Pueblo County, Colorado
Colorado Insane Asylum


The Beginning, 1879


Colorado Weekly Chieftain 1-23-1879
Inebriate and Insane Asylum
Hon. J.J. Thomas, one of the members of the house of representatives from Pueblo county, has introduced a bill in that body providing for the establishing of a state inebriate and insane asylum, of which the Times gives the following example:
In the first place the introduction of the saloon bell punch is provided for, which shall be kept at every place where liquors and other drinks, such as soda water, pop, et., are sold, and the revenue arising from this source shall be made a matter of record, and this record shall be sworn to before the proper officer. The next point is to impose a tax of five mills for every drink, and the sum thus derived devoted to the establishment and support of the proposed asylum. It is further provided that the governor shall appoint a commission to locate this asylum, that each member of the commission shall receive $100 and mileage for services rendered; that the institution shall not be located in a county where now exists any state institution; that a superintendent and three physicians shall be appointed by the governor, the physicians not to receive any compensation until after the asylum goes into operation, and there is need of their services. The superintendent is to have charge of the asylum; his duties are defined and salary fixed at $2,500 per annum. Each of the physicians is to be paid $2,000 per annum for services rendered. The bill is quite lengthy, and the foregoing is only a short epitome of its character. It calls for no general tax, and imposes no burden upon any class save the drinkers of whiskey, wine, soda water and pop.

Colorado Weekly Chieftain 1-30-1879
Legislature
Hon. Geo. M. Chilcott, one of the members from Pueblo county, has introduced a bill in the house of representatives providing for the establishment of a state insane and inebriate asylum at Pueblo. As soon as the bill is printed it will be forwarded to the Chieftain for publication. An insane asylum is much needed in our state, and would save many thousands of dollars annually to the people in taking care of our insane. The alarming increase of chronic alcoholism in Colorado calls loudly for an inebriate asylum where the unfortunate victim of dipsomania may receive that peculiar style of treatment necessary for the cure of his terrible disease. Almost every city and town of any size in Colorado has some state institution located in or near it except Pueblo, and it would seem that your city is fairly entitled to this one. The plan proposed to raise revenue for the support of the asylum is by means of the bell punch levying a tax of five mills upon each glass of spirits, wine, beer or soda water sold. By this plan a large revenue can be raised and nobody will feel it.

Pueblo Colorado Weekly Chieftain 2-6-1879
Proposed State Inebriate and Insane Asylum – In another column will be found the full text of the bill introduced in the house of representatives by the committee on state institutions, of which Hon. Geo. M. Chilcott is a member, providing for the establishing of the Colorado inebriate and insane asylum, and for its location at Pueblo. The alarming spread of that terrible disease, variously called drunkenness, dipsomania and chronic alcoholism, in our state, calls aloud for the inauguration of some means for its cure.  It attacks all classes of society from the lowest to the highest; all kinds and conditions of men from the degraded indian whose highest idea of human happiness extends not beyond a full stomach and plenty of whisky, up to the wealthiest, most highly cultured and brightest intellects of the country.  Many people in their ignorance are prone to treat habitual drunkenness as a foul crime against society which should be severely punished.  Some of the highest medical authorities of the world, however, class it as a disease and one that is entirely curable if the proper treatment is applied.  No man in his senses would send another to jail because the latter had contracted consumption or typhoid fever, yet the unfortunate victim of that form of insanity known as chronic alcoholism, that fearful and all consuming desire for stimulants which in most instances the poor victim cannot control, is considered guilty of a foul crime against society, and is fined or sent to jail only to repeat the offense as soon as that uncontrollable craving returns and the much desired stimulant can be obtained.  For the treatment of these unfortunates and for their ultimate cure and restoration to usefulness, this institution is designed.  Many valuable lives have been saved by similar institutions in the eastern states, and happiness brought back to many apparently blighted and ruined households through their agency.  As to the necessity of the founding of an asylum for the benefit of those of our people who are so unfortunate as to be victims of insanity, there can be no question.  At the present time our insane poor are sent to the asylums of Iowa and others states, hundreds of miles away from their friends, so far that they can never be visited except at great expense, and no one in Colorado interested in their welfare can tell whether or not they are properly treated, have sufficient of the necessaries of life and good medical attendance.  The expense to the state attending the care of her insane poor in the asylums of others states is a very important matter, and should have great weight in promoting the passage of this bill.  An examination of the records will show that money enough has been expended by the state of Colorado for this purpose during the past ten years, to build and equip a lunatic asylum sufficient for the wants of our state for some years to come.  The transportation of insane paupers to different asylums in the states east of the Missouri river, has proved to be a bonanza to some of the officers of the counties of the state, and the expenses thereof have made tax-payers howl and squirm to an alarming extent.  We have known instances where the fees of the official in charge of the transportation of an insane pauper to an eastern asylum have amounted to nearly one thousand dollars!   When Colorado has an asylum of her own, located near the center of the state and easy of access by railroad from all directions, these bonanzas accruing to county officials from this source will come suddenly to an end, and the tax-payers of the state will profit thereby.  The location of this asylum at Pueblo is eminently proper.  Our city is situated near the center of population in the state, is easy of access by rail from all points, has a climate unsurpassed in the whole Rocky Mountain region, and we feel justified in saying that the land necessary for the buildings will be freely contributed by our people.  Building material is cheap and plentiful here, and in no town in the state could the necessary buildings be erected to better advantage.  Almost every town and city in Colorado of any size or importance, has already some state institution located within its limits, except Pueblo.  Our people have heretofore without murmuring sat still and looked on while other points much less favorably situated have obtained the location of various state institutions, and now it would seem that in common justice to Pueblo she should be entitled to the proposed state inebriate and insane asylum.  The bill for its establishment was, we are informed, reported unanimously by the committee on state institutions, all agreeing that Pueblo is justly entitled to its location at that point. Pueblo Colorado Weekly Chieftain 2-6-1879 – Mr. Chilcott's bill to establish the Colorado inebriate and insane asylum was considered in committee of the whole and recommended for passage.  Denver, February 3 – In the senate the following bills were read the second time:  Amendments were offered to the irrigation bill and to the house bill for establishing an insane asylum at Pueblo.  An amendment to the latter was made leaving out the inebriate department, which was done by Chilcott… The house in committee of the whole recommended the following bills for passage:  Regarding counties, county officers and county government; making appropriations for the support of the insane asylum; to provide a fund for the contingent expenses of the state university; for the support of insane paupers… It is likely that the insane asylum bill, which passed the house to-day will pass the senate. 

Colorado Weekly Chieftain 2-13-1879
Hon. Geo. M. Chilcott, one of the members from Pueblo county, conceived the idea of instituting this much needed asylum and locating it in Pueblo. He was a member of the house committee on state institutions, and after explaining the matter to the remaining members of the committee that body agreed to introduce a bill in accordance with his ideas. The bill was accordingly introduced with the powerful parentage of the committee and so began its career in the house. In that body it met with little or no opposition and passed with ease.
In the senate trouble began. Senator John, of Trinidad, concluded that that town had powerful claims as a point for the location of the asylum, and when the bill came up made a speech proposing that the asylum should be put up for competition between Pueblo and Trinidad and that the place which would subscribe the most money in cash should obtain it. The enemies of the bill immediately seized upon this pretext to attempt to kill it, and Senator Webster, of Summit, moved to include the towns of Colorado Springs and Golden in the contest. The gentlemen who represented these localities, however, disclaimed any desire for the asylum, and gave the matter the cold shoulder. Several speeches were made by the enemies of the bill, proposing to peddle the institution around the state and sell it to the highest bidder. A sense of propriety on the part of a majority of the members defeated this disgraceful plan, and then Senators Wolcott, of Clear Creek, and Butters, of Arapahoe, began to fight the bill in a variety of ways. The both advocated the extraordinary and unprecedented doctrine that all state institutions should be located at one point in the state, a plan, which as many of our institutions are located at various places, is somewhat wild and impracticable. All of these propositions were voted down, and Senator Wolcott, finding himself defeated at every turn, proceeded to move for the location at half a dozen other places in the state, and failed again. Then an attempt was made by Senator Rogers, of Arapahoe, to kill the bill by adding to it a proviso that the people of Pueblo should subscribe one dollar for every dollar appropriated by the state for building the asylum.
Senator Wolcott having examined the bill more carefully withdrew his opposition thereto, and the bill was referred on Thursday to a special committee to arrange the amendments and incorporate them in the bill. When the special committee took the matter in hand it was found on examination of the bill that it did not appropriate $8,000 for a building fund as at first supposed, but that this amount was appropriated for the purpose of providing for the care of the insane in such suitable temporary buildings as could be obtained until the tax of one-fifth of one mill could be made available. Under these circumstances the committee agreed to recommend the passage of the bill, provided that an amendment be incorporated therewith requiring that the people of Pueblo should donate forty acres of land as a site for the institution. This amendment with some others of minor import was reported on Friday and ordered printed. On Saturday morning, the bill as amended, came up for third reading and passed by a good round majority.
One curious circumstance connected therewith, is Senator Parrish's course. He at first seemed to favor the bill, but when it came up for final passage voted against it, stating as his reason that the bill is a crude one and gives the superintendent of the asylum too much power. The course of Senator John was in marked contrast with that of Senator Parrish. The former, of course, advocated the claims of his locality, but when he found that Trinidad could not obtain the institution, rather than risk killing of the bill or locating the asylum at some point in the north he stood by Southern Colorado like a man and voted for the bill on its final passage, as did all of the other southern senators with the exception above mentioned.
To Hon. George M. Chilcott, as well as Hons. I.W. Hill, J.J. Thomas and W.M. McLaughlin, our people are indebted for the location of this state institution in our city. Senators Helm, of Colorado Springs; DeFrance, of Golden; and Rhodes, of Fort Collins, also lent valuable assistance. The contest was spirited and at times exciting but the indomitable energy and continued watchfulness of the friends of the measure pushed the bill to its final passage beating down all opposition.
The amendment proposing the donation of forty acres of land, instead of $8,000, was an idea of Mr. Chilcott's, who is aware that our people have more land than they have money, and hence the donation could be more readily obtained in that form. We have no doubt that this matter will be attended to at once ands a site for the buildings suitable in every respect be readily obtained.

Pueblo Colorado Weekly Chieftain 2-13-1879
Insane Asylum. [Special to the Chieftain.] Denver, February 8. – The insane asylum bill passed the senate this morning with the emergency clause. All that will be asked of the people of Pueblo is forty acres of land for a site. There were but four votes against the passage of the bill, one of them being Parish, of Fremont and Custer.

Pueblo Colorado Weekly Chieftain 2-13-1879
Legislative Excursion.  Honors to the Solons at the Home of Hon. G. M. Chilcott.  The special train consisting of two chair cars, one first-class passenger coach and a baggage car, which left Denver at seven-thirty-five yesterday arrived at the depot in South Pueblo at 12:35, making the 120 miles in five hours, including two stoppages, one at the Divide and the other at Colorado Springs, for water.  Mr. D. Hardy, the efficient train dispatcher at this point, laid off all the other trains on the road and allowed them to come a whooping.  The train was in charge of Conductor Ed. Dougherty, one of the oldest and best conductors on the Denver and Rio Grande and run by Wm. Reed, one of the best engineers on the road.  Superintendent W. W. Borat accompanied the party to this place and went with them on their southern trip.  The special train of the Denver and Rio Grande will remain here and carry the party back to Denver on Thursday.  Mayor Keeling and the members of the city council were on hand to receive them at the depot with a goodly array of carriages, hacks and omnibuses.  They had transportation enough and to spare.  The party was driven from the depot on to the Mesa and then brought over to Pueblo, and after a short drive around town taking in the water works, school house, court house and churches, were landed at the Lindell Hotel.  A great many of them who had never seen Pueblo, expressed their astonishment at our fine court house and magnificent school house, and left with a much better idea of the southern metropolis than they ever had before.  We did not hear any of them brag about our sidewalks, but as the mud was pretty well dried up they probably concluded like the council that we did not have much need of sidewalks.  After a short delay the party sat down to an excellent dinner at the Lindell.  Messrs. Noble & Breed spread themselves to the utmost to give them a feast worthy of Pueblo hospitality and the Chieftain reporter heard a number of the guests speak in praise of the good dinner they had eaten.  The following toast was read at the close of the meal by G. Q. Richmond, Esq.,: “May your duties in the future be discharged with that same regard for public opinion in your actions as representatives of the people.”  It was eloquently responded to by Senator John, of Las Animas county, who took occasion to pay a high compliment to Pueblo's representatives and to the people of the southern metropolis.  Senator Church, as chairman of the committee on resolutions, reported the following after dinner which was unanimously adopted:  Resolved, That it is but fitting that we should say to the citizens of Pueblo, that having furnished such an able delegation in the state legislature and the governor of the Third house, it was but a proper recognition of the valued services of these gentlemen that the legislature decided to locate the state insane asylum at Pueblo.  We hereby generously proffer, that should you not be able to find inmates sufficient to fill it, we will furnish our full quota for that purpose; and should we receive as cordial a welcome and hospitable treatment at your hands as we have to-day, we will be more than satisfied and acknowledge that it was fortunate that we have under such pleasant circumstances made your acquaintance.  There was but little time for speech-making or congratulations after dinner, and the parties again took carriages and were conveyed to the depot of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe road, where three brand new coaches were in readiness to receive them and convey them to Otero.  The train was the handsomest that ever came to Pueblo, and was in charge of O. A. Clough, conductor, and Wm. Parr, engineer, both experienced railroad men.  From this point the party were accompanied by Col. Straight, of South Pueblo, and O. H. P. Baxter, Geo. W. Morgan, G. J. Hart, Dr. R. M. Stevenson, Julius Berry, Capt. J. F. Thompson and G. Q. Richmond and Mrs. Richmond.  They left at three o'clock precisely.  The fourth estate was represented by Wm. Holly, of the Democrat, Capt. J. T. Smith, of the News, and W. C. Wyncoop, of the Tribune.  Wolfe Londoner, an amateur newspaper man agreed to go along for the Times, but backed out at the last moment on account of heavy business.  He sent his regrets in a five gallon demijohn, labeled “I will be with you in spirit, if I cannot in person.”  Among prominent outsiders we noticed Col. S. T. Thompson, of the Denver land office, M. Spangler, chairman of the Arapahoe county republican central committee, James Treadway and daughter and a number of others.  There were sixty-two in all and it was, taken altogether, a very respectable company of excursionists.  They will return on Thursday and proceed to Denver, no doubt, with enlarged ideas of Southern Colorado and the banana line.  The excursion left here in charge of Hon. M. A. Otero, vice president of the N. M. & S. P. road.

Pueblo Colorado Weekly Chieftain 2-13-1879
How It Was Done. The bill establishing the state insane asylum at Pueblo has become a law and an institution will be located in our midst that will be an ornament to our city as well as a great blessing to those of our people who are so unfortunate as to be afflicted with that dread disease insanity. The passage of this bill has not been an easy matter and many of our readers, no doubt, desire to know how it was accomplished. Hon. Geo. M. Chilcott, one of the members from Pueblo county, conceived the idea of instituting this much needed asylum and locating it in Pueblo. He was a member of the house committee on state institutions, and after explaining the matter to the remaining members of the committee that body agreed to introduce a bill in accordance with his ideas. The bill was accordingly introduced with the powerful parentage of the committee and so began its career in the house. In that body it met with little or no opposition and passed with ease. In the senate trouble began. Senator John, of Trinidad, concluded that that town had powerful claims as a point for the location of the asylum, and when the bill came up made a speech proposing that the asylum should be put up for competition between Pueblo and Trinidad and that the place which would subscribe the most money in cash should obtain it. The enemies of the bill immediately seized upon this pretext to attempt to kill it, and Senator Webster, of Summit, moved to include the towns of Colorado Springs and Golden in the contest. The gentlemen who represented these localities, however, disclaimed any desire for the asylum, and gave the matter the cold shoulder. Several speeches were made by the enemies of the bill, proposing to peddle the institution around the state and sell it to the highest bidder. A sense of propriety on the part of a majority of the members defeated this disgraceful plan, and then Senators Wolcott, of Clear Creek, and Butters, of Arapahoe, began to fight the bill in a variety of ways. They both advocated the extraordinary and unprecedented doctrine that all state institutions should be located at one point in the state, a plan, which as many of our institutions are located at various places, is somewhat wild and impracticable. All of these propositions were voted down, and Senator Wolcott, finding himself defeated at every turn, proceeded to move for the location at half a dozen other places in the state, and failed again. Then an attempt was made by Senator Rogers, of Arapahoe, to kill the bill by adding to it a proviso that the people of Pueblo should subscribe one dollar for every dollar appropriated by the state for building the asylum. Senator Wolcott having examined the bill more carefully withdrew his opposition thereto, and the bill was referred on Thursday to a special committee to arrange the amendments and incorporate them in the bill. When the special committee took the matter in hand it was found on examination of the bill that it did not appropriate $8,000 for a building fund as at first supposed, but that this amount was appropriated for the purpose of providing for the care of the insane in such suitable temporary buildings as could be obtained until the tax of one fifth of one mill could be made available. Under these circumstances the committee agreed to recommend the passage of the bill, provided that an amendment be incorporated therewith requiring that the people of Pueblo should donate forty acres of land as a site for the institution. This amendment with some others of minor import was reported on Friday and ordered printed. On Saturday morning, the bill as amended, came up for third reading and passed by a good round majority. One curious circumstance connected therewith, is Senator Parrish's course. He at first seemed to favor the bill, but when it came up for final passage voted against it, stating as his reason that the bill is a crude one and gives the superintendent of the asylum too much power. The course of Senator John was in marked contrast with that of Senator Parrish. The former, of course, advocated the claims of his locality, but when he found that Trinidad could not obtain the institution, rather than risk the killing of the bill or locating the asylum at some point in the north he stood by Southern Colorado like a man and voted for the bill on its final passage, as did all of the other southern senators with the exception above mentioned. To Hon. George M. Chilcott, as well as Hons. I. W. Hill, J. J. Thomas and W. M. McLaughlin, our people are indebted for the location of this state institution in our city. Senators Helm, of Colorado Springs; DeFrance, of Golden, and Rhodes, of Fort Collins, also lent valuable assistance. The contest was spirited and at times exciting but the indomitable energy and continued watchfulness of the friends of the measure pushed the bill to its final passage beating down all opposition. The amendment proposing the donation of forty acres of land, instead of $8,000 was an idea of Mr. Chilcott's, who is aware that our people have more land than they have money, and hence the donation could be more readily obtained in that form. We have no doubt that this matter will be attended to at once and a site for the buildings suitable in every respect be readily obtained.

Colorado Weekly Chieftain 2-20-1879
The Insane Asylum
In answer to many inquiries we publish a synopsis of the law regarding the state asylum for the insane, to be established in this city. The bill was published at length in the Chieftain of February 1st.
The management of the asylum is to be in the hands of a superintendent, and a board of three commissioners, who shall together have full control thereof, as hereinafter provided. The superintendent and board of commissioners to be appointed by the governor, and the superintendent to hold his position for the term of six years; and the commissioners first appointed hold one for six years, one for four years and one for two years, and afterwards each commissioner to be appointed for the term of six years, so that one commissioner shall be appointed and hold for the full term of six years. The governor has appointed as commissioners: James McDonald, of Pueblo; Theodore F. Brown, of Arapahoe, and Jose Victor Garcia, of Conejos.
The superintendent must be a regularly graduated physician, and must reside at the asylum. He receives a salary of $2,000 per annum. The superintendent and board of commissioners shall prescribe and publish rules for the management of the affairs of the asylum and its inmates as experience and observation shall prove beneficial. They shall have power to employ all subordinates necessary to do the business of the asylum. The superintendent shall receive and discharge all persons placed in charge of the asylum.
It is made the duty of the commissioners to select a site at or near Pueblo provided the people donate forty acres of land for that purpose. The site shall be susceptible of irrigation, and too remote from good water, of sufficient quantity to furnish a supply for all necessary use. The commission may lease a temporary building for immediate use. As soon as the site shall be selected and title made to the state, the superintendent shall cause proper designs and plans of the grounds and buildings to be made, and shall proceed to lease or construct temporary buildings, which shall be opened for use as speedily as practicable.
The institution will be supported by a tax of one-fifth of one mill levied upon all taxable property in the state. Any person who has been declared by legal proceedings lunatic, insane or distracted, and such persons as shall be furious or demented may be admitted upon application to the superintendent by his or her friends, and if the estate of the person so afflicted is sufficient upon payment of proper and reasonable expenses for such treatment to be regulated by the rules prescribed by the board of management. The sum of eight thousand dollars has been appropriated for the expenses of the institution in additional to the tax above mentioned. There are at present thirty-five insane persons supported at the expense of the state for whom accommodations must be provided.

Pueblo Colorado Weekly Chieftain 3-27-1879
Volume 11 – Trouble.
Attorney General Wright Demolishes the Insane Asylum. – A week ago everybody in Colorado and especially at Pueblo, says the Denver News, thought the state was to have an insane asylum.  The News thought so too, and in its Sunday issue chronicled the purchase by the state commissioners of a site and building at a cost of $13,000.  Everybody seemed to think the location desirable, and the price reasonable.  The chairman of the board of state commissioners thought so too, and to clinch the bargain, sent up to State Auditor Stimson to draw an order for the amount.  It was a pretty considerable sum of money to take from the treasury at one time, and Stimson hesitated about it.  He even went so far as to get a copy of the insane asylum bill, and read it over carefully.  Then he addressed a note to Attorney General Wright, and that worthy official effectually flattened out the bill, the appropriation and purchase, by an opinion to the effect that the auditor has no right to pay money for an insane asylum.  In other words, the parties who framed the bill did not provide for a building or for the payment of the running expenses after the asylum was secured.   The opinion of the attorney general is addressed to Hon. E. K. Stimson, and is as follows:  Your favor of seventeenth instant received.  You say that the commissioners of the insane asylum have selected a site and purchased a building in pursuance of the law establishing such asylum.  That they have agreed to pay therefore the sum of $13,000.  That there is nothing now to the credit of the insane fund, and ask whether you have the authority to draw a warrant now for said sum of money in payments of said building?  In answer thereto I beg to say:  Section 32 of article 5 of the state constitution provides and the following quoted words included the subject in hand:  “…All other appropriations shall be made in separate bills, each embracing but one subject.”  Section 3 of the act establishing the insane asylum provides that the expenses therefore for salaries of officers and employees incurred in regard thereto authorized by law shall be audited by the state auditor quarterly and warrants therefore drawn upon the state treasurer, to be paid out of the insane fund.  Section 6 of said act provides for a tax to be levied, to be known as the insane tax.  The evident intention of the legislature in this last section was to provide a revenue by the use of which the objects of the act could be realized and the evident intention of the legislature in adopting section 3 of said act was to appropriate this fund to the uses expressed therein.  In so far therefore as the act attempts to appropriate the fund it is void as it is in conflict with section 32 of the constitution for the act in question embraces these subjects at least, viz:  First, the establishment of the asylum; second, the raising of a revenue, and third the appropriation therefore.  In this connection I refer to the act entitled, “An act making appropriations for the asylum for the years 1879 and 1880, approved February 8, 1879.  This act only appropriates money for the support of the insane asylum, and this money can only be used in the payment of bills incurred in the support therefore, i.e, - the current operating expenses therefore.  It will thus be seen that there is no appropriation made by law either to pay for the erection of the buildings or the rental therefore, for the use of the asylum.  Section thirty-three of said article of the state constitution provides that no money shall be paid out by the treasurer except upon appropriations made by law and on a warrant drawn by the proper officer in pursuance therefore.  To effectuate this prohibition, section I, 129 of the general laws of the state was adopted, which expressly prohibits you from drawing a warrant unless an appropriation has already been made by law in anticipation of the warrant.  I am, therefore, of the opinion that you cannot now, nor can you hereafter, without further legislation, draw any warrant on the premises.  I am, very respectfully, C.W. Wright Attorney General.  Hon. E. K. Stimson State Auditor.

Colorado Weekly Chieftain 4-3-1879
Section 6 of house bill 144, the attorney general thinks is a revenue bill. We think so too. We think it is the bill properly, he thinks it is not. He gave no reason, we will. The section is “there shall be levied and assessed upon all taxable property in the state, real and personal, for the creation and support of such asylum as herein provided, a tax of one-fifth of a mill on each and every dollar to be known as the insane tax, such revenue to be assessed and collected I like manner with the revenues of the state.” The title of the bill is “An act to establish the Colorado Insane Asylum, and providing for its location.” Now the question arises, is that title broad enough to embrace and comprehend that section? If it is not, then that section would be in violation of section 22, article 5, etc. We think it is broad enough. The section is one item of the act establishing the asylum. That section created the fund to create the asylum. There are two subjects in the title – establishing and locating. Section six is clearly within the first. We therefore think the title is broad enough to cover all in the bill, and it does not, therefore violate any section of the constitution. Whatever way these law points may be finally settled, we think the asylum should go into operation as soon as possible, and we think that is also the opinion of the attorney general. He is not committed to anything but the question of warrants, and we suggested and he admits that the object to be attained may possibly be reached by way of a certificate of indebtedness. Why don't the commissioners do something? The way seems to be clear. Let us hear from them. What are they doing?

Pueblo Colorado Weekly Chieftain 4-3-1879
The Insane Asylum.  Attorney General's Office, Denver, March 25th, 1879.  My attention has been called to an article appearing in your paper of the 22d inst., entitled “Insane asylum.”  I cannot but believe that your ridicule of me in this matter is ill advised.  Were you possessed of all the facts, you would not have written of me and of my opinion as you did.  That I may not be misunderstood by the readers of your paper, I desire to make the following statement, and request its publication:  The law defining the duties of attorney general, provides: “When requested, he shall give his opinion in writing upon all questions of law submitted to him by the general assembly or either house thereof, governor, lieutenant governor, auditor, etc.”  On the 17th inst. I received a letter from the auditor in the words here given: “Have I any authority (under the provisions of this act to establish insane asylum, approved February 8th, 1879) to draw warrant now for the payment of purchase money of building selected by commissioners.”  In compliance with my plain official duty I advised him that he could not now, nor hereafter, unless by virtue of further legislation, draw such warrant.  I came to this conclusion for the reasons given in my opinion, namely: 1st. Because the law prohibits the auditor from issuing a warrant except where an appropriation has already been made to meet it.  2d. Because in the case of the payment for the buildings purchased for the insane asylum, no appropriation has been made for payment.  This is all that the opinion amounts to, is all that it was intended to amount to, and it simply answered the question propounded by the auditor; a question proper for him to ask, and my plain duty to answer.  You are inclined, in the article referred to, to ridicule my citation of the constitution in support of my position.  This may be ridiculous and somewhat presumptuous, I admit; still, it seems to me, the constitution of the state ought to be observed whenever it can be conveniently.  The auditor, you must remember, wished to know whether he had the power to issue a warrant now.  The law said if an appropriation had been made he could issue his warrant; therefore the question of whether an appropriation had been made, was a very material question.  I gave it as my opinion that no appropriation had been made for the purpose in hand, and for the reasons stated, namely: that if the bill establishing the asylum did appropriate the money, it was void because in that event, in conflict with the constitution, and that house bill No. 175 was for the support of the insane alone.  It is a matter of some satisfaction to me to see that in the article mentioned your views and mine so nearly coincide.  You say the auditor could not issue a warrant in payment for the buildings, and I said the same thing, and I said no more.  The question of the propriety of the commissioners making the purchase, whether it was a good or a bad bargain, whether it was wise or unwise, were questions that did not concern me officially, and no attention or heed was paid to them.  The question whether the auditor can issue his certificate of indebtedness for the purchase money of the buildings, was not nor has it since been submitted to me; and it is a question wholly different from the one propounded to me by the auditor.  From the above statement I think you will agree with me when I say I did not set hastily in giving the opinion that I did, that it was my duty to answer the question propounded by the auditor, and that my answer to that question is the correct one, at least that it is in accordance with your own opinion in the premises.  C. W. Wright.  We publish the above letter with pleasure, and all the more cheerfully as in our opinion it is substantially a surrender of the issue.  We also retract any uncourteous expressions that we may have made in our former article.  Everybody, and especially opponents, have a right to civil treatment, and Mr. Wright deserves that from us.  We admit also that the ridicule may have been ill advised, but we do this reluctantly, as in many instances it is the most effective method of attacking error.  The attorney general is correct in saying that he is required to give his opinion on questions of law submitted to him by the auditor.  In our former article we said there was no account or vouchers before the auditor, upon which he was required to take any action.  The case had not arisen; it was entirely hypothetical.  It was time enough for him to have sought the attorney general's opinion when he was called upon to act.  And we now remind the attorney general that it is time enough for him to give his opinion whenever there is a law to give it upon.  The auditor ought to have known, without his opinion, that he (the auditor) could not draw a warrant before the act went into effect, and we presume the attorney general knows that an opinion upon a law not in existence, could not be of very much force, and there could be little use in giving an opinion until it was.  Do you see the point?  House bill 144 had the emergency clause, and was in force.  But the attorney general held that section three was an appropriation bill, and was void because in conflict with section 22, article 5, etc.  House bill 175 will be a law upon the eighth day of May.  It will then have made an appropriation.  This construction of it after it shall have gone into effect will be a rule of conduct, but not now.  His opinion that the auditor could not now draw his warrant may be correct, for one law is not in effect, and in his opinion the other is void as to its power to appropriate.  We think he ought to take back the “hereafter.”  He will also notice that the auditor only required as to “now,” not at all as to the hereafter.  His answer was bigger than it need have been.  We admit, what nobody disputes, that the auditor cannot draw a warrant when there is no appropriation.  We deny Mr. Wright's second proposition, for we hold that after the 8th of May there will be an appropriation, providing means to give effect (to) house bill 144.  In other words, we hold it to be self evident that house bill 175 is an adjunct to house bill 144.  They are in fact but one bill, and should be construed as one.  House bill 175 is separate because section 32, article 5, etc., required it to be so.  One creates the asylum, the other appropriates the means to erect it.  House bill 175 is an act making appropriations for the in- (sentence not finished)… “The salaries of all officers and employees, the expenses of the asylum and all bills incurred in regard thereto authorized by law, shall be audited by the state auditor quarterly, and warrants therefore drawn upon the state treasurer to be paid out of the insane fund.  In our former article we stated that an appropriation was the setting aside a sum certain for a specific purpose.  The section is not within that definition, and if not then it is not void or even voidable.  Most persons would say that the section was merely directory – instructing the executive officers how to regulate the accounts.  That and nothing more.  If it is not an appropriation then section 32 is not violated.  Section 6, of house bill 144, the attorney general thinks, is a revenue bill.  We think so, too.  We think it is in the bill properly, he thinks it is not.  He gave no reason, we will.  The section is “there shall be levied and assessed upon all taxable property in the state, real and personal, for the creation and support of such asylum as herein provided, a tax of one fifth of a mill on each and every dollar, to be known as the insane tax, such revenue to be assessed and collected in like manner with the revenues of the state.”  The title of the bill is “An act to establish the Colorado Insane Asylum, and providing for its location.”  Now the question arises, is that title broad enough to embrace and comprehend that section?  If it is not, then that section would be in violation of section 22, article 5, etc.  We think it is broad enough.  The section is one item of the set establishing the asylum.  That section created the fund to create the asylum.  There are two subjects in the title – establishing and locating.  Section six is clearly within the first.  We therefore think the title is broad enough to cover all in the bill, and it does not, therefore violate any section of the constitution.  Whatever way these law points may be finally settled, we think the asylum should go into operation as soon as possible, and we think that is also the opinion of the attorney general.  He is not committed to anything but the question of warrants, and we suggested and he admits that the object to be attained may possibly be reached by way of a certificate of indebtedness.  Why don't the commissioners do something?  The way seems to be clear.  Let us hear from them.  What are they doing?

Pueblo Colorado Weekly Chieftain 4-3-1879
The Insane Asylum – The Matter All Settled – The following official correspondence regarding the insane asylum sets the matter all right: State of Colorado, Executive Departm't, Denver, March 26, 1879.  Hon. Charles W. Wright, Attorney-General.  Dear Sir: The act passed by the recent legislation establishing the Colorado insane asylum provided that the commissioners should select a suitable site for the same, and notify the governor of their action and thereupon it should become the duty of the governor “to cause the title to be made to the state with as little delay as possible.”  I have been notified by the commissioners of their action in selecting a site for the asylum, and of their contract to purchase a building for the purposes of the asylum under the provisions of section 5 of the act.  From your communication to Auditor Stimson, I understand that you have decided that the auditor cannot draw a warrant on the state treasurer in payment for the building purchases by the commissioners, until there has been further legislation – and that your opinion only covers that one point.  I have the honor to request your opinion upon this further question, to-wit: Can the commissioners or state auditor, under the law as it now stands, pay for the building or the expense of furnishing it properly for occupation as an asylum, either by a certificate of indebtedness or in any other manner.  If the law is so defective as to make the act inoperative, then all attempts to enforce it should be abandoned at once.  If, however, it is capable of being carried into effect, it becomes my duty to act in the premises without delay, in order that the state may secure the title to the premises, and that the institution may be speedily opened to the class of unfortunate persons for whose benefit it is to be established.  Yours truly, Fred W. Pitkin – The Reply – Denver, March 26, 1879.  To His Excellency, F. W. Pitkin, Governor:  Sir: - Your favor of the 26th inst., is at hand.  You are quite right in your conclusion about my communication to Auditor Stimson.  In that I only decide that the auditor could not draw a warrant on the state treasurer in payment of the building purchased by the insane commissioners until there had been further legislation.  My opinion covered this point only.  I am of the opinion that after the asylum has been duly located at or near Pueblo, that is, after the forty acres of land have been conveyed to the state, that then the commissioners may make such arrangements for the purchase of temporary buildings as in their discretion shall be meet, and that thereupon the auditor may draw his certificate of indebtedness in the payment therefore, this claim being one authorized by law to be made, and for which no appropriation has been made.  Respectfully yours, C. W. Wright, Attorney General.

Colorado Weekly Chieftain 5-8-1879
The Insane Asylum By reference to our telegraphic columns it will be found that the state authorities have arranged the insane asylum affair, and that the commissioners will at once proceed to prepare the premises for the reception of the insane. The appointment of our well known townsman, Dr. P.R. Thombs, as superintendent of the asylum, gives entire satisfaction wherever the doctor is known. He is one of the old settlers of Pueblo, a physician whose skill has been tested on many trying occasions, and who has the unbounded confidence of the community in which he lives. He is no “hoary barnacle”, but a progressive student of the healing art, always ready to grasp and put into practice what is new and valuable in medicine. We congratulate Dr. Thombs upon his appointment, the state upon having secured the services of such an able practitioner, and the governor upon his wisdom in making this excellent selection. The thanks of our citizens are due to Gov. Pitkin for the firm manner in which he has carried out the will of the legislature in this matter, in spite of an organized and determined attempt on the part of certain eminent jurists and others at the seat of government to swindle Pueblo out of the location of the asylum. Numerous dirty tricks, small as the brains of those who originated them, were planned to carry out this little game, but the governor who did not propose to be humbugged by small bore lawyers and windy politicians, quietly put his foot down on their little schemes, and now Pueblo has the insane asylum sure.


The buggy used by Superintendent P.R. Thombs at the State Insane Asylum from 1879 to 1899.
(photo courtesy of CMHIP Museum)


Saguache Chronicle 8-9-1879
The Insane Asylum - A representative of the Pueblo Chieftain recently visited the State insane asylum at that place.  He reports that the work on the institution is about completed.  If the water pipes were laid, the asylum could be made ready for the reception of patients in one week.  The improvements made at the institution are of a permanent and well-appearing character.  The cells for the unfortunate inmates are all roomy and well ventilated.  There are water-closets and bath rooms on all the floors.  The female ward is separate from its main building, in a structure erected expressly for this purpose.  The worst cases will be quartered on the upper floor in separate cells.  The more moderate cases on the second floor, while the office, the doctor's quarters, steward's room, dining room and kitchen occupy the first floor.  A large and well arranged laundry is in course of erection, within convenient distance of the main building.  Messrs. Noble and Isenberg are the contractors and are doing good work.  Taking everything into consideration, we are satisfied that Dr. Tombs has done remarkably well in the arrangement and remodeling of the original building, and we feel that when it is completed it will reflect credit on himself and the Centennial State.


One story frame house built exclusively for the first female patients.
(photo courtesy of CMHIP Museum)


Colorado Weekly Chieftain 10-9-1879
Colorado's Bedlam – Description of the State Asylum for the Insane – At the last session of the legislature a bill was passed authorizing the establishing of a state asylum for the insane, and locating it at Pueblo.  The law authorizes the appointment of three commissioners by the governor to manage the affairs of the asylum, and that gentleman in February last appointed Gen. T. F. Brown, and Messrs. James Macdonald and Jose B. Romero to constitute the board.  Mr. Macdonald resigned in August last, and was succeeded by Mr. R. M. Stevenson.  The members of the board met in Pueblo soon after their appointment, and after looking around to find a building suitable for the purposes of an asylum, finally agreed to purchase the handsome residence of Hon. Geo. M. Chilcott, at the western end of the city, that gentleman agreeing to sell the same at a very low price and to donate forty acres of land in addition.  There were several applicants for the position of superintendent, from among whom Gov. Pitkin wisely selected Dr. P. R. Thombs, of this city, a gentleman admirably fitted for the position.  Aided by the board of commissioners Dr. Thombs has, ever since his appointment, been busily engaged in preparing the building for the reception of those unfortunates who will be its inmates.  He visited some of the best asylums in the eastern states and Colorado's institution is provided as far as possible with all of the modern improvements.  On the first floor are located the superintendent's office and rooms for his family; the dining room for the patients and a kitchen adjoining.  The dining room is fitted with tables and benches securely fastened to the floor so that should any inmate attempt to throw them at his neighbor, such attempt would result in a miserable and mortifying failure.  The kitchen is fitted up in an excellent style with a large improved cooking range which is supplied with a boiler which furnishes hot water for the kitchen and the bath rooms.  The second story, Dr. Thombs informs us, is intended for the use of the quieter patients.  It contains a large associated ward with rooms opening into it for the accommodation of the patients.  The attendant's rooms are also on this floor.  The sleeping rooms are provided with neat iron bedsteads with spring mattresses and comfortable bedding.  The third floor of the building is prepared for the reception of dangerous patients, and heavy wood and iron gratings are to be seen on all sides.  On this floor are located a large ward room with a number of small rooms opening into it.  The stoves and lights are protected by heavy gratings, and there are strong locks upon all the doors.  Here as on the second floor may be found a convenient bath room and water closet for the use of the patients.  A fire escape has been constructed on the second story so that in case the building should take fire the inmates of the upper floors could escape without difficulty.  A short distance from the main building is a wooden cottage for the accommodation of female patients, the large house being intended altogether for males.  In this building there is a comfortable sitting and sewing room and several bed rooms opening into a hall.  There is also a bath room with a water closet attached.  On the west side is a play ground, surrounded by a high fence, in which enclosure will be erected a swing and other apparatus for the enjoyment of those patients who can be trusted out of their rooms.  A short distance from the women's building is located the laundry which is supplied with permanent tubs, furnace for heating irons and a large boiler which supplies hot water for washing purposes and for the bath room in the women's building.  There are two fire plugs in the grounds, water is abundantly supplied on every floor and there is a large quantity of hose on the premises to be used in case of fire.  There is a large and convenient stable on the premises.  The plumbing in the asylum buildings is the work of Mr. Free, of Denver, and is a first class job.  The following are the officers of the asylum: Dr. P. R. Thombs, superintendent.  J. J. Chinn, steward.  Thos. J. Burrows, chief keeper of the male department.  John Mertz and A. C. Mertz, assistant keepers of the male department.  Miss M. B. Reed, chief keeper of the female department.  Wm. Ricker, night watchman.  Dr. Thombs hopes to have the institution in order to receive patients about the fifteenth of the present month.  He will be able to accommodate about thirty patients.

Colorado Daily Chieftain 10-30-1879
Eleven lunatics arrived in this city yesterday and went to the asylum.  They came from the Oak Lawn Retreat, at Jacksonville, Illinois, where they have been supported at the expense of our state for some time past.  Eight of the party are from Arapahoe county, two from Gilpin and one from Park.  Mr. James Duggan, of Denver, with several assistants, took charge of them.  There are no riotous cases among them.  Nine of them are males and two females.  One of the women is perfectly helpless. 

Colorado Weekly Chieftain 11-13-1879
The inmates of the asylum who can be trusted outside, are allowed the benefit of a walk through the streets every afternoon.

Colorado Weekly Chieftain 12-11-1879
There are at present thirty patients at the insane asylum. The accommodations of the institution are tested to their full capacity.

Colorado Miner, Clear Creek Co. 12-31-1879
The insane asylum is already full, no more patients can be accommodated.

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