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COUNTY COURT PROCEEDINGS
St. Francois County, Missouri

FARMINGTON TIMES
Farmington, St. Francois County, Missouri,
Thursday, January 7, 1904

REPORT ON ALMSHOUSE
[also known as County Poor Farm]
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Board of Visitors Appointed by Circuit Court Makes Its First Report
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Farmington, Mo., December 21, 1903.

To the Honorable County Court, St. Francois County, Mo:

Gentlemen: -- Your Board of Visitors, appointed at the last term of the circuit court of St. Francois county, beg to submit to you the following report:

It has organized in accordance with the legal provisions governing same, having elected Dr. J. L. Haw, president, and Mrs. M. W. Huff, secretary.

On Tuesday, December 15, 1903, the entire board, with the exception of Mrs. Huff, visited the county alms house and thoroughly inspected same.


INMATES.

There were sixteen inmates in this institution. Of these only one was colored. There were four female patients and twelve male patients. All of the patients are adults.

One white woman is insane and confined to her bed for the greater part of the time. She is wholly unable to attend to the simplest needs and receives attention only twice a week. This is given by the superintendent's wife, and under the circumstances, her numerous other duties, is probably as good as might be expected. However, her condition is a most pitiable one for the greater portion of the time, lying in a bed more or less filthy. Your board found that she was treated in a more humane manner than was formerly the case. She has been released from the rope anklet, chain and block, with which she was formerly encumbered, and is no longer fastened to the staple in the floor.

The one colored patient, a woman of some age, is also confined to her bed. The principal attention that she receives is from a fellow-inmate, Mrs. Neehouse, whose room adjoins the one in which she is confined. Her bedding is wholly insufficient both in the matter of covering and mattress.

One aged man is blind and for part of the time unable to help himself. He too is confined to his bed. His condition seems to be better in some respects than those who have already been mentioned.

One woman, a younger inmate, is idiotic and also three men. Two of these idiotic inmates are the children of one of the inmates, who seems to have some degree of control over them. This makes a total of five inmates who are insane or idiotic, two others who are confined to their beds for all or a greater part of the time and dependent upon the attentions of others.

In the matter of food all of the inmates seemed to be well satisfied with what was being provided and well nourished. As a rule they were comfortably clothed. The only exceptions to this were possibly the aged blind man and several of the women. These latter class should receive the immediate attention of the superintendent and your honorable court.

BUILDINGS AND EQUIPMENT.

The buildings and equipment were found to be wholly inadequate to the uses to which they were being put. The buildings are in a dilapidated state and many repairs are needed. Flooring is well worn and in many of the rooms is filled with large apertures. The doors of many of the rooms do not fit closely into the framework. Plastering and whitewash are badly needed. The condition is such that the expense necessary to put them in anything like a satisfactory condition is wholly incommensurate with the value of the buildings.

The equipment for the ordinary needs of such an institution are also inadequate. Apparatus for the use of the superintendent for washing clothes is badly needed. There is only a small cooking stove for preparing the meals for the sixteen inmates in addition to those for the superintendent's family. The simplest and most obvious necessities for sanitation are wanting. Small matters, such as soap, do not seem to be provided for washing and bathing purposes. These are simple matters, in a sense, and yet necessary to the proper running of the institution. Along this line your board would suggest some simple rules in the matter of personal cleanliness and facilities for patients to put those rules into effect.

In the various rooms the bedstands are of wood, old and dilapidated, with but few exceptions. These, together with the buildings, have become a breeding place for vermin. The beds are insufficiently supplied with mattresses. As a rule, the stoves are long past the age of usefulness. Many of them have become a menace to the buildings from the liability of coals falling upon the floors and starting conflagration, and thus remotely, a menace to the lives of the inmates.

GROUNDS.

Your board found the buildings admirably situated upon a sloping ledge of rock, thus affording ample drainage. There seemed to be an absence, however, of necessary outbuildings. Water supply is also too far removed from the buildings and the superintendent's residence.

For many purposes, the farm owned by the county is ideal. It contains a large extent of river bottom land and also a smaller tract admirably suited for agricultural purposes. For the purposes to which this farm is put, however, there are the following objections:

First, it is located at too great a distance from the county seat. This necessitates the hauling of goods to and from the farm for which no provision is made. It also prevents frequent visitations by members of your honorable court and others who are interested in the welfare of the poor.

Second, the farm is entirely too large to be properly and profitably handled by the county. Its very size makes it an expense rather than an economy.


IMPROVEMENTS IN PROGRESS.

While the above is the actual condition of the alms house as found by your Board of Visitors, we are pleased to learn that your honorable body has taken steps to improve the conditions in several ways.

First, that you have already ordered new stoves and stove pipe is needed and iron bedsteads. We understand that these will be put into use at once and that the old bedsteads and bedding will be burned, thus destroying the vermin with which they are encumbered.

Second, that under the active work of the superintendent and his wife, under your direction, the buildings are being put into a more sanitary and cleanly condition.

Third, the supplying of the superintendent with such needed equipment as will enable him to do the work of the institution better and at less expenditure of time and strength.

COMMENDATION.

Your board also desires here to express its pleasure and commendation for the improvement that has been made in the past few months, especially in the following particulars:

First, the changing in the system of operating the institution. Under the old system of letting the care of the inmates to the lowest bidder there were opportunities for many abuses. It was, in the judgment of this board, the part of wisdom and economy and also a step forward in changing this to employing a man at a regular salary for the office of superintendent.

Second, the interest that you have already manifested in the institution and the steps already taken to ameliorate the conditions of the inmates.

Third, the work of the superintendent and his wife in cleansing the rooms and their efforts to destroy the vermin with which the buildings have been infested. Not the least commendable thing accomplished by them, under your direction, was the removal of the block and chain from the insane woman and giving her some measure of needed attention.

Fourth, in providing suitable underclothing for some of the patients.

Fifth, in arranging for medical attention and regular monthly visitation of physician.

RECOMMENDATIONS.

Your board respectfully makes the following recommendations for the consideration of your honorable court:

First, we recommend the immediate removal of the insane woman to the State hospital for the insane. Her condition is such that she cannot possibly receive the simplest necessary attentions at the county alms house. We believe that arrangements for her immediate acceptance at Hospital No. 4 can now be made.

Second, we recommend the removal to the hospital for the insane as soon as possible, the three idiotic men and the one idiotic woman. In making this recommendation we remember that the mother of two of these is an inmate of the alms house and in a measure is able to control her children. We are firmly convinced, however, that for the efficency of the institution, the benefit to the idiotic, these should be removed at the earliest possible time.

Third, we recommend that daily attention be given to the inmates who are or may be confined to their beds.

Fourth, we recommend that the present farm and buildings be sold in the immediate future for the following reasons:

A. The present location is unsuitable.

B. The present farm is too large to be successfully operated by the county.

C. The expense of absolutely necessary repairs to the buildings, the securing of an available water supply would be out of all proportion to their value. We doubt that it is possible to put the buildings in such repair as would make them suitable for the purposes of an alms house by the expenditure of any sum in repairs.

Sixth, we recommend the purchase of a new farm and the erection of new buildings thereon, as far as possible, from the proceeds of the sale of the present farm. We respectfully call your attention to the fact that this recommendation is in harmony with that of the last grand jury and we believe in accord with the opinion of every citizen and tax-payer who understands the conditions of the present alms house. Permit us to make the following suggestions, should this recommendation meet with the approval of your honorable court:

A. An investigation should be made of modern alms houses by your honorable body together with methods of operation and equipment.

B. Provision should be made for the absolute separation of sexes and races.

C. The new farm should be more accessible to the county seat and consist of not more than forty to sixty acres.

D. This change should be made without extravagance but at such a cost as will secure modern and suitable buildings.

Your Board of Visitors in making this report desire to thank your honorable body for the facilities furnished us to carry out this investigation. We recognize the difficulties that attend the conduct of such an investigation. We also desire to express our belief that you are as interested as any in the care for the unfortunate classes of our citizens, and that you will do all in your power to provide more suitable care for this class, the poor and the homeless.

Respectfully submitted,

DR. J. L. HAW.
CHARLOTTE M. HUFF.
JOYCE HAILE PIPKIN.
REBECCA FLEMING.
GEORGE M. WILSON.
C. E. HICKOK.

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