News from 1858
February 6, 1858
An effort is now being made to secure the location of the Blind Asylum at Vinton. Liberal donations of money and land have been made by the citizens, and a petition, numerously signed, will be forwarded to the Legislature at an early day, where the matter will be pressed upon the attention of that body by our Senator and Representative.
May, 15, 1858
Messrs. Gray, Jones and Traer, the Commissioners to locate this institution, met in Vinton last week. They examined all the proposed sites within the required distance of the town plat, but announced no selections. Five thousand dollars are required from us here, before any thing more can be done.—This amount was made up some time since, but is not yet secured to the satisfaction of the Commission. As soon as this is done they will proceed to “stick the stake” and let the necessary contracts for the construction of the buildings, for which purpose they will re-assemble next month. We have no doubt the donation will be satisfactorily arranged by that time.
June 12, 1858
We neglected in our last issue to mention the fact that this Institution had been located. The site selected by the Commission was that offered by our public-spirited townsmen, J. W. O. Webb, comprising forty acres of ground, at the west and, and within eighty rods of the town limits. The location is the most valuable one to the State, that was offered. The ground is high and rolling, commanding a full view of the village, and surrounding country. The Commissioners have not yet determined on the plan of the building, but will do so in a short time. They intend during the present season only to lay the foundation. The superstructure will probably be of stone, which can be had of excellent quality and at less cost than brick.
August 7, 1858
Judge Douglass furnishes a lengthy editorial in the Last Democrat, finding fault with the action of the commissioners of the Blind Asylum, in which he makes some statements that are not true. No arrangement was made to pay contractors in goods or in anything else but cash. The resident commissioner became personally responsible for the debts of one contractor, until he could get his money, but little of which has yet been drawn from the State treasury. That was all, and we are satisfied Mr. Douglass knew it.
Mr. Douglass will yet learn that the State, and the people of Benton county can get along without his valuable services, either as an officer or the superintendent of public buildings. We opine that the Asylum building will be erected, without his wisdom being consulted or his opinion regarded. He is not the only man in Benton county and he ought to know it. His disinterested love for the mechanics and laboring men of Vinton just on the eve of elections is well known and duly appreciated by them all. The word brethren rolls from his lips with an anxious sound at that time, but never at any other. The people “know him like a book,” and judging from the expression of public opinion, he has not profited by last week’s strike at the real interests of Vinton—interests he would willingly sacrifice to secure his own election to office.
August 28, 1858
NOTICE TO BRICK MAKERS
Proposals will be received until the 15th of September by the “Commissioners to locate and erect the Blind Asylum,” for the making and delivery of three hundred and fifty thousand (350,000) brick, to be used in the erection of the Asylum. Said brick to contain 91½ cubic inches each, and to be a good merchantable article.—to be delivered upon the Asylum grounds as follows: One hundred and twenty five thousand on or before the first day of April, 1859; one hundred thousand on or before the first day of July, 1859, and the balance of one hundred and twenty five thousand on or before the first day of September, 1859.
The right to reject any bid that may be offered is reserved by the Commissioners. Security will be required for the performance of the contract.
Proposals directed to the Secretary of the Board.
By order of the Commissioners.
J. C. TRAER. Sec.
September 4, 1858
The Asylum—Douglass Tactics.
When Judge Douglass made an attack four weeks ago upon the Commissioners of the Blind Asylum, we expressed the opinion that it was for political purposes only. We expected to see the falsehoods that he set afloat about squandering the public money sent on their mission over the State through democratic newspapers. The result has met our expectations. The Burlington Gazelle takes up the cry of “more Republican rascalities" and the lie thus started will be kept going until after the election Is over.
Every citizen of Vinton knows the charges made by Douglass are untrue and none but the "clique" who are determined to obtain office even at the sacrifice of the best interests of our town, would have dared to put them in circulation. We ask the people of Vinton, those who have an interest in the prosperity of the town, to remember these traitors at the polls. The charges have been so fully disposed of as to need no further refutation at our hands. But we will give the testimony of other parties. We find the following, from a traveling correspondent of that paper, published in the Valley Times of Cedar Rapids. A want of space compels us to omit the remainder of the letter, which speaks of other improvements of our town in highly favorable terms.
The State Asylum for the Blind has been located at Vinton. The ground (40 acres) was donated by J. W. 0. Webb, $5,000 by the citizens, and $15,000 are appropriated by the State. We had the pleasure of visiting the location, in company with the resident director, J. C. Traer, under whose superintendence the building is now progressing. We found some twenty men at work on the basement, everything moving in active order and regularity. Altogether there are now employed over forty men, at liberal wages, the result of which, in the circulation of money, cannot, but be felt advantageously to such, a place, as Vinton. Unfortunately there have been reports in circulation, not only injurious to individuals, but to the interest of Vinton itself. The fact of the location of the asylum at Vinton, gave the town a credit and fame abroad she never heretofore possessed; and the completion of the institution will still exert a more beneficial influence upon her prosperity.
That the affairs of the asylum are managed by Dr. Traer with economy, and an eye to the best interest of the State, there cannot, in dispassionate minds, be any doubt. That the workmanship is good, and the materials superior, is beyond contradiction. The excavation has cost less than fifteen cents per yard, and rough stone work $2.80 per perch, which are rates less than private work of the same quality commands in Vinton. The basement walls are four feet thick, well and substantially built. The size of the building is 180 feet long, 64 feet deep, four stories high above the basement, and over 100 feet to top of dome. The front is to be built of stone of a very superior quality, easily quarried and finished, hardens by exposure, and susceptible of a very fine finish, and will cost less than a pressed brick front. —The stone is found near Vinton, and a block of which will be on exhibition at the Linn County Fair. It is intended to have the basement walls finished this fall, and timbers on the ground floor on and covered, ready for an early commencement in spring, to purchase and have the lumber hauled, and to advertise and let the contracts for building. A general description of the edifice I have not room to furnish, but it certainly presents a noble appearance in the design, and will be an ornament to Vinton, and a credit to the State.
The facts, as above stated, speak more for the good judgment, economy, and enterprise of the Directors, than any efforts of ours to praise them can. And especially do they speak more for the resident Director, under whose superintendence the work is so finely progressing, than all the opposition that that gentleman has had to encounter in the progression of the enterprise can amount to against him. Success to the men who procured the location of the asylum at Vinton.
September 11, 1858
Mr. William Stoughton is trying his hand at editing again. He used to conduct the Eagle, but Douglass let his Republican blood out when he took on " under-Lit" out of his ear, in the big fight. So innocent William, who “can’ help it if he does believe that the Constitution carries slavery into a territory " has got into the democratic ranks again. Catching his cue from the man that bit him, he commences a fresh attack upon the Commissioners of the Blind Asylum. After a great dual of circumlocution he comes to the fallowing grave conclusion.
"Now the law don't invest these Commissioners with the power to ERECT the Asylum, but to use its own language, to SUPERINTEND the erection.' There, we have light upon the subject at last. It is a very nice distinction William makes, but the singular acuteness of his mind will display itself if it only gets a chance.
September 24, 1858
Notice to Contractors,
PROPOSALS will be received until the 27th day of October, at the office of the Secretary of the Board of Commissioners of the Blind Asylum, for enclosing the Asylum building. Plans and specifications can ho seen at the Secretary's Office.
Security will be required for the performance of the contract. The bids must be In accordance with the specifications, and the right to reject any bid that may be offered is reserved by the Commissioners
By order of the Commissioners.
J. C. TRAER, Sec'y.
Sept. 24, 1858.