History of Wyoming - Chapter XVII
State Board of Charities and Reform—State Hospital for the Insane—Wyoming State Penitentiary—Wyoming Soldiers' and Sailors' Home—Wyoming General Hospital—Sheridan and Casper Branch Hospitals—Big Horn Hot Springs Reserve—Wyoming School for Defectives—Wyoming Industrial Institute—Deaf, Dumb and Blind—The State Capital ... 263
In the constitution of tlie State of Wyoming there is the following:
    "Sec. 18. Such charitable, reformatory and penal institutions, as the claims of humanity and the public good may require, shall be established and supported by the state in such manner as the Legislature may prescribe. They shall be under the general supervision of a State Board of Charities and Reform, whose duties and powers shall be prescribed by law.
    "Sec. 19. The property of all charitable and penal institutions belonging to the Territory of Wyoming shall, upon the adoption of this Constitution, become the property of the State of Wyoming, and such of said institutions as are then in actual operation shall thereafter have the supervision of the Board of Charities and Reform as provided in the last preceding section of this article, under pro-visiojis of the Legislature."
    The First State Legislature of Wyoming therefore created the State Board of Charities and Reform by an act approved January 8, 1891. By this act it was decreed that "the State Treasurer, State Auditor and State Superintendent of Public Instruction shall constitute and shall hereafter be known as the State Board of Charities and Reform," with "general supervision and control of all «uch charitable, reformatory and penal institutions as may be established and supported by the State."
    The establishment of this board brought order out of chaos in many ways. The first board, which was composed of Otto Gramm, state treasurer: Charles W. Burdick, state auditor: and S. T. Farwell, state'superintendent of public instruction, immediately assumed jurisdiction over the state insane asylum at Evanston, the state penitentiary at Laramie, prisoners in other penitentiaries, juvenile delinquents in schools outside of the state and the deaf and blind who were also cared for outside the state boundaries.
    In 1896 the board was increased from three to five members. The board members in 1915-6 were: John B. Kendrick, governor; Edith K. O. Clark, superintendent of public instruction; Frank L. Houx, secretary of state; Herman B. Gates, state treasurer; and Robert B. Forsyth, and jurisdiction was assumed over the state hospital for the insane at Evanston, the Wyoming state penitentiary at Rawlins, the Wyoming Soldiers' and Sailors' Home at Buffalo, the Big Horn Hot Springs Reserve, the Wyoming General Hospital at Rock Springs, the Casper and Sheridan branches of the general hospital, the Wyoming School for Defectives at Lander and the Wyoming Industrial Institute at Worland.
    In the following paragraphs something of the growth and development of the state institutions under the management of the State Board of Charities and Reform is given.
    In the year 1887 the insane asylum was located at the Town of Evanston and completed during the same year. The control was vested in a board of commissioners, which board first consisted of A. C. Beckwith, C. D. Clark and William Hinton.
    It was in the previous year that the asylum was ordered built. The act for this purpose was approved March 9, 1886, and ordered the institution to be constructed at Evanston, at a cost not exceeding $30,000. Bonds to that amount, "or so much thereof as may be necessary," were ordered, with the provision that none of the bonds should be sold for less than their par value.
    The Legislature of 1888 passed the noted act in regard to public buildings over the veto of Governor Moonlight. This act provided for the "erection, completion, maintenance and care of certain public buildings and provided for the support and maintenance of certain public institutions." The capitol building, the penitentiary building, the insane asylum and the poor farm buildings were affected by this act. There were delays since the original bill of 1886 and the legislators in framing the act of 1888 were desirous of hastening the completion of the buildings in question. Governor Moonlight took the view that the territory could not afford the heavy tax which such a course would create and by many authorities he was upheld. However, despite his official veto, the bill was passed the second time and became a law.
    The first report of the State Board of Charities and Reform gave the number of patients at the institution as twenty-three–fourteen men and nine women. Facilities for the treatment of inmates were none too many and the system of financing the care of the patients was yet in unsatisfactory state. The various counties which had residents at the asylum bore the expense and the board of control experienced difficulty freciuently in obtaining the money due. However, the first report of the State Board of Charities and Reform mentions the fact that after December 31, 1891, the insane patients became a state charge and that the funds realized from the state tax would be available for the expense of the institution for the year 1892, "but all expense previous to the year 1892 is a charge against the counties as provided in section 4, chapter 93, Laws of 1890-91." On the first day of August, 1891, per appointment of the board. Dr. C. H. Solier assumed charge of the asylum.
    Under the new management, the insane asylum began a noticeable improvement. Quarters were improved gradually, new methods of treatment were inaugurated and the number of patients increased with the growing population of the state. By an act of the fourth Legislature, which met on January 12, 1897, the name of the State Insane Asylum was changed to The Wyoming State Hospital for the Insane.
    In 1907 the sum of $50,000 was appropriated for the erection of a woman's building, the number of patients justifying such an improvement. Work upon this building was begun during the summer of 1908 and was completed in 1910. The women were transferred to their new quarters, known as "Brook's Cottage," on January 27, 1910.
    The report of Doctor Solier for the biennial period ending September 30. 1916, places the number of patients treated during that period as 325. New buildings are either under construction or contemplated in order to accommodate the rapidly growing number of patients. The institution is conducted in the manner of similar institutions in the United States.
    Governor Campbell, in his message of October 13, 1869, stated: "By an act of Congress, approved January 22, 1867, the proceeds of the internal revenue in certain territories of the United States, to the amount of $40,000 in each, were set aside for the purpose of erecting penitentiaries at such places in the several territories as might be selected by their respective Legislatures. Under an arrangement I have entered into with the superintendent of the House of Correction, at Detroit, Mich., for the confinement and subsistence of prisoners convicted in our territorial courts, the details of which will be submitted to you for your approval or disapproval, all criminals must be transported to Detroit at considerable expense or with great liability of their escaping. From motives of economy and prudence, we should have a penitentiary at some accessible point in our territory and it would be well for you to select a site for a penitentiary at your present session, in order that should Congress pass a law authorizing the retaining of any sum from the internal revenue collected in the territory for the purpose of building the penitentiary the work may be proceeded with without delay. The Territory of Dakota has thus far reaped the benefit of the revenue collected in what now forms the Territory of Wyoming." On December 8, 1869, Governor Campbell approved a memorial asking Congress to appropriate "a sum not less than $60,000" for the erection of a penitentiary at Laramie City.
    In the very early days jails were erected at various places in the territory and the sheriffs were held personally responsible for the prisoners in their keeping. The territorial penitentiary, when located by the Legislature at Laramie City, brought some relief to this situation. Congress was memorialized that the territory had been neglected, had been deprived of the internal revenue income for a large portion of 1867, all of 1868 and the greater part of 1869, during which time the internal revenue of Wyoming had gone to Dakota, and for which loss the Legislature asked reimbursement. A second memorial declared that in and about Sweetwater mining region and on the border of the Shoshone reservation, set apart by Gen. W. T. Sherman and his commissioners in 1868, were congregated many of the criminal class, who carried on a continual campaign of robbery and depredation. Some assistance had been given the authorities by the military posts at Fort Bridger and the camp on the Popo Agie, but these had now refused to take care of any more criminals in the guard houses.
    The penitentiary at Laramie City was completed in the year 1872, but unfortunately was destroyed by fire within less than a year's time. It was only partially rebuilt and soon after an act of Congress approved January 24, 1873, provided "that the custody and control of certain territorial penitentiaries exercised by the United States marshals of the territories be transferred to the respective territories to be managed and directed by them, etc."
    These provisions extended to Wyoming, but no provisions were made by the laws of the territory for control until December 13, 1873, when Governor Campbell approved an act "That in the event of the closing up or abandonment of the penitentiary of this territory, located at or near Laramie City, in the County of Albany, by the authorities of the United States, the sheriflf of Albany County take charge of all prisoners therein." On December 11, 1875, a commission was appointed, consisting of Herman Haas, James France and W. H. Holliday, to investigate the cost of keeping prisoners at Laramie City and at other prisons. The result of their investigations was that the Legislature of 1879 named the Nebraska penitentiary to be the territorial penitentiary of Wyoming.
    On December 15, 1877, the governor appointed Luke Murrin of Laramie County, Simon Durlacher of Albany and Thomas Lanktree of Uinta as a commission to take charge and control of all prisoners and the penitentiary at Laramie. As late as 1884 a penitentiary commission existed in the Territory of Wyoming.
    On December 13, 1889, another act was approved, creating a board of three citizens of the territory, to select a penitentiary or prison for Wyoming convicts, but without authority to contract for the keeping of prisoners at Laramie at greater cost to the territory than could be made outside of the territory. This act also provided for the erection, completion, maintenance and care of certain public buildings and institutions, including the capitol, penitentiary, university, insane asylum and poor farm. Section 19 of the bill provided that "a penitentiary building for the use of the territory shall be erected in or near the city of Rawlins at a cost not exceeding $100,000." The sum of $30,000 was set aside out of this amount for the purchase of the site and the commissioners were authorized to build all of the penitentiary at once or part.
    The penitentiary building at Laramie City, which had never been fully rebuilt since the fire, had become a burden upon the people and was far from popular. Convicts were sent outside of the territory, the Laramie building being considered inadecjuate. However, it became necessary that a certain number of prisoners be received at Laramie, pending the construction of the building at Rawlins and in November, 1891, there are officially recorded thirty prisoners therein.
    By the year 1893 the sum of $31,844.41 had been expended upon the Rawlins penitentiary. A tax levy was authorized in this year for the erection of a portion of the building and George East was awarded the contract for $44,740. The third State Legislature, of 1895, authorized a special tax for 1895-96 for the completion of the building. After the State Board of Charities and Refomi had advertised for bids the contract was let September 14, 1895, to Robert W. Bradley of Cheyenne, his figure being $26,801.90. Again the building was not fully com pleted and in June, 1898, the board gave a third contract to the firm of Black & Clark of Cheyenne, for $4,064, for the absolute completion of the Rawlins Penitentiary. Under this arrangement the building was finished.
    The old penitentiary building at Laramie was transferred to the University of Wyoming for the use of its agricultural college by legislative act approved February 9, 1907. The building is used by the school as an experiment station.
    The penitentiary at Rawlins has been improved at various times since the completion of the building and is operated in modern and efficient manner by the State Board of Charities and Reform. A broom factory building was constructed by convict labor in 1913. New dining rooms, kitchen, bakery, chapel and hospital have also been constructed recently by the prisoners, for which improvements the Legislature of 1915 made appropriations. Convict labor has also been used extensively in building and improving roads throughout the state. The prison population averages over 250 now, where thirty years ago twenty-five prisoners was considered a large number.
    In company with most of the other states of the Union, Wyoming has provided a comfortable home for those of her soldiers and sailors unable to support themselves. The movement toward the establishment of such a home began in the year 1895, when Governor Richards recommended a place of abode for the state's veterans, wherein they might spend the last days of their lives in comfort at the expense of the state. In the same message he suggested the use of the building erected for the deaf, dumb and blind at Cheyenne. This building had not been used for the latter purpose, as the limited number of deaf and blind in the state had been educated in Colorado institutions.
    The third Legislature, 1895, recognized the value of such a home and appropriated $7,500 for establishing and maintaining the same for the years 1895 and 1896, at the same time donating 30,000 acres of land as a permanent endowment. The building selected was enlarged and made to accommodate thirty-five or forty inmates. By December 7, 1896, twenty-seven veterans had been admitted to the home.
    Pursuant to an act of the Legislature of 1903, approved February 20th, the home was moved from Cheyenne to the Fort McKinney Reservation. The soldiers were transferred to their new quarters in July of that year. Upon the extensive acres of this new home many farming activities are carried on, also stock raising to some extent.
    The value of the products of this farm almost pay the entire expenses of the institution, thus lessening the burden upon the taxpayers. At this writing there are thirty members of the soldiers' and sailors' home.
    The first Legislature of the State of Wyoming, which convened November 12, 1890, and continued sixty days, provided that there should be established a hospital for disabled miners and enacted that the location for this institution should be determined by popular vote at the November election of 1892. Rock Springs in Sweetwater County, was selected by the people for the site of the new hospital. The second Legislature authorized special tax levies for the years 1893 and 1894, the proceeds of the former to be used for the erection of the hospital and of the latter to be used for the maintenance of the same.
    The building was erected according to plans, and the third Legislature authorized a special tax of one-eighth mill on all taxable property in the state for the year 1895 and each year thereafter. The name, as officially adopted, was the "Wyoming General Hospital." Something of the popularity of this institution and the need for such is well illustrated by the fact that during the first year over 3,000 patients were treated.
    On the morning of January 4. 1897. fire broke out in the hospital and before sufficient assistance could be secured in fighting the flames the entire building was burned. The patients, however, were removed to safety and the furniture was all saved. The mayor and city council of Rock Springs graciously tendered the use of the second story of the city hall for the patients and this offer was gladly accepted by the hospital force. Fortunately, insurance amounting to $75,000 was available and with a like amount appropriated by the fourth Legislature, of 1897, made a sufficient sum for the rebuilding of the hospital. The board of charities and reform accepted the plans drawn by J. S. Matthews, architect, and on August 30, 1897, gave the contract to James R. Grimes of Cheyenne. The new building was erected and first occupied May 15, 1898.
    The Legislature of 1901 enacted a law authorizing the board of charities and reform to build and equip a nurses' dormitory, for which a special tax was levied in 1901 and 1902. This was built and in 1914 was enlarged. A two-story wing, which included a new kitchen, was added to the hospital building in 1908.
    The Wyoming General Hospital now has an average of over twenty-five patients each day.
    The branch of the Wyoming General Hospital located at Sheridan was provided for by the Legislature of 1903. The board of charities and reform secured a tract of ground, 300 by 400 feet, which was block 5 in Westview Addition to Sheridan, by donation, and then gave the contract for the erection of the hospital to E. C. Williams of Sheridan, whose bid was $19,300. The hospital was constructed to accommodate thirty patients. The institution was opened for the reception of patients July 7, 1905, and during the period until September 30, 1905, there were fifty-eight people brought here for treatment. There is an average daily attendance of patients now of about twenty. At first, a nearby home was leased for the nurses at a rental of $375 per year. This home was purchased in 1908 for $5,000, also a wing was added to the hospital building. The twelfth Legislature authorized the expenditure of $12,000 for a new nurses' home and this was constructed in the same year.
    The tenth Legislature, 1909, passed a bill known as Chapter 20, Session Laws, 1909, providing for the construction of a branch of the Wyoming General Hospital at Casper. An appropriation of $22,500 was made for this purpose. The Town of Casper agreed to donate the site for the hospital. Some difficulty was experienced in securing satisfactory bids for the construction of this hospital, but finally, after all bids had been repeatedly rejected, one of $22,204 was accepted and the work proceeded. The average daily attendance at Casper is six, with a total of about two hundred and fifty treated during the year.
    Something of the earlier history of the Big Horn hot springs is given in connection with the history of Hot Springs County in another chapter. This health resort has, in recent years, grown with great speed and is becoming the mecca for health-seekers from the entire Middle West. Governor Richards, in his message to the Legislature in 1895, stated:
    "Upon the east bank of the Big Horn River, in the northeast corner of the Shoshone Indian Reservation, are situated the Big Horn Hot Springs, which have medicinal qualities second to no other springs in the United States. Ten years ago these springs were known only to the range rider and hunter as natural curiosities. Some health-seeking invalid tested their medicinal virtues and was healed. Since that day the fame of these springs has increased. * * * With proper accommodations for visitors and a small outlay for improvements, these springs would soon attain a world-wide reputation, and prove of great benefit to the state, in addition to being a boon to suffering humanity. * * * I recommend that the Legislature, by a memorial or otherwise, invite the attention of Congress, and especially our own members thereof, to the advisability of having the Indian title extinguished to the small portion of the reservation containing these springs, and that such legislation be enacted as will secure them to the people forever, with as few restrictions and as little expense as possible."
    In accordance with the above recommendation. Congress donated these springs to the State of Wyoming, giving the state exclusive control over them for all time. The Session Laws of Wyoming for 1899 state:
    "The lands granted by the act of Congress, approved on the 7th day of June, A. D. 1897. ceding to the State of Wyoming certain lands in the northeastern portion of the Shoshone Indian Reservation, upon which are located the Big Horn Hot Springs, are hereby placed upon the control of the State Board of Charities and Reform and are forever set aside for the treatment and care of diseases and for sanitary and charitable purposes."
    Early in 1902 bids were received for the construction of a free bath house. However, owing to many difficulties, not until October 7th was the contract let to Jerry Ryan, of Thermopolis, for a building to cost $2,525. This bath house was designed for the use of a portion of the waters of the main spring. Since the opening of the springs many improvements have been made each year. Hotels and bath houses, attractive landscapes, trees, flowers, walks, fences and cottages have been added. The resort is becoming the "Baden-Baden of the West," and with the improvements which are to come in the next few years, will undoubtedly become one of the most popular stopping-places of the Rocky Mountain region. On the east side of the river is the Maret House and the free bath house, located at the'Big Spring, while on the west side are the Pleasant View Hotel and bath house and the new Hopewell Hospital. The state has leased sites for twelve more large buildings, the cheapest of which will cost $25,000. The state has also constructed a hot and cold water system of waterworks.
    The ninth Legislature, 1907. passed a bill known as Chapter 104, House Bill No. 70, being an act to establish a home and training school for the feeble-minded and epileptic, and assigning the lands and property of the state poor farm for that purpose, also making an appropriation aggregating $15,000. The property considered, which was located near the Town of Lander, was turned over to the Board of Charities and Reform, with instructions that it be used for the purpose indicated by the bill.
    However, the old poor farm property was located fully four miles from town and presented hygienic difficulties which made it highly desirable that it be sold and a tract of ground nearer Lander acquired. This question was discussed by the authorities, with the result that the tenth Legislature autliorized the board to sell the old property and obtain new ground. The state poor farm site was finally sold for $6,000. The board then purchased ninety-four acres of land one-half mile northeast of Lander for $6,000 and let the contract for the construction of the building for $43,197.
    Before the establishment of the School for Defectives, such patients were cared for outside of the state. The number within the boundaries of Wyoming hardly justified the erection of a local home until 1907. The last report of the superintendent gave the number of inmates as 116, mostly young boys and girls.
    Prior to the year 1911 all the juvenile delinquents of Wyoming were sent to Colorado schools, the males to the State Industrial School at Golden and the females to the Good Shepherd Industrial School at Denver. Occasionally delinquent youths were sent to the Washington School for Defective Youth at Vancouver.
    The Legislature of 1911 passed an "Act providing for the establishment of a reform institution within the state to be known as 'The Wyoming Industrial Institute' and making an appropriation therefor, and providing the means of its location." This bill authorized a special tax levy, which amounted to $140,617.99, and gave the people the right to decide the location of the school at the November, 1912, general election. At this election the majoritv of votes were polled for Worland. in Washakie County, and this town was therefore chosen as the site for the new industrial school. The twelfth Legislature, 1913, passed another bill providing for the purchase of land and made a further appropriation of $40,000.
    The board of charities and reform finally purchased 960 acres of land, located three miles south of Worland, for $53,200, at an average price of $55 per acre. Upon the land the state convicts were put to work, clearing the ground, building roads, erecting shelters and beginning the production of crops. In 1913 the board secured plans for a large main building, power house and barn. The contract for the main building and power house was let for $116,353.
    All of the boys from the Golden school have been transferred to the new Worland Institute, hut the girls are yet maintained at the Good Shepherd School in Denver.
    At the present time the State of Wyoming has no state school for the deaf, dumb and blind.
    By an act of the Legislature, approved March 11, 1886, there was created an institute to be located at Cheyenne for the deaf, dumb and blind, but it was "provided that no institute shall be opened until there are twelve pupils ready and that will enter said school, and when the number of pupils shall fall below the number of eight, then said institution shall close." Three trustees were appointed by the governor. A building was constructed, but was never used for the education of deaf, dumb and blind pupils. The number in the territory and state never justified such a course. All such cases were cared for in schools outside of Wyoming.
    Finally, by an act approved February 9, 1907, "the buildings and premises of the state deaf, dumb and blind asylum at Cheyenne" were temporarily set aside for use as military headquarters of the state, office of the adjutant-general, and for storage and care of military supplies. The building is now used in this way.
    Deaf, dumb and blind pupils of Wyoming are now educated at Colorado Springs, Colorado; Ogden. Utah; Boulder, Montana; Omaha, Nebraska; and Nebraska City, Nebraska. The last report of the Board of Charities and Reform gives a total of twenty-four pupils in these various locations.
    On March 4, 1886, Governor Warren approved an act providing that "a capitol building, for the use of the territory shall be erected in the City of Cheyenne, the capital of the territory, at a cost not exceeding the sum of $150,000." By the provisions of this act the governor was authorized to appoint a building commission of five members, which should acquire a site by donation or otherwise, approve plans and award the contract for the construction of the building. Six per cent bonds to the amount of $150,000 were authorized also, not more than $25,000 of which should be issued at any one time, payable twenty-five years after date of issue, although the territory was given the option of redeeming one-tenth of the bonds at the end of fifteen years and one-tenth annually until all were paid.
    Governor Warren appointed a capitol commission consisting of Erasmus Nagle, Charles N. Potter, Nathaniel R. Davis, Morton E. Post and Nicholas J. O'Brien. This commission erected the central portion of the capitol according to plans supplied by D. W. Gibbs & Company, A. Feick & Company being awarded the contract.
    Then came the additional appropriation for the capitol, amounting to $125,000, which was a part of the bill which the Legislature passed over Governor Moonlight's veto. The governor claimed that the additions contemplated would cost more than the af)propriation and that the building as it stood was sufficient for territorial needs until the people could bear the cost of construction without assuming undue burdens of taxation. The bill was passed over the governor's objections, however, and Mr. Moonlight appointed as capitol commissioners Lawrence J. Bresnahan, George W. Baxter, John C. Baird, Arthur Poole and Andrew Gilchrist. The Council refused for a time to confirm the appointment of Mr. Bresnahan and rejected Mr. Baxter outright. The governor then named Thomas A. Kent to take the place of Baxter. Mr. Bresnahan was elected chairman o-f the commission and Mr. Baird was chosen secretary. D. W. Gibbs & Company were again employed as architects and the contract was awarded to Moses P. Keefe. The additions were completed in 1890.
    On February 19, 1915, Governor John B. Kendrick approved the act authorizing the construction of additional wings at the east and west ends of the capitol building. The act provided for the levying of a tax of "three-eighths of a mill on each and every dollar of the assessed valuation * * * to constitute a fund in the state treasury to be used under the authority and direction of the state capitol commission in the erection and completion of suitable additions to the state capitol building."
    The state capitol commission was then composed of Robert B. Forsyth, Herman B. Gates and James B. True. They employed William R. Dubois as architect, and the contract for the erection of the wings was awarded to John W. Howard. The additions were completed late in the year 1917. The total ccst of the capitol building has been $413,779.13 to May 15, 1918, though these figures do not include the improvement of the grounds.
The architectural style of the Wyoming capitol is classic, the general outline resembling the national capitol at Washington, D. C. The building occupies a commanding site, bounded by Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth streets, Carey and Central avenues, the main entrance facing Capitol Avenue, the most beautiful street in the city, extending southward from the capitol to the Union Pacific Railroad station.