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COUNTY COURT PROCEEDINGS
St. Francois County, Missouri
Farmington, St. Francois County, Missouri,
Thursday, January 7, 1904
REPORT ON ALMSHOUSE
[also known as County Poor Farm]
Board of Visitors Appointed by Circuit Court Makes Its First
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
DR. J. L. HAW.
CHARLOTTE M. HUFF.
JOYCE HAILE PIPKIN.
GEORGE M. WILSON.
C. E. HICKOK.
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