County Rest Home Provides Shelter for Many Oldsters

Here is an article written by Lena Green Rogers and published in the July 28, 1953 edition (Volume LXX, No. 59) of the Daily News-Bulletin, Brookfield, MO about a rest home that was located about a mile west of Linneus, MO on Hwy B. Many of you may remember it as the Infirmary on Infirmary Hill.

Please share this story around and i want to encourage you to add stories and photos to the comments area of this blog.  It would be keen to gather more details of this historic, yet long-gone, institution which provided homes to many who had nowhere else to go.

Huge thank you to Tom Morris for having a copy of this article in his desk drawer! (i have, by and large, left the sentence structure and punctuation as it was published in the paper).  I plan to visit with his parents, Bill and Crystle Morris in the near future to collect more info.


A contract was signed on November 1, 1948 whereby the State of Missouri agreed to furnish financial aid to the homeless and aged of Linn County, providing the county, which retrained ownership, would still be responsible for the upkeep of the 28 acre tract of land and all buildings thereon.  Thus “the County Farm” sank into oblivion and the Linn County Rest Home, located one mile west of Linneus, Missouri, the county seat, came into being.

The patients are housed in a two-winged, grey stone building which contains ten private rooms, four wards, and five bathrooms, as well as a spacious dining room and ample kitchen space.  It was constructed in 1898 at a cost of $10,000.  However, at today’s prices its estimated value is $100,000.  (2015 dollars would be $879,446).

The superintendents, Mr. and Mrs. Vern Turner, are not strangers in this community as they once lived on a farm north of Brookfield.  They are the parents of four children.  That they are not amateurs in this great humanitarian work has already been proven.  They operated “the farm” three years previous to the state-county operation, which, this fall will make a total of eight years they have been there.  Certainly they merit the praise of every resident of the county.  Periodically they visit other similar institutions and compare methods.  They have sought and received much valuable information in the matter of handling border-line mental cases from the management of State Hospital No. 2, at St. Joseph, Missouri.  So far very few patients have become so unruly, they have had to be sent away from the rest home.

At the present time, fifteen women and sixteen men, whose ages range from 39 to 90 years, are being cared for.  Of that number , five are bed patients and two are sightless.  The oldest on record is a man who passed away in 1948 at the age of 95 years.

“I have the best group of women to be found anywhere,”  said Mrs, Turner, “they are just like children — will do anything I ask them to do.”

Those whose health will permit, assist in light tasks such as washing dishes, making beds, and preparing vegetables.  A great deal of canning is done.  The largest amount that was ever “put up” was in 1950 when 1400 quarts of fruits and vegetables awaited consumption — that winter.

Of the men, Mr. Turner said: Most of them are quite feeble. “They’d help if they could,” then after a pause he added this information, “as a group our patients are from fairly good families, and with one exception, they all have ‘next of kin.'”

Most of Them Keep Busy

That one exception is Charles Overjohn, who at one time was Brookfield’s beloved blacksmith.  But never let it be said he does not pay his way.  He is now 78, but continues to fire the not-too-good furnace with as much punctuality as he did when he started 28 years ago.  He likes to “figure,” too.

Last week he reminded Mrs. Turner that, at the present rate, she will have prepared 33,945 meals — just for the patients alone — by January 1, 1954.  No doubt he is right, because all except the bedridden have excellent appetites.  Practically all vegetables are raised in the farm’s two large gardens, five cows supply the dairy products.

The interest the Turners take in their “girls and boys” as they call their patients, is almost unbelievable.

For instance, after they took over, they burned every piece of old bedding in the place and replaced it with new which they purchased themselves.  And that isn’t all.  They purchased new dishes, towels, and table coverings.

Religious services, while always welcomed by the superintendents, are not held with any regularity with the exception of The Assembly of God, of Bucklin, Missouri, which sends a group out twice a month.  Occasionally, a group of entertainers breaks the monotony.

Because of the lack of help and the many duties pertaining to health, food, and shelter, birthdays are only celebrated by the addition of some special tidbit.

Speaking of health, four times each year a nurse from the state health department accompanies the state inspector to the home and all cases are reviewed.  If any changes are indicated their instructions are carried out to the letter.  Other than that, all medical attention is in the competent hands of Dr. Roy Haley, of Brookfield, the Home’s physician.  He responds readily whenever he is needed.

Life Has Lighter Side

Primarily, the Home is a place of shelter, but there is also a lighter side of life for those forgotten men and women, who, due to their own personalities, enliven things  One patient, who weighs only 90 pounds is a Czechoslovakian.  She speaks English fluently except when she is visited by her relatives.  Then she rattles away in her native tongue and immediately puts on a “swing your partner” dance for which in her day she always used to capture first prize.

Another woman patient, claims the privilege of helping unload the supply truck on its arrival from town, but last week she was stymied.  Before the attendant could stop her she had broken the seal on a can of condensed buttermilk.  After rubbing her face and hands with it, she put some of it to her nose and said: “Golly, I don’t know what that stuff is!”

Life’s ebb and flow determines the number to be cared for, naturally.  A little over a year ago two extra beds had to be set up to accommodate the number seeking admittance, but right now the home is not filled to capacity.  The superintendents have the say-so as to whom shall be taken in, but, so far, they have never refused to admit anyone who has no other home to which he can go.

Visitors are always welcome on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons from one to five o’clock.

The guest register (which Mr. Turner calls his hobby) now contains over 8000 names.  Among last year’s 972 signers was a young man from Venezuela and a woman from India.

Yes, you may make a gift to those unfortunate people, such as candy, fruit, or cakes.  Many are received each month from individuals and organizations alike and all are highly appreciated.

Useable clothing is always in demand, but lawn chairs and benches and rocking chairs are especially needed at this particular time.

The inmates of the home are only children of yesterday who have “come to the end of the end of the long, long road,” Do not forget them!

And to those of you to whom life has been kind, I recall to your minds the words of a well-known hymn…. “Count Your Blessings, Name Them One By One.”


Notes:

Mrs Vern Turner is Nellie Stevenson

Their four children are:

Crystle Turner Morris
Bill Turner (deceased)         twin brother, Bob also deceased
Donald Turner
Advertisements

4 thoughts on “County Rest Home Provides Shelter for Many Oldsters”

  1. I think Beulah Murphy used to work there also. She has passed but has children living that might could help you and l think it originally was at a house that is north of town . The house is still there. Rick BUtterfield owned it now. Crystal and Billy Mack would be real good with info for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was raised in Linneus and remember the Infirmary well.We used to ride or bikes out to Locust creek and when we passed by the Infirmary the folds would come out to the front gate and yell at us. It frightened the heck out of us. I know now that they just wanted someone to talk to them but at the time we could petal what seemed like a 100 mph to get past there. After the Infirmary shut down the Turner’s moved to the big house on the north end of Linneus and kept some patients there as a private business.
    Tex othic

    Like

    1. I can imagine how frightening it would have been for you as a child! Probably would have done the same. If we only understood when we are young what we realise when we are older, it’d be a more gentle world (maybe). Thank you for sharing this great memory!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s