Old Newsboys Day St. Louis and Fr. Peter Dunne

skeetersboys-w560h452Here in St. Louis the golds and flames of October have all but given way to the russets and coppers of November. Autumn turns her back on winter and our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving and those less fortunate than ourselves.

The sun will rise this Thursday morning on thousands of volunteers in the St. Louis area, hawking special editions of a newspaper to fund local children’s charities. And the busy season of giving between now and the New Year will get underway.

Among the hawkers will be celebrities – performers, television personalities and sports figures – as well as business people, college students, firefighters, government officials and quite possibly your next door neighbor.

The event has been known as Old Newsboys Day here since 1957 when then-St. Louis Globe-Democrat-Editor, Duncan Bauman, introduced the concept to the St. Louis community. The Suburban Journal Newspapers took up the torch in 1988 after the Globe-Democrat’s presses went silent and today partner with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KSDK-TV in an event celebrated annually on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. (In other cities Old Newsboys Day is commemorated on other dates).


St. Louis was late to adopt this charitable drive which had its start in Detroit and Chicago as early as 1914 spreading to Lansing, MI in 1924, Toledo, Ohio in 1929 and Syracuse, NY in 1932 impacted by the initiative of Lewis Wickes Hine. American sociologist, teacher and one of the great photojournalists of the 20th century, Hine took to the road between 1909 and 1917 using his camera to document the plight of child laborers across the United States. Hine’s dramatic photos like the one above, shot at midnight in an Indiana glass factory, spotlighted child abuse and inspired reform of child labor laws in the U.S.


In 2005, retired social worker, freelance journalist, historian and genealogist, poet, photographer and songwriter, Joe Manning, undertook an enormous project of his own – searching for the descendants of the child laborers photographed by Lewis Hine, documenting how their lives turned out and wherever possible giving names to those previously unidentified.

livers-w300h3961Although this irrepressible little newsboy captured in St. Louis by Lewis Hine near the intersection of Jefferson & Franklin Avenues in 1910 remains a mystery (the photograph bears only the nickname “Livers”), Joe Manning has succeeded in documenting hundreds of the 5,000 child laborers photographed by Lewis Hine whose images are viewable on the Library of Congress website.

I occasionally visit Manning’s website Mornings on Maple Street, to keep abreast of his progress – which is considerable. He’d be delighted to hear from anyone who can identify “Livers” or either of the newsboys to the right or the left in the top photo, also captured on film in St. Louis in 1910. Joe Manning’s site is http://morningsonmaplestreet.com/aboutlewishine.html. You can contact him at: joe@sevensteeples.com.

The plight of newsboys, possibly the most vocal street kids of the early 20th century, had an even earlier champion than Lewis Hine in St. Louis – a quiet, reserved curate by the name of Fr. Peter Dunne, who had been called to the side of a very ill child only to find him living in a wooden crate. It was the cold December of 1905 and after Dunne talked his sister and brother-in-law into temporarily sheltering the child, he began rescuing other kids from the mean streets of St. Louis, housing them initially in a run-down, 19th century townhouse at #1013 Selby Place. It wasn’t ideal but it was a start.

In May of 1906, Archbishop John Glennon relieved Peter Dunne of his parish duties at St. Patrick’s Church (where he had been assistant to the legendary Fr. Timothy Dempsey) and assigned him to full-time ministry at the boys’ home. He served there for thirty-three years until his death from pneumonia in 1939, completely devoted to the children with whom he shared so much.

Peter Dunne was born in Chicago, IL in 1870 to Patrick Dunne and Christina Farrell Dunne. The family fled the city in the horrific wake of Chicago’s Great Fire of 1871 for Kansas, where his father, a carpenter, purchased a small farm. The family struggled there from the start and six years later Christina died.


Within three years Peter and his four siblings lost their father as well and would arrive in St. Louis “penniless orphans.”* With no leisure time for schooling, Dunne worked whatever jobs he could find until a post as night watchman at St. Louis University led him to a teacher who instructed him in reading and arithmetic paving the way for a very bright and eager young man to attend St. Benedict’s College in Kansas and eventually graduate from Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis.**

No one had to tell Fr. Peter Dunne how critical education was to success in life and what a luxury, how far out of reach it could be for an orphan. Nor how desperately lonely and sad life was on the street.

On November 10, 1907 a handsome, two-story, brick residence opened as Father Dunne’s News Boys Home at 3010 Washington Avenue. Hugh Campbell, who provided Thanksgiving dinner at the boys’ home for years, had organized a syndicate of thirty St. Louisans, each of whom contributed one thousand dollars to the building fund.* Two years later an additional story was added along with additional footage on Washington Avenue because the needs were great. Hugh Campbell, who with his younger brother Hazlett was heir to their parents’ fortune, lived one block south and fifteen blocks east in what is known today as the Campbell House Museum.

HauntingSTL 025

Site now of the Salvation Army Harbor Light, the former boys’ home stands in a fractured area of Midtown that in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries teemed with immigrants and other thousands of the urban poor. What began as a haven for homeless boys and adolescents, evolved into a shelter for men and women suffering from alcoholism and drug abuse – a bequest from Paul and Lottie Daundt enabling the Salvation Army to purchase it.

Some of the boys who filled Peter Dunne’s protectorate were runaways from violent homes, most were orphans with nowhere to live but the streets, attempting to survive on the meager earnings they got from hawking newspapers in an era when the morning and evening papers were the main way people got the news.

According to the 1930 Census the boys residing in Fr. Dunne’s Home represented many nationalities: Irish, English, Scots, French, German, Spanish, Polish, and Italian. Since “the newsies” (as they came to be called) had to first buy the papers they were going to try to sell, it was a tough and competitive business and kids fought over turf, the best and busiest street corners – some as young as seven and nine years of age going up against kids twice their age.

At Father Dunne’s they received not only food, shelter and clothing but medical care, an education and preparation to make their way in the world. The boys had their own print shop, wrote their own copy and produced their own small publication under Peter Dunne’s direction, for he’d learned the trade at the age of twelve in Kansas City. He was firm but compassionate and every night before he retired he made the rounds to wish every boy a good night.

It was a desperate time. According to the CDC website “between 1900 and 1930 six out of every nine women in the U.S. died of pregnancy-related complications (including Mary Therese Kirkpatrick, my maternal grandmother) and approximately one in a hundred infants before the age of one. Forty percent of the maternal deaths were caused by sypsis, half following delivery.”

This made for a lot of motherless children and widowed fathers, countless of them immigrants like my maternal grandfather, working six day weeks from dawn until dark.

When my mother was very young, her mother and father died within three years of each other, leaving seven orphaned children. Two of her older brothers, Robert and Thomas Kirkpatrick, wound up at Fr. Dunne’s. My Uncle Tom, the younger, was eventually adopted by close family friends but my Uncle Bob remained at the boys’ home until he entered the Redemptorist Seminary at age eighteen. Like so many of the graduates of 3010 Washington Avenue he went on to a full and successful life becoming a renowned preacher in the western United States. He’d had a great mentor in Fr. Peter Dunne.***

With laughter he recounted a story so often that I had it by memory from childhood. How one day while running an errand he’d pilfered a cigar from a drawer in Fr. Dunne’s desk and lit up, only to have him return unexpectedly. “With not so much as a word about the cigar” Fr. Dunne invited my uncle to take a seat and proceeded to make polite conversation until Robert, “green in the face and about to be violently ill, rushed out of the office.” In 1948 RKO Radio Pictures produced the movie, “Fighting Father Dunne”, starring Pat O’Brien as the newsboys’ champion.

What wisdom that kindly priest wielded and how my Uncle Bob revered him! When it came time for my uncle to say his First Mass, Fr. Peter Dunne was too ill to make it the short distance to the Rock Church (St. Alphonsus on Grand Blvd.) so the Rev. Robert Emmett Kirkpatrick said his First Mass in the chapel at Father Dunne’s Home for News Boys (and later, a second First Mass at “The Rock”).

From the parking lot of the Salvation Army shelter the chapel appears to be in a ruinous state, the rest of the building also reflective of the desperation of its residents and a stark reminder of their poverty.

It sometimes seems, especially at this time of year, that we’re asked to give every time we turn around: Old Newsboys Day, food and clothing drives in churches and schools, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s One Hundred Neediest Cases, Toys for Tots, The Salvation Army’s Tree of Lights and yet . . . why not? When a little bit here and there can make such a difference in the life of a family or a child.

I rarely re-post a blog but I decided to make an exception with this one, which I published in November of 2010 (and edited today). Out of the 70,000 something views my blog has received, the one on Old Newsboys Day tops the list. I’m happy to say that many alums of Fr. Dunne’s home have been able to reach each other from across the country and renew old friendships on my comments page.

Over 270 local children’s organizations will reap the benefits tomorrow from a day that commemorates child laborers of a by-gone era. When you’re approached by someone famous (or maybe not) who’s put on an apron and come out to sell you a newspaper (even if you get most of your news on the internet) consider keeping the change and dropping something a little more significant in the collection can – for the sake of a child whom you’ll never know but whose life you will change.

References: *History of Father Dunne’s News Boys’ Home and Protectorate, J.W. Gormley, St. Louis, MO, 1919., ** Priest File for Monsignor Peter Joseph Dunne, Archives of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, *** RKO Pictures’ “Fighting Father Dunne” starring Pat O’Brien.

Photo Credits: “Newsies at Skeeter’s Branch, Jefferson Near Franklin, St. Louis, MO, 1910” by Lewis Hine – used with the kind permission of Joseph H. Manning; “Midnight in the Glass Factory” by Lewis Hine – in the public domain from wikipedia.com; “‘Livers’ a Young Newsie, St. Louis, MO.,1910” by Lewis Hine – used with the kind permission of Joseph H. Manning; Little Lottie a Regular Oyster Shucker in Alabama Canning Co. 1911 – Lewis Hine – from the National Archives in the public domain at wikipedia.org; “The Great Chicago Fire of 1871” – Harper’s Weekly in the public domain at wikipedia.org; “First Home of Father Dunne’s News Boys”, “Father Dunne and Some of His Boys”, “Our Press Room” and “Some of Our News Boys” – all taken from History of Father Dunne’s News Boys’ Home and Protectorate by J.W. Gormley – used with the generous permission of the Archives of the Archdiocese of St. Louis; St. Alphonsus “Rock Church”, St. Louis – Thomas Kavanaugh; Salvation Army Harbor Light/formerly Fr. Dunne’s News Boys’ Home – Maureen Kavanaugh; Kirkpatrick Family Photo (showing Robert Kirkpatrick on the right – Fr. Dunne’s news boys; also shown from left to right: Anabel Kirkpatrick Burke O’Connor, Agnes Kirkpatrick, Suzanne/Sr. Therese Ann Kirkpatrick, SSND & upper row, between her brothers(Tom on the left & Robert on the right), Mae/Sr. Maureen Kirkpatrick, SSND), photographer unknown – from the personal collection of Maureen O’Connor Kavanaugh, the author of this blog.

Special thanks to Amy Lisinski, MLIS – Processing Archivist, Archdiocessan Archives, St. Louis!

(You can click on a photo image to enlarge it.)

About stltourguide

I am a walking tour and narrated coach tour guide in St. Louis, Missouri specializing in the history of the area.
This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Commentary and Criticism, History, Recollections, St. Louis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

82 Responses to Old Newsboys Day St. Louis and Fr. Peter Dunne

  1. Mary E. Seematter says:

    Now you are teaching me some new material. I knew of but not much about Fr. Dunne’s Home. Nice job, Maureen.

    • stltourguide says:

      Thank you, Mary! I’ve been wanting to write about Fr. Peter Dunne for a long time. His name was spoken with great reverence by my mom, aunts & uncles & the old Irish in our family. As you might imagine it was heartbreaking when the 7 Kirkpatrick children had to be split up but there was so little money among the Irish immigrants no one could take more than one of them. But except for the oldest, Francis, who was taken by an uncle to work for him in California all the others remained in St. Louis. Friends & family made sure the children got to visit & see one another even tho some of them were in orphanages and others got adopted. They remained very close and dear friends all of their lives.
      I asked my Uncle Bob before he died what his family had been like before their mother died. He replied, “Your’s & Tom’s house times two, Maureen! Our father had a beautiful voice and he sang all the time at home.” Many of the families lived near what we call Midtown today. Fr. Dunne’s ministry made it possible for Tom & Robbie to see their siblings often which was a great blessing to those bereft little children.

  2. Kathy Cain Doerr says:

    Thank you for this lovely story. Every November when I see the volunteer hawkers on the streets, I think about my years at the Boys’ Home on Washinton Avenue. My father was their music teacher and chapel organist during the 1950’s and 60’s. Every day, my family went there for Mass and breakfast with the boys. During the summers, my family lived at their camp facility near Pacific, MO. My mother, sister, and I were in the minority, being females! But as far as my mother was concerned, the boys were all extra sons for her. And they were all big brothers for me!

    I went there recently to see the chapel. The Salvation Army allows the public to join the residents at Mass on Sundays.

    • stltourguide says:

      You are so welcome, Kathy. Thank you for your comment! What years would this be? There is very little available to the public about this wonderful and historic ministry. I wonder if I might interview you sometime? I would love to hear your stories and recollections!

  3. Kathy Hart says:

    Very interesting, Maureen. I have heard of Fr. Dunne’s Home, but knew very little about it. Your story reminds me of a book we read for my teacher’s book club a couple years ago called “Counting on Grace” by Elizabeth Winthrop. It is historical fiction for mid/late elementary students. Child labor is the subject of the novel and Lewis Hine is featured as a character. Some of your readers might enjoy it. I believe it was one of the Mark Twain Award nominees.

    • stltourguide says:

      Thank you, Kath, for this excellent recommendation! I’m going to reserve a copy of “Counting on Grace” at the library. If you check the link in this post for morningsonmaplestreet I think Joe Manning the author of that site helped Elizabeth Winthrop with her research.

  4. Joe says:

    Neat article. My great-grandfather stayed at Fr. Dunne’s Home for a while when he was a boy. It was neat to read what he would have experienced.

  5. Larry Weiss says:

      I lived at Father Dunne’s Home at 3010 Washington Ave (6 blocks east of the FOX theatre) in my teenage years in the 1960s. It was a wondereful safe harbor for scared homeless unwanted boys. ….We were all taken care of very.  Almost all of our needs were taken care of.  With plenty of good food,  good warm clothes, clean comfortable facilities ..sports equipment… good education with persoanel tutoring for those that needed….religious teaching. Really, there was only one need that could not be taken care of…It was sort of a sad place with  high tension at times…. all of the boys were pretty private and usually kept their feelings to themselves because it hurt so bad to admit that they were not loved. Everyone knew the chance of adoption after 5 years old were very slim. Can you imagine being abandoned at 6 years old?????  Oh yes, for the decendants of the home’s Director Don Kochner, he understood the boys. He carried on Father Dunne’s vision in his heart. Mr Kochner was a saint.  lw

    • stltourguide says:

      Dear Larry, Thank you for your wonderful comment! No, I cannot truly imagine what it ‘s like to be abandoned at the age of 6. But your words help. I’m sorry for your pain and that of every child who has to suffer abandonment! I’m glad that Fr. Dunne’s Home was there for you. Thank you for sharing your experience, for giving me and my readers a sense of what all that sadness feels like in a place. And thank you for your tribute to Don Kochner who I did not know about. He sounds like a wonderful man. I hope life got happier for you in time.

  6. William Krachenfels says:

    I resided @ Fr. Dunne’s with Mr. Weiss. A very nice fellow. I was there from 1968 through 1972. In 1970 Fr Dunne’s moved to the former resdence building of de Andreis High School, 4275 Clarence near O’Fallon Park. Some of the boys ,like myself moved from other Catholic children’s homes. Myself from The German St. Vincent home in Normandy, others from St Joseph’s in south St. St louis. Nice to know Larry is still around

    • stltourguide says:

      Thank you for your comment, William! And for the additional information about Fr. Dunne’s and the move to the former de Andreis HS which I did not know about. Hope you & Larry can reconnect!

  7. Larry Weiss says:

    Kathy Cain, I was so very pleased to see your message. Your father Larry was a very special person to me as a teenager.  He was an adult role model to me. I am sure that his patience, caring, generosity and love for all is part of the fabric that makes me who I am today. Larry’s patience and caring were traits that most boys at the home did not feel from most adults.  Larry spent endless hours encouraging us to develop our singing tallent. He was so proud of the choir he recruited out of the group of us boys….He would alway tell us we were the best choir he had ever assembled at Father Dunne’s even when we knew were lousy sometimes. The Latin mass and the loud pipe organ hid our singing mistakes especially when we lost our place.  Speaking of that wonderful pipe organ, he played it beautifully. He was always encouranging us to get interested in playing.  It was his pipe organ, together they were one. It’s very likely that I met you Kathy,  Larry would bring a couple of us to your cabin on the Big River on Sundays`occasionally. We would spend the day with your family to join you for swimming and a family meal. At least two years I can recall joining you all in the annual river clean up. We would spend the night those weekends in sleeping bags. Larry would really get into the clean up. He had preplanned to get certain large items out of the water while he had us there, like washers, ice boxes, and such. He’d have us winch big trees out of the channel to the bank. He would lead us as far north as the old bridge looking for junk. He’d revel in what we had fished out with pride. Larry taught me to drive in your family car. He took me to take the test to get my driver’s liscense. He said it had to be our secret, because he thought the home management would not react favorably, but what they don’t know….. followed by his low toned giggle sort of naughty laugh of his. As you know your father was a very intellegent man, he was humble and a bit shy…so everyone did not know that about him until they got close to his heart, that’s where he kept his love, patience and generosity. I know now that I loved your father, thanks for sharing him with me. lw 1967-1970

  8. Janet Barbrack says:

    I am so happy to find this information. My Dad, Bill Welsh now 85, lived at Father Dunne’s between the years of 1936- 1941. He still loves to talk about this place and remembers fondly Father Glenn and the many boys he befriended there. Although sad for him at first to be there he found it to be a stabilizing place to live during the difficult times of the depression.
    I was wondering if you might have information about where I might dig up some old photos of the boys that lived there during that time and maybe a list of their names.
    That would really make his day to see some pictures of his old friends.
    Thank you,

    • stltourguide says:

      Hi, Janet. I’m very glad that you found my blog post. I’d love to hear some of your dad’s stories! My best guess as to where you might search is the St. Louis Archdiocesan Archives. This is a link to their web site: http://archstl.org/archives. As I recall, when I was doing research in their offices I did not find a lot in the folder for Fr. Peter Dunne. However I did not search the entire history of the Newsboys’ Home. I suggest you contact them to see if they have files pertaining to the years you’re interested in, hopefully containing photos. Good luck!

  9. Virginia A. Oakley says:

    My Dad (James A. Hartog – 90 yrs) & his brother(Robert Hartog – 92) were at Fr Dunne’s home from around 1925-1935? I have
    been trying to find out where I could get some information when they were there. My uncle told me to try where St Thomas
    Aquianis High School was. Sent messages to where the office was supposed to be and no reply. Could you help me find the
    information I’m looking for? I just started getting information to do a family tree. So, I was hoping to add this to the tree
    for the family members who are still living. Their sister (Florence – 93). James & Robert were at St Joseph’s home from 1920 -1925?
    I can’t remember the catholic home Florence was in. All 3 are helping with information from back then but some they can’t
    remember. Please E-Mail me any information .
    Thank You

  10. Julie Chitwood says:

    I enjoy the information very much. Part of my family was from St Louis from mid 1800’s. I just finished transcribing a letter that my Great Aunt wrote to Father Dunne about getting information to her sister, Rosalie O’Donnell, who was overseas with the Red Cross in Romania. They were trying to help the Romanians set up something similar in Bucharest. (Apparently Celeste O’Donnell had also spoken to Father Dunne on the phone).
    During the time perios of Sept 1918 through Dec 1921 my two Great Aunts and my Grandmother, who was in Chicago, wrote a total of about 850 pages of letters – which I inherited. At the moment I am typing all of them on to my computer and hope to publish them. They tell of everything that was going on in the world at that time (not all of it politically correct by today’s standards). In the letters they mention about 1000 names (births, deaths, marriages, etc.), most of them from St. Louis. Even those in the Red Cross seemed to be a lot of St. Louis people.
    Thank you for your site. Julie

  11. robert allen says:

    name is bob allen i to live at fr. dunn, coming from st. joe in 1959 time were so good then.
    don and larry were good to talk to.my best friend was tom bradley i guess most of are gone the wind. i too would like to hear from some of them to.
    also we had good time at fr. dunn camp also would like to hear from some of the guys from that good year of 59 and 60
    b, allen

    • stltourguide says:

      Thank you for your comment, Robert!

    • Robert,I too, also lived at Father Dunne,s, from 1959 to 1963. I graduated from McBride in 1963. I tried to find the camp on google earth, but to no avail. I know it was somewhere near Pacific and Eureka, but I can’t seem to find it. My name is Patrick W. Whitney. I now live in California, where I have since 1968. I’ve been retired from the Postal Service since April of 2007..Hoping to hear from you.

      • Patrick Whitney, an e mail from From the Lou; Word Press your comment. I am Joe Genna (pgenna2@juno.com). Ed Lynch and I were at Father Dunne’s, thought at different times. We were both at St. Joseph’s too. Back then, I was Joe Genna and was at Dunne’s 1963-1965. Ed Lynch was there a little later. I knew Bobby Allen at St. Joe’s, but can’t locate him You can write me at pgenna2@juno.com.if ya’ wanna’ regarding me or Ed Lynch. Much thanks to From the Lou, stltourguide for bringing this up.

      • Ed Lynch says:

        Hello Pat. I don’t know if you remember me or not. I was with the freshman class of 62. They didn’t have any rooms available so they put us on the second floor in a dorm. Do you remember playing stickball and going to a camp in the woods? We put on a play about “Lil Abner”.

        I also retired from the PO in St Louis (2005) I worked with Jim McCann who said he knew you from McBride. His wife worked at the new Father Dunnes in Florrisant,MO

      • Ed says:

        Hello Pat. I was at Father Dunnes from 1962 to 1964. I remember my first year we went to a camp in the woods where we did a play based on the “Lil Abner” musical.
        Our freshman class (1962) didn’t get rooms right away because our class was so big. We spent time on the second floor in a dorm for awhile.

        I remember you and Larry Fitzner? used to be the best ping pong and stick ball players in the home.

        I worked with Jim McCann. He said he knew you from McBride. His wife worked at the new Father Dunnes in Florrisant, Mo.

        Take care, Ed Lynch

      • stltourguide says:

        I’m very glad that alums of Fr. Dunne’s are finding one another through this blog. God works in mysterious ways and I’ve no doubt that Fr. Dunne is still watching over you all still.

      • larry Weiss says:

        The old Fr Dunne’s camp is approx 4 miles south of Pacific Mo at the SE intersection of Hwy F and Hwy FF. You can find it on GPS at 38d 25′ 35″N 90d 40’60″W. The address is 3123 State Rd F, Pacific Mo 63069. It has been privately owned for many years and mostly overgrown. lw

      • robert allen says:

        hi pat i’m bob allen your room was 15 my room was 7 like to hear from you exbartender43@aol.com have lot to talk about do you have a e- mail so i can work with you are any body else bob allen

      • Kathy Cain Doerr says:

        The camp was located in Jefferson County, near the intersection of F and FF. Sand Glade Trail. The white sand cliffs are still there. La Barque Creek is nearby. The Black Madonna Shrine is also nearby. The former camp property is now under private ownership.

      • robert allen says:


        BOB ALLEN

      • Patrick Whitney, if you are interested, there is a Facebook page for posting and photos. It is: “Father Dunne’s Newsboy Home and Protectorate, 1907-2006, St. Louis, MO.

  12. Shawn says:

    great article, I just found it. My Grandfather Robert O’Brien & his two brothers lived there when they became ophans, I found them all on the 1910 Census. They were older boys & never adopted, my Grandfather went directly into WWI.
    I have one group photo of him at Father Dunn’s.

  13. J. Patrick Genna, Dharma Refuge says:

    Hi This is for Bobby Allen (robert allen) who lived at Father Dunne’s and St. Joseph’s Home for Boys between 1959 and 1965. I lived at both places with Bobby. Hope he is okay. I regret that I did not keep in touch with most of the kids from the institutions, but then I was a foolish young man. I am Joe Genna, St. Domenico’s 1947-1952, St. Joseph’s 1957-1958, Fr. Dunne’s, 1963-1965. All three no longer exist. I am retired in Portland, OR. My email address is: pgenna2@juno.com.

  14. Kate says:

    I was a very young houseparent with my very young husband at Fr Dunne’s. We were students at UMSL and were resident with another young couple who had a young son (also houseparents). I was only there a year but it was the most eye-opening experience of my young years as I was only a year older than many of the boys. It was around 1969-70 that we were there. I hope all those boys are well today. It was a stressful time for them. My most memorable experience was when the police showed up one night because they saw someone climbing up the building. Of course it turned out to be a boy climbing back into the building after having left hours earlier the same way. We thought we would be fired the next day, but the cook quit and they needed us to cook breakfast

    • stltourguide says:

      Dear Kate, thank you for this comment! God does indeed work in mysterious ways! Maureen

    • The former Director,of Father Dunne’s Newsboy Home located at 3010 Washington Bl., Monsignor Harry L. Byrne had died in 2004 at St. Agnes Home. Mr. Don Kochner was his assistant. I am not sure what Don’s job title was but he basically did the day to day operation of the Home. Monsignor Byrne was rarely seen as he had no office hours. The only time I ever saw him was at Mass and on two occasions in his quarters, but never in an office or anywhere else So, Don basically ran the place when I was there from 1963 to 1965.
      Monsignor Henry “Harry” L. Byrne, the oldest priest in the St. Louis Archdiocese, died Wednesday (April 14, 2004) at St. Agnes Home in Kirkwood. He was 95.
      He was born in St. Louis. He attended St. Louis University High School and St. Louis University.

      Monsignor Byrne was ordained as an archdiocesan priest in 1937 at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. His first assignment was as assistant pastor at the old St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in St. Louis.

      Monsignor Byrne became chaplain of St. Joseph’s Home for Boys in St. Louis in 1941. Five years later, he joined Father Dunne’s Newsboys’ Home, where he was director for almost 25 years.

  15. For Bob Allen: Bobby, I am very interested in those photos from St. Joe’s, Father Dunne’s, etc. Would you able to photocopy those and mail all of them to me at: Joseph Patrick Genna, 1865 NE Davis St. #115 Portland, OR 97232. Include your street address and I will send you money to cover the cost of postage and photocopy or will send you money first? Joe

    • robert allen says:


      • Thank you Bobby. Please let me know if you want me to send you any money for CD and postage. I will let anyone else know about St. Joe’s and Father Dunnes. So far, there is no Facebook page for either St. Joes’s or Father Dunne’s. There is one for St. Domenico.

      • Kathy Cain Doerr says:

        Robert, I’ll get on board. I’d be delighted to reimburse you for a CD of pictures. I may be able to scrounge some up for you and Patrick, as well. Gratefully, Kathy Doerr, 81 Willmore Road, St. Louis, MO. 63109

      • robert allen says:


      • Ed Lynch says:

        Put my name on the list for a CD. Ed Lynch,5553
        Southfield Dr, St Louis, MO 63129

  16. Bobby M Allen, thank you. Received two discs in mail today. All images copied to my computer hard drive. Recognize some, but not most. Recognized YOU. Deeply regret losing touch. Would you like me to return the discs so you can give them to someones else? I can mail back and include postage if you like. QUESTION FOR YOU: May I post IMAGES on line? If so, would you be willing to identify images using the comment feature on a Facebook page? I could create a Father Dunne and St. Joe Facebook page as I had for Saint Domenico. Patrick Genna (Joe Genna) pgenna2@juno.com

  17. ROBERT ALLEN says:

    what i sent you i’ve got already i do not have pictures you got of people send them what is your
    e-mail address
    Bobby Allen

  18. Donald E Stockton says:


    I too was at St Josephs and Father Dunne. My brother and I spent some time at both homes. My name is Don Stockton and my brother is Virgil, he is the oldest and graduted froDeandries in 1965. We both left the home together Virgil by graduating, myself thanks to MSG Byrnes. Had many friends and good times. if any one would like to contact me they can on facebook or email stocktond@hotmail.com


  19. Nancy Klepacki Harding says:

    Please Help – I had the great honor/opportunity to live as caretaker at the former Fr. Dunne’s Camp – “Camp Dunnisnae” in Eureka Missouri in the mid 1980’s after Washington University acquired the property. The chapel had long since burned and I was not able to get much information regarding memories of the place, but I would greatly appreciate ANY information/memories and most of all, copies of photographs of the place. I am still in touch with the resident caretakers, who would also love to see the pictures. Note – above responses – the place is gated and private FOR A REASON! The terrain is steep, mostly unkempt and in some places very overgrown now. The swimming pool complex is completely closed off/filled in and there are three areas which have bluff drop-offs of over 150 feet. You can thank individuals who sue at the drop of a hat for this – liability has required WU to hire security staff/caretakers out there now. In the early 90’s locals – teenagers – got onto the property and caused significant damage and vandalisim. Arson, damage and the danger of personal liability has forced Washington University to staff the property with security personnel. Sightseers” are not welcome anymore. and they DO monitor 24/7.. If you want to go out there, I would suggest put a request in writing to the director of Tyson Research Center in Eureka – but note, they will need more of a ‘reason’ than just gawking. I’m sorry to sound so harsh, but I know firsthand the frustration of dealing with people who are intriqued by the ‘notion’ of private property and who feel that since the property was once a charitable institution, that it is still open to all.

  20. ROBERT ALLEN says:


  21. Nancy Klepacki Harding says:

    Hello Robert – Hey, I was out at the old Fr. Dunne’s yesterday – yep, it’s still there and the two ‘residences’ are being lived in and in good shape. I wish I could say the same for the dorm/pool area but it is owned by a private entity and they don’t have to funds to keep up with it. The dormitory building has issues with mold/asbestos over the years. I do have a few current pics if you’d like to see them. I would LOVE to see your pics of the camp – the family that lives out there now is trying to put together some sort of archive – they really love the property, and are doing a good job as caretakers. Also – I’d heard a story from one of the brothers over at St. Joseph’s Hill Infirmary – just up the road from the Fr. Dunne’s Camp – that at one time there was a log or rustic chapel up on the hill above the dorm building/pool area and that it burnt to the ground one summer – supposedly arson. My friends have hiked the trails around there for years – they do a general property trash clean up several times per year – but can find no trace of any ‘extra’ building or signs that a building burnt. I know it’s been well over four decades – but do you recollect any such ‘chapel’ and a fire? Thanks again!
    Nancy Klepacki Harding – St. Louis, MO (I lived as a caretaker at the old Fr. Dunne’s Camp from 1986/1987.

  22. Glen Plam says:

    Just found this site a few days ago. I was a resident from 1960 to 1961. Remember the summer camp as well. I went to St Mary’s.
    Frankly not a very happy time. It was a great relief to leave the home.
    What I remember if you were a member of the ‘in’ crowd life was easy and fun. For the rest of us we endured.

    • Patrick Genna says:

      So sorry Glen. I was at Dunne’s 1963-64 as a working boy. I did not know that there was a select group or in crowd. My status was different as I had already finished high school at Corpus Christi in Jennings. Apparently you were gone by the time I arrive and left. I lived in three. places, St. Domenico, St. Joseph’s and Father Dunne’s. Were you at St. Joe’s next door to St. Mary’s? (There are Facebook pages of both Father Dunne’s and St. Joseph Home for Boys.) Do you have any pics or photos of Dunne’s or St. Joes? Finally, …..so sorry that it was not a happy time for you at Dunne’s and that it has not left you with too many unpleasant memories? – Joe Genna, Portland, OR

  23. Mike Murray says:

    Have just learned what Lee Enterprises has been doing to its current carriers many of whom work two and three jobs to support a family. It’s outrageous and someone associated with Old Newsboys Day should investigate. As a neighborhood newsboy I recall the long, cold and dark mornings but I worked for extra money while in school. Many of the current delivery people have serious obligations and struggle to make ends meet. From what I am hearing the current situation is as bad as exploiting child labor. Who will look into this?
    Mike Murray, St. Louis, MO

  24. Pingback: Newsboys | Roland Klose

  25. Catherine Ekaitis says:

    I just saw “Fighting Father Dunne” on AMC this morning (June 18, 2014) and after seeing it, searched for information about Father Dunne on Google. My search led me to this page and I enjoyed your wonderful piece about him. Keep up the good work and God bless!
    Catherine Ekaitis, Rialto, CA

  26. Gary Busiek says:

    Anyone still interested in the former Father Dunne’s Home and Protectorate should see the rehabilitated and restored facility now:

  27. richard devoto says:

    A few years back I gave an interview to the current care taker of Father Dunnes camp and filled her in on a lot of information to fill in the gaps over the years. I was at Father Dunnes from 1959 – 1963 and worked for Fr, Byrne. I did cooking, driving, and housework. I also had the same duties at the camp. Sometimes I was called on to cook meals for the entire home. Have lots of info. for anyone that that needs or wants it.

    • stltourguide says:

      Hi, Richard, thanks for reading my blog. I’m very happy that you’re reaching out to people seeking information about Father Dunne’s Home & camp during the years you worked there.

    • ed lynch says:

      I remember your younger brothers, Robert and Auggie . I think you and I communicated a few years ago. Had a great time at the camp. I remember we put on a play called “Lil Abner”

  28. richard devoto says:

    Hi Ed i remember you Bob is doing pretty good however Augie passed away about six years ago. I’m not doing to bad I beat two cancers and still going strong. If anyone wants to contact me i can be reached @ ozarker55@outlook.com.

    • Ed Lynch says:

      Sorry to hear about Auggie. I remember Bob was a year ahead of me at St Hedwig when we were at St Joe’s. He was always quiet. I’m about like you health wise. No cancer but minor crap that is aggravating. Well, take care and let me know if u hear from anyone around our era at Father Dunne’s.
      Posted to Pat Whitney but no response

      • Kathleen M Doerr says:

        I am Kathy Cain. As a little girl, I visited Father Dunne’s almost every day from 1957 until about 1968. My father was Larry Cain, Father Dunne’s chapel organist and choir director. My dad would bring me with him to morning Mass, and sometimes we would have breakfast with “the boys”. In my mind, “the boys” were my big brothers. I enjoyed their company at the home on Washington Blvd and at the summer camp. My early memories of annual holidays all revolve around “the boys”: Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, and my birthday party. Thank you, gentlemen, for being my big brothers.

  29. richard devoto says:

    I remember you Kathy Cain I think you had a sister to. I remember your father well was your mothers Marie r something cant remember been too many years i guess. Your father was one of the greatest people i ever met. I spent most of my time working for Monsignor Byrne so i didn’t have a whole lot of contact with the boys. I was his cook, driver, house keeper, dog walker, and close friend. I hope you and yours are doing ok. I went out to the camp some time back and gave an interview to the caretaker I knew the original caretaker who lived in her house back in the 50s and 60s. She said she was going to do a piece on the info i gave her but I haven’t seen anything yet. Maybe she is not as interested in the history of the camp than she says she is. I go back to 1959 with the camp and 3010 Washington. I can tell you that the story about a chapel on the hill is not true the gate that was put up was to keep outsiders from trespassing. It was installed in 1960. I hope you and your family are well and wish you all the best.

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