News From 1868

The Vinton Eagle
Wednesday, January 29, 1868

IOWA BLIND ASYLUM.

     We have been favored by General Geddes, the popular ans efficient principal of the State Institution for the Blind, with a copy of the Biennial report of that Institution for 1867. It is a very interesting report and contains the following historical statement of the origin and growth of this important State charity:

     Through the unwearied and disinterested efforts of Mr. Samuel Bacon, of Iowa City, this institution was first established in 1853, Mr. Bacon was also the founder of the asylum for the blind in Jacksonville, Illinois. The institution s free to all the blind in Iowa who are susceptible to education, of proper age, good moral character, and desirous of availing themselves of its privileges.

     The blind of other States are also admitted, upon the payment of the sum of $170 per pupil, provided they possess the other necessary qualifications. It was first organized at Iowa City, under the albe superintendence of the founder, whose longe experience as a teacher of the blind did much in securing its success, and commending it to the fostering care of our people. The wise and benevolent legislature exemplified in everything pertaining to its interest, has had the effect of placing in a very enviable position, and rendering it second to no school of like character in our country. In the month of August 1862, the institution was removed from Iowa City to Vinton, Benton County. At this time it was under the superintendence of the Rev. O. Clark, who resigned at the close of 1864. His place was filled by the Rev. Reed Wilkinson, who tendered his resignation in June, 1867, when the present incumbent was appointed to fill the vacancy.

     The report also thus describes the fine location and grounds of the Institution:

     "The Institution is beautifully located on a gentle eminence immediately west of the corporate limits of the town of Vinton, in the county of Benton. The view from the cupola of the building is very fine, presenting to the spectator an epitome of our lovely State. The undulating prairie extending from the south and west of the building as far as the eye can pierce is dotted with numerous groves, farm and school houses, thus bearing upon its bosom the impress of an industrious, thrifty and intelligent population.

     Looking toward the north and east, distant about one-half mile, the Cedar river, with its dense fringe of excellent timber bursts upon the view. On its right bank is situated the enterprising town of Vinton, with a railroad in progress of completion—a link in the great iron artery which will soon connect St. Poul, Minn. With St. Louise, Mo.—and destined ere long to become a great manufacturing center. The salubrity of the climate is unsurpassed in this State, of which fact the uninterrupted good health of the inmates of the Institution is sufficient evidence. The grounds belonging to the Institution comprise forty acres of excellent land, divided into ten acre lots, one of which contains a thriving young orchard, also shade trees and ornamental shrubbery. The other lots are used for pasture and raising corn for the manufacture of brooms.

     The following statistics embodied in the report will be found of interest:

     The number of blind who have enjoyed the advantages of the institution since its establishment is one hundred and fifty; the number of deaths twelve; and the number of those who in the ordinary course of things have terminated their connection with the institution since its organization is eighty-eight, which leaves our present number fifty.

     The causes of blindness of the pupils since the establishment of the institution are as follows: Inflammation, 40; bad treatment, 2; small pox, 5; scrofula, 7; neuralgia, 1; fever, 5; opthalmia, 1; accidents, 39; congenital, 22; opacity, 2; measles, 6; cataract, 5; cancer, 1; amaurosis, 4; water on the brain, 1.

     The census returns for 1866 show the number of blind in the Iowa to be 295, the same number as shown by the census of 1863. It appears from these figures that the late war has not increased the number of blind, as was generally expected.

     The number of blind receiving the benefit of the institution at present is 16 per cent of the total number in the state.

     The number of blind receiving the benefit of the institution may appear small, when compared with the number in the state; but it is ascertained that a larger percentage are too old to receive instruction; a large part too young, and a still greater number unable to attend from sickness or disease.

     The amount of current expenses, including improvements, salaries, and clothing furnished pupils from December 1st, 1865, to October 1st, 1867, inclusive, are as follows: Clothing, $319.10; salaries, $6,208,49; current expenses, $17,665,45; improvements, $5,803,05. Total $29,995,09.

     The trustees, in their report, urgently ask of the legislature to make more liberal provision for musical instruction, which is the most important of all the attainments conferred upon the blind. To this end they ask not only that a larger salary be allowed the musical professor, ($400 being all the law allows at present," but that new instruments shall be provided. The request seems reasonable and we doubt not will be heeded.

     The notice to applicants says, "The school is strictly educational, and not for the treatment of disease. The annual term commences the first Wednesday in September and closes the fourth Wednesday in June, giving July and August as a vacation in which the pupils visit their homes and friends.

     "Scholars from Iowa, of a suitable age and capacity for education, and who conform to the regulations of the Institution will receive their board and instruction at the expense of the Institution. Their friends will be expected to furnish them with a complete supply of clothing, and to be at the expense of their traveling to and from the Institution.

     Pupils may be admitted from other states on payment of $170 per annum. Applications should be addressed to James L. Geddes, Principal, Vinton, Iowa.