Klingberg’s WWII Veterans

During World War II, mothers with sons serving in the military would hang a flag with blue stars to represent each family member in active duty. A gold star signified one who had given his life in service to his country. Klingberg had one of these flags to honor those who entered the military from the Children’s Home. News of their experiences was recounted in each issue of the Hilltop News, as their Klingberg family awaited their safe return. The following appeared in the January, 1944, edition of the Hilltop News: From the embattled isles of the Pacific to frigid Iceland and “sunny” Italy, young men who once ranged the forty acres about the Home as boys, are stationed as soldiers, sailors, and marines. It’s a far cry from the familiar “playground,” “the pasture,” “Holmquist’s,” and “the barn,” to the wide-flung battle-fields of the war. Future issues of the News recounted letters “From Our Boys.” One young man wrote, “Have received a few copies of the Hilltop News and really enjoy reading it…. The last one had a picture of the rock pile that’s down at the end of the pasture. It would certainly feel good to be back there just now.” As his name is not among those lost in the war, it is likely that he did come back to visit. By the end of the war, Klingberg’s service flag, or “mother’s flag,” had 72 blue stars and 5 gold. Many other alumni have served since; we are honored to have so many brave individuals as part of our history. Thank...

The Potato Donations

There are many stories from throughout Klingberg’s history of how the generosity of friends and strangers has supplied the needs of the children in our care. One remarkable case is that of the farmers in Maine who donated from their potato harvest every year for 40 years! In the annual report of 1911-1912, Rev. John Klingberg wrote the following: October 22: It is with much joy I record the following. Through a letter from a friend, information was received some time ago that several friends in New Sweden, Jemtland and Stockholm, in the State of Maine, had started to fill a railroad car with fruits and vegetables, which they intended to send to the Children’s Home, and today the big freight car arrived.  How glad we were when permission was granted us to open its doors and begin to unload its contents!  There were 600 bushels of potatoes in the car, together with 17 bags of turnips, 13 barrels of apples, carrots, beets, butter and a barrel of four.  It was found that after the bins had been filled there was some left over which was sold and the money thus received was used for the purchase of shoes and warm clothing for the orphans.  Thus we were supplied for the whole winter.  Through the kindness of the officials of the railroad companies the car went all the way from Stockholm, Maine to New Britain, Connecticut, a distance of about 700 miles, entirely free of charge. This was only the first example of a friendship that continued for many years. In 1930 a new vegetable cellar was built behind the orphanage building and was promptly filled with that year’s donation of 600 bushels of potatoes, “nearly filling the whole space,” Klingberg wrote. (The cellar can still...

Ground Broken 60 Years Ago

Sixty years ago this week, in September 1955, the local newspapers carried the news of a groundbreaking ceremony at the Klingberg Children’s Home. Depicted by a cartoonist in the New Britain Herald as a fast-growing child, buttons nearly bursting from his shirt, the Home was in need of additional space to house children. The building for which the ground was broken, completed two years later, was a dormitory space for 20 young children with an infirmary, connected to the main building by an underground tunnel. Known as the Junior Unit, it continued to house the younger children through the transition from orphanage to residential treatment facility. Today this building holds offices for several of our programs, including Intensive Family Preservation, Child Abuse Treatment Services, mentoring, and staff training, with some space currently being rented out to another organization. It is also home to our Fifth-Year Program for students who choose to take an additional year after high school before leaving Raymond...

Cornerstone Laid 95 Years Ago

This week we’re traveling back in time to July 25th, 1920—ninety-five years ago this weekend. On that bright summer Sunday, the cornerstone was laid for what is now the main building of Klingberg’s New Britain campus. Hundreds of people were in attendance for the event, including the children for whom the home was being built. Several addresses were given by local ministers, the mayor, and Rev. Klingberg himself, and the cavity of the cornerstone was filled with a number of items related to New Britain and Klingberg, including pamphlets, photographs, local newspapers, and a card from a friend. At the time, Rev. Klingberg had the care of 135 children, and boarding them in multiple houses throughout New Britain was not practical or cost effective. Ground was broken for the new building on August 24, 1909, but the work was interrupted by World War I, and the children did not move in until July, 1922. Over the next several decades, hundreds of children would come to call this building home. Today it holds several programs of Klingberg Family Centers, including Foster Care & Adoption, Extended Day Treatment, Fatherhood 360°, the Outpatient Clinic, and Child Abuse Treatment Services (CATS). In a letter submitted to local newspapers in the spring of 1920, Rev. Klingberg stated his hope “that the new building as well as the work as a whole [would] be a credit to New Britain in the years to come.” Nearly a century later, I think we can safely say that his hopes have been realized. While the methodology has changed, the goal has remained essentially the same: to extend hope and healing to children and families, because each child is precious and deserving of a safe,...