SOURCE: Historical collections of Ohio in two volumes, an encyclopedia of the state (1907)- Volume 1
JOSEPH PERKINS was born in Warren, Trumbull county, Ohio, July 5th, 1819, and died at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., August 26th, 1885. He was a son of General Simon Perkins, one of the earliest and most active pioneers of Ohio, who was extensively engaged in land transactions, and from whom he inherited a large estate.
At the age of twenty, Joseph Perkins graduated from Marietta College. He then returned to Warren, Ohio, and after settling his father's estate, removed to Cleveland, Ohio in 1852, where the remainder of his life was spent. He was largely interested in banking, and as a business man showed great financial and executive abilities. The "Historical and Biographical Cyelopedia of Ohio," from which we extract this sketch, says of him: "His personal honesty was such that he won the unquestioned trust of everyone with whom he came in contact, and in the course of a long life that covered many large transactions, involved great sums of money, and touched on many personal interests, no one ever suspected him of a dishonest act or assigned to him a base motive. His character shone through all his deeds as the pure crystal.". It is not as a business man that Mr. Perkins is best known, but through his great philanthropy and boundless generosity, his active interest and labor in public and private charities, which were not confined within the limits of his own city or State lines, but extended to many institutions in the South as well as the North.
Mr. Perkins most prominent public work was through his connection with the Ohio board of State Charities. It is but to repeat the language of all cognizant with the facts to say that his was the master-hand that shaped the work of that Board from the beginning. He was appointed by Governor Cox, in 1867, on the formation of the Board, and, by successive reappointments, continued a member until his death. On the occasion of the first meeting, he became impressed with the deplorable condition of many of the county jails. He gave the matter not only time and thought, but at his own expense travelled all over the Eastern States, inspecting a large number of penal and reformatory institutions, and giving the matter a close and intelligent study. He was an investigator and a philosopher as well, and, on seeing a defect, could not only discover its cause, but work intelligently towards a remedy. He modeled a plan which was accepted by the Board and made its own, and that has become known and copied the county over as the "jail system" of the Board of State Charities of Ohio. What he aimed to achieve was a model jail, in which prisoners could be held secure and not herded together. This much accomplished, Mr. Perkins next turned his attention to the infirmary system of the State, and made visits to many places, and learned much that showed the need of some direct and practical reform. This he suggested in a plan somewhat similar to the one mentioned above, modified to the needs of the class for which it was intended.
One thing Mr. Perkins learned in these investigations, and that he strongly insisted upon in all his official relations and personal discussions with executive officials, and that was the less restraint placed upon the insane and the more air and outdoor work given them, the better for their physical health and chances of recovery. His infirmary plan has become a model for the county, and the best buildings erected anywhere have been in accordance with its specifications. Always a believer in the theory that crime or want should be prevented where possible, he was ever a strong and earnest friend to any measure suggested in aid of the children. His next step was the making of a plan for a Children's Home, to which he gave the greatest care and attention, and which expert testimony and practical experience have united in showing to be as nearly perfect as anything of the kind can be.
In all these labors, and in the many other things he was enabled to do through is connection with this Board, Mr. Perkins kept himself in the background, and gave to the Board and not himself the credit of his thought and labor, while the expenses of his various missions never became a charge upon the State fund, but were met by him personally. His official associates appreciated his value to the causes they all held so dear, and in a fitting memorial to his honor declared that "Traces of his land and valuable service are seen in the annual reports of the Board, and the plans and estimates for jails and infirmaries therein published, and which we regard as the best in the world, are mainly his work, and were gotten up entirely at his expense."
The source of where this information was obtained from, is listed at the top of this posting.
Denise Perkins Ready