St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum in Dunkirk, NY

1860 – 1940

An Index of Names

By Douglas Shepard and Marsia Painter, 2012


            Women in the order of the Sisters of St. Joseph established St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum in 1857. The first public listing of the children’s names was in the 1860 Census where the names of the six orphans are given. There also are lists in the Federal and New York State censuses of 1865, 1870, 1875, 1880, 1900, 1905, 1910, 1915, 1920, 1925, 1930 and 1940.


            Although there are far more girls’ names, boys were included up through 1905. After that the boys were at the St. Mary’s Farm and School on Bennett Road. (In the directories for 1906 through 1957, the orphanage on Buffalo Street [today’s Washington Avenue] is given as “St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum,” while the one on Bennett Road is given as “St. Mary’s Orphanage.” Newspaper references are usually to “St. Mary’s Home & School,” and “St. Joseph’s Farm & School.”)


            The list that follows is arranged alphabetically by family name. (Some of these entries are conjectural, because the census-taker’s handwriting was difficult to read.) Where the information was given, this list notes given name(s), age, place of birth, etc.      It should be noted that this is merely a basic list. As many on-line inquiries make clear, the orphanage’s records for each child do not seem to be available either locally or at the Diocesan level. Perhaps, some day, they will be found.