught some useful trade to earn for themselves an honest livelihood, and to-day many look back with a lively gratitude to that home that protected them when friendless, and sent them forth well prepared to battle safely with the busy world. In the history of crime and criminals, it is very clearly shown that misfortune is generally the primary cause of all crime; set the young boy adrift upon the world without friends or home, surrounded by evil influences without moral or religious training but environed by all that is base or low, without the elevating influences of an education and cultivating the baser passions of nature, need we be surprised, if such a boy be plunged rapidly into the vortex, and his future instead of being a useful man to society, must be restrained behind stone walls and iron bars as a protection to the life and property of others? Circumstances that cannot be controlled are continually setting adrift upon the world thousands of little children, who must necessarily be subject to its evil influences, and unless some friendly hand is stretched forth to save them, they must naturally float into the vortex of crime, and rob them of all that is good, holy and noble. In order to save this class of children, our association has been organized, and we have made every effort to obtain this class of abandoned and homeless children, and have thrown open our doors, and generously offered to accept all who might present themselves regardless of whence they came, or any circumstances connected with their destitute condition; all that we desired to know, was, were they in need, without friends or a home, if so, they were gladly welcomed to ours, and with the means at our disposal, we would strive to improve their condition in an intellectual, moral and industrial manner, so that they might be redeemed to society, and be a credit to the institution by which it had been adopted. We will have capacity in our new addition, which is now in process of completion, for nearly 1,000 children, and while giving these a good common school education and training in faith and morals, we also give them an opportunity of learning a good trade; we teach them the various branches, printing press work, house and general carpentering, wood carving, hand turning, band sawing, ornamental wood sawing, plumbing, steam and gas fitting, besides the ordinary trades of tailoring, shoemaking and baking; we have also a large farm and vegetable garden, which affords many an opportunity to indulge in this healthy occupation and in cultivating a taste for the tilling of the soil, which in this country is able to afford so many to have their own farm and home, and thus weaning them away from the dangers of city life. The institution was chartered in the year 1864, and was under the care of Rev. T. F. Hines, until the year 1882 when Rev. Nelson H. Baker was appointed superintendent and treasurer, who still holds this position, and under his care the institution has grown; having had the care of only 100 children, it will now contain about 750; he is also president of St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum, situated across the road from St John's Protectory, where 250 boys are housed and cared for, by the same administration; Rev. J. F. Kelly is acting as assistant superintendent in the spiritual, and material work of both institutions, and is active in developing the industrial departments; several periodicals are published at the institution, among which are the "Annals of our Lady of Victory" and the "Victorian," edited, printed and composed by the boys of the institution, by which means they learn to acquire a knowledge of literary work to fit them for future duties in society.

Our County and its people
A descriptive work on Erie County, New York
Edited by: Truman C. White
The Boston History Company, Publishes 1898


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