|An illustration of St. Joseph's Orphanage. Courtesy of the Dickinson County Historical Society.|
A family from Beloit, Kansas donated the first milk cow. Under Sister Cunningham's care, this would eventually lead to one of the first all registered Holstein herds in Kansas. Over the years, Holstein breeding stock was sold over a large area of the state by the St. Joseph's farm. Additionally, a retail milk route in Abilene was established, and the orphanage was able to raise funds to stay running well past the Great Depression.
At one time, the farm had forty registered cows, five hundred hens, and twelve brood sows. Many vegetables were grown, as well as apples and peaches, and a vineyard for grapes. Sister Cunningham was known as an authority on breeding cattle and had a great knowledge of bloodlines.
During the Great Depression, as many as eighty-five children were living at the orphan home. Not only did Sister Cunningham create a means to feed the children at the orphanage, with the farm she created a way to teach the children to care for themselves and become self-sufficient.
|A photograph of the orphanage. Courtesy of the Dickinson County Historical Society.|
St. Joseph's Orphanage continued to care for children until 1959, the building was closed after being deemed unsafe. Today, all that remains is a small building on the property, and stone markers along the old entryway. Each marker bears a cross.