History of Applicants for Admission to
“EXPERIMENTAL SCHOOL FOR THE INSTRUCTION AND TRAINING
OF IDIOTS AND FEEBLEMINDED CHILDREN
STATE OF ILLINOIS”
May 1865 to May 1868
Surnames A - I
Surnames J - W
“At the basis of all our efforts lies the principle that the human attributes of intelligence, sensitivity and
will are not absolutely wanting in an idiot, but dormant and undeveloped. Of the ten pupils in the
Institution as of November 25th, only one could talk well; two were speechless, the others sadly
deficient in their power of articulation; several were awkward in their movements, though all could
walk; one could read; another knew the alphabet. When attempts at home had been made to teach
them, they had signally failed. Not one was able to make a straight line. With two exceptions, all had
little or no idea of the distinctions of form or color. In each case it was very difficult to arrest and fix
All were more or less irregular and uncleanly in their habits, peculiar in the general deportment, and
at the table. Some were passionate, disobedient. Few ere able to dress or undress themselves.
Many of these things changed for the better as instruction was carried on.
In the school room the results exceeded expectations. The parents and friends of the pupils in every
instance expressed satisfaction with what had been accomplished in such a short time since the
Institution was opened. Music seemed to have a remarkable effect upon some of the pupils, and was
a very important element in instruction methods. When hearing others, many tried to sing themselves,
simple songs and hymns. It had the same effect that it has on all others of the human race, that of
refining and elevating their natures.
Starting the school was easy, once the fine home setting was secured. Getting the funds for the school
was the hard part, as will be noted here.
The first action in relation to the establishment of an institution of this kind in Illinois was taken by the
State Medical Society at their annual meeting, held in Bloomington, June 5th, 1855. A committee of
three of its members, consisting of Drs. David Prince, E. R. Roe and J. V. Z. Blaney, was appointed
“to memorialize the Legislature with regard to additional provision for the insane, and the establishment
of an institution for idiots.” This committee continued four years, presenting a written memorial to each
of the two succeeding General Assemblies.
The second action was taken by Dr. Andrew McFarland, Superintendent of the Hospital for the
Insane, in his fifth biennial report in 1856: “In repeated instances within the last two years application
has been made at this hospital for the admission of young subjects of 10 or 12 years of age, and even
younger, who have been feeble minded or idiotic, sometimes from birth, and having had no well
regulated education, have become a source of great anxiety, trouble and sometimes danger, to their
parents or sponsors. The great majority have been rejected; as we deem a hospital for the adult
insane ill-fitted to receive those who demand such peculiar and careful treatment.”
The third action came in the eighty biennial report of the Directors and Principal of the Illinois
Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in 1860, in which Dr. Gillett said: “The exercise of a painful duty has
devolved upon me in rejecting numerous and constantly recurring applications to admit into the
Institution children of defective intellect. The parents frequently suppose their children to be deaf
mutes, not knowing that those who are afflicted with imbecility, though hearing perfectly, are unable
to speak. The constant recurrence of these applications has repeatedly impressed upon me the great
and immediate demand for an institution in this state which will afford them instruction suited to their
condition ... A careful investigation shows that two-thirds of the inmates of the county poor houses
are of this class, who if they had been properly taught when young, might have been rendered persons
capable of self-support instead of a burden upon society for their life-time...”
And so it was, after many other appeals, and the Civil War was over, a school of instruction at
Jacksonville started “the ball to rolling” for this needed education.
We do not have an exact date when the institution definitely moved to Lincoln, but we have this
statement: “At the regular session of the General Assembly in 1871, an act was passed incorporating
the Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children as one of the permanent charitable institutions of the State.
“In April, 1875, appropriations were made for land and the construction of buildings for the asylum.
After a careful survey of the State, Lincoln was selected as the permanent location. The occupation
of the first building and grounds in 1878, with its enlarged accommodations, greatly facilitated the
labors in behalf of this noble cause. The building was soon found inadequate, and further
appropriations were made in 1899 for the erection of two cottages, one of which was completed
in 1901, and the other in 1902. ....The number of inmates present October 1, 1905, was 1,439.
By Mrs. Florence Hutchison, published in March 1990.
||(No Last Name), Margaret
||(No Name Given)
||Allard, Joseph L.
||Allen, John D.
||Allen, Lennie H.
||Anderson, Julia M.
||Bailey, Oscar M.
||Barr, Sarah F.
||Beard, Theresa J.
||Belay, Mary Evaline
||Biggs, Calvin Bennett
||Billings, Marion A.
||Black, Maggie A.
||Brown, Judson R.
||Brown, Mary Elizabeth
||Burdett, Chloe Ellen
||Burnett, Emma V.
||Cady, Iva M.
||Carpenter, Charles F.
||Chamberlain, Charles A.
||Sand Lake, Avon Twp.
||Chapman, Edgar D.
||Clark, Asahel Edward
||Clougher, Charles Robert
||Corrmany, Louisa M.
||Cunningham, Clementine H.
||Davis, Annie J.
||DeFries, John George
||Dewse, Richard R.
||Elzey, Parthenia S.
||Fish, Ida L.
||Foster, Charles B.
||Goodrich, James C.
||Goodspeed, John O.
||Gougher, Sarah Ann
||Grant, Walter F. S.
||Rutherford Co., Tn
||Grant, William E.
||Hait, Wilson S.
||Hansell, Mary Margaret
||Hart, John Quinn
||Helsby, Francis R.
||Helsby, Frank R.
||Hood, Charley A.
||Hopkins, Edward B.
||Hunt, Anna B.
||Huson, Frank E.
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