Living in the Poor Farm and Asylum




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General sleeping area for the non-mentally ill

In this new facility, there was much improvement in the humane treatment of the mentally ill. However, there were still many advancements to be made:

"The patients slept in rooms, the doors with iron bars, locked and padlocks at night. Tranquilizing and energizing drugs were first used about 1948 and more extensively up in to the 1960s. In August 1962, there were 16 mental, 33 retarded patients, and 9 dependents at the County Home - a total of 58 patients" (Fore 1965:6, from an article written for the Johnson County Historical Society).

There are no photographs of the wing of the building designed for the mentally-ill. The above photo shows a general sleeping area. There might have been 8-12 beds in a room and the rooms were divided up by sex. The floors were wood and the walls were described as institutional green.

Hallway of Institution


Community Dining Room

Much of the patients' time was spent in the communal living room. During an interview, Don recalls there not being much for reading material, nor was there a television or music. Each patient had a locker that was located in this room.

During the interview, Don Roberts was able to remember that there were about 6 people on staff at the home at any given time. Right is a staff member cleaning the kitchen. The food that was served was very hearty midwestern meat and potatoes. Much of the food was raised right on the farm by the inhabitants themselves.

Patients in living area

For questions or comments, please contact Catherine Stewart