Feeble-Minded, State Home For.For centuries after the beginning of the Christian era, the idiot, the imbecile or the person of weak mind was regarded as a useless member of society, and was looked upon with pity or loathing. It was not until 1838 that Dr. Edward Sequin of Paris, France, organized a school for the purpose of developing what little intellect unfortunates of this character possessed. His undertaking was successful beyond his anticipations, and ten years later schools for the feeble-minded were established in Massachusetts and New York, the first in the United States. Pennsylvania established such a school in 1853. Other states followed, and although Kansas is younger than any of the states east of the Mississippi, she was the eleventh state to found such an institution as one of the public charities.
According to the returns made to the state board of agriculture on March 1, 1881, there were at that time 167 idiotic or weak-minded persons in the state, of whom 48 were under 15 years of age. To provide proper care and instruction for these deficient children the legislature, by the act of March 5, 1881, established the "Kansas state asylum for idiotic and imbecile youth," the object of which, as stated in the act, "is to train and educate those received, so as to render them more comfortable, happy, and better fitted to care for and support themselves." To accomplish this object, the trustees of the state charitable institutions, under whose control the new asylum was placed, were ordered to provide "such agricultural and mechanical training as they were capable of receiving, and as the facilities furnished by the state will allow, including shops, and employment of teachers of trades," etc.
STATE HOME FOR FEEBLE-MINDED.
The board of trustees were authorized to take possession of the first state university building at Lawrence for the temporary use of the asylum, and appropriations amounting to $16,080 were made to carry out the provisions of the act. The board took possession of the old university building in June, 1881, and after spending $1,200 in necessary repairs, the institution was opened on Sept. 1, with H. M. Greene as superintendent; Mrs. M. M. Greene as matron, and Mrs. Mate Stowe as teacher, and during the first year twenty pupils were enrolled. The work of the asylum commended it to the parents of feeble-minded children, and within three years the attendance was larger than the building could comfortably accommodate. To provide better opportunities, the legislature of 1885 appropriated $25,000 for the erection and equipment of a suitable building, to be located within 2 miles of the city of Winfield, on condition that the people of that city would donate a site of not less than 40 or more than 80 acres of land within the prescribed limit. The condition was complied with, and on March 22, 1887, the new building was ready for occupancy, when the entire outfit at Lawrence was removed to Winfield. Between that time and the close of the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1888, nearly 70 new pupils were admitted.
Without going into details regarding the appropriations for additional improvements, it is sufficient to say that the institution has been liberally supported by the state, and in 1910 possessed property, the estimated value of which was $500,000. By the act of March 12, 1909, the name of the institution was changed to the "State home for feeble-minded."
The course of study is adapted to the mental conditions of the pupils. Girls are taught sewing and simple domestic work, and the boys are instructed in farm work, or such manual labor a they are competent to perform. All are taught to take care of their bodies, and many children who would otherwise go through life practically helpless leave the school able to care for themselves and to engage in some kind of useful employment.
The superintendents of the school since its organization have been as follows: H. M. Greene, 1881-89; C. K. Wiles, 1889-93; F. H. Pilcher, 1893-95; C. S. Newlon, 1895-97; F. H. Pilcher, 1897-99; C. S. Newlon, 1899-1905; I. W. Clark, 1905.Pages 634-636 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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