|Frank Baldus Article about
the Andrew Drumm Institute
|The following article was written by Mr. Frank Baldus of the visiting teacher
department and presented to members of Junior Service League of Kansas City
on an all day educational tour sponsored by the group in the fall of 1960.
Andrew Drumm Institute
Andrew Drumm (1828-1919) was a “Forty-Niner” in the gold rush of
California, a cattle trail driver on the trails of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, a
rancher, a banker and a live stock commission man on the Kansas City Live
His wife was at one time a music instructor at William Jewell College in
Liberty, Missouri. They had no immediate family. In the later years of his life,
Andrew Drumm was much concerned with the disposition of his estate. By
1912, his plan to found an institution for boys was well formulated in his mind
and he purchased the 370 acres of land on which the Institute is located.
He died in 1919 at the age of 91. In his will he set up some of the basic plans
for the Institute. Some of these provisions are “said Trustees shall establish an
Institute for the maintenance, care and education of orphan and indigent boys.”---
”the youth received shall be required and trained to care for themselves as such
as is consistent with their age”.---”They shall not be made to feel that they are
the objects of dependence but that they are doing something for themselves.”
Litigation over Mr. Drumm’s will was carried through the courts for ten years.
The first boys were received in 1930 and the first group graduated in 1933.
Andrew Drumm Institute is governed by a Board of Trustees. The present Board
consists of Reece Gardner, attorney; Elmer Pierson, Vendo Company; Jerry
Pearson, Insurance Executive; The Reverend Richard M. Trelease, formerly
Rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; Barrett S. Heddens, First National Bank;
David T. Beals, First National Bank and Byron T. Shutz, Insurance Executive.
The immediate direction of the farm is in the hands of Mr. George Berkemeier.
Mr. Berkemeier is a graduate of the University of Missouri. He came to Drumm
Institute in 1935 as the Vocational Agriculture Teacher. He has been
Superintendent for three years. Mr. H.R. Nelson was the original
superintendent. He retired three years ago. Arthur Kelley is the present
Vocational Agriculture instructor. He came to the Farm as a boy and is a
Drumm graduate. He is also a graduate of the University of Missouri.
Much of the success of Drumm Institute is due to the outstanding business men
of Kansas City who have served on it’s Board of Trustees and to the personnel
they have selected to carry out the work of the Institute.
Drumm Institute is entirely self-supporting. In addition to the land and buildings,
Mr. And Mrs. Drumm left a considerable endowment to the Institute. Through
prudent management the returns from this endowment have enabled the Institute
to operate. In fact, there is often a year-end surplus. This surplus used to
increase the assets of the farm. From it the large farm house was remodeled in
1948 and the room capacity was increased from thirty to forty boys. There are
now forty-three boys at the farm. Later a cottage was added for farm personnel.
A combination school building and shop came later. Two years ago a
combination auditorium and gymnasium was built. The boys did much of the
plumbing, electrical wiring, inside carpentry, painting, installation of
equipment, flooring and many other items. The work one by the boys resulted in
a saving of $17,000. In addition, the boys received valuable training in these
lines of work. And the building isn’t just “a” gymnasium - it is “our” gymnasium.
The 370 acres of pasture and farm land, provide much of the food consumed on
the farm. There is a dairy herd which provides the milk, butter and other dairy
products in addition to several beef steers for the farm meat supply. Sheep and
hogs are raised for meat and for sale. A large flock of chickens provide eggs
and meat...All these fowls and animals are fed on farm produced feeds.
A large garden also provides great quantities of food. The boys process the
surplus in the farm cannery for future use. The farm also has a large freezer
room. Here peas, beans, corn, strawberries, peaches and any other fruits and
vegetables are stored for the winter months. A meal at Drumm Institute seldom
contains many items that have not been produced on the farm.
Boys may be admitted to Drumm Institute from any locality but actually most of
them come from the Greater Kansas City Area. The age limits are five to
seventeen. Seven to twelve are the most acceptable ages. They come from
homes that have been broken by death, divorce, desertion, sickness, extreme
financial reverses and numerous other causes. The boys usually remain at the
Institute until they graduate from High School. However, some do leave before
that time. Sometimes the family gets on it’s feet and wants the children back
again and others have good reasons for leaving the Institute. The Institute never
holds a boy who desires to leave.
The boys formerly attended the Kansas City Schools. Recently the Farm’s
property came into the Independence School District. Transportation problems
were greatly relieved when the transfer was made to the Independence Schools.
The elementary school pupils follow the regular school course. The high school
pupils do their academic work at school and then come back to the Farm for
their science, agriculture, shop and trades courses. It is not an objective of the
Institute to maker farmers of the boys but rather to give them a farm home and a
farm background for whatever vocation they may elect to pursue.
The Institute makes every effort to provide a natural home life rather than an
institutional life for the boys. They select their own school courses, buy some of
their own clothes, attend the church of their choice, have a regular allowance,
take part in any school activities and make numerous contacts away from the
Farm. They take a very active part in the work of the Future Farmers of America
and the 4-H Clubs. They attend church and private parties, have dates and give
parties, picnics, wiener roasts and hayrides of their own. Many Independence
mothers favor Drumm Farm boys as dates for their daughters because they know
there will be no automobile involved, there will be sensible hours and the
reputation of Drumm Farm boys is highly regarded.
In addition to the general chores and work of the farm, each boy is encouraged
and required to operate a project of his own. For the smaller boys this may
mean a small garden plot from which he sells his radishes, onions or potatoes.
Middle age boys have chicken and poultry projects and the older boys go in
hogs, sheep and calves…Many of the latter are shown and sold at the American
Royal. When a boy selects his project, the farm personnel helps him select the
best seeds, birds or animals, thus teaching him to be a good judge and a good
buyer. He must keep books on his project and he learns how to best resent his
product for sale. When the project is completed, the books are balanced and any
profit belongs to the boy. Like any good business man, this profit is a source of
great pride and the money is generally put in the bank. Each boy has his own
account at a downtown bank.
There is much work to be done at the farm. A lot of it is very hard work. Each
boy is taught to do his tare according to his strength and ability. There are also
many happy occasions. Picnics in the spring, wiener roasts and hayrides in the
fall. Christmas is a great day. Mr. and Mrs. Berkemeier spend many hours
selecting individual gifts for the boys and wrapping the presents individually.
On the big day there a gathering by the fire as Santa hands out the presents.
The boys also attend the 4-H Fair at Lee’s Summit and sometimes the State Fair
at Sedalia. They attend many sessions of the F.F.A. groups and the American
During the summer each boy has a determined vacation time which he spends
away from the farm. In August when most of the farm work is finished, the boys
decide where the group will spend it’s big vacation. They load a truck with
tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, a couple cases of eggs, a few bushels
of potatoes and tomatoes, some cases of canned fruits and vegetables, a couple
farm cured hams and many other items, load the boys in the school bus and take
off for a period of ten days or two weeks…Over the years the group has made
five trips to Yellowstone Park and the Dakota Badlands, six trips to the Lakes
of Minnesota, one to Taos, Santa Fe, Carlsbad and the Southwest, one to the
Ozarks and one to the National Capitol.
As a boy nears graduation from the Institute, much thought is given to his future.
He is encouraged and helped in whatever line of work he wishes to enter. If he
wants a job, the farm and it’s Trustees have many contacts that are helpful. If he
wants to go to college a scholarship may be available or there may be a contact
in his college town where a part time job may be had. The reputation of former
Drumm Farm boys is a good opening wedge for a job most anywhere. Of some
450 boys who have spent some time at the Farm in the past thirty years, 140
have graduated from High School. A good many of these graduates have gone to
college. About one out of five of these high school graduates also graduated
from college. This is a very enviable record for boys who had no home, money
or helpful friends. Some of those boys who have worked their way through
college have gone far in their fields. One graduated from the University of
Southern California and the Princeton University Theological School. He is
now a Missionary in Korea. One graduated, cum laude, from Yale University.
One graduated from the University of Kansas School of Engineering. He is now
superintendent of the Research Division of General Electric at San Jose,
California. A Kansas State graduate is in the Research Division of Emerson
Electric Co. He is now on loan to the Convair Aircraft Corporation in
California. He is engaged in research work in some of the complex problems of
aircraft radar. Two are Doctors, several are County extension Agents, several
are teachers and many are very successful business men.
Each July a reunion is held at the Farm. Many of the old grads return with their
wives and families to the Farm where most of them got their first break in life.
At graduation time two years ago, Mr. Nelson, the Farm’s first Superintendent,
told of a recent visit to several of the graduates on the west coast and mentioned
their success in several fields. He ended his story with this statement, “and
within the last fifteen years each of these boys left Drumm Institute with less
than a hundred dollars in his pocket”.
Surely no one has committed his earthly possessions to a more noble cause than
have Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Drumm. This living memorial that they have left
behind has been in existence for thirty years and should continue indefinitely.
Their heavenly crown must be very bright if each of “their boys” has
contributed just one star.