Disease, death, the practice of separating slave families—all left
children with no one to care for them. Scores of orphaned black
children in Civil War Helena suffered from neglect and exposure.
General Napoleon Buford asked for help. In response, charitable
organizations in the North sent doctors, nurses, teachers, food,
clothing and medical supplies.
Helena's Quaker Orphanage and School
In April 1864, Alida and Calvin
Clark left their Indiana farm to
come to Helena. The Clarks
were Quakers, members of the
Indiana Yearly Meeting of
Friends. Upon arriving they
opened the Freedmen's Asylum
The Clarks did more than
provide food and shelter. They
provided an education. Imagine
a child's face as he reads words
printed on a page for the first
time. The schools established by
northern organizations helped
give children a future.
In 1866, donations of money
and labor from the 56th United
States Colored Infantry made it
possible for the Friends' school
to move to a thirty-acre site
outside of Helena. The humble
school eventually became
Southland College, a high school
and teacher training school.
Calvin and Alida Clark