The Infirmary

Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Records

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The Infirmary

Source:  THE MANSFIELD HERALD:  01 November 1883, Vol. 33, No. 50 as taken from an article entitled "Our Correctional Institutions:  Annual Report of the Board of Visitors"


Submitted by Amy


The Infirmary

Until 1845 there were no provisions made for an Infirmary.  The County Commissioners had found homes for the paupers among the farmers of the county who were paid a stipulated amount for their care.  In 1845 a movement was made for the building of an Infirmary in Weller township, on a quarter section of land which cost $3,000.  This building was of brick, and completed in 1846.  Lowrey Sibbett, now of Mansfield, was the first superintendent.  The building, long inadequate for its purpose, was fortunately burned in June, 1878.  When originally built it occupied a more central position in the county, as a portion of Ashland County was then the eastern part of Richland County, but after the division the county line was drawn far nearer to the Infirmary.  So that when the new building was to be built the question was agitated about the removal of the Infirmary site to a more central part of the county.  It is exceedingly unfortunate that ill counsels should have so prevailed as to perpetuate the present situation.  The unwisdom of the present location will be more apparent by year as it is removed from many privileges which otherwise the county seat should afford it, and from the active sympathies of the greater portion of the interested population of this county.

It is located six or seven miles from Mansfield, a noble building on a farm of 160 acres, well supplied with water.  The building was built in 1879 at a cost of about $30,000 but with furnishing and finishing cost nearly $50,000.  The administration consists of a superintendent and his wife at $600 a year, one competent farm labor at from $20 to $30 per month, and three women for the house at $3 a week each.  Farm products have been abundant;  a dozen cows are kept and about half of them on the average are milked which gives a supply of butter beside some milk for table use.

Inmates are each furnished with comfortable rooms which for tidiness and good care are not excelled, it is believed, in any such institution.  Catholic literature has been more faithful than Protestant in finding its way into these rooms.  Many of them are without the Bible.  Religious services are regularly held every alternate Sabbath in rotation by a long list of clergymen in the county, and even the vacant Sabbath witnesses a service under no regular appointment.

There are at present 89 in the Infirmary against 104 at the same date last year.  The average number of inmates each month has been 97;  15 have died against 9 last year;  57 have been admitted, against 58 last year;  37 have been discharged, against 27 last year, and 2 have surreptitiously taken up the profession of tramp.  There are 10 epileptics, 4 idiots and 11 lunatics;  5 of the latter are men and 6 are women.

The superintendent of the institution was changed on the 1st. of April.  A most excellent person and his wife leaving on account of the slight remuneration, to give place for the present superintendent and his wife, who are competent persons and whose work seems to be finding favor with all.  Your Board thinks that the remuneration for such services is far too small and will not succeed in keeping competent persons or prevent frequent changes.  Greatly to the regret of all whose opinion has been heard, the physician of the institution who lived only three or four miles away and whose services rendered with great faithfulness, were only $160 a year, was changed in April last for a physician from Mansfield, a distance twice as great.

The Superintendent of the institution extended a warm welcome to the Board, and urged them to come at any time of any day, and unannounced if more convenient.

The ground floor of the building is occupied with two dining rooms, one for each sex, several store rooms and a large kitchen, coal rooms and boiler rooms.

The kitchen is well furnished with ranges and all conveniences, and is kept in thorough order.  The baking is done three times a week, from 45 to 56 loaves at a time, furnishing the institution with all that is used, and of most wholesome quality.  Generally wheat enough has been raised for the entire supply, but this year a little must be purchased.

The laundry work for so many inmates presents a busy spectacle.  The facilities for this department were sadly incomplete, crowded into a little old shed building.

The clothes room is an interesting department, a vast amount of suitable clothing, neatly prepared and arranged, witnessing to scrupulous care and diligence.

The second floor is constituted of parlor, reception room, and family setting room;  also one room fitted up for the sick.  The rooms are kept at an equitable temperature and have great care for the comfort of the inmates.

Tobacco is furnished to such as desire it at the rate of one-fourth of a pound per week.

Smoking places are furnished and there seems to be care exercised that none shall be annoyed by its use.

The food is of excellent quality, variety and abundance, and plates were freely handed for more as though they were a family of working men and women.  Six pounds of coffee are used per day.  But little tea is used;  a few only have this luxury for dinner.  Much milk is drank by them at dinner and at other meals.

One sad fact of our infirmary is the destitution of arrangements for the care of the insane.  It has been for years thought by those interested that the time was not far distant when a humaner sentiment would prevail in our community to such an extent that the State would make provisions for the care of all the insane.  The Board are obliged to state that the present outlook in this respect is not encouraging.

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