1920 Jefferson County Farm School


The Jefferson County Farm School was established in the last decade of the 19th century to address the problem of chronic truancy in local schools without subjecting errant students to the harsh conditions of the traditional reform school. Operated under the auspices of the City of Watertown's Board of Education, the school provided a year-around residence for boys ages 8-16 who had been sentenced by the court to removal from their homes. Besides providing traditional classes during the school year, boys operated a farm which paid most of the expenses of the farm, growing fruit, vegetables, and raising poultry, dairy and meat animals for both their own subsistence and for local markets. The school raised additional funds by accepting boys from outside of the county for a fee. The school was located about 4 miles from Watertown on the present Sandy Creek Valley road and operated for more than 50 years.


Watertown Daily Times, Watertown, NY, Thursday, December 23, 1920

This is a story that the boys at the Jefferson county farm school are not going to read. Along about this time of the year, all copies of The Times received at the school are censored and all stories relating to the Christmas preparations there are cut out by Mrs. E.H. Bunce, the "mother' to the 40 boys there. If Mrs. Bunce didn't do this, the boys would know all about the big surprise they are going to have tomorrow night and that would remove all the elements of surprise. And what is Christmas without surprises?

Up to this noon, 108 books have been received at the school and these havebeen placed in the school library. The books are not given to the boys as individual gifts, but are placed in the general library. One of the boys has been appointed librarian and he has charge of all the books. During the school year, each boy is allowed to draw one book a week. Friday night has been designated as library night, and the books are circulated on this night. The library has about 400 in volumes in all, and there are very few duplicates. During the vacation period, the boys are allowed to take out two books a week.

In addition to the books, about 50 victrola records have been received. The assortment is very good, consisting of sacred, patriotic and comic songs and a number of orchestra numbers which can be used for marching and drills. The victrola has been placed in the school, but the boys do not know anything about this.

In cash, $62.50 has been received. Each boy will receive a cap, a pocket comb, two handkerchiefs and a neck tie. In addition, each boy will receive a pair of skates, a sled, a pair of skis or a game.

The Rotary club of Watertown has given oranges and candy, so that each boy will receive a half pound of candy and an orange. The Christmas tree has been placed in the private dining room of Mr. and Mrs. Bunce. Supper will be served at 5:30 tomorrow evening. The boys wash the dishes after the [meal] and probably dishes will never be washed and wiped with the speed that they will be tomorrow night, because as soon as the supper dishes are 'done'the doors to the private dining room will be thrown open and the distribution of presents will be made.

Christmas morning will be ushered in with the singing of Christmas carols, dinner will be served at noon and late in the afternoon a sacred program, emblematic of the Christmas season will be given. In the evening , an entertainment will be given, at which the boys will give recitations, and two wonderful days will come to a close.

Mrs. Bunce today expressed her appreciation of the kindness of the people who had contributed to the Christmas fund of the school, and assured them that 40 happy boys would think of them tomorrow night.


1920 Roster

NameAgeBornFather bornMother born
Bunce, Eugene H.37New YorkNew YorkNew York
Bunce, Elizabeth C.37New YorkNew YorkNew York
Bunce, Karl M.10New YorkNew YorkNew York
Bunce, Zeba B.72New YorkNew YorkNew York
Fralick, Adelaide M.70New YorkNew YorkNew York
Stafford, Fanny55CanadaCanadaNew York
Blood, Ora H13New YorkNew YorkNew York
Billhardt, Gilbert10New YorkU.S.U.S.
Bryer, Carleton12New YorkNew YorkNew York
Burnham, Arnold12New YorkNew YorkNew York
Coffie, Le Roy14New YorkNew YorkNew York
Colby, Frank13New YorkNew YorkNew York
Colby, Oral11New YorkNew YorkNew York
Cooper, Allen10New YorkU.S.U.S.
Currier, Fred14New YorkNew YorkNew York
Currier, Ralph9New YorkNew YorkNew York
Eldrigde, Norman13New YorkNew YorkNew York
Fasono, Mikiel14New YorkItalyNew York
Ferris, Ellsworth12New YorkNew YorkNew York
Hodge, Raymond10New YorkNew YorkNew York
Jenner, Charles15New YorkNew YorkNew York
Ketchum, Clarence15New YorkNew YorkNew York
Lester, Clarence11New YorkNew YorkNew York
Longmore, Mearle12New YorkCanadaNew York
Loomis, Nathaniel13New YorkNew YorkNew York
Mack, Clarence14New YorkNew YorkNew York
Malesuschy, Theodore11New YorkPolandPoland
Maxwell, Howard13New YorkNew YorkNew York
Moseley, Theodore13New YorkNew YorkSwitzerland
Palmer, Elmer8New YorkNew YorkNew York
Pendt, Karl13New YorkSwitzerlandUnknown
Purpora, Joseph11New YorkItalyItaly
Russwill, Carl10New YorkU.S.U.S.
Scott, Oliver10New YorkNew YorkNew York
Smith, Everett15New YorkNew YorkNew York
Smith, Earl10New YorkCanadaNew York
Snyder, Andy12New YorkNew YorkNew York
Spiegleman, Philip7RussiaRussiaRussia
Steele, George14New YorkNew YorkNew York
Goddard, Silas7U.S.U.S.U.S.
Taber, Walter13New YorkNew YorkNew York
Taccanelli, Tony10ItalyItalyItaly
Vargosha, Henry11New YorkAustriaNew York
Wells, Robert11New YorkNew YorkNew York
Zeno, William12U.S.U.S.U.S.
Taylor, John13New YorkNew YorkNew York
Kennedy, Victor15New YorkNew YorkNew York
Dawson, Arthur15New YorkEnglandNew York


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