Mills County, Iowa
Early Schools
Glenwood State School
Glenwood Township
This rather ominous looking conglomeration of buildings was the Iowa Soldiers' Orphan Home, as it looked in 1896.

Originally, the Glenwood State Hospital and School was designed to be the western branch of the Iowa Soldiers' Orphan Home. The famous American evangelist, Billy Sunday, lived there for a time.

In 1875, the orphan's home was transferred to Davenport, Iowa. Its sole brick building, in Glenwood, stood empty for about a year and a half.

Through the efforts of Dr. W. S. Robertson and the Honorable John Y. Stone of Glenwood, the Iowa Asylum for Feeble-Minded children opened Sept. 1, 1876. Iowa was the seventh state in the union to establish a home and school for mentally retarded children.    ~ source: Scrapbook Memories at Glenwood Library ~ transcribed by Roseanna Zehner

The first superintendent at the Iowa Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children (now Glenwood State Hospital-School), was O. W. Archibald, a medical doctor, who came here from the Hospital for the Insane in Mt. Pleasant. Archibald was here when the first resident was admitted September 4, 1876. After 86 other patients were received that first year, the superintendent recognized the need for a school. He hired a principal and two teachers.

Accommodations at the institution were crude in those early days. Food was prepared on an old cook stove, and only a few loaves of bread could be baked at a time. Laundry and ironing were done by hand. Heat was provided by room heaters, light by kerosene lamps, and water came from cisterns and a well in Glenwood.

When Archibald severed his connection with the institution May 24, 1882, a successor, Dr. F. M. Powell, was appointed immediately. During his 21 years of service, Powell oversaw the building of two large cottages, a water tower, a hospital, a central main building and a bake shop that provided bread for the entire institution. The building above was originally a hospital which had a lab, X-ray machine and pharmacy department. Now known as 115 Lacey, the building now houses Area 1 and is undergoing many renovations. ~ Source: Scrapbook Memories at Glenwood Library; Transcribed by Roseanna Zehner

This Institution was established by an act of the Legislature, passed during the session of 1875-6. It provides for the organization and support of an Institution at Glenwood, Mills County, Iowa, for the care and training of feeble-minded and idiotic children of the State. Any children between the ages of five and eighteen, residing in the State, are eligible to the benefits of the Institution, subject to the direction of the Board of Trustees.

The Institution is designed to care for two classes, viz: (1) Those whose mental deficiency is slight, but sufficient to prevent advancement in the common schools; and (2) Those who are not capable of much or any improvement, but whose care here relieves an oppressive burden from many homes of the State. For the former a thorough course of training and instruction is provided, based upon the most advanced ideas of the subject.

A farm of 160 acres is under cultivation, and useful, pleasant and profitable occupation is thus afforded a large number of older boys.
There is also a beautiful grove and playgrounds of about twenty acres. This youngest of the State's charities, is already a recognized necessity, and its abundant success is attested by its over crowded condition and great number of almost impossible applications for admission.

The Trustees are appointed every six years by the General Assembly.

President, Fred O'Donnell, Dubuque
Treasurer, E. R. S. Woodrow, Glenwood, W. H. Hall, Osceola
Secretary, Dr. F. M. Powell, Glenwood.

F.M. Powell, M.D., Superintendent
A.C. Rogers, M.D., Clerk
Mrs. F.M. Powell, Matron
Miss Emma Brown, Assistant Matron
Miss Mattie McClean, Bookkeeper

Mrs. Dora Moore
Miss Laura Baker
Mrs. Phoebe Rogers
Miss Ella Frazee
Miss Anna Townsend.

~ source: Medical and Surgical Directory of Iowa 1883 and 1884 by Charles H. Lothrop, M.D.1883; Contributed by and transcribed by Roseanna Zehner

Buildings an People of Institution

Adminstration Building, 1904 Front

Adminstration Building, Rear View, 1904

Staff members, c1894, Iowa Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children

Girls's Staff Building

Flower Court

Girl's Custodial Building, 1912

Boys Cottage

Lawn Concert




People at Institution

Glenwood State School Band Members

Inscription on the back: Miss Cherry, Glenwood

Glenwood State School Band Member

Photo courtesy of Walter Ray Jones, grandson of Harriet Ellen (Cherry) Jones - employee of institution.

Inscription on back: "Blond - Amber Burson"

Girls at Glenwood State Hospital

Photo courtesy of Walter Ray Jones, grandson of Harriet Ellen (Cherry) Jones - employee of institution.

Scenic View of Glenwood from Hospital grounds

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were donated by Carrie Merritt, Mills County Historical Society.
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