William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 29] [part 27] [Cutler's History]



By an act of the Legislature, approved March 6, 1873, Joseph C. Wilson, Charles Puffer and Charles S. Brodbent were appointed by Gov. Osborn a Board of Commissioners to visit and inspect the public institutions of the State, in accordance with Section 12 of said act, which reads as follows:

SECTION 12. There shall be a commission of three citizens of the State of Kansas, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, who shall hold their office for the term of three years, and who shall be in no wise connected with the institutions herein named, who shall be a visiting committee, to make at least two visits in each year to the following State institutions: The State Penitentiary, the Insane, Deaf and Dumb and Blind Asylums, the State University, the State Agricultural College, the State Normal Schools at Emporia and Leavenworth. They shall each have power to administer oaths, and send for persons and papers to examine into the financial condition and the general conduct of said institutions; and they shall make a report to the Governor in writing at the end of each fiscal year of the financial condition and the general conduct of each of said institutions, their necessities and requirements, and such other recommendations as they may deem best for the proper conduct of said institutions, and for the public good. They shall receive for their services the sum of three dollars per day, and ten cents for each mile traveled, by the most direct and practical route.

State Charitable Institutions. - A section of an act which took effect March 10, 1876, reads as follows:

The Governor shall appoint, in the year 1876, five persons as Trustees of the asylums for the blind, deaf and dumb, and insane; of whom two shall hold their offices for one year ending April 1, 1877; two for two years ending April 1, 1878; one for three years ending April 1, 1879; and their successors shall each and all hold their positions for the term of three years, the terms ending, April 1 of the succeeding years.

March 20, 1876, Gov. Osborn appointed J. P. Bauserman and William B. Slosson Trustees for one year; John T. Lanter and John H. Smith for two years; Thomas T. Taylor for three years.

February 16, 1877, Gov. Anthony appointed Edwin Knowles and Joseph L. Wever as successors to Messrs. Bauserman and Slosson; April 1, 1878, Charles E. Faulkner and Amasa T. Sharpe succeeded Messrs. Lanter and Smith; J. M. Hogue succeeded Mr. Wever April 1, 1880, and Charles R. Mitchell succeeded Mr. Taylor April 1, 1882. The present Trustees, April, 1883, are James Martin, President; Augustus Hohn, Treasurer; Daniel O. McAllister, Secretary; Amasa T. Sharpe and Michael Maloney.

Location of the Charitable Institutions. - The Legislature of 1863 provided for an insane asylum at Osawatomie; that of 1864 located the deaf and dumb asylum at Olathe and provided for the appointment of Commissioners to locate a blind asylum in Wyandotte County; that of 1865, for the government of the insane asylum; that of 1866, provided that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction should contact with Josiah E. Hayes, of Olathe, Johnson County, for the erection of an asylum that should cost not less than $10,000, of which should be leased of him for a term of five years, with the privilege of renewing the lease for a second term of five years, said building to be ready for occupancy by the 1st of November, 1866, the annual rent of which should not exceed $1,000. The Legislature of 1867 provided for building "the Kansas Institution for the Education of the Blind" at Wyandotte; for issuing $15,500 in bonds for "the Kansas Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb." The Legislature of 1868 provided for issuing bonds for the insane asylum to the amount of $20,000. An act of the Legislature, approved March 5, 1875, "provided for the erection of an insane asylum at Topeka." The Board of Trustees of the State Insane Asylum met at Topeka March 17, 1875, for the purpose of selecting a site for the same, in a "convenient, eligible and healthy locality, within two miles of the capitol building in the city of Topeka." June 2, 1875, in accordance with Section 4 of said law, the Trustees selected three of their number as a Board of Commissioners, consisting of William H. Grimes, Levi Woodard and George Wyman, whose duty it was to cause a building or buildings to be erected for asylum purposes, and the contracts for erecting the buildings were awarded July 28, 1875.

State Reform School. - An act to provide for the selection and purchase of a site and the erection and equipment of State Reform School buildings, and making an appropriation therefor, took effect March 14, 1879. It was provided that the Board of Trustees of the State charitable institutions should have supervision and control of the institution; that the said board, together with the Governor, should select the site and adopt the plan for the buildings suitable for a reform school, and it was provided that the site should be selected within five miles of the capitol building in Topeka, provided that the city of Topeka should donate to the State 160 acres of suitable land for the purpose. The building was completed in 1881, and Hon. J. G. Eckles was the first Superintendent of the school. The management in 1883 of the State charitable institutions in the matter of superintendency is as follows: Kansas State Insane Asylum, Osawatomie; Superintendent, A. H. Knapp, M. D. Topeka Insane Asylum, Topeka; Superintendent, B. D. Eastman, M. D. Kansas Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, Olathe; Superintendent, J. W. Parker. Kansas Institution for the Education of the Blind, Wyandotte; Superintendent, George H. Miller. State Reform School; Superintendent, J. F. Buck, North Topeka. Kansas State Asylum for Idiotic and Imbecile Youth; Superintendent, H. M. Green, Lawrence.

The charitable institutions of the State are located as follows: Institution for the Blind, at Wyandotte, Wyandotte County; Deaf and Dumb Asylum, Olathe, Johnson County; Insane Asylums (two) at Osawatomie, Miami County, and Topeka, Shawnee County; Asylum and Idiotic and Imbecile Youth, Lawrence, Douglas County; Orphan's Asylum, Leavenworth, Leavenworth County. To the detailed accounts of these several institutions, given in the histories of the several counties wherein the institutions are located, the reader is referred for fuller information concerning them.

State Appropriations. - The following table shows the amount of appropriations made by the state from 1862 to 1882, inclusive, for the erection of buildings for, and care and maintenance of, the objects of charity:

YEARS.   Deaf and    Insane.     Blind.     Reform    
         Dumb.                              School.
1862.. $   294 25   ........   ........    ........
1863..     913 85   ........   ........    ........
1864..   2,115 14   ........   ........    ........
1865..   2,041 11   ........   ........    ........
1866..   6,200 00 $ 3,500 00   ........    ........
1867..   9,930 90   7,759 00 $10,034 00    ........
1868..  10,300 00  30,952 13  14,221 11    ........
1869..  12,815 23  28,707 37  10,092 80    ........
1870..  13,193 38  13,067 00   8,900 00    ........
1871..  14,800 00  53,911 00   7,633 43    ........
1872..  14,200 00  22,713 00  10,088 96    ........
1873..  35,078 17  25,575 00  11,586 01    ........
1874..  16,413 54  41,527 40   8,880 36    ........
1875..  13,618 45 102,370 35   8,987 74    ........
1876..  15,030 71  72,574 15  10,599 72    ........
1877..  12,908 00  42,624 50   7,130 50    ........
1878..  15,820 74 121,887 09  10,170 17    ........
1879..  12,908 00  42,624 50   7,130 50    ........
1880..  31,460 17 166,180 68  17,166 26 $  6,078 52
1881..  20,299 26 205,165 04  12,921 79   36,858 65 
1882..  25,000 00 192,589 79  33,974 44  120,045 99

YEARS. Idiotic and  Maintenance
       Imbecile.    Of Insane Persons
                    Who are Destitute.
1862..      ......              ......
1863..      ......              ......
1864..      ......              ......
1865..      ......              ......
1866..      ......              ......
1867..      ......              ......
1868..      ......              ......
1869..      ......              ......
1870..      ......              ......
1871..      ......              ......
8172..      ......              ......
1873..      ......              ......
1874..      ......              ......
1875..      ......              ......
1876..      ......              ......
1877..      ......          $ 8,746 94
1878..      ......            6,277 98
1879..      ......           18,000 00
1880..      ......           10,000 90
1881..      ......           18,104 17
1882..  $ 9,890 00           16,894 83


Section 2 of Article VII of the Constitution under the head of Public Institutions, reads as follows:

A penitentiary shall be established, the directors of which shall be appointed or elected as prescribed by law.

The Legislature of 1861 enacted a law to provide for the appointment of Commissioners to locate a State Penitentiary, the fourth section of which act is as follows:

SECTION 4. That said Commissioners shall immediately proceed to locate the State Penitentiary at some eligible point within the county of Leavenworth; and for that purpose they shall select a tract of land of not less than forty nor more than 160 acres of land, affording, if practicable, building stone, water, and other facilities for the erection of a State Prison, and secure the title of the same in fee simple to the State, either by purchase, donation or otherwise, so that the land may be secured at the smallest possible expenditure to the State, but in no event shall said Commissioners pay for land a sum exceeding fifteen dollars per acre.

The Penitentiary Commissioners appointed were M. S. Adams, C. S. Lambdin and Charles Starns. They met a Leavenworth July 15, 1861, took the oath of office, and on the 25th of November purchased forty acres as a site for a penitentiary, for the sum of $600.

Gov. Charles Robinson failed to approve a bill that passed both branches of the Legislature of 1861, that looked toward the ultimate erection of a penitentiary building and making the labor of the State convicts of some profit to the State.

The report of the Penitentiary Commissioners submitted in 1861, contained a report from the Deputy Sheriff and Jailer of Leavenworth County for the year 1861, which stated 21 State prisoners had been confined in the Leavenworth County Jail during the year, and their report of 1862 showed also a report of Jailer Mitchell, showing that he had had charge of 32 State prisoners during the year 1862.

Gov. Thomas Carney, in his message submitted January 13, 1864, in referring to the report of the Commissioners, said:

The plans and specifications have been prepared for a penitentiary building and the contract has been conditionally awarded. The necessity of having a penitentiary is admitted. The want of jail-room and the increasing number of convicts make it a matter of economy. There should be a building erected, and it should be in a suitable place. The site was objected to because of being some four miles from Leavenworth, and because there was not sufficient water near it, being illy chosen on sanitary grounds.

The Penitentiary Directors, Messrs. William Dunlap, S. S. Ludlam and John Wilson, in their report submitted January 1, 1864, recommended that the Legislature make an appropriation agreeable to the report of the architect, E. T. Carr, of $75,000, so as to have buildings ample to accommodate all the officers connected with the penitentiary, their families and 150 prisoners. M. R. Dutton, Asa Low and Theodore C. Sears were Penitentiary Directors when the act in reference to the State Penitentiary took effect March 17, 1868.

In Section 1 of this act we find this:

For the general government and management of the State Penitentiary, three directors, one of whom shall be a practical mechanic and builder, shall be appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, one of whom shall be appointed annually and shall hold his office for three years unless sooner removed by the Governor for cause, and until his successor shall be elected and qualified.

From 1869 the Directors have been as follows: Erastus Hensley, R. W. Jenkins, Harrison Kelley, Andrew J. Angell, Homer C. Learned, H. W. Gillete, O. J. Grover, H. D. Mackay, Samuel J. Crawford, William Martindale, Matthew Howell, Harry E. Richter, Warren W. Guthrie, John C. Watt, H. H. Lowrey.

The appointment of Mr. Watt is in compliance with the legislative act of 1868, he being a practical mechanic.

Coal Shaft. - The Legislature of 1879 in it appropriations for the Penitentiary embraced for the coal shaft, $7,000.

From the biennial report of the Directors and Warden, for the fiscal year 1881-82, the following is extracted:

In August there were 656 convicts and 55 guards and employes, and of which 114 convicts and 12 employes were employed in mining and handling coal, while about 325 convicts were worked by contractors. The coal mine produced $4,650.08, and the contract labor $5,353.30. To produce the coal receipts the employes were paid $725, and oils, etc., cost $260. Allowing contract price for convicts employed, their labor would be worth $1,372, being a total cost of $2,357, and leaving $2,293.08 net profit for the month. The convict miners produced $32.10 each, against $14.40 per contract convict.

Were interest to be charged on the cash expended for the shaft and machinery, at six per cent, the $2,293.08 would be reduced but $172.51.

With all the estimated labor let under contract, which does not expire till June, 1884, the coal mine has been made to produce, up to July 1, 1882, with such labor as was available, over and above all operating expenses, about $32,000, or but little less than its cash cost; and during the same time the coal used at the penitentiary, which the previous year cost $10,232.66, has cost but $4,948.55, allowing seven cents for coal and four cents for slack.

Since coal demand for general use does not keep even during the year, and it cannot be stored any length of time, and in order to keep the miners steadily employed, we have favored contracting to mills and uses which would take so much each month during the year.

Should a reservoir or other work be authorized on which men could be employed in summer, this plan could be changed.

From this showing, it will be seen that the penitentiary, heretofore an expense to the State, can now with its coal mine easily sustain itself, and at the same time be furnished with competent officers at fair compensation, and water and other needs. The above showing will suggest other considerations.

The contracts now in force were intended to require all estimated available convict labor. Now a certain amount of labor is needed for coal mining, and the convict roll is on the decrease.

The problem of management is, how to enforce the penalty of hard labor on the convict, at the same time not unnecessarily interfering with private enterprises, and so far as possible preparing the man for self-support and thus to keep him from crime when he again goes into the world. As short-term, old, and dull men cannot learn trades, they may be employed in coal mining; while as young and long-term men may learn trades, such convicts might be let out for mechanical work, and thus the problem solved as fairly as possible.

There has been expended ---

In sinking the shaft to the coal, fitting it up, putting in hoisting machinery, buildings, and opening the mine ready for taking out coal .............................................$35,777 37 Operating the mine during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1882. 9,170 00 ---------- Total expenditures to June 30, 1882 ........................ $44,947 37 Cash earnings of the mine to June 30, 1882 $27,808 45 Value of coal furnished State institutions, At 7 cents per bushel ...................... 14,142.88 ------------- Value of coal furnished State institutions, At 7 cents per bushel .............................. $41,951.33

This result has been attained in one year's operating the mine. Each convict employed in mining out coal and performing all other work about the mine, since commencing the taking out of coal, has earned $1.23 2/3 per day. Those employed in mining coal proper have earned $1.71 per day.

Report of Warden Hopkins. - In the report submitted June 30, 1882, appears the following:

On the 1st of July, 1880, there were confined in the Prison 691 convicts. On the 1st of July, 1881, 660; and on the 30th day of June, 1882, 687 - a decrease in the Prison population in two years of 4, and a decrease of those from our own State courts of 17. The number of convicts received during 1881 was 230, and during 1882, 240. There were discharged during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1881, 261, and during the year ending June 30, 1882, 213.

The expenditures for the fiscal years to sustain the Prison during 1881 were $104,408.54, and during 1882, $104,416.92. The daily cost to keep each convict during 1881, was 41.48 dents, and during 1882, 43.68. The increase in cost of keeping during 1882, is due to an increased price of nearly all articles of food over the year previous.

The earnings of the Prison from all sources (except from labor of convicts on buildings and improvements) for 1881 amounted to $67,698.46, and for 1882, $102,235.25 - an increase over 1881 of $34,536.79. The excess of expenditures over earnings for 1881, was $36,710.08, and for 1882, only $2,181.67.

The daily average earnings of each convict confined during 1881, was nearly 27 cents, and during 1882, 42.77 cents. In any calculation here made no account has been taken of the earnings from the labor of convicts on State work, building cells, and repairs of building. To add that amount, would show the following result for 1882:

Total cash earnings.................$89,543 94
Coal furnished State institutions... 12,691 31
Improvements and buildings only..... 18,467 25
Making a total earnings of.......... 20,702 50
Total expenditures for all
purposes.......................     120,045 99
Leaving a balance for 1882 in favor
 of the Prison over all expenditures.. $656 51

There is no doubt but that the long-looked-for time has arrived, when we can say the Prison is on a self-sustaining basis, and will remain so if no unavoidable accident occurs, and the Prison is properly managed in the future. In order to maintain this, the State must retain control of its coal mine as at present.

With the close of the present year, we can report, with the exception of a few cells in the south wing and solitary department, the Prison in all its compartments finished. For the exception named, materials are secured necessary for their completion, and unless the convicts increase beyond what was contemplated, no more appropriations will be required, except to sustain and operate the Prison and keep up necessary repairs.

Idleness and Intemperance. - The Warden in response to inquiries concerning the probable effects of "prohibition" in staying the commission of crime, presents the following facts and conclusions:

In regard to the increase of our prison population, the records show a steady increase from 83 convicts March 12, 1867, to 725 on December 3, 1880. From that date to the close of this fiscal year (June 30, 1882), the number received has steadily decreased, and the number at this date is 687. If the average increase had continued since December, 1880, to the present time, the population, would be near 800. The daily average of convicts during 1881 was 690, and during 1882, 655. While it is not reasonable to expect that any very marked influence from prohibition can be anticipated at present, in reducing the prison population, yet it will decrease the causes which lead to the commission of crimes of all kinds. My contact with this class of men during a service as an official of this institution for the past fifteen years, has proved to my satisfaction that idleness, together with intemperance as a result of the former, are the direct causes of more crime than any other two that might be named. The most potent influence will be felt in the future, from its effect on the younger classes, who will have better influences thrown around them to deter and save them from the workhouse and the penitentiary if prohibition is reasonably enforced. For description of buildings, grounds, etc., see history of Leavenworth County.


This school was opened for the reception of boys June 6, 1881, under the management of J. G. Eckles, Superintendent, and Mrs. Eckles as Matron, March 1, 1882. J. F. Buck succeeded him as Superintendent; Mrs. L. A. Buck became Matron, and they are the present officers of the institution. The Board of Trustees asked of the Legislature of 1881, an appropriation of $15,000 for the first fiscal year, ending June 30, 1881; $22,000 for the fiscal year 1882, but the grants were $10,000 for 1881; $12,000 for 1882. The Trustees in their report submit the following reflections:

No other institution of the State should receive so much consideration at the hands of the Legislature as its Reform School. While the penitentiary provides for the punishment of crime, and the asylum to alleviate, this institution reaches only after and seeks to reformation of boys who have commenced a downward course of life; of others who are farther advanced in vicious ways; and still others who have commenced a life of crime, which, unless changed, can only end in utter destruction.

The Reform School will, in a large percentage of cases, turn the steps of the wayward into paths of virtue and right - arrest the course of the criminal, and make useful, honorable and prosperous citizens of those who would otherwise become tenants of our jails and penitentiaries - a terror to society, and a constant charge upon the State.

So long as there is a natural tendency to do evil among a large proportion of our youths, so long will it be important to us to study the best means of preventing the development of this evil tendency, and of reclaiming those who are already guilty of violating the law. That parents and guardians look with indifference upon the course taken by those whom they should guide aright, is an obvious and painful fact. No matter how exemplary the disposition of a boy may be, if he is allowed to run at will and associate with those whose tendencies are evil, he will be gradually corrupted as will not only prevent the commission of crime, but remove from his mind the evil tendencies which lead to its commission. For this purpose the Reform School is established. Its object is not only to reclaim boys, but to build up in them the elements of a useful and manly character - to instill into their minds the principles of right.

Number of Inmates. - the school, when opened, admitted two boys; when taken charge of by Superintendent Buck it had 41 inmates. The following table explains the status of the institution's inmates:

MONTHS.      White  Colored  Total. Discharged  Returned    Escaped
June.......      4        4      8         .           .
July.......      3        2      5         .           .
August.....      5        3      8         .           .
September..      5        2      7         .           .
October....      2        5      7         1           .
November...      6        2      8         .           .
December...      6        .      6         .           .
January....      6        2      8         .           .
February...      4        .      4         4           4
March......      .        .      .         2           2 
April......      2        .      2         .           .
May........      6        1      7         .           .
June.......      4        .      4         .           .
  Total....    ...      ...     73

Substitution of the Family Plan for the Prison System. - The Trustees, in instituting a comparison between the system, moralize thus:

The adjuncts of a prison are avoided, while wholesome discipline and proper restraint are employed. Kind words, gentle treatment and home influences are found the better means of redeeming the pupils. The better nature of the boy is addressed - his pride is cultivated, and he is made to feel that life has something better in store for him than the poorhouse or prison. His mind is enlarged - his intellect improved by education, and his evil tendencies restrained by habits of order and industry. In fact, the foundations for useful manhood are laid. The State cannot afford to do otherwise. It cannot afford to shoulder the responsibility of permitting several hundred children to run at large to become criminals who will openly violate her laws, endanger the lives of her citizens, and be a source of much trouble and expense.

Expenses and Wants. - Superintendent Buck in his report submits the following:

The expense of maintaining the institution during its first year has necessarily been greater than it should be after becoming well organized and furnished in all its departments. The per capita expense will be much diminished as our numbers increase.

We are asked by the different courts of the State to receive boys many of whom are in jails, and instead of preparing for usefulness they are only learning lessons in crime. Very soon our building will be filled to its utmost capacity. It seems to be very necessary that the State Legislature should make an appropriation for the erection of a cottage with sufficient capacity to accommodate fifty boys. A kitchen, steam laundry and bakery are also very much needed. With the present facilities the labor of preparing food and doing the laundry work for the increased number that must soon be admitted, can be done only at very great disadvantage. An ice-house should be erected also. Additional farming implements, a few good cows and a team of horses should also be purchased.

Sixteen of the seventy-three committals, were natives of Kansas; 10 were charged with incorrigibility; 18 with grand larceny; 14 with petit larceny; 10 with burglary, and 12 with miscellaneous offenses.

Thirty-one convictions were made in the District Court; 26 in the Probate Court; 13 in the Justices' Court; 3 in the Police Court.

[TOC] [part 29] [part 27] [Cutler's History]