Manitowoc County Homes for the Less Fortunate

The Orphanage in Manitowoc

The Manitowoc County Hospital

Manitowoc County HospitalThe Hospital in this photo (on a 1909 postcard) was also the poor farm. It was a home that was a "jack of all trades". It took care of the poor, sick who couldn't afford a regular hospital and the chronically ill. There are orchards there and the inmates used to grow food and keep occupied.

Means of Providing for the Unfortunate

From "History of Manitowoc County"
by Falge, pg. 43

It was the custom, under the law, in the primitive days of the county, for each town to make provision for the care and sustenance of those of its people who were in indigent circumstances. In March, 1851, this system was abolished and, what was termed the county system, established. To comply with the law the board of supervisors elected three superintendents of the poor and in the following May a quarter section of land was purchased in the town of Manitowoc Rapids, near the then county seat, and suitable buildings were erected thereon for the tenancy of all citizens of the county becoming a public charge. This institution was given the title of the County Poor Farm and was so designated until it was abandoned for the purposes originally designed, the county having reverted to its first method, by which the individual towns were made responsible for their own helpless ones, and this system obtains today.

Recently strenuous efforts have been made by both men and women of the county, seeking better and permanent means of providing for and taking care of those having a claim on the county's bounty. The matter took substantial form, in that meetings were held and plans formed by a committee, for the establishing of an institution by the county, erecting and furnishing buildings therefore, which should be called the County Home. The project was made abortive, however, by unanticipated opposition, but the friends of the project are not discouraged by defeat and still have strong hopes that their philanthropic innovation will soon take concrete form and become a reality, indeed.

The Manitowoc County Asylum

This is a drawing of the asylum in 1885 that I ran across. I forgot to make a note as to where I found it.

The county asylum was not actually an insane asylum, but rather a facility to assist in the aid of those with T.B.(tuberculosis), physical health ailments, or mental health ailments.
The facility also housed the poor.

From "History of Manitowoc County"
by Falge, pg. 77-78

To William Rahr is due more credit, probably than any other man in the county, for the provision of an asylum for the care of the chronic insane of Manitowoc county. On April 18, 1884, he introduced a resolution in the county board, providing for a committee to investigate the expense of maintaining the insane of the county and the probable cost of building an asylum. Following favorable action on this resolution the necessary steps were taken and an asylum was built during the following summer. Mr. Rahr served on the first committee of investigation, later on the building committee and was the first trustee elected to the asylum board. The first board of trustees was composed of Messrs. William Rahr, John Carey, Henry Vits, Henry Goedjen and C. F. Hacker. Consequent to the resignation of William Rahr, William Lueps was appointed in his stead.

On March 26, 1884, Gustav Mueller, of Reedsville, was elected as the first superintendent of the Manitowoc county asylum. On January 17, 1885, the first patients were brought to the asylum and up to May 23rd of the same year, when the first report was made, fifty-seven patients had been given care and comfort in the asylum. Previous to that time they had been confined in the county jail, while some had been left in charge of a keeper at St. Nazianz.

In the next ten years the number of patients had increased to one hundred and thirty-four and at various times it had become necessary to make additions to the asylum. At this time William Rahr was again elected trustee and the next year, following the resignation of Gustav Mueller and wife, Henry Goedjen and his wife were elected as superintendent and matron. By this time the buildings and equipment had become entirely inadequate for the purpose. So, in the summer of 1897, complete changes were made. Parts of various buildings were remodeled, additional land was purchased, and sanitary conditions improved so that the institution was modernized in equipment and ranks with the best of its kind in the state. As a result of these changes the number of outside patients increased from sixty-three to one hundred and six within the next two years.

In 1902 William Rahr again severed connections with the institution and Henry Wernecke was elected his successor. Much credit is due Mr. Wernecke in conjunction with Mr. Goedjen, the superintendent. To these two, through skillful management and far-sightedness, is due, in a large measure, the prosperity of the last few years of the asylum.

It was a distinct loss to the county when Mr. Goedjen died, October 5, 1911. He was succeeded by Roland Kolb, former farm Manager. Mrs. Goedjen was retained as matron. It has been repeatedly said by all in a position to know, that, while other institutions may be ahead of Manitowoc county in the number and cost of its buildings, nowhere in the state are patients better cared for or given more homelike surroundings. This is due to the efforts of the matron, Mrs. Goedjen. The trustees are Louis Wiegand, William Kiel, and Henry Wernecke.

The original farm property of the asylum comprised fifty-seven acres. Now the acreage has been increased to two hundred and sixty-five acres. Owing to the fact that the land was purchased from time to time, some of it is about two miles from the institution. The original building was first intended to house abut seventy-five patients, for whose care and support the county is paid by those responsible , and with the revenue derived from the farm the running expenses of the asylum has been self-sustaining for a number of years. From "History of Manitowoc County"
by Plumb, 1904, pg. 164
Early in the eighties many Manitowoc county men, notably William Rahr, urged the building of the county asylum for the care of the insane and at a meeting of the county board in May 1884 $25,000 was voted for that purpose. A three story brick structure was built on spacious grounds southwest of Manitowoc and the institution was opened in January 1885 with Gustav Mueller as superintendent. The asylum has since been managed by trustees and has proved most successful, many patients from other counites as well as the local insane are being cared for.

Made by Trustees of County Insane Asylum.
The thirteenth annual report of the board of trustees of the 
Manitowoc County Insane Asylum contains some interesting data 
which readers of the Hereald will appreciate. Heretofore it 
has been customary for the trustees alone to make a report but 
the law says the superintendent of the institution shall also 
make a report, and the following facts are in accordance with 
the two reports:
The total expected receipts from all sources are $28,609.81 and 
the expenditures for the care of the patients was $14,919.70 
leaving a net gain of $9,690.20 for the county.
The superintendent reports 8593 weeks of board furnished, 
bringing the per. capita cost per week to $1.62. The per capita 
cost for the year 1897 was $1.41, showing an increase of 21c. 
a week.
The improvements made are mentioned at some length. Among the 
most useful was the sewer ordered by the board at their last 
session and which is now complete at a cost of $2753.80. The 
farm buildings, which were started last spring, have been 
finished and it is the opinion of the board that no more 
building will be necessary for some years to come. 
In the report special mention is made of the sale of the six 
acres of the Wood farm, sold to the C. & N.W. R'y Co., setting 
forth the advantages derived from the deal.
The property has increased in value and at present is slated 
at $136,266.87.
The health of the patients has been exceptionally good, but 
four deaths being reported for the year. From a sanitary point 
of view the county has a model institution for the care and 
keeping of chronic insane.
Dr. Luhman, the attending physician, recommends the erection 
of a large enclosure for the use of patients who are unable 
to get exercise.
Taken as a whole the report is a very creditable one and much 
praise is due those in charge.
Manitowoc Daily Herald, Manitowoc, Wis. Thursday, November 17, 1898 P. 1

COMMISSIONER'S REPORT. We are under obligations to Mr. Chas. Klingholz, for an early copy of the Report of Commissioners of the Poor, from which we make the following extract.- It will doubless interest many of our readers, and it will gratifying to the friends of Mr. Boucher, the Superintendent, to know that the Commissioner's report commends his management of the affairs at the farm. Special accounts of the County Poor for 1854.
Dried Apples3.88
Pins and needles0.26
Stove blacking0.51
Pepper and mustard1.41
Oats, for seed13.06
Timothy for seed3.75
Top onions4.00
Garden seeds1.24
Bedding, Thread and Buttons8.66
Pants and Woolen clothing10.17
Rope and bed cords2.88
Diverse furniture37.20
One Wagon55.00
Hay etc.67.09
Boots and Shoes11.15
Dr. Gibson12.00
Dr. Muller90.38
Dr. Zilley10.25
Dr. Oswald70.00
Digging graves and
$8 to Eatough
Order to Dorfer for work1.50
Toll to M. & M.P.R. Co.3.21
Van Valkenburgh,
for Sheriff sale
Sick people at P.H.
with teams
Hubbard, for
sawing lumber
Provisions carried to the
sick at Two Rivers
Provisions carried to the
sick at Manitowoc
Provisions carried to the
sick at Rapids
Provisions carried to the sick
at Eaton
Services of Chester Buel as
Poor commissioner
Thos. Harrington, Com.21.50
Chas. Klingholtz, Clk.50.00
Boucher, P.H. Overseer62.10
Old debts from 1853
Platt & Bro.$28.83
Lawrence for Plastering7.00
Boucher's services88.29
Emerson for flour18.00

Paupers in the house 39; Paupers left the house, 32; No. remaining. 7 Days board of the 39 paupers--3502. The clearing is 24 Acres. CHESTER BUEL, CHAS. KLINGHOLTZ, Commissioners. Manitowoc, Nov. 22d, 1854. Manitowoc Tribune, Manitowoc, Wis. Saturday, November 25, 1854 P. 3

Cemetery Burials

The first burial at the Potter's field section of the county cemetery is 1917. A big question exists as to what happened to the burials of the indigent before 1917? It is assumed, that the burials took place within the individual townships, since the individual townships were given responsibility to care for their own poor. More research will have to be made to confirm.

Hospital for Church Sisters Manitowoc, Wis., April 20.-The sisters of St. Francis of Silver Lake to-day through Register of Deeds Lindsted closed a deal for the Gerpheide park paying $7,000. The sisters will erect a large hospital on the premises. The building will be modern in every respect, will have a capacity for about 300 patients, and cost $60,000. The erection will begin soon as plans are accepted. Mother Alexia of Silver Lake will take charge of the hospital when completed. The Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wis) Thursday Morning April 21, 1898

The trustees of the Manitowoc County Insane Asylum have decided to make the breeding and raising of fancy live stock a feature of the County farming in the future. They already have a number of high grade animals and excellent buildings for the handling and shelter of stock of all kinds. The move should prove a wise one. Some of the very best and most economically administered county farms in Wisconsin owe their success to their well directed scientific farming. Manitowoc Daily Herald, Manitowoc, Wis. Saturday, October 22, 1898 P. 1