Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sarah and Jenn Travel to Lakeland, 1898

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1940s and 1950s. On days when my two younger sisters and I wore our mother's patience thin, she would throw up her hands and proclaim, "I might as well check in at Lakeland." We were too young to know what Lakeland was, but Mama's tone of voice told us it must be a place for people who had just about reached their breaking point.

Decades later, I figured out that Mama was referring to Lakeland Asylum for the Insane (as it was once known), a mental health facility in Anchorage, just east of Louisville. Other names for the facility were Central Kentucky Lunatic Asylum, Lakeland Hospital, and Central Kentucky Asylum for the Insane. You may know it by its present name, Central State Hospital.

Memories of my mother reaching the end of her rope came flooding back when I read the following recollections of Sarah Eva Howe. In 1898, Sarah and her cousin Jenne, both about 15 years of age, traveled from Carrollton, Kentucky, to Anchorage to visit Mildred Goslee, whose father was the Lakeland superintendent. Sarah's comments give us a peek at some of the social customs of the day and include references to some of the charity and mission projects that involved her mother, cousins, aunts, and friends in Carrollton, Kentucky.
Lakeland Administration Building, built c1872 [2]
As soon as school closed, Jenne and I began to get ready for our big trip, which was to be a visit to Mildred Goslee at Anchorage, or rather Lakeland, for tho she went to school at Bellwood[1] and we were to attend her closing exercises, she lived with her family in the Superintendents home at the Asylum. We ate at their table, with the other doctors and their wives, and the food was really delicious; we went all over the buildings “on tours” especially into the kitchens, where I saw more beans being prepared to cook than ever in my life so far. On Saturday night we looked on at the dance given every week for the patients and attendants. We attended class night, when Mildred sang and several girls contested for a prize in “elocution.” The girl who won had a long recitation almost a gypsy, which ended “like Wild Zaratella, whose lover is dead.” (I never heard it before or since.) Sunday we attended church at the present Anchorage Presbyterian Church. At the close of the service Mildred introduced us to several of her friends; one well dressed lady rushed up to us and said “Have you ever heard of Ramabai?” We were dazed, we never had, and didn’t know whether it was a medicine or a new kind of flower or food.

Mildred arranged that we should go to her home next day to hear about “her” (as we found out later [Ramabai] was). We still didn’t understand very well when she told us about the Zenana work in India which was Pandita Ramabai’s great contribution to progress – it was one of her special charities, this lady, and she was quite wealthy, living in a lovely home. She was so enthused about it that she talked about it to everyone. Since then I have found out what a really marvelous person Ramabai was, but I didn’t understand it all then. We had our Missionary Society, the Willing Workers (changed in 1893, I believe, to Carrollton Truehearts
The Willing Workers Missionary Society of Carrollton (Kentucky) Methodist Episcopal Church received this certificate circa 1886 recognizing a $10 donation to a project in China. Sarah's mother Alice Ada Cost Howe was a member of that society, and Sarah herself later joined.

for Mrs. S.C. Trueheart) and of course there were the adult societies, the Foreign Mission and “home mission” or “Parsonage” societies – but we had no missionaries in India in the southern Methodist church so knew nothing of the work done there.
The graduation exercises were held, I believe, Tuesday morning – this was the week of June 9, for on that day we went to the exercises at "Rest Cottage" named for the Frances E. Willard one in Chicago where poor working girls could go for a week of free vacation in the summer, and have instruction and entertainment as well as food and lodging. Jennie Casseday was really the originator of the idea, and every WCTU[3] had (and has yet) a department in her honor called The Flower Mission in which special attention is given to sending, as she did (and she was for so many years acclaimed), little bunches of flowers to the sick at hospitals with verses of cheer and comfort attached. Her birthday, June 9th is always especially celebrated by a particular act of mercy – in Carrollton we took a treat and held a service on that day at the Poor Farm.
So, as I say, in 1898 on that day we went to exercises at Rest Cottage. On Tuesday there was the Bellwood Graduation. I don’t remember much about it, except that there was an Anne Finzer who graduated (of the Nicholas Finzer Company, tobacco people). She had the most exquisite white dress of lace and sheer “voile” and carried a sheaf of lilies (and this was why I particularly remembered her) in her withered left arm pressed against her body; she probably had had infantile paralysis[4], tho we knew nothing of it then – even her wealth had not been able to help that poor little arm.
On another page in the same scrapbook, Sarah provides a bit more history of Bellewood Seminary. The excerpt refers again to Mildred Goslee and begins on the previous page.
Transcription: [Mildred Goslee was] now living at Lakeland Hospital, where her father was superintendent (appointed by Governor Bradley) and was for the second year attending Bellwood Seminary, a famous local Presbyterian School (its buildings now are incorporated in the Orphanage at Anchorage and the chapel is the Anchorage Pres. Church. This is the school mentioned in The Little Colonel at Boarding School written sometime later.

[1] Bellewood Female Seminary, established in 1860 by William Wallace Hill. The school was associated with the Anchorage Presbyterian Church until the school closed in 1916. Source: The Encyclopedia of Louisville by John E. Kieber, page 33, via Google Books.
[2] Image ULPA 1994.18.0716, Herald Post Collection, 1994.18, Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky. Used here with permission.
[3] Women's Christian Temperance Union. Sarah's mother, and later Sarah, were members.
[4] An old term for polio, an infectious disease (now all but eradicated in the U.S.) that can cause paralysis, difficulty breathing, and sometimes death. Source:


Jim Dorris said...

I really enjoy these trips through time, and glimpses into the life of this intriguing person. What a treasure. Thank you for sharing.

Frances Nelson Salyers said...

Thanks for commenting, Jim. I'm glad you're reading and enjoying the posts. There is so much info and "time travel" in these scrapbooks! I think I've found a lifetime project.

ScotSue said...

I do like the way you pick out a story and present it to us. I can see a "blog to book" project on the horizon!

Frances Nelson Salyers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frances Nelson Salyers said...

Thanks, Sue. I'm looking forward to exploring "blog to book" when I have more posts. It's an exciting concept!