The Administration Building. Early asylum buildings resembled Cathedrals, which many believed had a calming effect on the mentally ill.
San Luis Valley Courier, Alamosa, 1-8-1890 There are 217 patients in the insane asylum at Pueblo 141 males and 76 females. There were admitted during last year 111, of which number there were 83 males and 28 females, representing 282 persons under care during the year. From this number there were discharges as recovered 33 males and 18 females, making the 51 discharged as recovered and two males as improved. The expenses of the asylum for the year ending November 30, 1889 amounted to $38,545.84.
Leadville Evening Chronicle 12-26-1890 Colorado's Insane The sixth biennial report of the commissioners and superintendent of the Colorado insane asylum, at Pueblo, has just been issued, and contains a large amount of valuable information with regard to the treatment and condition of this class of dependents upon the charity of the state. There are at present confined in the asylum 274 patients, an increase of 103 for the year. There are forty-two conditions assigned, showing the supposed cause for the admission of patients. From the very complete tables presented, it would appear that the most prevalent causes are hereditary predisposition, alcoholism, disappointment, epilepsy, ill-health, exposure and self-abuse. Imprisonment drove one man insane, while religious excitement and poverty are responsible for two others. Fright, financial loss, over-work and anxiety are also the causes which brought several others inside the walls of the asylum. There are forty-six different professions represented in the asylum, from clergymen, journalists and lawyers to sailors, tailors and tinners. The largest class represented are placed under the head of laborers, followed by miners and farmers. Taking the patients by residence, every county in the state, with the exception of Hinsdale, Phillips and Routt, is represented. The largest number, of course, comes from Arapahoe, with Pueblo second, Lake third, Gilpin fourth and Boulder fifth. There are twenty-one patients credited to Lake county, while Arapahoe has eighty-three. It is a curious fact that out of the 274 patients, 166, or over half, are single. Still, the proportion is not large enough to warrant an attempt to draw any conclusions in favor of married life as a means of preventing mental derangement. It can, however, be safely asserted that married life does not save the man or woman from insanity. Connected with the asylum is a farm on which have been raised during the past year a great variety of vegetables, while the dairy yielded almost enough milk to supply the needs of the institution. With reference to the requirements and appropriations for the coming year, Superintendent Thombs urges the need of a sufficient appropriation for an additional wing for males, and a new building in place of the old one for the females. The old building was condemned last October as unsafe, unhealthy and dangerous, on account of liability to fire, being heated by stoves and lighted by lamps. The biennial appropriation to be asked for will be $169,759.90. Perhaps the most important portion of the report is embodied in the following paragraph, which we reproduce: The over-crowded condition of this institution during the past two years has led to the belief that if the necessity has not already arrived, it must be very soon, when there will have to be another asylum in this state for the accommodation of the insane. The object of asylum treatment is the cure of the insane. I am not in favor of either overcrowding or building large asylums for holding great masses of insane, as such establishments were principally for the custodial care of the inmates, and the superintendent is compelled to devote a great share of his time to the business features of the institution, thus interfering with the individualized care and treatment of patients. It is my belief that the asylum system of the state will not be complete until the city of Denver has an asylum of its own. There is little propriety in a large metropolis transporting its insane a distance of one hundred and twenty miles. The people will await with some interest the action of the legislature concerning this recommendation. The overcrowded condition of the asylum is an imperative reason for some sort of remedial legislation.
Rocky Mountain Sun 8-22-1891 Colorado Briefs The State Insane Asylum at Pueblo is full to overflowing, and now each county will have to make arrangements for keeping its own patients.
Aspen Union Era 1-7-1892 Superintendent P. R. Thombs, of the Colorado insane asylum at Pueblo, has filed his annual report for 1891 with Governor Routt. The number of inmates January 1, 1892, is 290, an increase of 16 over the number remaining on the same date the year preceding. The expense of sustaining the house for the year, the inmates probably averaging about 282, was $51,573.38. The per capita is about $183 per year.
Aspen Daily Leader 11-15-1892 Our Pitkin Insane Should Be Sent to Some Proper Institution County Commissioner Can Send Them to Eastern Asylums and the County Must Pay the Bill So Says Judge Rucker The sheriff's force is at present entertaining a large-sized kick against the further retention of the insane inmates of the county jail and the conservators of the law are vehement in their demand that the county commissioners do something to abate the intolerable nuisance resulting from the keeping of such persons in a place where no adequate provisions have been made for their care or treatment. There are at present two such unfortunates confined in the county jail, viz.: Charles Fitzgerald and E. R. Lee, and it would seem that the cause of humanity would be subserved by their removal to some asylum where could be found the necessary facilities for the proper treatment of the mentally afflicted. Certain it is that such facilities do not exist in the Pitkin county jail. When an inquest found as to the insanity of these two men and they were ordered committed to the asylum the county authorities were informed that the state asylum for the insane was overcrowded and that no more patients could be received. Thereupon the commissioners left the unfortunates in the care of the sheriff. Mr. Stewart and his deputies did the best they could with the means at their command, but they find it impossible to enforce the cleanliness so essential to the health and well being of the unfortunates. Judge Rucker is of the opinion that no necessity exists for the retention of these insane persons in the county jail as the law clearly authorizes the commissioners to send the insane of the county to any regular asylum for the insane. He claims that when the state asylum at Pueblo is unable to receive patients, the commissioners are fully justified in sending them to the nearest institution that is prepared to receive and care for them. Other counties so dispose of their insane and the sheriff's force is wondering why Pitkin county should be any exception to the rule. In justice to these two unfortunate men and to the sheriff the commissioners should arrange with some outside asylum for the care of Pitkin county's insane. In the light of Judge Rucker's opinion and the practice of other counties of the state, our commissioners should not hesitate because of consideration of economy. We are satisfied that there is not a citizen of Pitkin county who will grumble at the expense incurred should the commissioners do what they are clearly entitled to do under the law, send the insane persons now in the county jail to an institution for the treatment of the insane in some neighboring state.
Aspen Daily Leader 11-27-1892 Local Mention The new board of county commissioners will convene to-morrow, and will proceed to look over the ground to find out whereabouts they are at. It is said that one of the first things which will be done at the session will be to take steps for the immediate removal of the insane now confined in the county jail to an asylum where they can receive proper treatment. It is earnestly to be hoped that this report is well founded and that these unfortunates may soon be taken from their present quarters.
Boulder Daily Camera 2-1-1893 Gov. Waite appointed L.W. Walker of Pueblo as commissioner of the state insane asylum.
Summit County Journal 1-12-1895 State Homes and Prisons - Board of Charities and Corrections Gives Interesting Figures - Denver, Jan. 8. - The biennial report of the State Board of Charities and Corrections contains some interesting information relative to the present conditions of the various penal and charitable institutions of the state... The total number of patients in the state insane asylum on November 1 (?) was 361
Denver Evening Post 7-12-1895 No Place For Women The county commissioners this morning settled the insane quarters question as far as they are concerned. They will send the eight male insane now in the county hospital to the new building at the Pueblo insane asylum and pay for their support at the rate of 40 cents per capita per diem. The twelve female unfortunates now at the county hospital will remain where they are and get along as best they can until there is a vacancy in the old building. There are no provisions for female insane in the new building.
Rocky Mountain Sun 7-13-1895 Will Hurry to Completion Denver, July 12. The state officials have agreed to issue $1700 in certificates to hurry to completion the new building in connection with the state insane asylum at Pueblo, so as to provide decent accommodations for the insane now kept in the foul dungeons at the Arapahoe county hospital. The county commissioners will pay 40 cents per diem for each patient.
Rocky Mountain Sun 11-30-1895 State Insane Asylum Private Institutions Thrive by its Overflow Sheriff Hayes and Matron Taylor of the Citizens' hospital, returned Thursday night from Pueblo, where they took Mrs. Elizabeth Maxfield, an insane person who was ordered committed to the asylum. They had no trouble with the patient, but found the doors of the asylum barred against them, the superintendent announcing that there was no room for the patient. This, the sheriff thinks is getting to be an old story, and complaints are being made by officers from all over the state. In addition to the state institution there are at Pueblo two private institutions for the care of the insane, and these thrive by the overflow from the state asylum. It is stated that these private institutions are kept filled at the expense of the several counties, although there are of course some patients in there whose bills are paid by friends or relatives. The charge at these institutions is $4 a day, and this is the price that Mrs. Morgan, who manages one of them, asked for taking Mrs. Maxfield. The sheriff refused to contract for the payment of more than $2 a day and Mrs. Morgan finally yielded, and the woman was left in her charge. Garfield county has one patient at Mrs. Morgan's under an expense of $4 a day, as has also several other counties in the state.
Rocky Mountain Sun 4-11-1896 Tax Error Corrected - A bill from Mrs. L. J. Smith, who maintains a private insane asylum at Pueblo, for the care of Mrs. Lizzie McGuire, an insane patient, during February, was presented. The amount was $90, and $2 for carriage hire. The bill was reduced to $60 and allowed. The institution Mrs. Smith conducts is near the state asylum, and is only one of a number that is supported by various counties throughout the state. Pitkin county has been bled to an enormous amount through these private asylums, the authorities at the state institution turning sheriffs in charge of insane prisoners away, under plea that there is no room in the asylum. The sheriff has no other recourse then than to take his prisoner to one of the private asylums, or return the patient to the county committing. There are instances on record, however, where sheriffs have outgeneraled the asylum management by leaving the prisoner in the office with the commitment. In these cases it has been noticed that room was found for the patient
Golden Colorado Transcript 8-4-1897 State Insane Asylum Contracts Let for Supplies for the Coming Three Months. Pueblo, Colo., July 28. At to-day's meeting of the Board of Control of the State Insane Asylum bills for the past quarter amounting to between $13,000 and $14,000 were allowed. Contracts for furnishing supplies to the institution for the coming three months were let, with the exception of the bids for furnishing men's shoes, clothing and drugs. The other contracts were let as follows: the Knuckoll Packing Company, meat; Spratlin & Anderson, groceries; Andrew McClelland, hay and grain; the Pueblo Flour and Milling Company, flour; Sharp & Babbit, women's shoes. These are all Pueblo firms. The superintendent's report showed that the total number of persons at present in the asylum was 430, of which 293 are men and 137 are women. The total number of persons received during the last quarter was 32, while 24 were discharged. Seven men died in the institution during the past three months. The commissioners adjourned to-night and Dr. Eskridge, a member from Denver, left for his home at once.
Summit County Journal 1-1-1898 Colorado Briefs The annual report of Superintendent P. R. Thombs of the State Insane Asylum in Pueblo has been submitted to Governor Adams. Including officers, attendants and employees, the average number provided for daily was 450. The average number of patients cared for daily was 427. Of this number nearly 300 were men. The year 1897 has been very favorable for farm and garden products, and an abundance of fresh vegetables, which have been sufficient for all connected with the institution, have been raised on the farm. It cost $73,932.81 to maintain the institution during the past thirteen months, including improvements and repairs. The table cost $26,249.64, making the expense per capita $173.14.
Denver Evening Post 3-12-1898 Removal of Insane Patients - At the meeting of the hospital and farm committee of the county commissioners today it was decided to adopt the plan to send such insane persons as there are at the county hospital to the home for the feeble minded at Pueblo (called Woodcroft). The committee was sent to County Judge Steele to see about getting such patients as had not formerly been adjudged insane so adjudged with all expedition possible. This will be done and it is expected that the county commissioners will early next week order their removal.
Summit County Journal 3-19-1898 Western Notes Twenty-five insane patients in the Arapahoe county hospital are to be transferred to the private asylum of Dr. Work at Pueblo, where they will be boarded until the state asylum can receive them.
Weekly Rocky Mountain News 8-11-1898 Brief Telegraphic News Wednesday - Late reports from Manila showed that there were sixteen killed and forty-five wounded among the Americans at the battle at Manila. Frederick Springstead of Fort Collins, Colo., was killed and Edward Zachary of Pueblo seriously wounded during the attack. The fight took place at midnight during the progress of a violent tropical storm.
Denver Evening Post 8-14-1898 Wretched Condition of Insane Asylum
Patients - A Dreary Bill of Fare Which Never Varies - Patients Are Given
Scarcely any Chance for Exercise - Practically All of Them Incurable -
Conditions Should Arouse the Keenest Sympathy - The state insane asylum at
Pueblo has become a prison rather than an institution for the proper care
and treatment of those so unfortunate as to be committed to a madhouse.
Within its walls are 448 patients and of these Supervisor T. J. Burrows, who
has direct charge of the asylum, says a most conservative estimate of those
incurable is 75 per cent and it is more probable that 85 per cent will not
leave the institution until they go to their graves. The three great
requisites in the care of the insane are sadly insufficient at Pueblo. They
are daily out-door exercise, plenty of wholesome food and the attendance of
a physician who is an expert in insanity. The average patient in the
institution, according to Mr. Burrows' own statement, is not out of doors
more than once a week and then only for three or four hours. The food is
lacking in wholesome variety, is served wretchedly and is not such as to
induce appetite. There is no resident physician at the institution and no
recognized insanity expert closer than Denver. Dr. P. R. Thombs, the
superintendent, is a practicing physician, having an office in Pueblo, but
his duties in the management of the asylum occupy his time to the exclusion
of more than casual examinations of the mental condition of his 448 charges.
There are six Pueblo physicians who give their services in consultations
free and this is the extent of medical attendance. The insane are left to
the exclusive care of eleven attendants, each having from thirty-five to
forty-six maniacs to watch over from early in the morning until night.
There is but one set of attendants and they are supposed to be constantly on
duty during the day. At 7 o'clock in the evening, long before dark these
summer evenings, each inmate is locked in his small, bare room, there to
remain until 5:30 the next morning. The door opening into the corridor is
heavy and without a window. This room is void of furniture, save an iron
cot. His clothes he must leave outside the door and his window is grated.
The entire building is turned over to a solitary watchman. He cannot look
into the rooms without unlocking the doors and this he seldom does. In the
men's building the watchman has eight wards in which are confined 298
patients to look after. In the women's building the same conditions
prevail. Not another asylum in the country has so few attendants in
proportion to the number of patients. The usual rule is one attendant to
not more than fifteen insane and more often to every ten patients. A
Burning Shame - In addition to the lot of the unfortunates at Pueblo another
disgrace to the state confronts the people and that is the fact that about
100 insane women and as many men are lying in jails, workhouses and county
hospitals throughout Colorado because the state asylum is now overcrowded.
These men and women are suffering from acute mania. They are in quarters
absolutely unfit for the detention of persons who have lost their reason.
Excepting in two of the larger counties they have not the proper medical
attendance. Their disease during the early stages is often cured. After
six months a case is difficult and after a year recovery is rare. The
result is that when they reach Pueblo they are hopeless maniacs. Such is
the nature of insanity that they may live for a long time and their
existence there under present conditions is a wretched one. Said Dr. Howell
T. Pershing, expert in insanity and nervous diseases and a recognized
authority who has charge of the Arapahoe county insane: "The chief
requirements in the cure of insanity are plenty of good wholesome food;
exercise in the open air and sunlight and the attendance of an expert
physician. Excepting in very rare cases it is practicable to give every
insane patient exercise in the open air at least once a day." Here is the
food served at Pueblo according to the statement of Mr. Burrows: Breakfast:
Bread and Butter, Coffee, Stewed or Dried Fruit, Oatmeal. Dinner: Bread and
Butter, Vegetables, Meat, Water. Supper: Bread and Butter, Tea, Stewed or
Dried Fruit. Soup is served once a week and meat left over from dinner is
sometimes served as hash for breakfast. These are the meals month in and
month out. The patients do not know the taste of fresh fruit. Fish is
never served because it is too expensive. There is (are) never any fancy
dishes of any sort or kind. The inmates of each ward have a separate dining
room. The insane help in the cooking, serve the meals and wash the dishes.
When the patient is called in the morning he is given a half hour to prepare
for breakfast. After the meal he is returned to his ward. The wards are
long halls with the rooms opening on each side and at the end a large window
with a little open space. He is required to clean the floors of the hall
and rooms. These are kept spotless and polished. After this work is done
the thirty or forty inmates of each ward walk up and down the hall or else
lie on the floors of their rooms. A few are talkative; the great majority
are silent, sullen and surly. At noon they eat and return again to their
hall to once more walk up and down until supper time. After this meal is
eaten they are locked in their rooms. Thus is constituted a terrible daily
monotony. Often the wards are without attendants for a considerable length
of time. Wednesday last Supervisor Burrows was walking in the grounds when
he heard a violent scuffle through one of the open windows. He rushed to
his office for his keys and did not reach the ward until ten minutes after
the fight had begun. In the meantime five or six of the inmates had pitched
into a negro who had called them vile names and given him a terrific
beating. The attendant was in another part of the building at the time.
The Women's Ward - On the third floor of the women's building is a ward in
which are confined forty-four insane women. The visitor is never shown this
department. They are incurable and rave and curse and sing in the most
pitiful manner. Often they attack each other and constantly they hurl vile
and obscene epithets. Many of them tear their clothing in shreds and all of
them are dangerous. For these 44 women there is but one woman attendant.
When one becomes violent she is locked in her room, bare save for a straw
mattress on the floor. Many of them are confined in their rooms month in
and out. If the patient tears her clothing from her body it is taken away,
especially during the hot weather, when she will not suffer from cold. In
her room the woman is allowed to rave undisturbed, until finally in her
paroxysm she wears herself out and exhausted becomes quiet. One woman
attendant watches over them all. Sometimes half of them are locked in their
rooms at a time, sometimes more. The grounds are large and beautiful. They
are laid out in fruit trees, having been planned by Mr. Burrows. They are,
however, at all times open to the public which rides and walks through them
at will. The Exercise They Get - In addition to the 11 attendants there is
one attendant whose duty it is to take the patients out of doors for
exercise. He usually takes 20 at a time, and because of this number he is
unable to take any of the more violent or those liable to attempt to escape.
He goes to a ward and selects 20 or sometimes 25 out of the 35 or 45, and
marches them to one corner of the grounds where they are allowed to spend
about three hours. He usually takes out two sets each pleasant day. There
are about 30 trusties who are out of doors most of the day. These are for
the most part the very old men and the harmless lunatics. About 50 of the
cases in the convalescent ward are taken out as often as twice a week in
pleasant weather. The 340 others do not average four hours a week in the
open air. Although the weather was beautiful Thursday afternoon, a visit to
the asylum showed that the inmates of not a single ward were out of doors.
Thus the Colorado lunatics are herded in two big buildings, there to be kept
until by some miracle their reason is restored, or until they die. In at
least four cases out of five the latter is their fate. None of them have
the best medical attendance, and none of them have the proper personal
attention. It is impossible for one man to look after all the wants and
necessities of 40 demented persons, many of them unable to tell their needs,
and all of them suffering from constant hallucinations. Not all of the
insane have separate rooms. Those less dangerous are confined four and five
and sometimes as many as 14 in one room, their iron cots but a few feet
apart. In conversation their only complaint is they want their liberty.
They say they are not insane, and in a free country no one has a right to
lock them up. The building in which the men are confined is poorly
ventilated, and this condition has existed for years, although efforts have
been made to secure an appropriation to remedy this defect. There is no
hospital at the asylum, and no fit accommodations for the treatment of very
acute bodily ailments, such as pneumonia, fevers, and patients who have been
subjected to surgical operations. There is no money appropriated for the
return of escaped lunatics. When a patient is discharged as cured, he is
turned from the doors without a cent and without clothes excepting those he
has worn in the asylum. In this respect he is not so fortunate as the
penitentiary convict, who, upon being discharged, is given $10, a suit of
clothes, a hat and a pair of shoes. The management does not deny that these
evils exist and have existed for a long time. They say they do the best
they can with the appropriations. The cost of maintenance has averaged
about $60,000 a year for the past four years. The amount will be a little
larger this year. A little over $20,000 is spent in purchases for the table
each year, exclusive of the products of the asylum farm, which are
considerable. About $4,000 is spent in clothing, and about $17,000 in
salaries. Mr. Burrows says that $20,000 additional each year would be
necessary to supply the actual needs of the institution. Dr. Thombs'
Suggestions - That these conditions have prevailed at the asylum for years
is shown by the biennial reports. In the one of 1896, Dr. Thombs says: "We
have been fortunate in securing good attendants, but have been at a great
disadvantage in the small proportion of attendants to patients; only one
attendant has been allowed to each ward, which, when filled, contains 36
patients. It is quite evident that under such circumstances, even when
everything goes smoothly, the care is insufficient. I earnestly recommend
that means be secured whereby our corps of attendants may be at least
doubled. I have received a communication from the various county judges of
the state, from which it appears that there are now less than 50 insane
females for whom accommodations and treatment are asked, but I am helpless
in the matter, no appropriation having been made for this department since
the one referred to. I earnestly urge action looking to the securement of
funds for the purpose of building annexes or cottages for women, of an
aggregate capacity to afford accommodations for at least 100 women, as the
present necessities practically require such addition, to say nothing of
anticipated new cases. I therefore hope an appropriation in a sufficient
amount may be secured, as it ought not to be said that in a state like ours,
the class of patients which it is designed to provide for in the proposed
structure, should reach any such proportions as now uncared for. Indeed,
the public, aside from the duty owing to the unfortunates themselves, is
entitled to an institution ample to care for every such case that may
arise." Nearly All Incurable - The management explains the fact that
nearly all of the patients now confined in the asylum are incurable by
stating that the institution has been established twenty years, and during
this period has accumulated many chronic cases. It is also stated that the
counties only send their worst cases, preferring to care for their less
violent ones since they have to care for a part of the insane. Whether
sufficient economy is practiced or whether the appropriations are
insufficient it still remains that the most unfortunate of the state wards
are not as well cared for as the convicts at the penitentiary. In many
respects the convicts are better off, for they are able to express their
wants and their time is better employed. That those in the insane asylum
should not have proper medical attendance or proper food is a disgrace. The
asylum has no padded cells. It is claimed that physical punishment is never
used. When a demented person is violent he is locked in one of the small
rooms containing nothing but a straw mattress. There he is confined until
he exhausts himself. If he attempts to tear the grating away from the
window or harm himself, muffs are placed on his hands, and they are strapped
close to the body. The employes at present are: Dr. Thombs and Supervisor
T. J. Burrows. Nine male attendants. Three female attendants. Male night
watch. Female night watch. Cook. Baker. Engineer. Fireman. Carpenter.
Hostler. Seamstress. Gardener. Two laundrymen. Laundress. Steward.
Druggist. Matron. Some Pitiable Cases - There are many extremely pitiable
cases at Pueblo. One woman, very refined and cultured, the wife of a Denver
man, whose name is well known, became insane a year ago through jealousy of
her husband to other women and calls him the vilest of names. Her husband
is said to have been very kind and indulgent to her. She is incurable. But
few of the inmates receive visits or even letters from their friends and
relatives. The asylum is looked upon as the grave. Mr. Burrows said that
often near relatives refused to pay for the burial of the dead, and they
rested in pauper graves. Of late several divorce summons have been served
on the inmates. Officers have come to the asylum and read the papers. A
few days ago a sheriff's officer from Denver served papers on an old man who
has been but partially demented. He was once prominent in business. As the
officer read the papers the old man leaned against the door of his bare
little room and great tears rolled down his face. "She lived with me for
twenty years and I made her happy," he sobbed as he shut the door in the
officer's face. Were it not for the fact that insane persons kept their own
counsels and never take one another into their confidence the attendants at
Pueblo would not be able to prevent riots and outbreaks. There are seldom
plots or conspiracies in an asylum. There are fourteen women confined in
Pueblo, nearly all of them incurable, of whose antecedents the authorities
know nothing. They are suffering from mania and the tendencies of the
disease make them extremely cunning. They cannot be induced to give their
names or any information about their past life. It is probable that their
parents are living. Some of them may have good homes and wealthy relatives,
but they will go down to paupers' graves and friends will wonder at their
disappearance. In nearly every instance they became insane while leading
lives of shame and living under assumed names. They had previously become
estranged from their homes and had drifted into houses of prostitution. A
Talk With Mr. Burrows - In an interview Supervisor Burrows said: "I have
been in insane asylum work twenty-three years and have been connected with
the Pueblo asylum since it was established, nearly twenty years ago. I am
not a physician, but I believe I thoroughly understand the management of
demented persons. It is true the food is not what it might be here, but we
do the best we can with the money we have. We have never served fresh fruit
or fish because of their cost. I think the patients are given enough of the
food that is served. It does not do to overfeed an insane person or give
him too much meat. In the first place the system of a man who suffers from
mental disease is more or less deranged and he is very liable to
indigestion. Overfeeding also arouses all of the animal nature in an insane
person. He is liable to become vicious, violent and unmanageable. At least
it would take a much larger number of attendants to watch over the inmates.
"We have very few violent cases among the men. We have no padded cells and
we never use physical punishment. I do not believe in the padded cell
scheme. It is far better simply to lock a patient in his room and give him
nothing but a straw mattress so he will have nothing to injure things with.
If left alone he will get over his frenzy. If he is too violent and tears
his clothes, why then we place his hands in a muff and tie the muff close to
his body with a strap around his waist. An insane man seldom injures
himself. I have known but very few cases where a demented person did
himself violence when left alone in his room. Only a short time ago a woman
who was suffering from acute mania, was brought to Dr. Work's institution
for the insane. He gave her all sorts of medicines but she continued so
violent he could not keep her. I took her here and placed her in a room by
herself and she recovered from her ravings. I used no medicine at all.
There is absolute need of more attendants. We should have at least two to
each ward. As it is now one man cannot possibly look after all the wants of
the forty or more demented persons under his care. The only way in which he
is able to manage things is to make two or three of the patients his
trusties and depend upon them for much of the services which should be
performed by an attendant. We need a new building for women and one for
men. These could be constructed at an estimated cost of $100,000. Instead
of $10,000 for maintenance outside the one mill levy, we should have $30,000
as the lowest figure. Then we could employ six more attendants, and
consequently give the patients more attention. More outdoor exercise would
be advisable, but we simply cannot do it. There are a number of patients
that cannot be taken out at all, because they would tear off all their
clothes and require the constant attention of one man. Then there are
others who would certainly escape if taken out with twenty or thirty others.
Our first attention is to those who have a shadow of hope of recovery, and
with the others we do the best we can. When a person is brought here I at
once tell him he is in an insane asylum and explain just how he happened to
be sent here. I tell him that as soon as he recovers he will be released
and at all times I try to encourage him with the hope that his release is
not far distant. The great trouble is that we get nothing but the worst
cases. They are locked in jails and hospitals throughout the state without
fit medical attendance. Finally after they have become incurable they are
shipped here. It is true we should have a resident physician who is an
insanity expert and possibly one or two other resident physicians. We have
no appropriation to pay their salaries and therefore we have been forced to
do without them. We have very many peculiar experiences here. Recently an
army officer came to the asylum with a letter to me from a prominent citizen
asking that he be shown through the entire asylum. He was anxious to see
all of the worst and most violent cases and he was shown them. After he had
been taken through all the wards he came to me and said: " 'Now, Mr.
Burrows, I want to see the most violent young female you have here.' I
asked him what he would think of us if he was so unfortunate as to have a
sister confined here and she was extremely violent and we placed her on
exhibition like some wild animal. 'Well,' he said, 'I don't need to know
whose sister she is or what her name is.' I then told him that he could not
see such a person and would be allowed no further privileges in the
institution." Dr. Thombs has been in the city during the past two months on
a vacation. He returned yesterday.
Cripple Creek Morning Times 11-11-1898 Negligence at Insane Asylum Reports of Gross Mismanagement Is Being Investigated Stories of Rank Abuse Place Is Not Overcrowded as Has Been Reported From Time to Time; Most Shocking Revelations No Attendants for Patients During the Night, or Fire Escapes on the Building - Special Dispatch to The Times Pueblo, Nov. 10. The investigation of the affairs of the Colorado insane asylum, which is being carried on by a committee of the state board of charities, promises to develop the most startling sensation ever connected with the management of a state institution. Charges of crookedness preferred against Dr. P. R. Thom, superintendent of the institution, have been denied investigation for several years. It has been intimated for several years that the management was being conducted crookedly. The present investigation is the result of an accident by which several members of the board of charities and corrections were allowed in one of the rooms of the asylum during a visit made by the board last September. It was discovered at that time that the board and the state have been deceived by the management as to the facilities for taking care of the insane. Following that clue, the board has discovered that, in addition to the false representations concerning the room in the asylum, and the facilities for treatment of the insane, the management has also covered up the facts concerning a series of the grossest abuses of patients, lack of proper treatment, and cruel neglect for which no excuse can be offered. When the state board of charities and corrections, accompanied by Governor Adams, visited the asylum last September, three members of the board were accidentally locked into one of the wards. Unknown to the management, these members conducted an investigation on their own account. They found cases of grossest neglect. One patient was found dead in his cell. Further investigation disclosed that a room with the capacity for fifty patients was wholly unused, and that the oft-repeated excuse of Warden Thom that the asylum was already overcrowded, covered up a story of mismanagement and neglect. After this visit of the board steps were at once taken by Governor Adams to have the unoccupied room fitted up for additional patients. Soon after, the board demanded an investigation of the affairs of the asylum, and a resolution was drawn up to this effect. But Dr. Thom foresaw the action of the board by requesting an investigation. The members of the state board, forming the investigation committee are Chancellor McDowell, Mrs. Sarah Platt and T. H. Devine. Sitting with the board are: Dr. Eskridge of Denver, and Chas. O. Unfug of Pueblo, members of the committee. Secretary Stonaker is in attendance and stonegraphers (stenographers?) have made a careful report of all evidence submitted to the committee. The condition of affairs has struck the committee and every effort is being made to hush up the matter until the committee can report to the full board and decide what action shall be taken by that body. Enough has been learned, however, to verify the statement that the people of the state have been frightfully outraged by the management, and that nothing but a sweeping change can guarantee a betterment of affairs in the future, and that nothing can atone for the wrong that has been perpetrated in the past under the present management. One of the first things developed by the board was that there has been positively criminal neglect shown in the treatment of patients in the woman's ward. It was offered in evidence, and fully corroborated, that for six weeks at a time within the last six months, the entire woman's ward, containing more than 100 patients, had been left at night without any attendant whatever. This neglect has been allowed for weeks at a time. There was no protection against fire, and absolutely no protection in case any trouble should break out among the patients. They might die during the night, and the fact would not be discovered until next day. It was shown that the patients were huddled into cramped quarters without proper room or attention, while ample rooms were retained and set aside for guest chambers and for the attendants and their friends. A sensation was sprung on the committee when it was developed that one of the woman patients who has been confined in the asylum for six years, was delivered of a child some time ago. The child died and was buried at night. This statement was sworn to by a number of witnesses among the attendants. The management made but feeble effort to deny the truth of this statement. The committee was informed that if a patient recovered he might remain in the asylum indefinitely, unless he contracted some disease that would make a medical examination necessary, in which case the physician would discover that the man was sane. The investigation will be concluded either to-night or to-morrow. The committee has determined to go to the bottom of the scandal and is supported by Governor Adams, who has requested that the investigation be made most rigid.
Aspen Weekly Times 11-12-1898 State Insane Asylum Horrible Condition of Affairs Developed by An Investigation Uncared-For Patients Left To Die Patients Huddled Into Small Rooms, While Spacious Apartments Are Reserved For Attendants Criminal Neglect In Women's Ward Left Without Protection Pueblo, Nov. 10. One of the most startling sensations ever developed in the history of the management of a state institution has been brought to light by a committee which has been here for several days making an inquiry into the condition of the state insane asylum. A condition of affairs has been developed which has struck the committee aghast and every effort is being made to hush the matter up until the committee can report to the full board and decide what action shall be taken by that body. Enough has been learned, however, to verify the statement that the people of the state have been frightfully outraged by the management of the state insane board and that nothing but the most sweeping change can give guarantee of better management of affairs in the future. The present investigation is the result of an accident by which several members of the board of charity and corrections were locked in one of the wards of the institution during a visit made by the board last September. While the other members of the committee went on a visit to other departments of the institution these members made an investigation on their own account. Their first discovery was a startling one. One of the members found a man lying in one of the cells. He called the attention of the other members to the man. It was at first thought he had fainted, but on investigation it was found that he was dead, and had been dead for some time. When he had died no one knew and his death was unknown until it was announced by the members of the state board. The members of the committee also found a large apartment connected with the women's ward with a capacity of at least fifty people. This was occupied by a single attendant, and at the same time it was alleged that the asylum was over-crowded and could accommodate no more patients. The evidence of the present investigation is being taken down by stenographers and will be submitted to the board at a meeting to be held next week. The evidence is being carefully guarded, but enough of it has been learned to show that the committee has finally begun to get at the facts concerning the sensational charges that have been made against the asylum management, for a number of years, but which now will be made public and in an official way. One of the first things developed by the board has been the positive criminal neglect shown in the treatment of patients in the women's ward. A number of witnesses testify that for periods as long as six weeks at a stretch within the past six months, the entire women's ward containing more than a hundred patients, has been left at night without any attendant whatever. This was not for one night, or for any particular night, but for weeks at a time. There was no protection against fire and absolutely no protection in case any trouble might break out among the patients. It was shown that the patients were huddled together in cramped quarters without proper room or proper attention, while ample rooms were retained and set aside for guest chambers for the attendants and their friends. The committee is making a further investigation and will conclude its labors tomorrow.
Aspen Weekly Times 11-19-1898 Insane Asylum Horrors Denver, Nov. 15. A member of the investigation committee who had in charge the inspection of the Pueblo insane asylum, is reported to have given out some facts relative to the scandal which has attached to that institution. The subject of the child born to one of the inmates of the asylum has been gone into, and testimony covering this matter was given before the committee. It appears from the disclosures that the child was born July 27, 1897, and lived three weeks. The mother was an insane woman, who had been in the asylum six years. The father was an insane convict, who had been sent to Canon City, and was afterwards transferred to the asylum. This man became a trusty and was given some work to do in the woman's ward at a time when no attendants were present. The woman later confessed to the attendants but Dr. Thombs had the matter hushed up. The affair was not reported to the state board. The child was buried by Dr. Thombs himself in the night. The statement has also been made that the asylum contains a dark cell, which was without ventilation except long holes near the ceiling. The doors were double and the floors of cement. There was no furniture in these cells except some rugs. The raving maniacs were confined in them, and there was nothing to prevent these unfortunates from doing bodily injury to themselves, and it is claimed they received little attention. A member of the state board said today that as soon as the investigation is completed he would insist that Dr. Thombs be removed, and that some more competent man be substituted. One of the members in speaking of the asylum said: I am thoroughly convinced that great outrages have been perpetrated at Pueblo, that will arouse intense indignation, and that Dr. Thombs is in the main (person) responsible. A violent lunatic was sent to the asylum some time ago by Judge Steele of this city. Later he was arrested in Denver for disturbing the peace, and an examination of the county court records showed that the man was legally still in the asylum. The man claimed that Dr. Thombs had released him on parole. In reply to a telegram Dr. Thombs stated that he had no room for him. The man was brought before the court again, and re-committed and placed in the county hospital.
Cripple Creek Morning Times 12-8-1898 Criminal Neglect Charged Committee Investigating Insane Asylum Substantiates Many Charges New Laws Are Required Recommends That a New Superintendent be Placed at the Helm of Asylum The Patients Overlooked Attendants Not Physicians Permitted to Administer Medicine and Neglect the Sick Denver, Dec 7. The committee appointed by Governor Adams to investigate the affairs of the state insane asylum at Pueblo made its report tonight. The findings of the committee are quite sensational, substantiating nearly all of the charges that have recently been made against the management of the institution in the newspapers. The committee reports that there has been gross neglect on the part of the superintendent and employees, and that there is no system of record by which an intelligent idea of the financial and physical condition of the institution can be gained. The superintendent is accused of having permitted employees who are not physicians, to administer medicines to the patients at their discretion, and to leave patients without attention for many hours at a time, and apply restraints at will, without making any reports to him. Several instances of alleged abuses are given. The findings are followed by recommendations for the future conduct of the institution, including a change in the superintendency and management. A new lunacy law, more in consonance with the age, is recommended. The committee also expresses the opinion that more money should be appropriated by the legislature for the use of the asylum. The present site of the institution is pronounced excellent.
Denver Evening Post 12-8-1898 Stories of Brutal Treatment Sworn to by Witnesses Extracts From the Testimony Before the Insane Asylum Investigating Committee Mrs. Sadie Fisher, the supervisoress of the asylum, was the first witness examined at the insane asylum investigation made by the state board of charities and correction. She testified that the patients got very little attention from the doctor. He did not visit the womans ward more than three times a month. He had not visited her ward but once since he returned from the East, last September. The attendants made no report to anyone concerning the condition of the patients. She said her duties were those of supervisoress, but when she tried to have any order among the attendants she met with insults and abuses. When asked about sick patients, Mrs. Fisher said a patient might be confined in the asylum a year before the doctor would know anything about it. She said bread had been sent the patients that had been eaten by mice and was very hard and three times during the last summer spoiled food had been given the patients. The food was often poorly cooked and there was no variety. Month in and out stew, hash, oatmeal, bread and vegetables were served. Mrs. Fisher said there was absolutely no system about the purchase of supplies. Continuing her examination, the question was asked: Q How much time do attendants spend in the discharge of their duties? A Well, I could only give an average. I should think that, say one and one-half hours in the morning, an hour at supper time and long enough to lock up. That would be an average. Q You know that to be true? A I do. Q Where are they during the time they are away from the ward? A In their room sewing or in the parlor chatting with each other. Q Who is in the ward looking after the patients? A No one. Mrs. Fisher said the insane were locked in their rooms immediately after supper, which was served at 5 oclock, and left alone until the next morning. She said the attendants often left the building and went down town when they were supposed to be on duty. She said straight jackets and wristlets were used by the attendants. Mrs. Fisher said Dr. Thombs paid as little attention as possible to complaints. Once she complained about a patient to the doctor and he answered: No, by God, thrash her. She said patients were punished or restrained every day without Dr. Thombs knowing anything about it. Straight jackets were left on patients three days at a time. The attendants used their own methods of restraint without consulting anyone. Mrs. Fisher was asked: How many deaths have occurred since you have been at the asylum? A I should think five. Q Were the attendants present when the patients were dying or were they simply discovered after they were dead? A I know of several cases where there was no one present. I am not aware any one was present any time. She said that to two of the patients Dr. Thombs had given medicine a couple of times. The other three he had not been attending. She said Dr. Thombs never saw a corpse after death. Some of the patients died in their rooms during the night. Mrs. Fisher said that no record was kept of the past history of the patients to her knowledge. Carrie A. Jones, an attendant, was the next witness. She never made written reports of the condition of the patients. She had known that as long as five weeks at a time Dr. Thombs had not visited her ward. He never came to her ward unless asked to. One of her patients died from consumption unattended. Dr. Work had previously examined her and said nothing could be done for her. Dr. Thombs never visited her. She was not given any medicine, but died alone during the night. Miss Jones said she often prescribed for patients without asking for any advice and gave physics and often whisky. She said clergymen had never visited the sick or the dying to her knowledge. She was asked: What efforts were made for the cure of the patients in your ward for the diseases for which they were committed? A Nobody gave me any instruction in that. I did the best I could myself. She said she used straightjackets on the women, and sometimes wristlets. When patients refused to eat they were let go until they would eat. One Italian woman was kept locked in her room most of the time with wristlets on. She said Dr. Thombs was present when the illegitimate child was born in July, 1897. She made no record of the case. The matter was kept secret and the mother was placed in a little room on the upper floor so that no one would hear the baby cry. Miss Jones said Dr. Thombs gave her $20 for extra work in caring for the child. Dr. Thombs was placed on the stand. He said he had been superintendent of the asylum for twenty years. He said that the restraint was never severe, occasionally he admitted straightjackets were used. They were permitted to remain on a patient until she got over her excitement. Dr. Thombs was asked: If the supervisors should testify that it was not uncommon for attendants to be away from their wards an hour or two at a time, would you contradict it? A I could not contradict it, but I should not credit it. He said that the matrons in attendance were supposed to make verbal reports to him. Question Suppose one or two or three attendants in the building here should testify under oath that a year ago last Christmas Mr. Burrows brought in a two-quart bottle of whisky with a label attached to it, Merry Xmas; Help Yourself; Drink All You Want, and that the attendants helped themselves, some freely, some not at all, and at least one of them because violently intoxicated and the druggist was driven out of his room and told Mrs. Thombs the circumstances. Have you any knowledge to contradict that? A No, sir. I never heard of it and doubt it. Dr. Thombs said he had no private practice in Pueblo, but occasionally called in to see families he had known a long time. He once found an attendant drunk and reproved him. He claimed that he visited the wards often and always looked out for the sick. He said he spent at least two hours every morning at the asylum. He admitted that no printed or written record was ever kept of the general condition of the various patients. He depended entirely on verbal reports. He swore absolutely that a week had never passed without going to every ward in the institution. He admitted that he did not O.K. all requisitions for supplies. He said there was no record of the distribution of supplies. He said that relatives were always notified of the death of patients. Question Invariably? Answer Invariably. Q Do you recall the death of a man named George Hodgson? Do you recall ever notifying his wife after his death? A I did not have her address. He did not live but a little while after he came. He was asked what prescriptions he had given during the past ten days, and could only recall one. He said no other physician beside himself had visited the asylum during the past month, except in one special case. He could give no satisfactory explanation of why a room large enough for forty patients had never been used. He said three children had been born at the asylum. The mothers of two of them were brought to the place in a delicate condition. He continued: A year ago last summer we had an unfortunate occurrence. One of our patients became in that condition here. I do not know that it was known how it happened. It is simply impossible to watch them all the time. Q How did it happen? A We were kalsomining a ward, and the patients had to leave the ward until we got through. Some way in going or coming this accident must have occurred. Q Could it have occurred without carelessness of the attendant? A I would say there was carelessness, but with thirty-five patients to one attendant it seems to me that the patient might separate off a little and that condition occurred that way. Q Did you discharge that attendant? A No. Q Did you make any report to the commissioners? A No. I felt chagrined at it. She was a lady of family. I took care of her the best I could. Q A child was born? A Yes, sir; I was present. Q Was the father of that child an inmate of this institution? A Yes, sir. He came from the penitentiary. Q Who nursed the woman? A Miss Jones. Dr. Thombs denied that he paid Miss Jones any extra wages, and when told that Miss Jones would testify that she received $35 more than regular, he said he did not know it. Q What became of the child? A It died. Q Of what did it die? A It never was healthy. I do not know what ailed it. It got good attention. Q Did you prescribe for the child at all? A All I gave it was a little paregoric once or twice. He said he kept the facts of the birth from the patients because they were very curious about such things. Q Where was the child taken when it died? A We buried it here. We have an old cemetery here. Q Who buried it? A Mr. Burrows and I took it out and buried it. Q The mother was not allowed to go? A She did not know really what had occurred. She was dazed. I do not think she realized what had been done. When asked if he had a complete record of the names of all the patients in the asylum, he answered, I think nearly so, sir. J. W. Masters was placed on the stand. He was employed at the asylum from March, 1892 to June, 1898. He said the wards were often left alone. Sometimes the attendants would just simply go off without getting anybodys permission. Sometimes they would speak to another attendant to go after their wards. While he was an attendant sometimes it would be three months that he did not see Dr. Thombs at all. Q You say three months elapsed while you were an attendant, that Dr. Thombs was not in your ward? A Oh, yes, I think there was one year when Dr. Thombs would not be in the ward more than two or three times during the year. Q Did he during your three years ever make a thorough examination of your ward or the patients in it? A No, sir. Masters said he was never told to make reports. He said the doctor was scarcely ever at the asylum during the day. He said he had seen the attendants drunk, and that there was considerable drunkenness on the part of the male attendants. He corroborated the story of the whisky bottle, published above. He said the attendants recommended what medicine the patients received. In answer to a question he said: I remember a case of Mr. Burrows knocking a patient down. I also remember his slapping a patient. Q Did you ever see a patient allowed to go three or five days without anything to eat? A Yes, sir. Q Have you allowed them to be starved into eating? A Mr. Burrows was not in favor of making them eat and they often went a long time without eating.
San Juan Prospector 12-10-1898 Insane Asylum Scandal Investigation Shows Need of Reform Committee of State Board of Charities and Corrections Declares the Management to Be Negligent in Attention to Patients A Change Advised. Denver, Dec. 8. The committee recently appointed by the State Board of Charities and Corrections has made its report to the board, which has transmitted the report to Governor Adams with its approval of the recommendations made. The report of the committee in full is as follows: Denver, Colo., Dec. 7, 1898. To the State Board of Charities and Correction: - We, your committee appointed at the special meeting of the State Board of Charities and Correction September 29, 1898, at the request of Dr. P. R. Thombs, superintendent, and Dr. J. T. Eskridge of the Board of Commissioners, to examine into the condition and management of the Colorado State Insane Asylum, beg leave to report: The secretary of the board, Mr. C. L. Stonaker, was instructed to proceed without delay to examine the books and accounts of the institution, more particularly to inquire into the method of keeping accounts and records. On the 9th and 10th of November, 1898, a formal hearing was had at the State Insane Asylum, there being present Chancellor McDowell, chairman; Mrs. S. S. Platt, T. H. Devine and the secretary, constituting the committee; Rev. T. H. Malone of the board, and Dr. J. T. Eskridge and C. C. Unfug of the Board of Commissioners of the Insane Asylum, who had been invited to sit with the committee during the hearing. Although Mr. Devine of the committee urged that Dr. Thombs be permitted to be present during the examination of witnesses, your committee decided to hold the meetings behind closed doors, the commissioners only being present with the committee. Witnesses were sworn and their testimony was stenographically reported and is made a part of this report. Two meetings have been held subsequently at the state capitol for the examination of witnesses whose testimony is included in the report. After a full, fair and impartial discharge of our duties in the premises we beg to report to you the results thereof: First We find that in the management of the Colorado Insane Asylum there are no records and books in vogue which give or can give any adequate idea of the general financial, physical or material condition of the institution. For this reason it was beyond the power of your committee to conduct intelligently an examination into the financial and business affairs of the institution. Second We further find that, up to the date of our inquiry, there has never been any system relating to the issuance of supplies on requisition to the several departments of the institution and no check whatever kept upon the supplies issued or delivered. Third We further find that there has been gross and habitual neglect on the part of many of the officers, attendants and employees of the institution with respect to their duties, and it appears from the testimony that this neglect has covered a long period of years and could have been known to the superintendent of the asylum, which under the law relating to his duties he had full power to correct. Fourth We further find that the superintendent has given very inadequate, irregular and unsystematic supervision to the affairs of the institution. This finding is supported by the evidence received on the investigation, which shows: A. That a wholly insufficient amount of time is spent by the superintendent at the institution. B. That the superintendent has been grossly neglectful in the matter of visitation of wards of the institution. C. That he has not required or received proper reports concerning and knowledge of the patients in the institution and that no records of the condition of the patients, physical or otherwise, have been required or kept. D. It appears that patients of the institution die, are prepared for burial and are taken away without the superintendent seeing them and pronouncing after examination that they are dead; that he issues certificates of death upon the report of employees, who are not physicians, without a personal examination. E. It appears that the superintendent has permitted attendants, in many instances, to determine: First Whether a patient requires medicine, and second, to administer that medicine on their own judgment, without advice from the superintendent, and that the attendants are permitted to keep in their possession certain drugs to be used and administered at their discretion, none of these attendants being physicians. F. That the determination of the necessity for restraints upon the patients is left entirely to the judgment and discretion of attendants and no report thereof is required to be made by such attendants to the superintendent, either as to the occasion of the restraint or the character or the duration thereof. Where the Blame Is Placed. G. That the supervision of the superintendent over the officers, employees and attendants, has been utterly unsystematic, inadequate and neglectful, and that this absence of systematic supervision has resulted in gross neglect of duty on the part of many of the employees and attendants, to the serious detriment of the institution. H. That the superintendent has not conducted any adequate, thorough and sufficient examination to determine the condition of patients admitted to the asylum. Fifth That the asylum, as conducted under present management, has been a place of detention, rather than a hospital for the treatment of the insane. While we recognize the limitations caused by lack of funds, nevertheless we find that under proper management a very much better condition of the institution could have been secured, even with the funds at disposal. The management of the institution is derelict in the following particulars: A. There is no regular or sufficient medical examination or knowledge of the patients. B. No amusements of any sort are furnished for the patients. C. That the patients do not receive proper exercise nor as much as could be given by the help employed at present. D. That there has been no requirement as to daily ward reports as to condition of patients and the superintendent has had no knowledge in regard thereto except such as he occasionally acquired by talking to attendants or by occasional visitations on his part. No Attendants at Times. E. The testimony shows that from three to five hours out of each twenty-four the patients in this asylum are regularly left unattended, and that frequently during the day time the wards are left unattended for from one to three hours at a time. In illustration of this, on the date of the last official visit of this board, September 24, 1898, in inspecting the wards, members came upon the lifeless body of a male patient lying on a pallet in one of the wards, where he had died unattended. Sixth We find that there are unoccupied rooms at the woman's building sufficient in size and suitable to accommodate from forty to fifty patients if supplied with proper bedding and equipment, notwithstanding the fact that the superintendent has persistently reported to this board and to the Board of Commissioners of the Insane Asylum that there was no additional room that could be used for housing patients. In this connection it may be stated that these rooms, according to the estimate of the superintendent recently obtained, could have been fitted up and additional patients maintained until the next appropriation is available, at a cost of not to exceed $5,000. Child Born to a Patient. Seventh We find that in the month of July, 1897, a child was born to one of the patients as a result of negligence on the part of an attendant in permitting a patient from the male department to associate with the patient first above named, in the absence of others, the male patient having been employed in and about the woman's building for a number of weeks in making needed repairs, under orders coming from the superintendent, and that this unfortunate affair could have happened only through gross negligence of the attendant in charge. Eighth We further find that the superintendent has been grossly careless in permitting officers, attendants and employees to absent themselves from the institution on vacation for as much as six weeks at a time, and that during such absence of two of the attendants of the woman's building at different times, their duties were looked after and attended to in a measure by the laundress of the institution, who was not a trained nurse nor in any sense qualified to discharge the duties of attendant. No Precautions Against Fire. Ninth We further find that during the months of July and August, 1898, the night watch or attendant of the woman's building was given a six weeks' leave of absence, during which time no one was employed or secured to attend to her duties, with the result that from 7 o'clock in the evening to about 7 in the following morning, during all the time before mentioned, the three wards in the woman's building were left entirely unattended, the only precaution taken by the management against fire to the building was that the night watch of the male building was instructed to keep an occasional eye on the woman's building; aside from this, no precaution whatever was made or taken to prevent or guard against the destruction of inmates of the woman's building, either by fire or otherwise. Recommendations. First It is our judgment, based upon the evidence taken in the investigation, that a change in the superintendency and management of the asylum is necessary. Second It is our judgment that there should be put into operation at once a competent and thorough system of records, reports and bookkeeping which shall cover the entire business of the asylum, including the commissioners' meetings, and that there should also be adopted a thorough system of requisitions for supplies and checks upon supplies received and distributed. Third It is our judgment that the asylum should be provided as soon as possible with a new set of rules and regulations for the government of the institution and those in its employ. Fourth It is our judgment that the management should be required to take advantage of the favorable climate of Pueblo and the ample grounds of the asylum to give the patients regular and frequent outdoor exercise. Fifth It is our judgment that the number of attendants should be considerably increased and all attendants and others employed held to a faithful performance of their duties. New Lunacy Law Advised. Sixth It is our judgment that the state needs a new lunacy law which shall put the asylum on a more modern basis, shall define the duties of the commissioners and superintendent more clearly and specifically, requiring that the superintendent shall devote his entire time to the interests and affairs of the asylum, provide for at least two resident physicians, one of whom shall be a woman, and put in operation civil service principles in the employment of all attendants and other employees. Seventh It is our judgment that the asylum needs more money than it has had, both for the providing of very much needed improvements and facilities and for more adequate maintenance and support. Eighth It is our judgment that means should be devised to provide funds to furnish immediately all suitable vacant rooms for the reception of patients. Ninth It is our judgment that the location of the asylum is entirely satisfactory and that an additional asylum is neither desirable nor wise. Accompany these findings and recommendations are herewith submitted letters relating to the inquiry, including a letter dated November 15, 1898, from Dr. Thombs to Governor Adams, protesting at his exclusion from the sessions when witnesses were examined; the letter dated November 18, 1898, to his excellency the governor, being the opinion of the attorney general on the matter, and a copy of the letter of November 23, 1898, to Dr. Thombs, being the answer to his protest signed by William F. McDowell, chairman. Respectfully submitted, William F. McDowell, Chairman; Sarah S. Platt, T. H. Devine, C. L. Stonaker, Committee.
Golden Colorado Transcript 12-28-1898 Appoints Dr. Work To Have Charge of Insane Asylum Governor Adams Picks a Pueblo Man for Dr. Thombs Successor Is Well Qualified Denver, Dec. 23. Dr. Hubert Work of Pueblo has been appointed as the successor of Dr. Thombs as superintendent of the State Insane Asylum in that city. Governor Adams proffered the position to Dr. Work yesterday morning, and receiving a request from Dr. Work that he be permitted time in which to consider the proposition, acquiesced. Late in the afternoon the governor received word that Dr. Work would accept. His commission will be issued today and upon its receipt, Dr. Work will assume charge of the asylum. I appointed Dr. Work, said the governor, because I think he is the best man I know for the position. He is a Republican, I hear, but his politics make no difference to me, his fitness for the position is the essential thing. Dr. Work has made a study of insanity for years, and is an experienced physician. He has resided in Pueblo for some years. It was practically necessary for me to make the appointment that I did, for it was apparent that no Denver man wanted the position, as I received no applications from any one in this city. Several years ago Dr. Work established at Pueblo a private sanitarium for the treatment of insane persons and the cure of those whose minds had become unbalanced. Dr. Work had a contract with the state for taking care of all the patients which were turned away from the state's insane asylum, when it became overcrowded.
Pagosa Springs News 12-30-1898 Dr. Thombs has been removed from the position of superintendent of the state insane asylum and Dr. Hubert Work of Pueblo placed in charge, pending the investigation of the charges against the former by the legislature. What the outcome will be remains to be seen.
Telluride Daily Journal 1-20-1899 Insane Asylum Investigation - Pueblo, Jan. 20. - The investigation of the state asylum began this morning. Attorney General Campbell read a bitter indictment against Dr. Thombs. Attorney Taylor replied, applauding Thombs, saying he took charge of the asylum when it was a shanty on the plains; it is now a magnificent institute. The first witness was Commissioner Eskridge, of Denver, whose testimony showed that the commissioners had been lax in giving vouchers, and persons, if dishonest, could thereby secure money for goods never delivered. The investigation promises interesting developments.
Telluride Daily Journal 1-21-1899 Insane Asylum Investigation - Today's Proceedings Marked by Considerable Wrangling - Bookkeeping is Faulty - Pueblo, Jan. 21. - The investigation of the state insane asylum is lively today. There was considerable wrangling between the committee, the attorney general and the defense. Ernest Weinhousen was sharply examined. The fact was drawn out that he had never taken stock of the drugs, and had never given a receipt for them, and that he had failed to take a physical measurement of new patients or any means of identification. Attorney Taylor offered evidence for the defense in the shape of statistics from other states which showed that the Pueblo asylum ran at a less cost and is credited with more cures than almost any state in the Union. It stands third on the list. On the other hand, evidence showed that the books are kept inadequately, failing to show what became of bodies, whether burned, buried or dissected. The attorney general contended that the bookkeeping was shamefully faulty and open to frauds.
Denver Evening Post 1-24-1899 Asylum Inquisitors Down to Hard Pan Pueblo, Jan. 24 What will probably be the last day of the insane asylum investigation by the legislative committee began this morning with a denunciation by Attorney (Mortimer F.) Taylor, who, in vigorous language, characterized the examination of witnesses as bullyragging, and of such an illegal nature that 90 per cent of the testimony taken would be thrown out of an ordinary justice court Burrows' Graphic Story Thomas J. Burrows, supervisor of the male department was placed on the stand. The witness had come from a sick bed and his voice was husky, but he did not hesitate in his answers Witness said (referring to a baby born at the asylum who lived for several weeks and died), to his knowledge, no record was made of the occurrence or death certificate issued; it was not his business. Some 200 bodies were buried in the asylum grave yard, before the contracts for burials were given to the Pueblo undertakers.
Denver Evening Post 1-25-1899 Summed Up By Word Nothing Insane Asylum Investigation Devoid of Results Pueblo, Jan. 25 After five days' investigation by the joint legislative investigating committee into the affairs of the state insane asylum, the state rested its case last night with the announcement of defeat. Addressing the members in summing up the evidence, Attorney General Campbell said: "One more thing - the burial of the dead. If it addresses itself to your heart, report so to the legislature. If not, be careful, for the eyes of the people of the state are on this record. Contracts with different undertakers give them the exclusive right to bury the dead from this institution. A bigger and more damnable scheme of robbery was never practiced than is being practiced under the roof of this asylum. This is the steal. With Undertaker Sweeney a contract is made. When the inmate dies he is turned over to Sweeney. If a pauper, he is buried by this institution free of charge. Suppose the friends or family of the dead man are wealthy. The body is turned over to Sweeney and under the contract he can hold it. But you're a friend and wish to give it a proper burial. Sweeney says: 'I've got the body of this man - pay me $100 or $200 and you can get it.' Is not that damnable; it is not horrid?"
Fort Collins Weekly Courier 2-23-1899 Senator Felton came to the defense of Dr. Thombs, superintendent of the insane asylum, in a speech which occupied one whole day.
Denver Evening Post 3-1-1899 Trained Nurses for Asylum - Two trained nurses have been sent to Pueblo to assume places at the state insane asylum. Several more trained nurses will be selected today and sent down.
Denver Evening Post 4-4-1899 F. M. Hermond of Pueblo county is noted for his fighting abilities. Hermond is not very large in stature, but he has cut lots of ice in this legislature. The contest he waged in behalf of his friend, Dr. Thombs against tremendous odds was one of the hardest-fought battles of the session. From the time that the Thombs matter came up two months ago until the Crosby lunacy bill was killed last night, Hermond lost no opportunity to defend the management of the asylum. His principal bill for the protection of union labels, which was endorsed by all trades organizations became a law. His bi-monthly pay day bill was lost on the senate calendar.
Denver Evening Post 6-18-1899 Polly Pry Tells of Some of the Horrors of Our State Insane Asylum Tuesday morning I left my hotel in Pueblo after inquiring where I would be most likely to find Dr. P. R. Thombs, the superintendent of the State Insane asylum, and being informed that he had a private office at 320 ½ Santa Fe avenue where he spent the major portion of his time, I went out there and climbed the stairs to a spacious suite of rooms on the second floor, wherein an attendant assured me that I would only have to wait a few minutes as the doctor always got in by 9 o'clock asked how long the doctor remained in town he said: Well, his office hours are from 9 until 12 and then he has his calls to make, but he is always at the asylum until 8:30 in the morning. Promptly at 9 o'clock a medium sized man wearing a gray sack suit came into the office and I introduced myself and stated my errand. There was a quick frown, a twitching of the muscles in the big nose and without seating himself said: I am very sorry but I have some engagements in town today and shall not return to the asylum until night. Then you will perhaps give me a letter to some one out there. As long as I am here I prefer to get through with my mission today! Yes, hesitatingly, I will give you a letter to Mrs. Edwards, but The Post has never treated me fairly, in fact they are responsible for all the trouble the asylum has had this year. Ah! Well that can have nothing to do with me! Then I explained that I should only write of what I actually saw and that surely there could be no objections of the truth being told in regard to any public institution at any time, and that as I was deeply interested in the condition and care of the unfortunates I was rather disappointed at his inability to accompany me, but hoped that he would instruct Mrs. Edwards to allow me to see the entire place as thus only could I do justice to myself, to the institution and to him. After a general conversation the doctor thawed out to the extent of showing me several really exquisite landscapes and a marvelous pipe just received from a friend who had been in the Klondike, some old pictures of Pueblo in its very early days and telling me some interesting anecdotes of those times. He has a very strong personality, suave and easy manners, a calm and impassive face, dark blue gray eyes, thick gray beard and a high forehead. His nose is excessively large and rather pastry (pasty?) in appearance altogether he looks like what the Democratic boss of this state would call A wise guinea a very smooth guy. I should say he was all that and more. Doctor, what is the percentage of recoveries at the asylum? It is not very large. You see we only get the worst cases; however, our record is as good as the average asylum. What do you think of the climatic effect upon the patients, the altitude? Does it tend to keep their nerves at a very high tension? That is nonsense. I don't believe the altitude affects anyone. Now you- Oh! as for me, I find it impossible to remain here for any length of time. I am a victim of insomnia from the hour I arrive until I leave. There was an incredulous smile on the doctor's lips and a faint shrug of his shoulders, as he said: You probably have a very high strung, sensitive organization and are nervous wherever you are. On the contrary, I am not nervous at all and never suffer from sleeplessness except in a country like this. Well, said the doctor with some impatience, I do not think it affects our patients in fact you will find the majority of them quiet and tractable enough. The great trouble with us is that this being a new state we have really been a dumping ground for the East and have accumulated an immense number of incurables. Out of our 500 patients there is probably not more than twenty-five who will ever recover. The majority of those people suffering from temporary insanity are kept in other places, only the worst cases being sent to us. Are you a specialist in mental diseases, doctor? No; I am a regular physician. There is no need of an expert at the asylum; before a patient is sent to us an examination is made by both a physician and a mental specialist and afterward they are classified according to the form of insanity with which they are afflicted and the treatment is very simple, in fact, the majority of them require no treatment at all. Then you really make no effort at all to bring about a cure? In most cases it would be useless. We do all we can to keep them quiet and free from excitement, and, in fact, have very few violent patients. What amusements, diversions and liberties do you allow them? We have them out of the buildings and in the grounds which you will find very handsome most of the time. I believe in fresh air, sunlight, and as much exercise as we can induce them to take, but as for amusements, we have no means to pay for them and no building or other place to assemble the patients in. Our appropriation is entirely too small to admit of any extravagance; in fact, it is difficult to make both ends meet as it is. The doctor then intimated that he was busy (?); wrote and gave me a note to Mrs. Lucy A. Edwards, matron of the female wards of the asylum, and I went away, hunted a telephone and called a carriage. We drove through a number of unpaved streets, out past numerous small houses, by long stretches of vacant lots, over railroad tracks, and on to the very edge of the town to where the big brick buildings of the asylum rose behind the tall iron fence. I stopped the carriage before we entered the grounds in order that I might see the environment of the place. A tall iron fence hedged the grounds about, a great gate stood open before us, and inside a velvety green lawn dotted over with many trees, stretched away to the farther side of the inclosure. Two huge brick piles with strong barred windows, rose on either side of the lawn and a graveled driveway circled past the doors of each building and in and out of the gate before us. There were no flowers, no fountains, no benches, no hammocks, no swings, no anything, except the trees, the grass and the iron-barred buildings, and outside, crowding against the very fences, the unspeakably dreary, monotonous, sun-baked mesas, yellow, treeless, ugly beyond words. A stone walk, white almost as marble, an open door wherein stands a tall, slight woman of 35 or so, clad in the dainty and becoming attire of the professional nurse, her gown of light blue cotton fitted to perfection, her apron, cuffs and collar are of snowy white, and perched above her soft, fluffy hair a tiny fluted cap of the same spotless hue. The kindly, intelligent face, with its firm (?) mouth and smiling blue eyes was slightly bent above the note I had handed her, while my inquisitive glance took in the exquisite cleanliness of the broad hall behind her and the immaculate look of the woman herself. A great bunch of keys dangled from a ribbon at her side. I didn't know it then, but before I drove through the gates again I had learned that those two things constituted the whole scheme of the place. That was all there was to it cleanliness and keys. Barred windows, locked doors and a lack of dirt. I never thought I could have too much of that commodity that is said to be akin to Godliness, but I find that even so good a thing as that can be overdone. The lawn was dotted over with groups of men and women in nondescript costumes, each lot apparently in charge of a nurse; there was neither work nor amusement provided for them, they sat silently staring into space, or sprawled flat upon the ground, or stood dully waiting for what? God alone could tell but those were the ones it most hurt you to look upon. Among the women was one group of forty or fifty, in charge of a slender little woman, who wore glasses but looked hardly out of her teens; three of her charges had straps about their waists and were fastened to trees, with just length of leather enough to allow them to sit down or stand up. Two more were in straightjackets with the long sleeves fastened at their backs, their arms held across their breasts; several couples were strapped together, and one woman had a band buckled about her ankles and hobbled about with little jerky hops. Further across the green sward were a hundred or more men, they, too, even at that distance, struck a chill to your heart they looked so hopeless so helpless. The matron explained that a large number of the inmates were out on the lawn in charge of the nurses, so that I would find the wards rather empty, but she would be glad to show me all there was to see. Then, with the keys in hand, we went through long corridors where the floors were polished until they were difficult to walk upon, into store rooms where piles of clean bed linen and long rows of freshly ironed gingham frocks attested to the excellency of the housekeeping, into the nurses' quarters, bright, well-furnished, cheerful rooms, with pretty rugs, easy chairs, dainty draperies, pictures, looking glasses, books, etc., on to the nurses' dining room, likewise daintily comfortable, and then into the wards. Imagine to yourself a long, wide hall off which twenty rooms open on either side, the hall ending in a good-sized room, the outer wall of which makes a half circle, and is pierced all the way around with large, iron-grated windows. The hall and the recreation room for so it is called absolutely bare of furniture, with the exception of four iron benches, which are ranged against the walls under the windows, and one square table which stands directly in the center of the room. The little rooms which open off the hall are about eight feet square; they each have one long, iron-grated window and a heavy, solid door that leads into the hall; the walls are white, the floors polished and clean; a little white-clad iron bed stands in a corner that's all. There are no chairs, no furniture, no curtains, no pictures, no rugs, no blinds nothing. An iron bed, four white walls, a barred window and a locked door. Outside of that there is a hall where they can walk up and down when it pleases the powers that be; more iron-barred windows and more locked doors beyond but there is no beyond for these the most pitiful of God's creatures! Nothing but this awful, monotonous, maddening routine as long as they live, and a pine box and a pauper's grave when they are dead. In one tiny room, prone upon the floor, lies a woman. The matron speaks sharply to her, and she slowly rises to her knees and looks at us, a vacant stare in her hollow eyes, from which I turned shudderingly away; what awful thing blew out the light that used to burn in those great brown orbs? She hears, obeys; does she also think? Two women roll long-handled polishers over the halls, one looks at me with lips apart, jaw loosened and saliva running down her chin. As her eyes meet mine she makes a grimace and laughs the mirthless, hideous laugh of the idiot. I hurry forward with a strong shiver of disgust, for which I feel ashamed a moment afterward. They are all about, crouching against the wall, huddled in corners, sitting idly on their heels, silent, indifferent, motionless. One stands in a corner, her face pressed against the wall. Another leans against a door way and talks in a cracked, tuneless voice, of nothing aimless, silly words, without sense or reason. On a bench by a window sits an old, old woman with thin, shriveled hands and deeply wrinkled face. Her white hair is coarse and rough and twisted into a disorderly knot at the back of her head. As we approach her she breaks into a shrill denunciation of the entire place; says she is being starved, and ill-treated, and that everybody connected with the hospital are fiends, etc. She has been there two years, but as she is practically helpless. In addition to being out of her mind, she never discovered that she is not in the Arapahoe county hospital, where she was kept for six years before being sent to Pueblo. She scolds, crys, swears and falls asleep only to recommence when awakened. Near her sat a sullen, morose-looking creature with bloodshot, black eyes and evil looking mouth, who kept her head bent down and glanced furtively at us from under bent brows. A word to her got no response, but I felt the evil eyes upon me all the way down the long hall and found myself turning uneasily to see if she had followed. Through more locked doors into the dining room, each ward has its own special room. Like the rest of the building it is scrupulously clean, but bare as it can be made two long, oilcloth covered tables, heavy porcelain plate and cup, iron knife, fork and spoon for each person, and thick wooden chairs on many of which lie leather straps and wristlets for the unruly. It was lunch time when we finished and I saw what was served. A cup of unfiltered water, muddy and of the river temperature, a thick slice of bread and butter, boiled beef, mashed turnips and baked beans. How often do they get this, I asked. Oh, we give them coffee for breakfast and tea for supper, then we have soup for them twice a week and of course we have different vegetables for them almost every day. But, naturally, you don't give them fresh vegetables, milk, delicacies, fruit, etc. No! We couldn't afford it! I suppose not. And through my mind ran a vivid recollection of the great cups of fresh milk and the warm tea cakes I had seen served at the McCool ranch poor farm, and the oven full of rich brown coffee cakes and piles of fresh onions and young beets at the penitentiary and I wondered but I said nothing! Now, I would like to see the violent ward. And up the last flight of stairs we climbed as the matron fitted her key into the lock I heard a demoniacal yell and wild cries accompanying a rattle of iron, we stepped inside another cheerless corridor, clean as the rest but resounding with shrieks so fearsome that I laid hold of the matron's arm and looked apprehensively at the door she had just locked behind us. There is no danger, she said and we went down the hall, the rooms were all empty until we reached what, in the other wards was the recreation room. In this ward the space was cut up into seven rooms seven dens fit for wild beasts, no habitations for women. These rooms had iron barred doors in place of the heavy wood of the others, and their sole furniture was a woven wire spring and a mattress laid upon the floor. Pressed against one of these doors was a creature, through whose frothing lips those wild yells poured. She was old and her snow white hair was cut short to her head; her eyes blazed like live coals and her face was convulsed with horrible rage as she shook the heavy door with maniacal strength, her face was scratched and bleeding and her clothing half torn from her body. The matron spoke to her and she ceased her cries and stared at us, then as the voice reassured her she gathered her dress about her and sat down on the low bed, leaning down close to the floor and whimpering convulsively the miserable, pitiable figure would have touched a heart of stone. In the next cage was another old woman, she too had been screaming and yelling but had stopped at the sound of our voices and when we stood before the door was noisily weeping, sitting on the edge of her bed with a straight jacket holding her poor old hands tightly before her. She begged piteously that we would help her, saying that she was covered with vermin that some one named Brown had put upon her. She wanted to go out and imagined she saw a man she knew far off across the lawn. Her face was horribly torn where she had scratched herself and her white hair had clots of blood sticking to it. When we left her she yelled a perfect torrent of abuse after us. The next cage had three beds in it and was empty but in the corner was a smaller room, and there a slender, little creature crouched, her great gray eyes filled with an ineradicable horror and her face a mask of awful fear. The bed lay smooth and unruffled on the floor, a stray sunbeam crept across the floor and touched the hem of her skirts but the wild eyes stared straight before her and the tense figure was lifeless as though carved in stone. Come away, I whispered, but I might as well have shouted it. She was looking down into some hell of her own groping perchance for her lost mind and oblivious to everything on earth save her own horrible misery. As we moved away she threw out her hands and laughed and such a laugh. Come, said the matron, the rest of this ward are coming in; we will go down on the next landing and watch them. A narrow landing with a stair leading up to it and one going on above, a door behind me has just been locked and I hear below me a curious noise, sibilant whisperings, low mirthless laughter, shuffling feet, occasional crazy shrieks, and then out of the shadows emerges a horde of frightful shapes that will haunt my sleeping hours for many a day. A monstrous fat woman leads this procession, her bosoms are uncovered and her great form shakes as she waddles up the stairs; her face quivers with senseless grief and her big head wobbles helplessly upon her short neck; beside her stumbles an idiot with mumbling words and grinning face; behind them a wavering line of heads, awful enough to have come straight from the bottomless pit; they push and shove, stumble and fall, whimper, laugh, talk, mutter, scream there is a stoppage on the upper stairs and my conductress leaves me while she starts them moving; at once those coming from below surge toward me, while my heart almost stands still with fear. A Swede woman wearing a battered straw hat comes past me, leers sardonically up into my face and flings her old hat at my feet; the matron orders her to pick it up; after several minutes she is made to do it and goes on up the stairs yelling unprintable insults and looking back now and then to make hideous grimaces, finally stopping and spitting at us. The little nurse in charge of this fearsome company comes briskly up the stairs, pauses a moment and pushes her way through them on the upper landing, and then pandemonium is let loose and I stand with blanched face and watch the last one disappear and hear the key turn in the lock as I ask: Is it safe for her to be alone with them like that? Perfectly, said the matron with a smile, and we went out into the sunshine but in my ears I still heard the laugh of the woman in the corner cell and there in the sunlight I still saw that dread procession. How many patients have you in this building, Mrs. Edwards? One hundred and seventy-five. And how many nurses, and are they all professionals graduates? Seven, including myself. Yes, we are all graduated. There are six day nurses and one night nurse. That makes an average of twenty-nine to each nurse? It would, but some wards really have more than others; the last one we saw has forty-three inmates. And that one young woman has entire charge of them. Yes, she is one of the best nurses here. And the night nurse what are her duties? She has entire charge after 7 o'clock at night and goes once every hour to every room in each ward. How can she see that everything is all right, the doors are locked and they are solid, no windows or openings in them? Oh, she listens at the doors and if it seems necessary opens them, but usually they are quiet during the night. Who does all the work of this institution? The nurses and laundress, assisted by the patients, and you see we keep it clean. The inmates have to be bathed three times a week and clean clothes issued to some almost every day. We try to keep them out of doors the greater part of the day, all those that we can take out, but they have to be constantly watched as they often try to run away. Almost every week one or more gets out but we bring them back, they have no money and cannot get far. In the meantime those that are left in the wards are without supervision? Oh, yes, it really isn't necessary; they rarely speak to one another, and seldom quarrel. For instance, we shut two of them in a ward to polish the floors, and no matter how long we leave them, they never speak or molest one another. I should think it would be so much better to have something for them to do some amusement some light work of a character suited to each one. It would, but it has not been tried here, for the reason that there has never been a sufficiency of money to properly run the institution. In the male wards it was the same, only the building was older and the cleanliness not so aggressive. Three hundred and five patients were scattered about the wards, which were arranged in exactly the same way as the other. Squatted on the floor, filling iron benches, lying face down on the bare floors of their rooms, standing motionless against the walls and leaning against the doors were men with every sort of expression idiotic, foolish, brutal, beastial, wild, mournful, sad in fact, it would take the pen of a genius to fitly portray that piteous 305. The prison druggist, Ernest Weinhauser, a healthy, rosy-cheeked German with a good-natured smile and a pleasant boyish way, took me over the place, still accompanied by the matron. In one ward a man came and took hold of my sleeve, while he leaned close up to me and whispered: Do you know what I have on my legs? Electric wires. Yards and yards of it, and they burn all the time. You don't say so. Do they hurt? Yes, of course! And here in my stomach I have snakes. If you put your hand there you can feel them. They put them in me, and I can't get them out. If they would let me go out I could get rid of them but they won't. And they won't give me a bed; I have to stand up all the time. And the wires burn and burn. A bright-faced, clear-eyed old man came out of a room, and quite calmly and without emotion said to Mr. Weinhauser: You are a thief! Whereas the druggist laughed, and good-naturedly asked me to listen to his story. Many a man walking the streets today looks more crazy than that clean, well-built, pleasant old fellow, who told me that he owned Cripple Creek and all the mines in it, and that the druggist got all his money from him and now kept him locked up in this place. What he wanted was to get out, etc. All perfectly connected, and said without excitement. Crouching in a corner was the most abject picture of misery I have ever seen, a Mexican with swarthy skin, great terror-stricken eyes black as coal and bristling black hair which literally stood straight up all over his head, he came and threw himself on his knees before us and began a rambling petition that we would not let them hang him; that God knew he never stole the sheep and was an honest man! He spoke in Spanish and thinks he has been captured by a mob and that they are going to hang him for stealing sheep! He sits all day long shivering with terror, waiting for the dread sentence to be executed and dies a thousand deaths each year. There was much less noise in the men's building and none of the hideous screaming, they seemed more tractable in every way. There was a fight in one of the wards, but a brawny-armed attendant yanked the two men apart and in two minutes they had forgotten their differences and were doddering about. It is just the same as in the women's department, there is nothing for them to do, no work, no amusement, no anything, except to get up at 6 a.m., breakfast at 7 a.m., stand or lie about until 12 p.m., dine; stand or lie about until 6 p.m., supper, and 7 p.m. locked in their rooms until next morning. If they were not mad it would drive them so; if one had a glimpse of reason he would loose (lose) it under the crushing, torturing, hideous monotony! There is no physician except Dr. Thombs, and he is there very little of the time. The steward likewise spends most of his time in town, and the place is left in care of the druggist and the nurses, who do the best they can, but until the system is changed, new methods introduced, amusements, work, music, physicians, insanity specialists, better food, furniture, flowers, curtains, books, papers and other necessities brought into the lives of these poor unfortunates, it will remain the hell it is. On the steps outside I took my leave of the matron and the druggist and drove away through the great iron gates, which should bear the inscription that marks the gateway to that other abode of the lost and damned Who enters here leaves hope behind. Polly Pry.
Telluride Daily Journal 7-18-1899 Delayed in Transmission - Owing to trouble on the single telegraph wire that connects Telluride with Denver, a good share of yesterday's telegraph report did not arrive until the Journal had gone to press. The following is condensed from the more important telegrams in the delayed report: Dr. Thombs, superintendent of the state insane asylum, tendered his resignation yesterday to take effect September 1st.
Telluride Daily Journal 7-19-1899 Hereafter when people go insane in this state before they have acquired a legal residence, they will be sent back to the state or country from whence they came. It is estimated that a strict enforcement of this law will greatly relieve the congested condition of the state asylum.
Telluride Daily Journal 7-20-1899 Dr. Thombs, who has resigned as superintendent of the state insane asylum, has held that office for twenty consecutive years.
Telluride Journal 7-22-1899 Hereafter when people go insane in this state before they have acquired a legal residence, they will be sent back to the state or country from whence they came. It is estimated that a strict enforcement of this law will greatly relieve the congested condition of the state asylum.
Cripple Creek Morning Times 8-9-1899 Dr. A. P. Busey of St. Joseph, Mo., has been appointed superintendent of the Colorado state insane asylum.
New Castle Nonpareil 8-17-1899 Dr. Thombs Resigns - Pueblo, Colo., July 19. - Dr. P. R. Thombs, after twenty years' service as superintendent of the Colorado State Insane Asylum, has handed in his resignation to take effect September 1st. The new board of managers met at the institution at 10 o'clock to-day and accepted the resignation. The board was permanently organized to-day, Dr. W. Y. Grant as chairman, I. D. Chamberlain, secretary. Dr. Thombs' resignation was accepted by the board without comment. Joseph H. Loor, who, for several months has been acting as temporary steward of the asylum, was appointed by the board to retain the position for a period of six years. It is not probable that Dr. Thombs will be succeeded by a Colorado man, now that Dr. Hubert Work has declined to accept the office. Applications for the place have been received from Drs. Schenck of Delaware, Lyman of Wisconsin and Darnell of Illinois. The matter of selecting the new superintendent will be taken up later. Dr. Thombs refused to make any statement regarding his resignation or his future plans, except that he deemed it best in view of the present situation to resign. He does not think, however, that he has received fair treatment.
Fort Collins Weekly Courier 8-17-1899 Dr. A.P. Busey of St. Joseph , Missouri has been appointed superintendent of the Colorado insane asylum at Pueblo, to succeed Dr. Thombs. Dr. Busey has been connected with Missouri's state insane asylum for twenty years and is a expert on mental illness.
Wet Mountain Tribune 9-2-1899 The Colorado Insane Asylum is now in charge of Dr. A.P. Busey
Summit County Journal 9-23-1899 In his report to the penitentiary commissioners Warden Hoyt gives us the following figures: December 30, 1898, there were in the penitentiary 590 prisoners. During the six months ending June 30, 1899, 118 were committed to the prison, 108 were discharged on expiration of service, and 1 was pardoned. Four were transferred to the insane asylum at Pueblo
Denver Evening Post 11-6-1899 Busey is a Success His Record at the Insane Asylum Shows What Intelligent Management Can Do The monthly reports of movement of population at the state insane asylum show a greatly improved condition of affairs under the new management. The policy of Dr. A. P. Busey, the present superintendent, is to discharge all patients immediately after a cure has been effected, and also the class that is incurable yet harmless and have friends to look after them. This system has opened up the way for an increased number of admissions every month, and it is hoped that in a short time the increased discharges will result in making room for the patients now in various county hospitals. The governor and the members of the board of charities and corrections express great satisfaction over Dr. Busey's way of doing things, and they freely predict that under his management there will be little or no cause for complaint about the operation of the institution in the future. The commitments during August, 1897, were 6, and in August, 1898, they were 9. In August of this year, the first month that Dr. Busey was in control, a total of 24 patients were admitted to the asylum. The September record for the three years is 7, 4 and 17, and the October 9, 21 and 14. Thus Dr. Busey has arranged for the admission of 55 persons since August 1, compared to 34 for the same three months of 1898, and 22 for August, September and October, 1897. A good showing was also made in the record of discharges. The new superintendent has turned out 22 patients during the last three months, compared to 14 during the corresponding period of 1898, and 11 in 1897. In October, 1898, there were 34 employes, and at present the number is 44. Dr. Busey was enabled to employ more attendants by cutting down expenses in places where there had been extravagance under Dr. Thombs. The average population of the asylum in October was 490 179 females and 310 males. In September the total was 502. In October, 1898, only 437 were accommodated. There were nine deaths and one escape during October.
Pagosa Springs News 11-17-1899 The monthly reports of Dr. A. P. Busey, the new insane asylum superintendent, show that 55 patients have been admitted since August 1st, compared with 34 for the same three months last year. This time last year there were 34 employees, but under Dr. Busey's management 10 have been added to this number. There are 490 inmates, 310 men and 179 women. During October 9 deaths and 1 escape occurred.