Early Richland County Home For The Aged

Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Records

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Early Richland County Home For The Aged



Submitted by Carrol Ann, May 2002


Early Richland County Home For the Aged

The early history of the Richland County  Home located in Weller Township, Richland County, Ohio is interesting indeed. Among the early misconceptions is that the residents were referred to as the "inmates" and folks often referred to it as the "Poorhouse" as the residents were most often destitute. Many residents had limited mental capacity or other problems that made it impossible to live alone. Most had no relatives who could care for them at home.

The home is on a beautiful site earlier known as "Pittinger Hill".  It is in a serene location overlooking the many fields and wooded groves. Among the most outstanding buildings are the huge white barn and the beautiful brick "home".. One is often amazed at the beautiful well kept grounds surrounding the main building. The home affords a pleasant surroundings for the residents.

The early farms provided not only the food for the home, but surpluses were offered for sale.  It afforded the inhabitants many opportunities to "help out with the work."  Some of the men tended gardens while others helped out in the barn. These gardens were considered some of the best and the barns were kept spotless. There seemed to be a bond between the men and their animals.  Many of the men had been farmers before coming to the home and it was a nice pastime for them to help out on the farm. It afforded them opportunities to recall many happier memories,  The women helped in the house and this gave those able an opportunity to "keep busy" and give them a feeling of usefulness.

One example of the bond is as follows:  Mrs. Weaver, an early matron of the home recalls being awakened at 3:00 one morning by a stranger who declared the cows were on the road. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the inmate who cared for the animals had awakened early and had gone to the pastures to get the cows and take them to the barn for milking even though it was several hours until this task needed to be done. It appears he just woke up early and was doing his "job". No harm done.

Early residents were made up of men and women of all ages. There were also children at the home before the new Children's home was built. Some of the inmates were in hospital beds and were cared for by competent nurses.  Others had to be watched very carefully because of their mental capacity at that time.. The population also changed according to the seasons.  In warmer weather the population was smaller but as winter approached the population increased rapidly as folks did not want to be left out in the cold for various reasons.

Many directors have  been in charge of this facility. The earliest being Lowry Sibbet and wife in 1846.  (There was to be three county homes). One must include in the list of dedicated directors, the Dicksons who retired in 1947 after 20 years of service. They were forced to retire because of Mr. Dickson's health.  They had come to the "Home" when the facility was but one year old.  There was no landscaping nor shrubbery. They sowed the grass and added shrubbery and made the house as nice as possible.   They completed the men's dormitory and installed an adjacent lavatory.  Another example of dedication is that given to Mr. Urich who went above and beyond the call of duty during the horrible fire that took place at the Home in August 1924.

The number of residents varied during the years.  For example in 1927 there were 83 residents but during the Depression the roll increased to 140.  Many folks had lost all they had and were forced to rely on charity to survive. In 1947 the  number of residents had fallen to 74.

Overcrowding at the Home was often a problem.  During Dickson's term of service it was apparent that there just wasn't enough room. The Chapel was not used for that purpose because of this problem.  It was often converted to a dormitory of 23 beds to help out.  Services and entertainment  were held in the men's dining room.

A 1925 newspaper article describes the New County Infirmary.  It describes the buildings as being "positively fireproof and vermit proof" in every respect and so constructed as to permit sunshine  to reach every room in the three wing building at sometime or another during the day, the wings being placed at an angle from the main axis of the building. (The men's dormitory  was to the north and the women's dormitory to the south.) The administration wing contained the reception room, superintendent's office, two bedrooms with a bath between, superintendent's living quarters with a dining room and kitchen for his use and his attendants.  There was a living room for the help plus eight private rooms with two baths on the second floor of the wing.

Over the dining room in the administration wing was the hospital with several more men's dormitory rooms.  Stairways are entirely steel, making the building as fireproof as possible. It has a maximum capacity of 125 residents.  In later years the name has been changed to DAYSPRING and continues to be a  beautiful spot in the county.  It continues to have a cheery climate and every effort is being made to make it a "Home away from home" for the residents.  It has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, an honor well deserved.

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