Jefferson County Online
The State of Iowa
Asylum for Feeble Minded Children

The following is a chapter from "The History of Jefferson County, Iowa", Pages 201-202, published by the Western Historical Company of Chicago in 1879.


Glenwood, Mills County.

Chapter 152 of the laws of the Sixteenth General Assembly, approved March 17, 1876, provided for the establishment of an asylum for feeble minded children at Glenwood, Mills County, and the buildings and grounds of the Soldiers' Orphans' Home at that place were to be used for that purpose. The asylum was placed under the management of three Trustees, one at least of whom should be a resident of Mills County. Children between the ages of 7 and 18 years are admitted. Ten dollars per month for each child actually supported by the State was appropriated by the act, and $2,000 for salaries of officers and teachers for two years.

Hon. J. W. Cattell, of Polk County; A. J. Russell, of Mills County, and W. S. Robertson, were appointed Trustees, who held their first meeting at Glenwood, April 26, 1876. Mr. Robertson was elected President; Mr. Russell, Treasurer, and Mr. Cattell, Secretary. The Trustees found the house and farm which had been turned over to them in a shamefully dilapidated condition. The fences were broken down and the lumber destroyed or carried away; the windows broken, doors off their hinges, floors broken and filthy in the extreme, cellars reeking with offensive odors from decayed vegetables, and every conceivable variety of filth and garbage; drains obstructed, cisterns broken, pump demoralized, wind-mill broken, roof leaky, and the whole property in the worst possible condition. It was the first work of the Trustees to make the house tenable. This was done under the direction of Mr. Russell. At the request of the Trustees, Dr. Charles T. Wilbur, Superintendent of the Illinois Asylum, visited Glenwood, and made many valuable suggestions, and gave them much assistance.

O. W. Archibald, M. D., of Glenwood, was appointed Superintendent, and soon after was appointed Secretary of the Board, vice Cattell, resigned. Mrs. S. A. Archibald was appointed Matron, and Miss Maud M. Archibald, Teacher.

The Institution was opened September 1, 1876; the first pupil admitted September 4, and the school was organized September 10, with only five pupils, which number had, in Novbember, 1877, increased to eighty-seven. December 1, 1876, Miss Jennie Van Dorin, of Fairfield, was employed as a teacher and in the Spring of 1877, Miss Sabina J. Archibald was also employed.

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