Cherokee Orphan Asylum

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Cherokee Orphan Asylum
Established 1873
Opened 1873
Closed 1903
Current Status Demolished
Location Salina, OK
Architecture Style Victorian mansion
Alternate Names


In 1873, after the Cherokee orphans had been cared for at Tahlequah for several years, the Cherokee Nation purchased the home and farm of Louis Ross, a Cherokee citizen located in the eastern part of Mayes County, adjoining the present town of Salina, and converted it into a home for Cherokee orphans. In 1875, the large Ross mansion was enlarged and the school was prepared to care for one hundred or more orphans.

The farm consisted of about three hundred acres of land, approximately one-half of which was fertile bottom land, the other half consists of timber and pasture land. Horses, cattle and hogs were raised, and the bottom land produced abundant crops of corn, oats and wheat. The timber land furnished fuel for the home, and fencing and lumber for the improvement of the farm. Everlasting springs of pure water bubbled out of the nearby hillside, furnishing an abundant supply of pure water for the home and livestock.

For nearly a third of a century the Cherokees supported this institution entirely from their own tribal funds, expending annually about $12,500.00 for the support of about one hundred and fifty of their orphan boys and girls, but on the 17th day of November, 1903, the entire home, including the original building and the three wings which had been added was destroyed by fire. The fire occurred at noon, causing no loss of life but consuming almost the entire contents of the building.

About fifty of the orphans were transferred to the Whitaker Home at Pryor Creek and the others were cared for at Tahlequah. The orphan home, or asylum, as it was called, was never rebuilt, and a mound of old brick is all that is left to remind the Cherokees of their historic home which for thirty years was one of the institutions in which they manifested special pride.