In 1956, a young U.S. Marine wrote a poignant holiday greeting to Mrs. Jessie Trueworthy, matron of the Paul Clark Home in Butte, Montana. His note reads:
“I haven’t forgotten you again on Xmas and I shall never as long as I live, and although I am so far away, and in my country’s military service, I shall say to all, Merry Christmas.”
The Paul Clark Home was opened in November 1900 to provide care for children of working mothers whose fathers had been killed in the mines. Numerous children lived in the home temporarily until they could be discharged to a parent.
Jessie Trueworthy was a Canadian immigrant who moved to Butte in 1936. She worked for the WPA as the Field Supervisor of Butte’s nursery schools before serving as the matron of the Paul Clark home from 1940 to 1957. During her tenure, she oversaw numerous celebrations and parties for her wards and supervised a small staff of assistants at the home. Her impression on the children was obviously significant.
This young man* was born in Dillon, Montana, at the end of summer in 1939, joining a family that included a brother age 5 and a sister age 2. He spent the first six months of 1954 at the Paul Clark Home in Butte. His intake record indicates that his mother worked as a Supervisor at the home, that he was discharged to her in June, and they returned to their home in Dillon. Shortly after his 17th birthday in 1956 he joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
The Paul Clark Home was operated by Associated Charities, an organization founded by a group of women in 1897 “to help the worthy poor to help themselves.” Aside from managing the home, they delivered coal to the needy and in a city where vegetation was scarce, the charity also undertook a floral mission — delivering flowers among the patients in city hospitals and to poor children. Associated Charities also found employment for hundreds, furnished clothing and provisions for thousands, and provided medical care, medicine, transportation, and room and board for many. The Charities supported an industrial school for boys and girls, teaching sewing, deportment, and industrial arts in order to teach children to be self-sufficient and break the cycle of poverty.
The Butte Archives wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
*The name of the young man has been obscured to protect his identity. Photos from the Associated Charites – Paul Clark Home Collection (MC1133), Butte Silver Bow Public Archives, Butte, Montana.