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Can farm work treat mental illness? That was among the stories in 1910
By Jerry Turnquist | Daily Herald Columnist

The growing population at the Elgin State Hospital, now the Elgin Mental Health Center, a century ago prompted officials to consider relocating some patients to area farms for treatment. The administration building at the time has since been demolished.


Courtesy Jerry Turnquist

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Published: 8/23/2010 12:04 AM

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"Do you think that working on a farm can help treat mental illness?"

"It looks like that new Boy Scout program is going to be very popular."

"It's upsetting to see so many people in jail sometimes."

These are just some of the comments people might have made after reading the Elgin newspapers of a century ago. Here's a look at those and other stories that made local news during August 1910.

Farm therapy: Placing patients of the Elgin State Hospital, now the Elgin Mental Health Center, in farms would hasten their recovery, said former superintendent of the institution.

Work upon outside farms would be "helpful and would have additional advantages in removing the idea of his own ailment from the patient's mind," he explained. This plan would also help reduce the overcrowding at the institution, the executive added.

Full House: For the first time in awhile the Elgin city jail was filled to capacity, police said.

Guests of the lockup included two occupants arrested fighting, another who had used a knife to attack several others, and a pickpocket known throughout the Midwest, who police said was likely in town for the Elgin Road Races.

Two pounds of bologna, six loaves of bread, and four pounds of coffee were brought in to provide the guest's evening meal and next morning's breakfast.

Moonlight swimming: Residents who wanted to do any late night bathing at Wing Park pool better forget the idea, according to the Elgin City Council.

Despite some recent medical reports that moonlight bathing is beneficial to your health, city officials said that the park facility would not be available for such purposes. Those who frequented the park after dark were generally "rowdies," they added.

Outdoor fun: In recreational news, the Fox River motorboat craze of two years ago was dying off - a decline due to both the lower river levels and the aging equipment of the boat owners, reports said.

Basketball was expected to be given a boost in the city now that the new Elgin High School and its gym on DuPage Street were going to be available. And, the two-year-old golf course at Wing Park - a facility some termed "better than the public courses in Chicago" - was gaining in popularity due in part to lessons being offered at the course by Eddie Williams, the teenage caddy turned pro.

First Scouts: This year marks the centennial of Boy Scouts in the country as well as in Elgin.

"Patrol No. 1" formed under the direction of east-side resident Leonard L. Hanchett. Young men who could claim the honor of being the first Scouts in Elgin were Walter Beam, Louis Carrier, Alan Burgeson, John Jacob, George Meredith, Charles Page, John L. Patterson, Albert Schaefer, Paul Studer, and Charles Underhill. Over 100 young men were reportedly waiting for application forms to join the organization.

Fingers free: Musicians would find their life a little easier because of his latest invention, an Elgin butcher said.

"I have been at work on it for a year, on and off," said W.J. Gahlbeck of his invention that automatically turned the pages of a music book.

The inventor said his device was so simple that even a child could operate it. Gahlbeck said he had talked to a Chicago attorney about securing a patent but had decided to handle the matter himself.

Presidential visit: Finally, would former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visit Elgin?

That's what many were wondering after Elgin City Council extended an invitation to the former chief executive to stop in the city after learning that he would be on train passing through the community.

What did Roosevelt do with the invitation? Find out next month in this column.