Following the Civil War, and a small pox epidemic in this area, there were many orphans and homeless children on the Eastern Shore. These were generally placed in the County poor houses, or with farmers to work for their keep, where they were often literally worked to death. Miss Anna M.L. Earle, a wealthy spinster of Queen Anne, decided to do something about it; on November 4, 1863 the she contacted Mr. & Mrs. Elias Dawson, who lived at Washington and Bay Streets in Easton, and they all agreed it was a terrible situation. In April 1869, Bishop Henry Champlain Lay D.D.L.D. Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Easton, chose as his text “In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25-44). They considered this to be a direct message to go ahead. The Bishop approved and that same week a meeting was held at the home of Bishop Lay. Those present were: Miss Anna M.L. Earle, Mrs. Sidney C. Hutton, Miss Eleanor A. Goldsborough, Miss Alice E. Colquhoun, and Mrs. Marie Tilghman. They banded themselves together to establish a Home for Friendless Children.
They drew up a Constitution, which was presented to the Diocesan Convention in Easton that year, it was enthusiastically received. The Convention voted to sponsor the Home. The name of the Home was to be “The Home for Friendless Children of the Eastern Shore of Maryland”. The sole object of the organization was to give physical comfort, education and religious instruction, so as to fit the children for useful and respectable positions in life. Records of proceedings were to be kept and presented to the convention when it met each year. To this day an annual report is filed with the convention, and the members are elected by the Convention.
The home opened on January 13, 1871 with two children, a boy named George Todd, and a girl, whose last name was Brent. By the end of the year there were 17 children, 13 girls and one boy in residence, and a cook hand had been hired. The members of the Board of Managers had close contact with the children and the home they provided much in the way of food, necessities, and actual work.
With the advent of various government funds, changing ideas of social responsibility, the popularity of foster homes, and increasing government regulations, after a deep study of the situation in October 1958 the Board of Managers of the Children’s Home of the eastern Shore announced their plans to cease operations of the home as of January 1, 1959. The Home actually closed on December 20, 1958.
In January 1960, the Chairman of the Scholarship Committee sent a letter to the High School Principals of the Eastern shore of Maryland announcing the availability of scholarships for vocational training to be awarded on the basis of need, ability, and worthiness of the student. This same program is the main work of the Board today. A campership program was in effect before the Home was closed and is still functioning today.
- From A Brief History of The Children's Home Foundation of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Inc. by Elouise Howard Davis, 1982