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A Visit to Sleighton Farm School

Last Friday, a friend and I visited Sleighton Farm School. The stone buildings on this property were constructed in 1826, and (although abandoned now) are absolutely beautiful.  During it’s time, Sleighton served as a reform school for girls. However, I think at some point it housed boys as well, because we found evidence of such. In doing an internet search, you can find hundreds of stories about this place, and the mysteries it holds. This school was left in the hands of mother nature back in 2001 when financial issues arose. The property covers over 300 acres and is slowly falling victim to decay, overgrown weeds, and corrosion. Despite it’s disheveled appearance, Sleighton is still a truly amazing site. We were able to explore inside of one of the buildings. There was a fall out shelter in the basement with giant (empty) water cans. Upstairs we examined many of the rooms which housed “inmates”. I wouldn’t necessarily refer to the Sleighton students as such, but a few online sources have used that word.  The rooms were small and contained a bed, a 4-drawer dresser, a clothes rack, and a mirror screwed into the wall. We also saw the showers/restrooms that were used during that time. Strangely enough, the storage closets were still packed with supplies (pillows, a used bar of soap (gross, I know), books, an artificial Christmas tree etc.) I was shocked when we visited a few of the offices and found complete files on students that attended there, including notes, letters, report cards, drug tests, court documents, and anything else you would expect to find in someone’s personal file. The offices were still filled with supplies, books, paperwork, and electronics. It’s almost as if the people who resided at Sleighton just got up and left. A few other things we saw include a lounge area (with a ping pong table!), a laundry room, a living area with a fireplace, and a cafeteria. This place was incredible! The best part of our exploration was letting our imaginations wander. I took over a hundred photos, but here are a few of my favorites.

P.s. If anyone has any stories about Sleighton Farm School, feel free to share! I am extremely interested in learning about the past this place holds.

ATTENTION: there is now a part 2, which contains more photos from my visit to Sleighton! Check it out >>here<<

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190 comments on “A Visit to Sleighton Farm School

  1. Paolo Photographer
    November 21, 2011

    Great shots! I like the second and the last 2. I think we like to photograph the same things. :-) In Italy near my town there are a lot of abandoned buildings (especially factories). I hope to add very soon, some photos on my blog.

    • scenicroadway
      November 22, 2011

      Thank you Paolo! Glad you enjoyed them. I will definitely keep an eye on your blog for these photos!

    • hallie
      November 18, 2012

      hi, i actually was court ordered to stay in this God forsaken evil place when i was 14 yrs.old.it did have boys living in one of the houses and the violence there was pretty bad,lots of fights and gang activity.i literally escaped with another girl,this was about 1974, i am now 52 yrs old, i never went back,my charges were not justified,i was charged with auto theft of a vehicle that i did take but i took my kidnapper/rapists vehicle to get away from him and they didnt believe me because he was a well know businessman in phila…anyway,this place was horrid and im sure lots of evil still dwells there…

      • Anne Russell
        November 18, 2012

        I’m very interested in your comment, as I am author of a new book The Wayward Girls of Samarcand, a true story of 16 teenage girls at North Carolina’s reform school for white girls, who burned down their dorms in 1931 and were put on trial for the death penalty. Like you, these girls had not done anything wrong, but were simply victims of poverty. The book is available on Amazon, if you’d like to look at the cover and description etc.. The superintendent of Samarcand, who allowed the girls to be beaten and humiliated, was Agnes B. McNaughton, who came from Sleighton Farms. Some of these girls were sterilized so they couldn’t have children, without their permission; told they were having appendectomies.

      • Jeff Oflynn
        April 21, 2013

        Hello my name is Jeff Oflynn I am currently making a documentary on sleighton and I would love if I could possibly interview you or any one you may know with any memories or encounters with this historic place please contact me it would be amazing to hear your stories my email is thisisnotjef92@aim.com , face book Jeff Oflynn , twitter jeff_oflynn

  2. The Simplest Thing
    November 21, 2011

    Looks like a creepy spooky place. Reminds me of the film The Orphanage!

    • scenicroadway
      November 22, 2011

      It was indeed! But very cool.

      • freda
        April 7, 2013

        U just know .

  3. KL
    December 6, 2011

    Hi Krista

    Great photos. I think Sleighton Farm was established around 1907 (don’t know when those building were build) as the female branch of the Glen Mills School. The 1826 refers to the establishment of the Glen Mills School (all males) which originally incorporated as the Philadelphia House of Refuge. You mentioned you toke over a hundred photos. Would you have one of the laundry room by chance?

    • scenicroadway
      December 8, 2011

      Hey, thanks for the information. My friend and I did check out the laundry room, unfortunately I took very few photos in there (and the ones I took are rather abstract). However, I did add three photos to my flickr in case you’d like to see them anyway. Here is the link…http://www.flickr.com/photos/64949634@N05/ Sorry if this is not quite what you were looking for.

      • KL
        December 8, 2011

        Thank you so much. Me and my best friend, whom were there together decades ago, remembered lots of things about that place but the laundry room. I jokingly said to him that something terrible must have happened in the laundry room as we erased it from our memories. You wouldn’t by chance remember which cottage that was would you? Thanks again for the pictures.

      • scenicroadway
        December 9, 2011

        Glad to be of help. I have many more pictures. If you’d like to see them, I can post them to flickr. Just let me know. I can’t remember the name of the cottage, but I do remember seeing a few notes around the building with the name “Mr. Capers”. I’m not sure if that sounds familiar or not, but I assume he held some type of authority of the cottage I was in.

  4. KL
    December 9, 2011

    If you have the time, I would love to see more pictures. I went back to visit since it was closed in 2001 but never went inside so any interior pictures would be great. If you have any questions or hear stories about how life was like there back in the 80’s please hit me up on e-mail.

    • scenicroadway
      December 10, 2011

      I can’t seem to find your e-mail, but I will definitely post the photos as soon as I can..I’d love to hear some stories! You can reach me via e-mail at scenicroadway@gmail.com, if you’d like. I will send you a link to the photos as soon as I get a chance.

      • KL
        December 11, 2011

        E-mail send. Please remember to check your junk box just in case.

      • Shanique graves
        January 22, 2012

        The cottage mr capers worked in was watson btw

      • Lisa
        February 6, 2012

        Mr. capers was a case manager for campbell and dubois cottages

  5. Shanique graves
    January 22, 2012

    Hi I was a student at sleighton farms in 1995-96 and the buildings were called cottages it was co-ed at that time and it was mostly boys there was only 1 cottage for the girls it held about 60-100 girls btw the cottages were named after presidents my cottage was robinson until we were moved to washington just thought you would like to hear from an actual student

    • scenicroadway
      January 23, 2012

      It’s great to hear from students, or anyone that was involved with Sleighton. Thanks for the information, I enjoyed reading it and appreciate it!

      • Mary
        February 23, 2013

        Logan was the entry cottage for new girls. I was there for about a month ,then you were assigned a permanent cottage .Mine was Du Boise,spent about 2 years from 1981 to 1983. to answer Barb Donnelly.
        I’ve looked for info and contacted the owners of the property a few years ago to visit but got no reply. Just came across your postings and will peruse. I could tell you stories………

      • Barb Donnelly
        March 3, 2013

        MARY: PLEASE….post your stories on here…or get in touch with me by email at Babs562 at gmail dot com….if you live in the area….I would be glad to meet with you, too.

        You mentioned that Logan was an entry cottage during your time there….it seems they always seemed to change it…in the beginning, I read it was the Lucretia Mott cottage, and I believe I read that the Sargeant building was at one point in time, too.

        Look forward to hearing from you.

      • freda
        March 11, 2013

        Where you there?

      • Mary
        February 23, 2013

        I guess I’m really getting old my dates at The Farm were 1971 to 1973 . All Girls then .I have my paperwork from a graduation at the chapel . The school was called Martha P.Falconer High School.

    • barb donnelly
      January 2, 2013

      SHANIQUE……does anyone know the story about the one cottage that was completely torn down…..named DEBORAH LOGAN COTTAGE. I heard it was a fire…..but I cannot find any information about it. It had to be real bad if it was torn down completely. Thanks.

      • freda
        April 7, 2013

        Please inform me . I know of another story.

  6. Lisa
    February 6, 2012

    Hello
    I was a student of sleighton school in 99-00 I started out in robinson cottage then transferred to campbell cottage then was moved to the cottage that was over the cafateria… It was co-ed at the time… I worked in the gym and constantly walked the grounds cause I was the highest of levels I was always traveling with the sports teams that we had and I also ran tne cross country track as well… my experience was not as bad as other that I have read.. Only cause I wasnt a problem child orvat leadt I never got caught but overall I have good memories of the place

    • scenicroadway
      April 17, 2012

      Fantastic to hear from you. Glad you were well behaved…Thanks for sharing. I love to hear stories from Sleighton, because it helps me connect with the beautiful property I saw!

    • Danielle
      July 18, 2013

      Lisa, I often search for any of my former girls to see how they are doing. I stumbled across this site today and saw your post. I’ve thought of you often over the years, I hope you are well. Contact me if you’d like, Ms. LePage – DanielleLePage@hotmail.com

  7. Barb Donnelly
    April 1, 2012

    I have been to Sleighton recently, taking walks through the old “village” from the past. I recently found a double cell camera battery….didn’t know if you lost one while there….thought I would drop you a note. I recently added some photos to my facebook page which I believe you can find by searching Sleighton on facebook…..Barbara Donnelly, Delaware County, PA

    • scenicroadway
      April 1, 2012

      Hey, thanks for stopping by. That is not my battery, but thank you for asking! I checked out your Sleighton facebook page, you have some great photos. I’m going to post the link in this comment for anyone else who happens to stumble across this post! Thanks for sharing with me!

      Krista

      http://www.facebook.com/SleightonFarms

  8. bonnrose
    April 15, 2012

    My (maternal) Aunt Rose was at Sleighton, but I don’t know for how long. Aunt Rose died (suicide at age 20) before I was born. A photo of my mother and her has this written on the back: Ida and Rose taken at Sleighton Farm for Girls. I’m guessing it was taken in the mid to late 1930s. They are both smiling in the photo.

    • scenicroadway
      April 17, 2012

      That is really cool! Thanks for sharing. Sleighton was a beautiful property. In the few hours I was there, I could tell how much history lies within. It was a truly amazing experience! Thanks for stopping by.

      Krista

    • Anne Russell
      November 18, 2012

      I’m very interested in your Aunt Rose. Would love to know more of her. My new book on North Carolina’s reform school for girls in 1931 is on Amazon, The Wayward Girls of Samarcand.

      • bonnrose
        November 18, 2012

        Sorry, but I know almost nothing about her, and any relatives who might have information have passed on. This is about the limit of my knowledge of her, and it may not be accurate. She had eczema on her face, which was supposedly disfiguring, depending on the severity of it at any given time. That said, Rose appears attractive to me in the photos I have of her. Her mother was Christian Scientist and wouldn’t allow treatment of the eczema. Her parents were German immigrants. Her sister (my deceased mother) was gorgeous. Rose was married and pregnant at the time of her death. Why was she sent to Sleighton? I never thought to ask and it was never discussed. I have quite a few photos of her, a doll and a ring that belonged to her, a newspaper article about her death, and her name. I have always felt so sorry that her life was so tragic.

      • barb donnelly
        January 8, 2013

        Wow…I got the photograph….thank you. But here is the big question….was your Aunt Rose’s maiden name NEEDLES by an chance??? I look forward to hearing back from you on this question. Barbdon562 at gmail…..

    • barb donnelly
      January 2, 2013

      I would love to see the photgraphic image of your Aunt Rose while at Sleighton Farm School. Scenic Roadway was kind enough to post a link to my facebook page to see mine and others images too. you could mail it to me at my email address at Babs 562 at gmail .dot com……WOULD LOVE MORE IMAGES!!!

    • Hollie Bryggs
      August 19, 2013

      I would love to see that picture. I have a family member that lived there around that time. I have a great great aunt that had a daughter that disappears from all record around the late 1920’s. I think the rest of the family assumed she died or was just missing. I found her name in a census record living as an inmate in Glen Mills school (girls dept.) in 1930. I think that glen mills school girls department was Sleighton farms, a sister campus to the boys school. I could be wrong about that. I would love to know more about her and what the school was like when she lived there.

    • amamb11
      November 9, 2013

      Can you tell me your aunts full name and by chance do you have a copy of the photo to e-mail. I think Ida may possible be related. jswank@jswank.com

      Joanna Swank

    • babs562
      April 1, 2014

      BONNROSE…..check out my facebook page, like it, Sleighton Farm Views, and follow. I have been scanning old images, some of the timeframe or your Aunt Rose. Just click on Photos….and view the images and information on a large screen. Maybe, you might find her? Have not been on here in quite some time!

  9. jason p
    June 1, 2012

    This abandoned school sounds awesome. Especially if it does still have all that stuff left inside still! Where ie this place located at?

    • barb donnelly
      June 5, 2012

      It is awesome….but a sad awesome as well. There was a fire at the Elizabeth Falconer Education Building a few weeks back…..they say it was lightening….although Elwyn owns the property…..they have not done a very good job of securing precious, old historical artifacts from the buildings on the grounds. The building that caught fire was an incredibly beautiful building inside, with old craftmanship that is rarely seen today. I wouldnt advise going there now……the security has probably been beefed up since the fire and complaints of constant vandalism.

  10. Kenn Blake
    July 26, 2012

    During the 1950’s and well thru the 1970’s my uncle and aunt, Bill and Ruth Mould worked at Sleighton Farm. During their tenure Sleighton Farm was for only young women under 18yrs of age. From 1966 to 1972 for one month out of the summer I would visit my aunt and uncle and help my uncle, who was in charge of the general storeroom. He was responsible for allocating and delivering all food and supplies to each cottage kitchen and storeroom. These summers for me were my pre-pubescent thru my teenage years and made for unforgettable memories at Sleighton Farm.

    During these years there were ten cottages which were; Campbell, Washington, Deborah Logan, Watson, Dubois Miller, Harrison, Lincoln, Robinson, Lucretia Mott and “the Farm House”. The Farm House was were the head mistress and administration lived. I vaguely remember her name being Grey/Gray. Only three of the ten cottages were for lock down security purposes and they were Washington, Deborah Logan and Lucretia Mott(named for a Quaker abolitionist). There were no other locked cottages and the women were free to walk about the farm and during these years there was no hired security. If a young woman escaped or ran away the staff and some townies would simply look for or run after them. Since it was summer I always wore short pants but would pack a long pair which I called “my chasing after run away girls pants.” My uncle injured his eye once and taken to a nearby hospital E.R. ; doctor asked how it happened and my uncle told him it happened while chasing after a girl in the woods.

    Young women were put into Sleighton Farm for such offenses as stealing, running away from home(most times from intolerable circumstances), skipping school, causing trouble in school and of course, God forbid, being sexually active.

    Sleighton Farm was an active practicing farm growing their own fruits and vegetables. They had their own cannery and greenhouses on the grounds. There was a large walk-in cooler kept just above freezing and a larger walk-in freezer kept below 0 degrees F. I remember having to put on a heavy winter coat to go into the freezer and not allowed to stay in longer than a few minutes. If you couldn’t find a pair of gloves to wear you had to be careful what you touched or the skin would be torn off your hands. Funny what one remembers.

    I’ll never forget the head farmer a kind, soft-spoken, well liked man named Bob Van Horn and a good friend of my uncle’s. I believe I read somewhere on this site a Chuck Van Horn had a father who worked at Sleighton; I wonder if Bob was his father or his grandfather?

    My uncle delivered food and supplies to all of the cottages so all of my interactions were with the cooks. There was a Ms. Dillard and a Ms. Valentine(cooked for the Farm House) who I will never forget.

    I do remember the young women wearing an all blue uniforms but I think the ones living in the “punishment”(their term not mine) cottages had to wear them to distinguish from the general population. If a woman turned eighteen years old and living in a “punishment” cottage she was transferred to prison; if she was in the general population she was simply returned to society.

    My uncle and aunt from time to time would take one of the soon to be released women under their wing to assist them into returning to society. One of the women was named Mary Jane who later married one of the men in the neighborhood, got hired to work at Sleighton and was head of the greenhouses for many years.

    My uncle and aunt lived on the farm grounds but off the main campus where they had their own gardens and greenhouses. My uncle raised chickens, pigeons, pheasants, ducks and peacocks.

    I do realize not everyone had enjoyable experiences at Sleighton Farm but I do deeply thank you for activating memories of a wonderful time in my life and allowing me to capture them on paper(so to speak).

    KJB

    • scenicroadway
      August 2, 2012

      Ken, I enjoyed reading your information. Thanks for sharing. It helps me put together abetter picture of what Sleighton was like when it was up and running. Glad you enjoyed the photos as well.

      Krista

      • freda
        April 7, 2013

        I can feel you.

    • Anne Russell
      August 4, 2012

      Ken, I found your post of great interest. Do you have, or can you find, any information on Agnes Brown MacNaughton who was working at Sleighton in the 1920s? She was born in Scotland but came to US from Canada; she never married and is buried in North Carolina.

      • Kenn Blake
        August 4, 2012

        Anne,
        Have you already vsisted Moore County N.C.? If so what did you find out? If not I live 2 to 2 1/2 hrs away and might be interested in visiting the location. With some guidance from you and more information so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel and spin it(so to speak) I might could do some checking.
        How can we communicate? KB

      • Anne Russell
        August 4, 2012

        my email address is arussell9@ec.rr.com

    • barb donnelly
      January 2, 2013

      To answer one of your questions, Chuck VanHorn’s father WAS EMPLOYED AS THAT NICE GENTLEMAN! I actually met Chuck one summer day at Sleighton to talk about what he knew from his father and his experiences as a boy, living there. It was a great afternoon…..and he also shared some of the old pictures with me….some of which have been posted on my facebook page which is mentioned in this blog somewhere. If you live locally, within Pennsylvania, and have more stories and images to share, I would love to meet with you. Maybe we could get Chuck in on that meeting, too! My email is Babs562 at gmail dot com…..
      BARBARA DONNELLY

    • barb donnelly
      January 2, 2013

      OH….one more question…..regarding the cottage named DEBORAH or DEBRA LOGAN…..what was the story behind the demise of that cottage, and what year was it? It has been torn down completely, and I cannot find information pertaining to it’s demise….I heard only that it was tragic.

    • barb Donnelly
      January 14, 2013

      KEN: Hope you are still around! I live in the area. I am trying to find the story behind a fire that occurred at Sleighton (I know there were several)….but this one in particular pertains to the DEBORAH LOGAN COTTAGE being completely torn down. I was told their was a bad fire. I am aware of one fire at Deborah Logan where one girl was trapped in a room and died later, but I have a feeling it wasn’t that particular fire. Seems to be the big secret…..can you help? You can also email me at babs562 at gmail dot com……crossing my fingers!

      • Kenn Blake
        January 27, 2013

        Barb, Sent you email two weeks ago. Would love to talk with Chuck. KB

    • barb donnelly
      January 16, 2013

      Hi, Ken:

      In response to your question about the VanHorn’s that worked with your Aunt and Uncle……please send me an email for Chuck VanHorn’s phone number, he gave me permission to give it to you.

      Please send me an email request at Babs562 at gmail dot com….

    • Chuck
      January 28, 2013

      Hi Ken,
      I would love to get together with you. As a matter of fact I remember you being around there in the summers, we used to ride on the tailgate of your uncle’s truck and help with the deliveries. You can email me at contractor629@comcast.net I am trying to put together a day when I can get a few people together to go to my dad’s house and look over the pictures and discuss Sleighton. There is a woman in Jersey that is interested and I know a couple others that would like to get in on it. Let me know if you are interested.

      Chuck

    • freda
      February 27, 2013

      I was at the school in 1967-1968. I have many stories to share, but none that were bad.

      • Barb Donnelly
        March 3, 2013

        FREDA…..please share them….good stories are great to hear….even if they are small one’s. I am especially interested in what happened at the Deborah Logan building that caused it to be completely torn down. Any ideas? Please feel free to post them here….or send me an email… Babs562 at gmail dot com.

      • freda
        March 8, 2013

        i remember arriving that afternoon, late, I was taken to a building where i was issued clothing and shoes , funny looking out fits . Lime green shoes and someting like momo dresses. Then i was taken to the admin building. it was the first building after you entered the mian entrance. I think the clothing issue build was across the road from the entrance. Any way the admin building was on the right and thier was a picnic and out door visiting area on the right. I will continue…

      • freda
        March 9, 2013

        I entered four hours infor last night, and lost all of it. I will do better this time.

      • freda
        March 8, 2013

        As you walked around the bend there was a big stone house , that’s where Miss Grey and Miss Trent lived. what a nice house. Some time in the near furture you would meet them and start your journey. And what a journey it would be. After being assigned to Debra Logan cottage as an adjustment period you were assignied to a house cottage. I prayed ever day thati would not be placed in the “cottage”, Campbell. While you were in the adjustment cottage you got word about eveything , so i knew what cottage i what’d to go to. S— out of luck . I went to Campbell cottage. Miss Deloris Ambrose,Joyce Neal and Miss White. Campbell cottage was known for being the strickest and run by the meanest house parents on the grounds. But i will go back to my entry on the farm. Coming down main street. I’m young, first time outside of Philly. The school was masive and very beautiful. On the right and left were these very big houses, later i got to know thier names.

      • freda
        March 11, 2013

        Who are u and why do you want to know so much about the school. E- me.

      • Barbara
        March 24, 2013

        FREDA…..Haven’t been on here for a few weeks….but I wanted to answer your question about who I am and why I want to know anything. First of all…. I am just a local resident who got interested in a camera when my husband wanted a divorce, a girlfriend ten years younger and a harley davidson. What I did not expect while learning photography, was that I would discover these quiet, and uninhabited places…..Sleighton being one of them. I lived right around the corner from it, but had never ventured to walk over there. But when I did…..I was in awe of its size….that it seemed like a “lost community” that once housed up to five hundred resident girls! I would rather converse with you in a private manner….like my email address or by telephone.

        Please send me an email at BABS562 at gmail dot com…..I live in the area….don’t know if you still do or not…..but we could also meet at a place to speak with one another at a place where there are other people….dont want to freak you out or anything…..I know its a crazy world today.

        It just breaks my heart that the original intent of the institution was to rehabilitate young girls who came from disadvantaged life circumstances that were beyond their control. Sleighton was really an Opportunity for them…. but then it became co-ed and went downhill….is what i heard.

        Would love to listen to your stories…..and I can share some that I have learned of. Take Care….BARB

      • freda
        April 1, 2013

        I tried to send you e-mail. Message back was error. I checked , had right e-mIL ADDRESS . wHAT’S UP

      • freda
        June 3, 2013

        Please lets stay in touch.

    • freda
      March 29, 2013

      I was thier from 1966-1968. I remember all that you are taking and more. The name ms grey is correct. There was also ms trent. Thanks for the memories.

      • Donnelly Barb
        August 16, 2013

        FREDA FREDA FREDA……try emailing me again BABS562@gmail.com

        …..or….go to my facebook page named: Sleighton Farm Views !!!!!!

  11. Anne Russell
    August 4, 2012

    My new book The Wayward Girls of Samarcand has just been published; you can find it on Amazon. It is the true story of 16 white girls incarcerated at Samarcand Manor reform school in North Carolina and the arson they committed in 1931 in protest of their abuse. Agnes B.MacNaughton, a former supervisor at Sleighton School in the 1920s, was the school superintendent who approved the abuse of these girls.

  12. steve difabio
    August 19, 2012

    Hello,My name is Steve.I’ve been trying to find out the history of sleighton farms for sometime now.I’m really glad I found this site.The pictures were great.I really have had a passion to want to see the structure of the buildings.And see them inside and out.Does anyone know if they may have tours of the grounds and buildings? Also does anyone know if the property is up for sale or not? This would be the perfect place to own.

    • scenicroadway
      August 19, 2012

      Hi Steve.Thanks for checking out the pictures. Because of all the feedback I have gotten, I am probably going to be posting some more photos from Sleighton shortly. As far as I know, there are no tours currently being offered. Most of the buildings have aged a lot since their abandonment. This PDF (online) offers a lot of information though. http://www.wolfingtoncos.com/images/Sleighton.pdf

      Hope this helps.
      -Krista

  13. Pingback: Sleighton School Part 2! « scenicroadway

  14. Vera Owens
    August 23, 2012

    My name is Vera L. Owens,I was at Sleighton Farms when it was just for girls. I kept running away from home from my deceased father and mother.They were alcoholics in the 60’s and 70’s.And I was getting my but beat almost every day. Joe was my father sent me there. In 1968 I had a miscarriage on the farm. One of the staff at LM1&2 gave me a pill that was suppose to help my upset stomach.that I was having. So later on two days later we went to church for practice in the chorus, I had a beautiful voice back then I was 17 yrs. old. I could not make it to the church I started bleeding. I thought it was that time of month but I bleed all the way through my brand new pair of Wrangler jeans. The staff name was Miss Ambrose she ran LM1&2. I had run away and made it all the way to Philadelphia and my own sister turn me in. I was in one of those rooms that where cells, Back then I didn’t know that they where cells. I climbed out of the terrace window tied 4 sheets together and started running.So when finally let me out to sing I was so sick. Later that day after walking the length from the church to LM!&2 cottage everything that was in me flooded the bathroom room it was so,so,so much blood I thought I was dying. That when I heard Miss Ambrose say I told you that Vera was pregnant and we are not having any babies on this Farm. I runaway again after I went on a family pass in 1969.I never about anything was wrong until today 8-23-2012. I became pregnant again but this Mrs .Smith a lady that lived right next door to my father’s house. Mrs. Smith Husband was a famous Psychiatrist my mom must have talked her ,because when they called me in for family meeting to see if I’ve good enough to have a visit they let me go home. There was alot of girl’s pretending that they were boyfriend and girlfriend and husband and wife. But I didn’t get into that because today when I see them they have as many children that I have. I’m a mother of 2boys and a girl. I’ve been through alot in my life but I guess I am a survivor. My children is doing ok. No one has a recipe in raising children I’ve my best with the lack of experience. Sorry but I could go on on and on.

    • scenicroadway
      August 31, 2012

      Hi Vera,
      Thank you for sharing your stories and memories from Sleighton. I enjoyed reading about your experience, because it helps me get a better understanding of what Sleighton was like. Good luck with your children…I’m sure you are doing a fantastic job raising them.

      Krista

    • Doris Riley
      April 5, 2013

      Hi Vera, I’m Doris Campbell married name Riley. I was in Watson cottage with you,I remember when cottage life brought the dogs in the dinning rm. to take u to l&m, I was so scared for u. Many,many stories from sleighton, Im 60yrs. old now but still haven’t forgotten. Love to hear from you. email is dorisriley2@gmail.com please get in touch love to hear from you.

  15. Anne Russell
    August 23, 2012

    Vera, thank you so much for your testimony about your Sleighton Farms experience. I hope you are still singing! Don’t blame yourself for anything; you were doing the best you could to survive. So much we could talk about if we knew each other. I just wrote a book published last month titled The Wayward Girls of Samarcand, a true story about a girls’ reform school in North Carolina, where a former Sleighton administrator was the superintendent. You can find it on Amazon, and you might enjoy reading it and comparing it with your own experience. (Anne Russell, Wilmington NC)

    • Donnelly Barb
      August 24, 2012

      ANNE….it is Barbara Donnelly…saw your comment on this blog. Be sure to check out my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SleightonFarms with old and recent images as well…..wish I knew how to do this blog thing…..Delaware County, PA…..Sleighton Neigborhood AUG 2012

      • Anne Russell
        August 24, 2012

        Thank you, Barb. I’m still trying to get info on Agnes Brown MacNaughton’s employment at Sleighton Farms in the early 1920s. Hope someone can find something and let me know.

      • Kenn Blake
        August 24, 2012

        Donnelly Barb,

        Would you please ask Chuck to get in touch with me? I assume Kathryn is his sister or aunt depending on their relationship to Bob Van Horn who was head farmer at Sleighton in the 60’s/70’s. I’m kindly asking you because I’m not a member of facebook and do not wish to be(thank you for posting the extra photos however). Thank you in advance. KB

        P.S. If my memory still serves me the chapel was built in 1965.

  16. Dee
    August 31, 2012

    I stumbled upon this website as I a former student of Sleighton farms myself, always wondered the exact history of the place myself. I mean it did have farms in the title & we didn’t farm. I attended court ordered in I believe ’88-’89. It took some adjustment. But overall the experience was memorable. I stayed in Robinson cottage which was the only female cottage @ the time aside from the handful of older females that stayed across the road. There were alot of fights, alot of thefts of property and alot of grounds running. Running grounds was when you would sneak out & meet up with your boyfriend. That was a fun memory. There are tons of stories i could tell but none of them are really bad. Now there was a basement in our cottage that was off limits to everyone I don’t even remember a door knob on that door. I’ve always believed the place to have a dark history but I don’t really know thats why I’m researching now.

    • scenicroadway
      August 31, 2012

      Good to hear from you. Thanks for checking out my photos. I recently added a new entry with more photos from my visit to Sleighton. The link to the photos is listed in this blog post, if you would like to check them out. I was in a basement, but I’m not sure whether or not it was in Robinson Cottage. The basement I was in was actually a “fallout shelter”. It contained empty barrels (which I assume were once filled with water), and a few other things. There are a few photos from the basement in my neweset post. Enjoy.

      • Dee
        September 4, 2012

        Robinson cottage is the first cottage to the right as soon as you hit Main st. There was one basement we were allowed in around the back of the property. They called it Canteen I think. It had video games & pool tables.While looking @ your photos I get a warm nostalgic feeling. Thank you!

      • Vera L. Owens
        September 6, 2012

        When I was at The Farm there wasn’t any kind of Recreation besides the pool and farming trees. Ms. Neal was another staff member of The Farm. She had the Watson Building for the older girls. See I was 17 at the time that I was there. So all the information you have been sending me I don’t remember. Thanks Vera

      • scenicroadway
        September 6, 2012

        Vera,
        Not sure who has been sending you info. If you commented previously, you will probably continue to receive e-mails every time someone comments on my blog post. Hope this helps.

      • scenicroadway
        September 6, 2012

        Good to hear from you…Glad you enjoyed the photos (:

  17. sandy brant
    October 12, 2012

    i was in sleighton farms in 2000 -2001 right before they closed so sad it really helped a lot for me sad to see it closed if you have any more pics please send them

    • barb donnelly
      January 16, 2013

      SANDY: I noticed you said you were interested in viewing more pics….did you find them? If not….check out my images on my facebook page, Sleighton Farm Views is a Separate Page of my Facebook, click on it. Scenic Roadway did mention a link at the beginning of her blog. Another site with images from 2010 is on Flickr (sp?)….and the guys name is pheared….

      Feel free to send me an email to at Babs562 at gmail dot com

  18. micb&/r&
    October 31, 2012

    Yo I was place at sleighton farms in 1998 it was the best place the judge could ever send me looking at them pic bring tears to my eyes u would not inmageing how much fun we had there

    • scenicroadway
      November 4, 2012

      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad you could relate to the photos. (:

  19. James jones
    December 7, 2012

    I was there October of 1988 to August 89. Just look at the photos bought back memories….i was in Watson cottage!

    • scenicroadway
      January 13, 2013

      Glad to bring back memories–Hope they are good ones and not bad. Thanks for checking out my photos :)

  20. David Taylor
    January 1, 2013

    I believe my mothere was a resident of Sleighton Farms School sometime between 1925-1930. I understand her mother had her placed there for wearing lipstick. I have been just about everyplace looking for someone who may know where the archives are and how I could have a search made for her records. It’s important since we are working on a biography of her family. Who has control over this place at the present time?

    • barb donnelly
      January 2, 2013

      Good Luck! There are historical records sitting on floors and in drawers, left to deteriorate. You might start with the Glen Mills School….ELWYN currently owns it, and everything is just sitting and deteriorating. Also try the state of PA.

      • Anne Russell
        January 2, 2013

        I found the same situation more or less when I went to Samarcand state reform school for girls near Pinehurst NC,, to research my new book “The Wayward Girls of Samarcand” (on Amazon), a true story…and I donated 2 handsome display cabinets to hold some of the most important artifacts…I recommend you get someone to take an interest in Sleighton Farms stuff and preserve it…

    • Anne Russell
      January 2, 2013

      David Taylor, I am very interested in the situation with your mom. So glad you’re doing your bio of her family. I well remember when I was 13 and put on Tangee “natural” lipstick with my female cousin who was 14, and my father punished me severely for “tarting” myself up, and forbade me to use any cosmetics. Yegads, if he could see teenage girls today!

    • scenicroadway
      January 13, 2013

      David..I would get in contact with the owner of the property ASAP. As Barb said, many of the records are left on site. I saw tons of paper work flooding out of desks and filing cabinets (left for anyone to see). Although I shouldn’t have, I did sneak a peek at some files–which contained very personal information–personal notes, psychological evaluations, court documentation, etc.

    • barb donnelly
      January 16, 2013

      Hi, David….again! Please send me an email to that we can communicate there and not on here for the whole world to see. My email address is Babs562 at gmail dot com. I live in the area of Sleighton, and have contacts, too. I took many, many pictures between March and May 2012.

      Again…… email me at Babs562 at gmail

    • amamb11
      November 9, 2013

      David,

      Have you located where the records may be? Send me your e-mail I am actively seeking records as well for the same time period and will share. jswank@jswank.com

      Joanna Swank

  21. David Taylor
    January 2, 2013

    Thanks to those who responded to my message regarding the “missing” records of Sleighton Farms School. As unbelievable as it may be, it’s likely that the records of hundreds/thousands of wonderful people who, for whatever reason, lived there for some period of their lives, are sitting and rotting in those old buildings. The Chester County Historical Society has many old pictures of people, buildings, etc, but none of the records. I’ll work on trying to find someone who may be able to correct this sad and disgraceful situation. Any help would be most appreciated.

    David Taylor
    i

    • Anne Russell
      January 2, 2013

      David, contact the nearest university history department (or other dept) and offer this as a project for a thesis for one of their students. You will get free help, the student will get a unique project, the university will get notice for sponsoring this, and you’ll likely get a published book out of it.

    • barb donnelly
      January 2, 2013

      David, the corporation the owns the property doesn’t care as much as people like you and I. I live nearby. I would like, somehow, to get someone at the corporate level…..to give an interested party like myself and others, the honor and experience of retrieving any records found. These buildings have been being broken into for years, and much has probably been taken. It’s a sad story of bad management – ruining it for families who are researching the past. I have been trying to get the guts up to walk over and speak with someone over at Elwyn….or…..Glen Mills School.

      • David Taylor
        January 4, 2013

        To Anne and Barb:
        Thank you for your interesting replies. I have been running notices in the Daily Local News (West Chester) looking for anyone who may know of the whereabouts of the archives. A woman from West Chester called me to share her information. Her companion, now deceased, worked there for many years and took a lot of old photos when she left because she could see that no attempts were being made to care for anything. Those photos are now at the CC Historical Society. It is a crime that these records have not been turned over to a responsible agency for preservation and research. It would not cost the owners a dime to take action on this matter and the receiving agencies would be thrilled to get them. I intend to pursue this as far as I can. Right now I am gathering information and ideas from good people like you which I appreciate very much,

      • Anne Russell
        January 4, 2013

        Great! So glad you care enough to invest yourself like this. If you run across anything about Agnes Brown MacNaughton who was on staff there in the early 1920s, please let me know. She was Canadian, born in Scotland. Never married.
        Anne Russell, PhD American Studies, author The Wayward Girls of Samarcand.
        I have pic of Agnes, should you want it.

    • freda
      March 8, 2013

      thank you. Many many years after i left i was able to many of my records. I knew how to do it the legal way. Later they were destroyed and once again i long for that lost part of my life.

      • babs562
        June 3, 2013

        FREDA: You said that you were able to obtain many of your records…..you did it the legal way…..how was that done…..legally? AND……How do you know they were destroyed? WHAT YEAR? Please feel free to send me an email at BABS562 at gmail dot com….. we can also speak by phone……

  22. Kat
    January 5, 2013

    I was there in 1999-00. It was a terrible place for me, however does anyone remember the therepists (husband and wife) that had an office across the street. They helped me change my life and I have come a long way since then and have them to thank for it. Mkat469@gmail.com

    Kat

    • barb donnelly
      January 8, 2013

      KAT….when you said across the street…which street was it….VALLEY RD or FORGE ROAD? I live in the area. Babs562 at gmail . check out my facebook page, too.

  23. David Taylor
    January 6, 2013

    Anne,
    I appreciate hearing from you. I am not familiar with the Samarcand School, but you obviously have a clear understanding of the characteristics of these types of inistitutions. My mother was an adopted child and, from everything I have learned about her early life , she and her mother had a loving relationship. I don’t know how she came to be at Sleighton Farms. It seems that I waited a few years too long to start looking into this story as everyone who might have knowledge of her earlier life has passed away. I was counting on finding the Sleighton Farms records from the 1920’s which might have shed some light on the matter. Who could imagine that something as important as the personal records of all these young people would not be preserved for future reference or research? We have the ability today to trace our family records back for hundreds of years, but we cannot even find records of our parents from 90 years ago? It is a disgrace and a travesty and Delaware and Chester Counties share in this. I did not intend to get drawn into this kind of a problem, but I’m being pulled in that direction. I will let you know if I come across any reference to Ms MacNaughton.

    David Taylor

    • Anne Russell
      January 6, 2013

      David, google my Wayward Girls of Samarcand on Amazon if you wish, for this story
      of those girls is no doubt similar to your mother’s. One reason these places did not preserve the records is that there was a code of “privacy” for girls sent there, that they “leave the past behind and start again.” I had to work hard to get our research materials, and found wonderful stuff, some of which, if you’ll give me your email address, I’ll send to you fyi. These are from 1920s-early 1930s.

      • barb donnelly
        January 16, 2013

        Hi Anne:

        Whew….printed out all these replies the other day to weed thru the information. I noticed your recent comment to David Taylor about your research materials and wonderful stuff….I would love it if you would want to share that with me as well. My email is Babs562 at gmail dot com.

        I did send you an email recently about MacNaughton. Could you SHARE IMAGES OF HER WITH ME as well?

        I am still looking……you start to dig a hole, and it just keeps getting deeper.

        Barb in PA

      • Anne Russell
        January 16, 2013

        Barb, I’ll today mail you a copy of my new book The Wayward Girls of Samarcand, in return for anything you can get hold of re Agnes B. MacNaughton, and your keeping me updated on your Sleighton Farms research. These two reform schools for white girls are strongly connected and very similar. Thank god times have changed…somewhat. What’s your mailing address, please? Anne My phone # is 910-256-3457 in Wilmington NC.

  24. Justin
    January 9, 2013

    I ride my bike past this place all the time and finally decided to Google “Sleighton School” on a whim. I only noticed the one building visible on Valley Road (with the “Sleighton School” sign) and didn’t realize how big the campus actually is (was)! Very interesting to read some personal history about it.

    • barb donnelly
      January 10, 2013

      JUSTIN….be sure to stop and visit the campus between end of March and April….and see all the spring blooms! Babs562 at gmail

  25. Virginia Lowe Stadtmiller
    January 13, 2013

    Sleighton Farm was a much different place when I was there from 9-9-46 until 10-10-49. The Farm was headed essentially by three Quaker women. The head was Miss Morrison. The discipline was strict. The Church you see there now was not there then. When I visited there I was told that the Church was never used. I thought it was beautiful and such a waste to just sit there like a monument. Why did they build it if they never intended to use it? I have been back there twice since I left Philadelphia in 1956, once with my two sons and once with a former resident. I was surprised that one of my former teachers was still there whom I saw on my second visit which was in the late 80’s. When my friend And I entered the Administration Building on arrival she was in the entry going through boxes. She remembered us and said that she was in the process of destroying the records that would have included the years that we spent there. How many years beyond 1949 she didn’t say and I had no reason to ask. I was however disappointed. I had wanted to know what was in my case history and what I had been charged with as there had been no behavior to have warranted my incarceration. I was not a “wild child”. I was a severally abused child. When my Mother and Father divorced my Mother signed me over as a ward of the Penna. court. I was given no warning. I was arrested at work, taken to jail for two nights and then driven to Sleighton Farm in Glen Mills by the town Sheriff and his wife. No one came to see me while in jail and it would be months before I would see my Mother again. I had no representation, no explanation, no one. It felt like I had been hit with a sledge hammer. I would be 15 in fourteen days. Happy Birthday!
    I hope this helps those of you who are wondering about the records. I think that might have been during the take over of a new administration. I can’t imagine that one of you visited there and found records of former residents. I saw that while reading your blog. How irresponsible is that?
    I am in the process of writing of my experience at the school. I have many interesting stories of my experience there. I believe the real story of what our incarceration was like should be told. It was a most interesting place. Although the experience was not a happy one it has contributed greatly to who I am today. I look back on it now and consider it, and the fourteen frightening years spent in an Alcoholic home with a sadistic Father and a emotionally distant Mother what I like to call,”Boot Camp”. It has made me strong and grateful. I know for sure that the roots of my faith in God were birthed while sitting in those chapel services in that old Gymnasium. My parents never attended Church but I actually looked forward to every Sunday. It was in one of those services that I first heard the song, “When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark”. That song so encouraged me. It went on to say, At the end of the road is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark. Those words gave me hope.
    I would really love to hear from anyone that might have been in Harrison Cottage during the years that I was housed there. Seeing as the ages were between 12 and 18 they would have to be 77 or 80 years old today. I am 81 and many would say, vibrant for my age.

    • Anne Russell
      January 13, 2013

      I so much appreciate your post here. Thank you. This is the same scenario for the many poor white girls condemned to state “reform school” at Samarcand Manor in North Carolina, good girls whose only crime was to be victimized by their circumstances. I recommend you read (available on Amazon) my new book “The Wayward Girls of Samarcand,” the true story of 16 girls who burned down 2 dorms at Samarcand to protest their abuse at the hands of the staff, and were charged with the death penalty for arson in 1931. And congratulations on being a survivor who has lived to be 81. I am 75, and I aspire to reach your age and beyond. Please contact me about your writing of your own experience. My phone number is 910-235-3457
      in Wilmington NC and email arussell9@ec.rr.com.

    • barb donnelly
      January 13, 2013

      Dear Virginia: It is a Sunday evening and I am reading your comment about Sleighton…with equally great interest. If you live in the area of Delaware County, PA, would you like to meet? I have been sitting on the edge of my chair for over a year trying to find someone, with a history there, that is actually willing to speak.

      Try my email BABS562 at gmail…… and check out my sleighton page of my facebook page.

      Really, really, look forward to hearing from you.

    • Anne Russell
      January 16, 2013

      Thank you for your testimony, VLS. It is a valuable contribution to the Sleighton story, and also to the larger similar story of such “reform schools for girls” in other locales.

      • barb donnelly
        January 16, 2013

        Oh yes….and possibly Corporate Espionage!

  26. David Taylor
    January 17, 2013

    I am very interested in these comments and stories of what people know about Sleighton Farms School. Anne, I am going to purchase your book which you must have spent a number of years working on. I’m sure you have many iinsights that most of us would never understand. I am discouraged by Virginia’s story of when she returned to the school to find someone destroying records. I still hold out a small hope that I may someday find records relating to my mother. Barb, I am wondering if it would be possible to have your help in visiting the property if my wife and I were to come by there this spring or summer? As a native of West Chester and a 1952 graduate of WCHS I do have reasons to return to the area from time to time. We presently live in Westminster, MD. dvltaylor98@yahoo.com

    • Anne Russell
      January 17, 2013

      I’m s glad you’re going to read my book, which took 5-6 years of research and writing. It is a true story based on journal entries, state archives, interviews, letters, news articles. As result of a book review 2 weeks ago, a woman came forward whose mother was committed to Samarcand at age 11 because she was poor and abused by a male relative, and was ashamed to speak of her 3 years at this NC reform school. She was there at the time of our story, though not one of our 16 girls charged with a death penalty crime of arson. I am making a gift of my book to Barb Donnelly, but you may order it from Amazon, The Wayward Girls of Samarcand, by McLaurin and Russell, price $15.00. My email address is arussell9@ec.rr.com, in Wilmington NC.

  27. David Taylor
    January 23, 2013

    I have learned that the Archivist for the State of Pennsylvania reports that they are in possession of Sleighton records from 1959 to 1971 and are very interested in gathering more of such records if and when they become available. The archives are, of course, located in Harrisburg, PA.

    • barb donnelly
      January 25, 2013

      WOW…..our State has the records beginning at 1959….isn’t this sad!? How about the more important records dating back to 1910 when they moved from Philadelphia out to Glen Mills at the beginning of their new life of reform on a farm that borders both Middletown Township and Edgemont Townships of Delaware County, PA. Thanks for the info, David.

      • Anne Russell
        January 25, 2013

        Sure wish they had the earlier records, when Agnes Brown MacNaughton was on staff at Sleighton before coming to NC’s Samarcand.

      • amamb11
        November 9, 2013

        Barb I am with you I have been desperate to find the period of 1919-1926

    • Barb Donnelly
      January 29, 2013

      Think I found the name that purchased it….according to online PA resources of the Pa Bulletin Jan 27 2013….the name Charles Epps is noted.

      • Mike
        January 31, 2013

        I just saw this comment. I tried to look that up myself but I couldn’t find it, but yea I guess that might be the new owner. I don’t think a golf course is likely though because about half the property is protected farmland. http://www.delcocd.org/ag.preservation.htm

      • amamb11
        November 9, 2013

        I have to look at my records but I talked to the corporation late last year who owned the property and built around it??? They stated the state would not permit building on the property so the school would remain standing. Epps is interesting that is a family name I recognize from my grandfathers time and his sister attending there.

    • Barbara
      March 24, 2013

      RECORDS ARE IN HARRISBURG? For YEARS 1959 to 1971…..INTERSTING. Why no records AFTER 1971? Would it have anything to do with the fire or tragic event that occurred at the Deborah Logan Cottage some time AFTER 1971 that nobody wants to speak about? Ironic that those are the only years that they have records for….peaks the interest!

      • freda
        March 29, 2013

        Thier was a tragic incident that occured while i was at the school. what happened in 1971?

      • babs562
        June 6, 2013

        FREDA:

        It would also help a lot if you would send me an email to me so that we could email each other. BABS562@gmail.com

        BARB

  28. Mike
    January 28, 2013

    I’m posting to talk about some things discussed earlier in the comments. Sleighton was sold by Elwyn to a company I don’t know the name of for $11 million about three months ago. So Elwyn doesn’t own the property anymore, if I find out who does ill let everybody know. And I’m almost completely sure Glen Mills school has no current connections, they originated from the same place but I don’t think they were managed by the same people. And records are all over the place, I’ve seen them in school buildings, houses, and outside. It’s very unprofessional but they are scattered all over.

    • Barb Donnelly
      January 29, 2013

      MIKE…..thanks for filling us in on the recent sale transaction of the Sleighton Farm School Property. I guess we know what that means next! Hopefully they show great respect for some of those grand old trees still thriving on the property.

      And yes, Mike, it IS very unprofessional about all the records scattered about. But even moreso…..it is completely Disrespectful to the State of Pennsylvania, the business community, and the families who have in interest in their familie’s past.

    • Barb Donnelly
      January 29, 2013

      If Charles Epps is the new owner…..would it be the Houston, TX Golfer? For $11 million…..maybe it is slated to be a “sister” to the Glen Mills Golf Course???

      • Mike
        January 29, 2013

        Yea I don’t know who owns it but I do really want to find out. Things have been quiet and it’s probably that way for a reason… The only way i knew it was sold was because i know someone in the Elwyn maintnence department. And yea as far as next goes anything can happen if its a big developer unfortunately

    • amamb11
      November 9, 2013

      I have to correct you Glen Mills and Sleighton are connected. My great aunt was at Glen Mills and transferred to Sleighton when it changed hands. It was not Sleighton until about 1921. I can’t confirm the date but the 1920 Census has it as Glen Mills and when she started working outside of “Sleighton” was 1922

  29. jasmine
    March 2, 2013

    WOW!!!! My name is Jasmine, I actually was court ordered there back in 1993 for fighting. I did not know that the place had burned down. I stayed at Robinson cottage, at the time that was the only female cottage, all the the other cottages were for the males. I had some good and bad experiances there, I actually went online tonight trying to find the contact info because I am applying for a correctional positon and they need ever school that I attened.

    • Barb Donnelly
      March 3, 2013

      JASMINE: A major section of the Martha Falconer Education Building is what burned down last May. I am trying to find out about the cottage named Deborah Logan, which sat in the back next to Lincoln Cottage, I believe. The Deborah Logan building was completely torn down, and I cannot find out why. Any stories you can share…..I would love to speak with you. Shoot me an email at BABS562 at gmail dot com….I reside in Delaware County still. BARB

      • freda
        October 8, 2013

        It took me awhile to respond but I would like to know more about your statement on Jan 16 2013. ” these two reform schools for white girls are strongly connected and very similar”

  30. Sarah H
    March 5, 2013

    I’m fasinated by the Sleighton Farm School history and photos. I had passed by there many times when it was open and many times after it closed. My first time by Sleighton, was when my Dad took us for a ride and drove past there and told us (all girls) if we didn’t start to behave, we would have to go there.
    In everything I’ve read there doesn’t seem to be any explanation of what happened to the girls and staff that were there when it closed. In some of the photos it does look like they left in a hurry and that no one ever followed up after the closing. Does anyone know what happened to the residents and staff. What became of them?

    • freda
      March 7, 2013

      I am more than wiling to share. I can take you from the front entry way all the to the back. So many memories. Many were great.

      • Mary
        March 8, 2013

        getting a group of us together to reevaluate the amount and importance of paperwork at the farm may be the catalyst to see what agencies are able to get involved.

      • Jason
        May 20, 2013

        I’d love to explore this place can u or anyone else meet up with me so I can go there and take some pictures? -Jason P.

  31. freda
    March 8, 2013

    Great idea

  32. Chuck
    March 11, 2013

    To all who are interested in Sleighton Farms School, I spent 15 years of my life growing up there (1960 – 1975 we lived on the grounds). My father ran the farm and maintenance departments and I got to know most of the staff during that period. I have aquired numerous photos of the buildings and the grounds over the years. I have posted several on my facebook page and have given a few to a couple other people to post on their sites. If anyone would like to see them please email me at contractor629@comcast.net
    I would love to be able to organize a trip to Sleighton for a tour of the place and a little history. If I can get enough people interested in going on such a tour maybe we can. It would have to be a walking tour because most of the roads and drives are inpassable by automobiles. If this is something that you would like to do than email me and I will see what I can do.
    To Ken Blake my email is in the first paragraph of this reply, contact me I would love to get together and talk about Sleighton, I’m sure my dad would like to see you too.
    To Barb D. keep up the good work, you are getting alot of people interested in Sleighton and it’s outcome, maybe we have a chance of saving it yet.
    To Krista, thanks for starting this blog about Sleighton. When I first found this site it only had a couple comments and a few pictures, now there are many stories of experiences at Sleighton, links to other sites and a history that dates back a 100 years. I bet when you took those few pictures and posted them, you never thought you would get this kind of feedback. Kepp it going, I look forward to reading more stories and comments.

    Thanks for the memories,
    Chuck

    • Mary
      March 12, 2013

      I am interested in getting together to tour the Farm . I remember many names of other girls and staff, but not sure about posting those names. Many may not want to be known as a previous student.. If dates I’ve heard are correct my records may be there. I’ll email you and I have noted Barb D’s email.

  33. Todd
    March 12, 2013

    Was there a beauty school and mechanic class there at the school?

    • babs562
      June 3, 2013

      TODD……there was a salon there…..saw it….but the floor had caved in. Why….what could you tell me?

  34. Dennis Long
    March 22, 2013

    I have a friend who is doing a masters program in film that is very interested in the school and its history. We’ve been there several times recently with the camera and are taking video for editing into a project about the school. she would be very interested in talking to former residents about their memories of this place.

  35. Jen
    March 31, 2013

    I worked there from 1993-1996. It was a special place, and my heart sank to see that (part of) the school house had burned down.

    • jeff oflynn
      April 23, 2013

      hi jen my name is jeff oflynn i am interested in doing a documentary on sleighton and i was wondering if you would be able to share your story and some memories with me? please contact me by email thisisnotjef92@aim.com

    • babs562
      June 3, 2013

      JEN: Do you know anything about the Deborah Logan cottage that burned down…..sometime in the 90’s….it was in the back past the gym……next to Lincoln Cottage. Some fire occurred there…. bad enough for them to completely tear down the entire structure. Do you know anything?

      BARB D.

      • freda
        June 3, 2013

        I have been trying to get in touch. some how i can not with via your old e-mail. Anyway i would love to talk 2 u about my time at the school. I will be in Philly from 12 june-19 june i. I really need to go back to the place that changed my life. Please be in touch.

      • babs562
        June 6, 2013

        FREDA: My email address is
        BABS562@gmail.com

  36. Kathy O
    April 4, 2013

    Do you know where any old records might be found? In 1940 a family member was in Sleighton and she has since passed on. We are trying to piece together her life.

    • freda
      April 5, 2013

      i heard they are in harrisburg.

    • babs562
      June 3, 2013

      KATHY O……I believe Harrisburg has records beginning in 1950….but I may be wrong. Feel free to send me an email at the address I will provide at the end.

      Give me her name…..where she was from. county/township/approximate year of birth….a brother or sister or mother and father of her….what state she was born in and or died in. I can help…for free.

      To keep it safe……send me an email at BABS562 at gmail dot com……

      I lived right around the corner on Old Forge Road. I have a series of photographs to look at online, too…..see my facebook page named: SLEIGHTON FARM VIEWS……and follow me :)

      BARB

  37. Doris M. Campbell Riley
    April 4, 2013

    My name is Doris Riley [Campbell at the time] 1968 to 1971 I was in Sleighton Farms. Looking at ur pictures of the place brought up some old memories. I was in Watson cottage n I remember like it was yesterday! I live in Sharon,Pa. I’m 60 years old. Sure would like to see some of the ladies now I served time with.

    • freda
      April 7, 2013

      Your name sounds so familiar
      to me . Iwas at the farm from late 1966 – 1968. Most my memories are clear as yesterday

    • jeff oflynn
      April 23, 2013

      my name is jeff oflynn and i am trying to make a documentary on sleighton and i was wondering if you would like to share your stories and memories with me it would be amazing to hear them my email is thisisnotjef92@aim.com

      • babs562
        June 3, 2013

        Hey, Jeff…..have you received any feedback at your email address? You can shoot me an email if you would like……it is BABS562 at gmail dot com…….I lived right around the corner from Sleighton on Old Forge Road for years….and never ventured onto the property…..wish I had! BARB D.

    • babs562
      June 3, 2013

      Hi, DORIS……check out two other sources online for images and videos. Refer to my facebook page named SLEIGHTON FARM VIEWS…….and there is another guy named Steve that did a series of videos…..search for Images of Sleighton Farms…..you should find his link or search via You Tube. Take Care. By the way…..if you have anything at all….any old paperwork that you could find…..hold onto it……it could provide leads to find others. I would love to help you out. Free of course….I just love this stuff. Barb Donnelly, Delaware County, PA

  38. Mary
    April 8, 2013

    I have some info from 1974 graduation held at the Ulmer Memorial Chapel on grounds. At that time, the executive director was Adeline Taborin she lived at the cottage on the right as you entered the lane to the residents cottages.There was a board of directors member Mark J. Wilcox Jr. listed (deceased as far as I can tell by searching). The Principal of the Martha P. Falconer Scholl was Malcom D. Amos .Also some graduates along with myself are named. I have kept this program for nearly 30 years. …….

    • babs562
      June 3, 2013

      Mary….I would love to see it. I lived right around the corner from the school since 1994 on Old Forge Road…..and I took a recent interest in the history too. I don’t know where you are, if local, but I would like to see the program and make a copy of what interests me? I am in Delaware County, you? You can also send me an email directly……..BABS562 at gmail dot com :)

  39. Josette Todaro
    April 14, 2013

    I am currently working on a documentary of Sleighton. I would love to speak with anyone who has worked there, lived there (as a student or residential counselor, etc) or who has a relative associated with the school. Please contact me via email (josette.todaro@gmail.com) or my cell phone 610-737-3602. Thank you.

    • Anne Russell
      April 14, 2013

      So glad you’re doing this. If you run across a staff member named Agnes Brown MacNaughton, Canadian, from early 1900s, who because superintendent of Samarcand Manor reform school for girls in North Carolina, being recruited from Sleighton, please let me know. This is follow-up for our book The Wayward Girls of Samarcand, published late last year. Anne Russell, Wilmington NC

      • babs562
        June 3, 2013

        Good Luck Lady :) only kiddin….I have met with josette. I want to come down to your neck of the woods and work for you!

      • babs562
        June 3, 2013

        Anne…..I recently came upon some new information regarding the time frame that Agnes started up the North Carolina facility…in relation to the time she was with Falconer at Sleighton Farm. It is nothing concrete…..but when I compare documented information….it generated new questions about their “relationship”…. Send me an email…..I did get a new phone number.

        BARB DONNELLY

  40. jeff oflynn
    April 23, 2013

    josette i also am doing a documentary and it would be amazing if we could team up on this i sent you an email and i look forward to hearing from you- jeff oflynn

    • Dianna foster Armstrong
      June 30, 2013

      My father worked at Sleighton for over 25 yrs before Elwyn destroyed the place .My uncle and aunt worked there as well..It dies not surprise me they left files and things in disarray.My father had lived on grounds a long time and barely had time to pack and leave.. very sad for workers who were dedicated like my dad.

      • freda
        July 1, 2013

        During what years did your father work there?

      • Donnelly Barb
        July 12, 2013

        DIANA: Please also refer to my Facebook Page named Sleighton Farm Views and send me a message to my email at Babs562 at gmail. I have met with Josette. I have stories too, to share. As far as I know….there are like four documentaries people are saying that they are doing. I say power in numbers…..get all this information converged…..DID YOU FATHER KNOW THE VANHORN’s? I will be seeing Chuck VanHorn on July 20th.
        Barbara

      • Dianna foster Armstrong
        September 16, 2013

        approx 1979-till closing.His name was Russell Foster.knew vanhorns although not well. I was much older when we moved on grounds later .My sister attended the day care that was across the street from main building(JS ) so did my nephew. Sam and Mary Ann skull were my aunt and uncle.They worked there as well..My dad knew everyone staff and students.He doesnt talk much about the school these days.

  41. Mike
    May 4, 2013

    I don’t know if anyone went to the town meeting but if you want to know about the proposed development plan check this out: http://unknowhistoricsites.blogspot.com/2013/05/beginning-of-end-for-sleighton-5413.html

  42. Jason
    May 20, 2013

    Hello, I am also an urban explorer. I love the old architecture of historical buildings. I have never been to the Sleighton school but I would definitely love to go there to record a video and take photos. Where is this school located? How hard is it to get inside? Are the buildings watched/patrolled by cops or security? Please let me know bc I’d love to go here very soon. -Jason P.

  43. Metal Buildings NC
    May 30, 2013

    I’m gone to tell my little brother, that he should also go to see this website on regular basis to take updated from most recent news update.

  44. scenicroadway
    June 4, 2013

    Hey…Just a quick update…If you have any questions/information for me (the owner of this blog), please shoot me an e-mail at scenicroadway@gmail.com

    Although I am thrilled with all of the feedback I’ve recieved, I’m having trouble keeping up with all of the comments and threads on each post. However, I always respond to the e-mails you guys send! Feel free to e-mail me anytime, if you need anything! Otherwise, I will assume your comment is in response to someone else’s.

    Thank you all :)

  45. Stephanie
    June 11, 2013

    A few of my friends and I explored around Sleighton a bit a few weeks back and have been going back every few days ever since. The interest we have about the place is unbelievable, we’ve been researching non-stop. Some questions that were constantly brought up were; why was everything left behind like so? On a previous blog, a former worker claimed that employees were given a little less than two weeks notice that they were shutting down, so why weren’t personal belongings taken? Also, the endless files and documents on these kids that were left behind make us suspicious. Why does everything look like it was left so abruptly? We’ve found pictures, documents, files, records, behavioral reports, and even x-rays in the medical part of the building. If they knew the school was closing why wouldn’t they move the belongings out? And the kids.. where did they go when the school closed? Where could they have even gone without their files and records?

  46. Chitty Bang Bang
    June 24, 2013

    I break into Sleighton all the time, I know it like the back of my hand. I’ve seen tons of personal belongings left there by people, I even took some home with me. The place is no doubt haunted, and the vibes there are crazy, both in good and bad ways. I love searching around there, I’m an old buildings/stories/artifacts freak. It’s pretty dangerous though, the floor to the gym broke out from under me multiple times. Stuff is rotting away, and honestly, I don’t like people poking around partying in there and screwing shit up. Teenagers come around all the time, graffiti is littered everywhere. This place is OLD, and the paranormal activity isn’t something that should be messed with. It’s dangerous and you shouldn’t be going inside any building if you don’t know what you’re doing. And lets not mention the huge amount of broken glass, and sometimes angry drunken squatters. I’ve seen tons of crazy shit in Sleighton. Also, it no longer belongs to Wolfington, somebody bought it back in January 2013, so don’t get caught on the property.

    • Donnelly Barb
      July 12, 2013

      PURCHASED JANUARY 2013 for $12 million by a MR. EPPS….according to the State of PA Bulletin.

  47. Chitty Bang Bang
    June 24, 2013

    Also, sadly all the buildings are most likely going to be torn down and made into rich people housing.

    • Donnelly Barb
      July 12, 2013

      Middletown Township will be providing more real estate for the ELDERLY…. you should see how many of these types of communities are situated in this Delaware County Township!!!!! It will blow your mind!!!

  48. Everyday Food Storage
    June 25, 2013

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  49. Danielle
    July 18, 2013

    I worked at Sleighton from ’98-’00 as a social worker. It was my first job out of college. I worked with Mr. Capers, who was previously mentioned, in Campbell Cottage. It horrifies me that personal files were left behind. I guess it was before the days of HIPPA?! It was a hard place to work if you had a heart and cared for those kids. By that time it more provided housing than help. I left before it was closed down, but was not shocked to hear it had. Contact me if you’d like DanielleLePage@hotmail.com

    • freda
      August 15, 2013

      I am old school, from 1966-1968

      • freda
        August 15, 2013

        new-be. I would still like to know what u know.

  50. amamb11
    November 9, 2013

    I wanted to throw out an idea. I am a novelist and am actually writing about the murder of my great grandfather. I am stalled because his daughter Pearl was at Glen Mills/ Sleighton for 6 years and I am looking for the missing years.

    Anyway there is a fear that Sleighton will be gone from the earth but the stories are amazing. I would be interested and willing to pull everyone’s stories, photos etc together into a book that can be circulated to libraries. Any and all proceeds of the book can go directly to the Preservation Society of the county. I can set everything up with them so when the book is ready for print they can control the account. I would just hate for these stories to be lost.

    If anyone is interested please e-mail me your contact information. Also can anyone local (I’m only in NJ) tell me the name or contact info for the locally historical society? When I finish my book on my family I want to make sure they get some of the proceeds.

    Thanks

    Joanna Swank
    jswank@jswank.com

    • Anne Russell PhD
      November 9, 2013

      Joanna, where in NJ? I used to live there. There was a private residential school for boys called Woodcastle near Basking Ridge. My brother was there. Later a scandal erupted because the headmaster was a pedophile raping the boys. Also, my nonfiction novel The Wayward Girls of Samarcand (on Amazon) came out last year and is getting excellent reception…it is a true story about North Carolina’s reform school for white girls…and the superintendent was Agnes Brown MacNaughton, who came from Sleighton Farms.

  51. John
    January 24, 2014

    Starting on pdf page 20 is the girl’s school, it is interesting

    http://www.delawarecountyhistory.com/thornburytownship/documents/GlenMills_1926.pdf

  52. John
    January 25, 2014

    Sleighton became part of the progressive feminist movement. It was inspired by the movement and helped inspire other similar places. Petty crimes including fornication were the main reasons courts placed women in such institutions. Most of the petty crimes, including running away from home, were a result of being from broken or abusive homes. Instead of mere corporal punishment the idea of the feminists was to train them to be good wives and mothers. Thus cottages instead of the usual single building with simply cells. Instead of working all day long doing laundry and cooking in a giant setting they had school training, had to farm vegetables in the morning and afternoon for 2-3 hours at a time (growing food to eat ultimately) and went through various programs to teach them to cook, clean, do laundry, iron, sew etc. The training was in smaller groups and in stages so that after they learned one trade they moved to the next. The goal was to prepare them to be housewives by providing the skills necessary and trying to teach them the value of such.

    Upon being released at 18 they were not simply let go. The feminists would place them in homes as domestic servants. The goal being for them to prevent them from immediately returning to their bad habits and to make them see what it is like in a normal family and to make them long to have their own family so they could be the wife in charge like the woman they are obeying. Essentially the goal was to provide the skills to run their own house and to give them the desire to run their own house so they would marry a man instead of running around committing crimes or having carefree sex.

    By making such types of institutions a major focus or ending fornication it resulted in a sizable increase in the number of women sent to such institutions. Courts generally didn’t like to send women to rough institutions simply for fornication. By and large girls who had no place to go were sent there for simply fornication. But with such institutions open and wanting such women to reform many more girls were arrested and brought before courts for fornication and courts began sending any such girls who crossed their path there.

    SInce most girls came from broken homes and the like it was a good experience for them and actually helped turn around their lives. They got a high school education that they would not otherwise have received and learned skills so they could marry and become productive members of society instead of having to resort to petty crime for subsistence.

    As with any programs there are problems. No doubt some of the families that used the new releases abused them and treated them poorly and just wanted cheap labor and used the program for their purposes instead of helping the girls. While the initial social workers that established the formula cared about the girls some of the workers who followed were not as kind.

    Interestingly part of the formula did not change that much over the years. For instance the initial step was placement in a very strict cottage to porient them to regimen. When deemed ready they were released to one of the residence cottages. This basically continued to the end of the school. As the modern feminist movement grew it was no longer deemed appropriate to train women to become housewives. They added beauty school types of things over time but those too faded as time went on. The farming and domestic training was largely ended and more emphasis was placed on school and sports. Over time school filled most of the day instead of half and organized sports filled the rest.

    As fornincation no longer became an acceptable reason to send girls there and preparing them for domestic activities no longer was acceptable the place had to change to survive. One such change in 1975 was it became co-ed. The number of girls being sentenced dropped off significantly. Once it became co-ed more and more boys were sent and it became majority male. Essentially it was run like a prep school that tought high school level.

    It managed to survive another 25 years but modern treatment facilities for modern problems lessened the need for the state to continue to provide funding. Drug problems and the like were treated by more harsh facilities and later rehab programs. These were more so the problems of the day. Petty larceny and the like either resulted in probation and community service or if repeat offenders something more harsh. The Sleighton formula of a strict prep school was no longer of value to the state and without much more state funding could not survive hence closed. The closure was sudden with everyone being kicked off with little notice. It was not handled in a responsible manner at all. Instead of taking care to appropriately store files or transfer them the files were simply left wherever they were. Workers were told to take their personal belongings and immediately leave as if they would steal something of value if afforded more time to pack. The Sleighton corporation took whatever they deemed was valuable and left the rest for vandals to steal or ruin including records. Who knowns how many files and how much property was taken by trespassers over the years.

    • bonnrose
      January 25, 2014

      Thanks so much, John, for taking the time to write.

  53. John
    January 25, 2014

    I forgot to mention something. A sizable portion of girls sent there were what we would today call developmentally challenged (formerly known as retarded). Those running the school who tested the girls seem to have thought half were. They mostly used IQ tests to make that determination though. To me IQ tests moreso indicate ignorance than being retarded. There is a difference between being uneducatioed and being unable to learn if actually taught. In any event the school was not prepared to deal with girls who were retarded and often resorted to locking them up and drugging them. They didn’t really want them there in the first place but the courts sent them anyway. This was the attitude in the ’20s so imagine how bad the attitude got toward such girls the latter part of the 20th century.

    There is wide divergence in the experience of those who attended which can largely be accounted for based on the following variables:

    1) Whether the girl was a problem child by A) not following the rules, B) having a mental disability, physical disability (including pregnancy) or othe rmental disturbances (such as being an abuse victim) which made the child more work for the workers to have to deal with.

    2) Whether the workers were kind and caring or downright miserable. There were some workers who were miserable and enjoyed instilling misery to others even if the girl was not a “problem child”.

    3) Whether the girl wanted to make her life better and was willing to use it as a learning experience or not. As they say what you put into something is what you get out. Some people go to school just for the sake of it because they have to or are expected and put no effort in and truly get nothing out. They go through the motions simply. The same holds true with a program like they offered. If you were only going through the motions and just ran back to the street when done you are unlikely to view the program as anything but a hassle that got in your way of having fun the 2 years you were there.

    These variable intersected to a degree. Sometimes there were workers who were very devoted and tried to help those who had problems. Many of them were not trianed to handle the problems though thus could not handle them correctly. For instance they didn’t have professional training to handle abuse victims or mentally challenged. Some tried to help them as best they coudl anyway which sometimes helped but often didn’t because they were no adequately prepared.

    Others were not willing to try and instead made matters worse. After dealing with the same problems year after year they lost their patience and became burned out and should not have been there. Not just nasty to girls with behavioral problems like those today diagnosed with ADD or mental distburbances, other problems as well. For instance some were extremely nasty to girls who arrived pregnant or became pregnant because of all the work that resulted from past experiences with pregnant girls.

    To an extent introducing the girls to a regimen was necessary so not all of that was downright mean but some interpreted it as mean and rebelled while others who never had order in their lives before were more receptive. So the main variables were the girls themselves (both their attributes and attitudes) and the women who worked with them. It was a mixture of both attitudes that determined how their experience was. Obviously that means experiences varied widely.

  54. John
    January 25, 2014

    Another tidbit. From 1989-1995 they housed juveniles awaiting court hearings. This could be before their initial hearings or before sentencing and could last days or weeks. They were housed separately from other students. The program was ended after the town revoked permission to house such. During an escape attempt a town resident was run down and that made the residents fear a greater number of breakout attempts from such group. This group represented almost a quarter of the population of Sleighton so was a big hit to the bottom line.

  55. evelinda
    March 25, 2014

    Hi I was actually a students there I was there by court for a year I was one of the last group to leave before they close Down I meet my husband in there been with him since we meet in school in English class our teacher name was miss Ferman great teacher if u have any question feel free to get with me thanks

  56. babs562
    April 1, 2014

    FIRE burned out of control, early morning hours this past weekend, Saturday, March 29, 2014. The unfortunate cottage that burned: Washington Cottage.

    After 1993, Deborah Logan Cottage burned up. Torn Down.

    May 2013 – The Martha Falconer Education Building burns, only the school side. Library still in tact. Cause: Lightening.

    See my facebook page “Sleighton Farm Views” for a slew of images downloaded, not of the fire, but historical images and comments.

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