Holy Childhood Oral Histories

Here and here are two audio links from recent interviews with survivors of the Holy Childhood boarding school in Harbor Springs, Michigan.

From Interlochen Public Radio:

Keeping the history of Holy Childhood

Linda Stephan

HARBOR SPRINGS 2007-09-28

 

A Michigan historic site in Harbor Springs is expected to be demolished next month despite a last-minute effort to save the building. It was built in 1913 to house an Indian Boarding School run by the Catholic Church.

The church owns the building, but members of tribes all over Michigan, and even beyond, have some claim to its history.

Plans for the new building have been in the works for years. But this summer the impending demolition dug up old wounds for some former students, and while some welcomed the wrecking ball, others felt the building’s demise would also erase the building’s history.

IPR’s Linda Stephan visited Harbor Springs, and filed this report.

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44 Responses to Holy Childhood Oral Histories

  1. I want more information on the schools history. I’m trying to find out some of the nun’s and teacher’s names. Around the time my dad “Benedict Hinmon” and my step mom “Sharon Skutt” went to school there. They are both 50 years of age. I’m really interested in this schools history. Get back to me plz. my hotmail e-mail is sexy_native_babe92@hotmail.com
    Thank you!
    Sincerely Shelby P.-H.

  2. Denise Horn says:

    My family all went to this school. I know some of them have a lot of memories of the place. They were all originally from Mackinac Island. Many of their friends and family members went there as well. I know my mom does not remember a ton of information, however she does remember some and some names as well of different people. Feel free to contact me if you’d like and maybe you could share information with each other.

    dhorn1402@yahoo.com

  3. Anne Thornton says:

    Why would anyone want to remember going to Holy Childhood School. I use to have nightmares, it was so bad. The nuns used to beat the children, you were always teased, told you were not smart, and so on and so on. Funny that I just happened to do a search on the school. Why, I don’t know. I was not a border, but a local in the 1960’s.

  4. Michelle Farley says:

    My husbands father went here, but we can’t seem to get any information on him? Maybe someone can help us out in finding out what to do to find more about his heritage… If you have any information, please email us at miwildone2002@yahoo.com
    Thanks,,,

  5. Sharon Brunk says:

    I would like to comment on the Indian Boarding Schools, as I myself and my older brothers were their from about 1963 thru 1969 and it is not a good memory that I have of the place. But I would like to hear from other native americans that have been there at that time. I am so glad that it got demolitioned last year, would have loved to see that place destroyed. Hope to hear from other natives that had to put up with boarding schools.

  6. Jennifer Hebel says:

    I had a spooky dream about Holy Childhood last night. While I didn’t attend the boarding school itself, I attended Catechism every Sunday as well as daycare from the time where I was just a few months old. The dream sort of shook me to the core and I guess I wanted to see what I could find on the school. Not many pictures at all. I have such vivid memories of the building, vivid memories of the nuns (I remember Sister Ameldys would always give me animal crackers. She was the nice nun. Then there was Sister Corrinne who was a horrid woman). I wish I could find more pictures of the inside. If anyone has any, feel free to e-mail me hebeljen@yahoo.com

  7. lisa young says:

    my father attended the school, as well as my mother’s mother. she was taken from her home when she was five, along with her siblings…
    there are not many positive memories of the place. I have never been except to attend the LTBB ceremony when the place was closed. I have heard many tales of the beatings that went on behind closed doors, of denying the anishnabe children of their heritage and language.. .. and I have also heard that there was a lot of sexual misconduct performed by the sisters and fathers of this institution… on the children… i have heard that baby bones were found within the walls.. from when the young native girls became impregnated from the fathers/preachers/ministers of the church…spending time in this school before it closed.. i had feelings of sickness… wretched knots in my stomach and every room that i walked into, felt evil, cold, filled with horrible memories… i pictured little children being beaten, whipped, braids cut off…. and worse… a terrible place, but i think that it should have been made a historical site so that all the rich schmucks that have million dollar summer homes in the area can see what happened to the children of the area… not that long ago… what really happened in their beautiful summer resort town of harbor springs…

  8. Marilynne Loonsfoot says:

    I have numerous memories of Harbor Springs Boarding School. Some negative but many positive. Christmastime and the nativity scene in the main hallway on the first floor, the store that was only opened on Sunday, my first communion and confirmation, playing in the woods up on the hill, skating on the lake and the long walks. The negative is the kerosene and sugar we had to take to ward off a cold or something or other. and those dreaded pink pills. I often wanted to get in touch with other former students but really hadn’t any clue as to how to do it. Hopefully this will give me the opportunity to touch base with former classmates Marilynne Skippergosh Loonsfoot

  9. Mary Elizabeth Nichols says:

    I am seeking verifiable information about the prohibition against Indians entering the City of St. Ignace?

    Was this a local ordinance?

    Was this ever rescinded or revoked?

    Thank you!

  10. Mary Geroux says:

    I offen wonder what happen to everyone, there was alot of tear’s at Harbor Springs. what ever we did was never good enough for the Sister there. I could tell ya story that would make your skin crawl, I left that place behind me and moved far away to Arizona, I never understood why anyone would send there child there, if only parents new the truth about it. all we can do now is pray for everyone who made it through there. you cant tell people to forget its one place that never leaves you.

  11. i was there in the early 70s; one of the worst places a child could grow up. they always cut kids down,told ya even your family didnt want or love ya. the boys really really had it bad. my brother has serious issues because of sister diane.anyone who knew us or her knows exactly what she was about. she commited alot of serious acts against all the boys. young and the older ones; i wouldnever forgive her. sister patchuella was the most caring and kind one.i did dining room with her. as for the rest , i am sure they will go to hell. there was also sister naomi, changed to sister maxine, sister fidalis, sister roberta amoung others. sister fidalis might of been a good person. thinking of the dorms is what gives me and my little brother nightmares.feel free to contact me. first time i have expressed myself on this issue.

  12. James Carey says:

    I attended this school. the last year it was noted to be a boarding school. Along with 2 of my siblings, I spent my 3rd grade year here. An experience I’ll never forget. my family also attended here in the past,Carey’s and Chingman’s.

  13. Connie DePlonty says:

    I am trying to access the schools records around the years 1926-1928 to see if it lists my grandmother. Can you please advise me on the process, thanks.

  14. Beatrice mejia greenhoe says:

    Hi Tina i dont know if you remeber me my name is Beatrice mejia and my whole family went to holy childhood school in harbor springs there. The mejia family. Its been a long time. I remember everything that had happen at the school.

  15. Susan Dowd says:

    Hi and wow it is nice to here from former students of Holy Child Hood School. Over the years I have often wonder about the children I lived with for two years and went to class with.On the year I was to return back to school with my sister I beg my mom please don’t send me back.Well she did not, but my older sisters went on for the 3rd yr.
    What has helped me over the course is to think of the good times at the school.Though it is easier to think of the bad which I do now only to tell the stories, but I also share in the fun time.The bath water was cold, dirty and yuk. I was always the 9Th child, I believe after the 3rd set of 3 they would change the water.My sister who worked in the kitchen made hot chocolate with out the sugar and we still had to drink it.I give her a hard time..lol Sister Naomi left and got married.
    Please don’t get mad with me, but my aunt was a nun there.SORRY!She won’t speak about the school. She too left in the mid 70’s
    Is that candy store still opened? We would spend our little bit of change at the store.I still remember how nice it would smell. mmmm good.How about the school being haunted.I slept by the bathroom my first spot when I arrived 2ND grade. We my sisters and I arrived we spoke some Spanish and yes we was punished for speaking it.As I attended College I took a Spanish class and when my teacher called on me I just sat there and could not speak a word of any kind.After class I talked to her and told of what happened at the school and knowing as an adult I would not get punished, but still I could not speak a word in the class. She understood since I am not the only person who has gone through such an ordeal.Silly me as I cried. I was 44 yrs old when I went to college.Other catholic schools I attended afterwards the nuns were just as bad.These nun set a bad image of Christ and same as the priest, but I praise God in Jesus name that we serve a awesome God. What ever is good think on that and the hurts will heal through forgiveness.Is that not why Jesus died for us is to forgive us.Yes?
    Any information should be found in records at the court house.All records for the school attendance should have been reported to the a school board.
    God Bless my long lost Friends.

  16. Michelle Genereaux Steele says:

    I went to Holy Childhood for 2nd grade I believe in 1979. My brother and sister both went 2 years. My sister went the year before me and my brother and then my brother went back another year after we were all there. Holy Childhood at times was hell, but at home wasn’t much better for me. Our parents got a divorce while we were there. I remember sister ameldys (always loving and caring), sister ann (our dorm sister and awful), sister gladys was my 2nd grade teacher ( have times I liked her and times I didn’t) and sister Jo took care of the boys. My siblings and I have never talked about going there. I remember mrs sturdavant was our music lady. I dont remember the librarian but my memory tells me she was an african- american sister, maybe I’m wrong. The good times were the ice rink, the bike rides, the rec room up stairs and lets not forget weekend parents – some I liked, but it was always nice to leave. The bad times are just that…not worth storing in my memory..I have them, just try not to dwell on them. The only one who ever physically hurt me was sister Ann. And I had no sexual abuse. I believe my paternal grandmother Susan Negake and my paternal grandfather Isaac Genereaux also attended when they were children.

  17. I WENT TO HOLY CHILDHOOD SCHOOL FROM 1949TO 1954. I REMEMBER SISTER ROSINA AND SISTER CLEMETINE WHO JUST LOVED TO SLAP MY FACE. I WET MY BED AND SISTER ROSINA GOT A RUBBER HOSE AND SPANKED ME WITH IT AND IHAD TO KNEEL ON MYKNEES FOR ALONG TIME. IHAD SISTERS AND BROS WHO RAN AWAY MY BRO RICK GOT CAUGHT AND ONE OF THE PRIEST AT DINNER TIME MADE HIM KNEEL DOWN INFRONT OF EVERY ONE AND KICK HIM AND HIT HIM IN THE HEAD.MYNAME WAS DARLENE JOYCE PETERS NIKUNEN(NIKANEN).MY MARRIED NAME IS DARLENE J NOWAK.

  18. Susan Dowd says:

    Wow I am so sorry. Susan Dowd.

  19. it still bothers me today

  20. Jan Walker says:

    Hi, My name is Janice Walker, and I am looking for former students both day and boarder who went to Holy Childhood School. Yes, I am one of the many “Walkers” who attended the school from 1965-1973. My siblings are Jim, Sharon, Donna, Mary and Paul. We are a third generation family of boarding school survivors.

    Tina Rappley, Beatrice Mejia, Susan Dowd, Mary Geroux please free to contact me at Jadan38@aol.com or FB – Jan Walker. I remember each and every one of you… and there are so many others. If anyone understands how you feel; it’s those of us who experienced it with you. Please know that I carry each and every one of you in my heart and pray for God’s healing hand in yours. Look forward to hearing from you.

    Jan

  21. Doreen Brimacomb Sampson says:

    My name is Doreen Brimacombe Sampson. I went to holy Childhood also, I often think of all of you. I was a big sister to a lot of the girls. I am also on FB.

  22. victoria says:

    can you explain a little more in dept of how the nuns treated the children?

  23. victoria says:

    my mom and her 2 brothers and 3 sister went to this school. there names are brenda, june, linda, phillip, and maryanne cantu. they are looking to reunite with some of their old friends from this school. please e-mail me at cortez.victoria330@gmail.com my mother looks forward to hearing from her old friends.

  24. Derek DeVerney says:

    My Grandmother also attended this School, although I am still not sure what years it would have been. Her Maiden name was Nedeau. I don’t know a whole lot about her younger years, and unfortunately she walked on in 2009 and I never had a chance to ask her. She was born in 1942, so she probably was there in 1947 albeit 5 years old. She eventually found her way to Newberry. If anyone recognizes that last name feel free to email me. My Nokomis was a very loving woman and a big time genealogist, so part of this search of mine is aiding me in completing her work. I imagine she had some cousins and other relatives who attended there. Here is my email:
    masterscorpio77@gmail.com

  25. Gayle Green says:

    Are you related to Victor Carey? I’m researching and my mother went to this school also. Can you contact me to see if we are related.

  26. darlene says:

    no i’m not related to you

  27. A. Morales says:

    Sister Lincoln was the head nun and Sister Fidalious was under her. Sister Naomi was the head nun for all the girls and Sister Roberta was for the boys. This was from around 1965 – 1971

  28. Cher says:

    Aunt Susie and Uncle Isaac were my favorite, I dearly loved Aunt Susie. My mom and dad would always take us over to their house when they lived on Turner Strreet in Lansing. We lived not far from them on State Rd. My mom and dad were Pat and Roa Antcliff- Patricia Antcliff-Negake. Uncle Isaac and my Grandpa, Henry Negake used to go fishing in the Grand River for Carp and sell them to the whoever would buy them, for a little bit of whiskey or beer. Ahh I had a wonderful childhood, very enriched by a loving household full of giggling kids, good food and great people

  29. i went there in 1946 darlene peters (nikunen)

  30. Jill Yeager says:

    Dear Jan, Hello my name is Jill Yeager, I moved to beautiful Harbor Spring’s Mi when I was 3. I grew up there & also went to Harbor Spring’s public school. A very good friend of mine also went to the Holy Childhood school in Harbor Spring’s, his name was Jame’s Walker, I met him in 73-74, I would like to know if he’s your brother, if so Please tell him that Jill Yeager said Hello.

  31. marge andress bekins says:

    WHAT WERE THE DREADED PINK PILLS??? DID THEY ALSO DRUG THE CHILDREN??? SO VERY SAD..MY FATHER WENT THER..JOSEPH M. ANDRESS AND HIS OLDER BROTHER PAT ANDRESS….THER BOTH GONE NOW..BUT MY FATHER WOULDNT TALK ABOUT GOING TO SCHOOL THER.. THEY LIVED THER,..HE SAID HE WISHED THE CHURCH HAD ROUND CORNERS, SO THE DEVIL WOULDNT CORNER HIM..IVE HEARD LITTLE STORY FROM MY DAD NOT MUCH..HE DID SAY THAT HE LEARNED HOW TO MAKE QUILL BOX THER..SO THEY DID TEACH THEM THER CULTURE..THE ARTS..I HAD TO ASK MY DADS OLDER BROTHER PAT ANDRESS AND I WROTE HIS MEMORIES DOWN..,AS HE SPOKE OF GOING TO SCHOOL THER…THEY OFTEN RAN AWAY MANY TIMES FROM THER, AND THE NINS WOULD CALL THE POLICE AND THEY WOULD ROUND THE BOYS UP AND BRING THEM BACK TO THE SCHOOL..DADDY AND HIS BROTHERS HAD LIVED THER IN THE DORM..UNTIL THER FATHER DIED, THER AUNT WENT TO TELL THEM AND PICK THEM UP FOR THER DADS FUNERAL..MY DAD WAS 9 WHEN HIS FATHER DIED..AND THE KIDS NEVER HAD TO GO BACK TO THE BOARDING SCHOOL AGAIN..IVE GOT STORIES FROM MY UNCLE ABOUT THE BOARDING SCHOOL AND LIVEING THER..NOT GOOD STORIES.. SINCERLY, MARGE M ANDRESS BEKINS

  32. paula bush says:

    great great grand mother christina mastaw attended holy childhood school in1887 threw 1894

  33. paula bush says:

    if she was around today i would give her a big hug and tell her how much i would of liked to know her . and hoped her stay at the school was better than what i have read it is sad but needs to be

  34. lisa miller says:

    sister naomi married my father and became my step mom,feel free to send me an email

  35. Roger Carey says:

    Hello, I would like to finally know who my relatives are. I only have 1 sibling that I am aware of. Victor Carey is my father. I never got to know him, and only remember meeting him once. I hope to hear back. ROGER

  36. Karen says:

    When I was a girl in Lake Orion, Michigan, I had a friend who ended up at this shcool around 1957 or so. Her name was Vivian Corbiere. Does anyone here know what became of her? I think she eventually taught English there.

  37. Hi Doreen i remember u!

  38. when you had a cold sister rosina would give you sugar an gerosine.yuk,yuk. that was in the late 40’s and 50’s does any one remerber that???

  39. I also went to that horrible school I did not know.

  40. Wendy Morris says:

    Roger, did you find your Petoskey relatives? Vic was a friend of my Dad. I do have info. if you’re still interested. Contact me at…wendymorris@charter.net

  41. I am a historian at Loyola University Chicago. I am teaching a small group of students in a special class about American Indians and the Catholic Church. We are exploring the bad and good to come from the encounter between American Indian spirituality and Catholic mission activities. Respectfully,I would appreciate the opportunity to have former students at Holy Childhood share there experiences with my students.

  42. Mary St Onge Cope says:

    I also went there from 1966 until 1974. A complete nightmare that will haunt us all who went there. Not many good memories.

  43. Mary St Onge Cope says:

    Thank you Mary.

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