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A Visit To The Poor Farm: How Jackson County Cares For Her Helpless Wards
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TitleA Visit To The Poor Farm: How Jackson County Cares For Her Helpless Wards
AbstractThe subheading reads: "A Description of the Building and Something of the Inmates--The County Judges Contemplate Further Improvements--Two Jay Goulds Happy With Their Imaginary Riches--Some Pathetic Cases Where Reason Is Dethroned." The poor farm was housed in a portion of what is now Truman Medical Center Lakewood (formerly Truman Medical Center East) at 7900 Lee's Summit Road. Below is the full text as it appeared in the Times.
DateJuly 29, 1890
SourceKansas City Times
Local SubjectTruman Medical Center
Jackson County Poor Farm and Insane Asylum
Item TypeNewspaper Article
TranscriptionThe judges of the county court, accompanied by Dr. E. R. Lewis, city physician; Mr. F. M. Furgason, representing the Provident association, and two reporters, made a visit yesterday to the county poor farm. The official visitors were Judges Smith, McDonald and Hudson of the county court, and the object of their visit was to formally inspect and accept the new building just completed by Contractor Adams of Independence. The party started from Kansas City at 9 o'clock yesterday morning on the Missouri Pacific. A pleasant morning ride of an hour brought them to Little Blue station, eighteen miles east of Kansas City. The poor farm is just one and a half miles further east, and awaiting the party at the station was a substantial three seated, covered spring wagon drawn by a team of big, fat mules.The three wide seats in the wagon were quickly filled and the driver pulled out at a good gait for the farm. The stalwart driver who handled the reins over the backs of the two big mules and who had hung on to them with a remarkable degree of strength and determination when they tried to run away at sight of the fast mail was not only an inmate of the poor farm but was one of the insane inmates. Two years ago he had been so violent that he had to be kept in chains. Just above his left eye is a peculiar soft spot through which one can see the pulsations of the brain. It is where a piece of the skull had been removed, it having been pressed in on the brain years ago by the kick of a mule. He took a childish pride in handling his team, however, and manipulated the brake with equal care.The station of Little Blue is located in a beautiful valley on Little Blue river. After leaving the station the road winds through the farm of A. D. Mathews. This farm is 1,400 acres in extent and is stocked with Polled Angus cattle. There are also in one pasture two or three head of buffalo and a small herd of elks. An artificial lake formed by the damming of a small creek makes a pretty body of water which was covered with tame ducks and geese, and from a neck of the lake a big blue crane was seen to fly. On one side of the road was the valley, on the other a hillside covered with underbrush, trees and immense boulders of rock. p align=center WHERE THE COUNTY'S POOR LIVE.Arriving at the farm the party was met by Mr. Kit Rose, the superintendent, who invited the guests into the house, introducing them to his wife and his sister-in-law, Miss Henrietta Younger. Mr. Rose then conducted the party over the premises and through the new building. This building has just been completed at a cost of $26,000. It is a three story brick, plainly but substantially built.The brick were burned on the ground, the work beginning nearly a year ago. It is 30 feet wide and 140 feet long, having two entrances and two stairways. At the east end or front of the building are two large rooms on each floor, to be used for offices and for the sick. Besides these there are sixty-seven cells. The cells are commodious, being 8 feet square. The ceilings are high and the hallway between them is 10 feet wide. The floors of the cells incline to the hall and the floor of the hall slopes to the back or west end, where a pipe leads off the water. The floors are made of yellow pine, the seams pitched and made perfectly tight. A thin preparation of Stockholm tar, the same as used on a ship's deck, will be put on the floors to further protect the wood and make it more perfectly impervious to water, so that they may be more easily washed. A large tank has been placed on the roof and a windmill will be erected, to pump water from one of the three wells now being dug. The building will be heated by hot water and before winter a boiler house will be added on the south side. Commodious bath rooms will be arranged on each floor of the building. A perfect sewerage system will be in operation, a long sewer being under course of construction, which will empty the sewage of the establishment in a hollow nearly half a mile away. The contractor to whom fell this particular county plum will lose about $2,000 on the job, he having agreed to dig the ditch and lay the pipe for $1,100. The contractor says, however, that he intends to complete the job and do it right. It is the intention of the county court judges to build in a short time a large diningroom and kitchen.The residence of the superintendent is a long one story brick house except about twenty feet of the center, which is two stories, the whole being about 100 feet long. Back of the residence are the poor house buildings proper--a wash house, a building for the colored patients, a large smoke house and two main buildings, each 80 by 30 feet in dimensions. There is also a large building used as the old men's department. Then there is the new building, which is certainly a monument to Jackson county. So much for the buildings, all of which are brick and in good repair. p align=center HOW THE FARM IS MANAGED.The poor farm is managed in a way peculiar to Jackson county. The farm itself consists of 320 acres of good land, and the superintendent, Mr. Rose, is not only a successful manager of the poor and imbecile but is also a practical farmer. He and his two young sons manage the place while all the help comes from the ranks of inmates. Mr. Rose seems to have a natural adaptation to the business of controlling the insane. Not one of them who is able to work but helps at least to pay his way. The patients are humored in their whims and each one is made superientendent[sic] of some particular department and fancies himself a lord in his own little dominion. An old Irishman with military bearing and all the politeness natural to his race stands guard at the yard gate and no one can enter or depart without a permit. Others have or think they have charge of different departments of the farm. The place is thus made almost self supporting. In fact, according to the accounts of last year the total expenses of the farm and inmates, over the income of the farm was 11 cents per day for each inmate, there being an average of 150 inmates. Mr. Rose says he raised on the farm last year 1,175 bushels of wheat, 5,000 bushels of corn, 3,000 bushels of potatoes, ?00 bushels of onions and 1,000 bushels of parsnips. He killed for the consumption of his boarders, 128 fat hogs.The members of the court expressed themselves highly pleased with the new building and reiterated their hearty indorsement of the management of the farm and inmates. Dr. Lewis said the place was, from the physician's point of view, remarkably well conducted, and he also approved of the sanitary arrangements of the new building. The whole party indorsed by word and deed the splendid country dinner and the general kindness of the superintendent and his family. The new quarters will be ready for occupancy before winter sets in.It is the intention of the judges to make the poor farm even more of a lunatic asylum than it is at present. The cost of a keeping the county's insane at a regular asylum is $120 per year, and there is also an expense of $20 for taking them to such a place. It is proposed to place the more hopeless cases and those least able to pay on the county farm. This they argue will reduce the county's expense and at the same time give the patient more freedom and better accommodations generally. The city physician seems to argree with them.The patients at the farm appear to love the superintendent and look up to him almost as children would to a father. p align=center TWO JAY GOULD'S AND ONE SENATOR.There are among the inmates some peculiar specimens. One old man imagines that he is Jay Gould. He owns all the railroads in the country. He announced yesterday that he owned the establishment which he was at present superintending; that he had just completed one building and expected to erect more. He will also tear down in the near future all the old buildings about the place, as there are fabulous sums of money under each one. Jay Gould has entire charge of the male ward and cares for the more unfortunate ones as well as if he were perfectly sane. His real name is William Bartley and years ago, while working in Armour's packing house, a beam fell on his head, crushing his skull.There is another old man who claims the distinction of being Jay Gould. He built King Solomon's temple and the pyramids, and among his later achievements was the building of a railroad through some unknown but limitless forest. The locomotives on this road have wheels twenty-eight feet high. The two Jay Goulds can not be kept in the same ward.Senator Edward Samuel Corn is an important looking colored gentleman. He has been a senator at large since 1865, but has a proxy in the senate in the person of Judge Elmore Petty. He owns nearly all the banks in the country. He owned 18,000 slaves before the war, and explained that, although a republican, he thought it all right, for if he had not owned them someone else would.The purest type of old time southern negro is Aunt Elvira Jackson. She has a face seen only in Virginia and Kentucky. She wore the typical striped dress and red turban of olden time and boasted of our folks in Old Virginy. Aunt Elvira had twice been dead and had visited both abodes of the departed.In the women's ward was a young woman not over 26 years old. She is a Mrs. McDonald, who was once an esteemed lady in Kansas City. Her husband ran away with another woman and her disorder is plainly the outcome of grief. She spends most of her time playing a worn out organ and singing doleful tunes. Sometimes she weeps for two or three days at a time.Minnie Davidson is a pretty, dainty girl of about 18 whom one would take for a member of the family or a visiting neighbor, but every two weeks she, too, has attacks which demand her incarceration in the walls of the poor farm asylum.As Mr. Rose went through the quarters yesterday, he left a ray of happiness for every benighted reason [sic] which he passed. At one time he gathered in a cell three old negro women and two decrepit old men, and sang with them one of their old camp meeting songs. They fairly went into extacies and one old woman shook hands all around and dismissed the party with a fervent Bressed be de name ob de Lawd.
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Item ID209821
CONTENTdm number27979
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