Potomac Mary A. Judy Industrial School

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Potomac Mary A. Judy School - 2011
Submitted by Sandy Bollhorst

Mary Judy School Cornerston
Courtesy of Sandy Bollhorst

Cornerstone of Mary Judy School
Submitted by Sandy Bollhorst

The History of Mary A. Judy School
Potomac (population 681) is located in far eastern Illinois in the central portion of the state. U.S. Route 136 is the main roadway to and from Potomac.  Vermilion County Highway 10 passes through Potomac as well.  The Bluegrass Creek flows to the east of town and the Bean Creek flows past the south edge of town. Potomac sits about 10 miles northwest of Danville.

Mary Judy Industrial School
Submitted by Sandy Bollhorst

The history of the Mary A. Judy Industrial School for Girls located in Potomac has limited information on the internet.  We know that the school was the idea of a child advocate Doctor Hastings H. Hart.  According to a book preview found on the internet (The Dependent Child: A Story of Changing Aims and Methods in the Care) Dr. Hart likely founded the school in the early 1900s.  It was established on four hundred acres of land owned by the Judy family.  The school was named after the mother of the family, Mary A. Judy. The school was established for girls who were not doing well in foster homes or who had difficult family situations.
The Mary Judy School was a bording school that offered the girls educational opportunities they may not have otherwise enjoyed. The history of the Mary Judy Industrial School is in need of further research.  We believe it was established in the early 1900s and closed in the 1930s, though we may be very wrong.  Any information you can provide on this school would be greatly appreciated.

Mary Judy Dedication Program - 1911
Left Click on Photo for Larger View

Mary Judy School Dedication Program
Left Click on Photo for Larger View

Thank you to Sandy Bollhorst for providing many of the photos for this page..
Mary A. Judy Industrial School Quick Facts
Year opened:                 early 1900s?
Year closed:                  ?
Bldg. Status:                 Still standing in poor condition
Athletics:                      Likely Not Offered.
Memories to Share
From Judy Faris (whose first name is named after Judy School):
"I was pleased to discover that you have included Judy School in your Glory Days Website.  My mother is going to be 86 and was one of the Judy School Girls.  She left there in 1938.  She has only the fondest of memories of the beautiful grounds, the nice teachers and the administrative and housekeeping staff.  
We drove through the maze of cornfields in 2004 to see if the building was still there.  It was!   My mother was thrilled and it brought out tons of stories of those days.

Life at the Judy School - Part 1 

(some tidbits from Katherine Mathieu Michalak):

Potomac Mary Judy School Complex

The grounds of the school were beautiful, buildings surrounded by Spirea Bushes.

The large red brick building had two large dormitories upstairs with about 10 beds each and several more private bedrooms where older girls slept – two to a room.   There was also a room for a teacher to stay in to watch over the girls.

Mary Judy School Living Quarters - 2012
Now a Private Residence

Each girl had a space in a locker where she kept what few possessions she had.  My mother still has her hand-embroidered  pocketed holder for brush and comb and small items.  It was made for her by her grandmother Maud Crist.

Along with their regular school classes, the girls learned necessary life skills:  sewing, cooking, cleaning, gardening.  The school was surrounded by a farm and the girls tended a garden, helped in the kitchen, dusted and cleaned, and learned about ‘the birds and bees’ by watching the farm animals.  They attended a small church down the road.  They always ate well and had treats donated by the Mars Candy Company, Silver Cup bread and other foods from outside sponsors.

Grammar School aged girls were taught at the Judy School location, supervised by the Vermilion County Public School System.  Girls stayed at Judy School until they were 18.  High school-aged girls rode a bus into town, Potomac, for classes.  High school aged girls were allowed to date, and some of them married at the school and started their new lives.

The girls thought it was very romantic when Supervisor, Ms. Faye Corner went on vacation and met a handsome man from Canada named Cossairt.  When they married, the girls got to attend their wedding.

My mother remembers cleaning and polishing the curved wooden staircase to the right of the double entrance doors.

The kitchen and dining room were in the large basement of the building.  Helping in the kitchen was a favorite chore assignment.  When they helped make bread they would pocket the small pieces and use them to feed the birds.  They would sneak out onto the fire escape on the left side of the school and toss the crumbs out and watch the birds.

The main floor had a reception area and Supervisor’s office on the left, with a large classroom behind it.  On the right was the Library.

They slept in the dormitory rooms and rooms for the older girls upstairs.

This is a tiny photo (above) of my mother Katherine Mathieu and her mother Mabel Mathieu at 8th grade graduation, taken on the grounds of the Judy School.

(I am named Judy – after the Judy School.)"

Katherine & Mabel Mathieu / 8th Grade Grad. / 1934
Submitted by Judy Faris

Diploma - Katherine Mathieu - May 26, 1938
Submitted by Judy Faris

Mary Judy School Girls
Submitted by Sandy Bollhorst

More Memories
From Lee Ann Frick, granddaughter of Minnie Frances( Dison) Sawyers:
"My Grandmother went to the May A Judy School when she was just a young lady back in the 1930's, before or after her parents past away. I think that the ladies of the school taught my Grandmother alot of good things in life.
My Mother and I visited the Mary A.Judy School For Girls on June 15, 2010 just to see were my Loveable Grandmother Minnie Frances (Dison) Sawyers attended back in the 1930's. I felt the love coming out of the old school and could still see the past around you.  You could virtually hear the teachers and Girls in and around the school.  The Mary A.Judy School to me is a beautiful old building with a lot of love still coming out of it for all who visit the old School." 

Ambrose Judy Burial Article
Submitted by James Watson

Ambose Judy Burial Article Part 2
Submitted by James Watson

If You Have Any Further Information to Share....
....regarding the history and accomplishments of this important piece of Illinois educational and child care facility, please contact us via e-mail at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net. or via the U.S. Postal Service at the following address:
IHSGD Website
6439 N. Neva Avenue
Chicago, Il.    60631

Potomac Mary A. Judy School Students
Submitted by Sandy Bollhorst

Mary Judy School Students
Submitted by Sandy Bollhorst