Born in Belfast, Ohio, Dec. 26, 1867, Sanford was the son of Jacob Turnipseed and Sarah Ellen (Williams) Turnipseed. He was educated in public schools in West Union, Ohio, attended college at the Lebanon Nat. Normal University and Oxford State Normal University. He was a trained brick mason and worked in that trade in West Union to finance his college education. He married Josephine Burger Sept. 1, 1897.
Sanford Turnipseed was a teacher in rural schools from 1885-1891 before he was named Superintendent of Goshen Schools in 1891. Drawing on his masonry skills, he actually laid bricks to an addition on the Goshen Seminary (which preceded the Goshen Rural School). Turnipseed issued the first diplomas to Goshen high school graduates in 1894. Turnipseed spent 1897-1899 as Superintendent in Williamsburg, before he was recalled to Goshen, where he served for 3 more years.
Perhaps Turnipseed’s greatest educational impact came later as the Assistant Superintendent of the Ohio Reform School, later known as the Boys’ Industrial School. He was at the forefront of rehabilitating and redirecting troubled youth through progressive education, accountability systems, and job training. The following beautifully written memorial notice was issued by the Boys’ Industrial School Journal to the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette after receiving the news of his unexpected death on July 28th, 1920. Read on to learn about this dedicated educator and his later impact on boys and young men throughout Ohio and beyond.
The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette
Sat, July 31, 1920
Memorial for the Hon. Sanford L. Turnipseed, 1867-1929
As we are going to press a telegram from Decatur, IL announced the sad news that Prof. Stanford L. Turnipseed, Assistant Superintendent of our Boys’ Industrial School, had passed from life. While his illness had been considered serious for the last two weeks, yet it casts a shadow of sadness over our entire school to realize that he is gone to return no more to us in the daily walk of life.
Mr. Turnipseed was a man with a large and varied experience of life which made him a useful man in state work; besides this he had made a special study of the boy problem and the relations of the education of the delinquent child to that of society. The value of his work along these lines will never be fully known to us because seed thus sown will bear its fruit in the future work with boys for years to come.
We shall remember him as an energetic, progressive man, one who was faithful to any trust that was given into his care, yet always seeking for some avenue that would lead to larger achievements in the educational field.
During the seven and one half years of active service in the Boys’ Industrial School at Lancaster, Ohio, he made many friends not only in and around the school, but throughout the state as who people made his acquaintance learned to appreciate his work from the straightforward manner which he had in dealing with all he met.
He went on his annual vacation, leaving here Monday morning June 12, 1929, accompanied by his wife and son, they motored to Alworth, IL, for a visit with relatives; Wednesday morning June 28th he was sick and remained in his room until Friday July 2nd he was taken to the hospital in Decatur. His decline was gradual until his death which occurred Wednesday night, July 28th. Funeral services were held in Goshen, Clermont County, OH, Saturday afternoon, July 31.
We see but dimly through mists and vapors, amid these earthly lamps, what seems to us but sad, funeral tapers may be Heaven’s distant lamps.
About the Boys Industrial School
In 1857, the Ohio government established the Ohio Reform School, the predecessor to the Boys' Industrial School. Located in Lancaster, the Ohio Reform School was a reformatory for boys between eight and eighteen years of age. Its first inmate arrived in 1858. Before the creation of this institution, Ohio imprisoned male juvenile offenders in the Ohio Penitentiary with adult criminals. The Ohio Reform School was not a traditional prison. Rather, the Ohio Reform School utilized an "open system." With good behavior, the boys could traverse the grounds freely. They lived in cottages named after rivers in Ohio. Guards, cottage matrons, and other workers supervised the boys, but the intent was to create an institution that would educate and instill good and productive values in the boys. Because of the Ohio Reform School's success, by 1901, twenty-eight states adopted the "open system" for their juvenile prisons.
The boys spent one-half of the day in school and the other one-half either working on the Ohio Reform School's farm or learning a trade in one of the vocational education buildings. By 1901, the school offered training in blacksmithing, tailoring, baking, carpentry, stenography, brick making, shoemaking, horticulture, equine and cattle-raising, among numerous other professions. This same year the institution also boasted a forty-two-member band, and the children received military training as well. The boys were also offered a variety of educational activities; the campus included a bowling alley, basketball courts, and theater productions.
In 1884, the Ohio Reform School became known as the Boys' Industrial School. Comedian Bob Hope spent time at the Boy's Industrial School as a child. As an adult, Hope donated sizable sums of money to the institution. In 1964, the institution became known as the Fairfield School for Boys. In 2004, juvenile inmates were held in eight juvenile detention centers across Ohio.
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