THE RICH HISTORY

RANDOLPH COUNTY ASYLUM HISTORICAL TIMELINE

1882 Historical Drawing of the Infirmary while a poor house

Previously referred to also as Randolph County Poor Asylum/House/Home/Farm, County Home, Countryside Care Center.

The county home, originally the Randolph County Poorhouse, was built in 1899. The property at one time included a pump house, two different barns, a machine shed, two garages as well as a chicken house. The property also has an unmarked cemetery somewhere on the grounds where some former residents of the poorhouse were buried.

• Tract of land purchased by county about 1851 to house a poor farm to care for those unable to work, including the mentally and physically disabled, single mothers, elderly and orphans. Dwelling existed on premises that served as facility for a time, then serving 13 inmates. Residents were to maintain the farm, though many unable to perform labor due to age or infirmity.

 

• New wooden building constructed in 1853, housing 16 inmates.

• Destroyed by fire less than year later in January 1854.

• New two-story brick building constructed in 1855-56. • Building eventually ordered demolished due to poor conditions, and new structure to be built to better accommodate growing patient population.

• New nearly 50,000-square-foot building (current structure) constructed in 1898-99. Housed six large wards, several private rooms, laundry, kitchen, separate dining rooms for women and men. Property included pump house, barn, hay barn, machine shed, garage or cell house, two garages, and chicken house on 350 acres. Cemetery also located on property, 230 yards northwest of the home.

• New ownership assumed from county in 1994; known as Countryside Care Center, housing 12 residents.


• Closed in 2008-2009, housing 5 residents before use as county storage facility.

• Current owners purchased from county in 2016 for reuse as paranormal attraction. Cemetery • Neff Cemetery (also called White-Kelley or Randolph County Infirmary Cemetery) located north of infirmary on hill in middle of pasture field. Cemetery for White and Kelley families.

• According to county historian, apparently practice to bury the residents on infirmary’s farm, though no way to determine actual number because records not kept until about 1900. Victims of infirmary fire also believed buried on grounds.

• At least 50 unmarked graves reported located on property. Proposal in 1938 by descendant of John Neff sought to erect a fence around several of the oldest Neff family gravesites. Historical Society reset as many headstones as could be found in 1985.


• Moses Devore, died at the infirmary near Winchester, 2 weeks ago. Buried in potter’s field. *See burial records below. (Union City Times, 1/17/1908)

 

Burials
o Aker, Lucinda, 1887
o Conway, daughter of C.M., 1853
o Johnson, J.N., Co. K, 36th Inf.
o Johnson, Mrs. Thomas (Peggy Neff), 1881
o Kelley, Charlotte L., 1855
o Kell(e?)y, Dennis, 1785-1849
o Kelly, Lebanthy (White)
o Kell(e?)y, Mary, 1866
o Kelly, Sarah M., 1853
o Love, Leban
o Love, Margaret Ann (Neff)
o Love, son of Leban and Margaret (Neff)
o Neff, Cordelia Jane, 1845
o Neff, John, 1771-1856
o Neff, Lewis, 1882
o Neff, Susannah (Gray), 1774-1854
o Neff, infant, 1880
o Souders, Mary Delin, 1859
o Summers, Susannah (Ludy?), 1847
o White, Andrew, 1874
o White, infant son and daughter, 1840
o White, Jacob A., 1852
o White, Jacob B., 1793-1848
o White, John H., 1856
o White, Mary “Polly” (Neff), 1803-1878
o Brown, Peter, 1891
o Childress, Amy, infirmary patient of 15 years, 1914
o Clearwater, Charles, 1925
o Cooley, Charles, 1899
o Cotton, Joseph, 1905
o Dancer, Charles, 1846-1911

o Denney, Mary

o Devore, Mose, 1816-1907
o Donnelly, John, 1918
o Hill, William, 1914
o Hindsley, Elizabeth
o Hinsley, Mary, 1863-1912
o Hodgens, Rebecca, 1914
o Holt, John, 1917
o Jellison, Albert, 1900
o Lyle, Frank B., 1908
o Martin, Mary Jane, 1912
o Morin, George, 1913
o Perkins, Elizabeth, 1901
o Simpson, William T., 1915
o Snyder, newborn, 1903
o Stiver, William, 1900
o Switzer, Lucy, 1912

 

Notables:
John Neff (1771-1856), father of Col. H. H. Neff of Civil War, and grandfather of John E. Neff, Indiana Secretary of State; Peter Brown (d. 1891), slave in West Virginia in Civil War when fled from home, became waiter for Union army and moved north with Ohio regiment.

 

Notes of Interest, Tragedies

• Unknown how many deaths occurred during infirmary’s history; one estimate of 200. Number of tuberculosis deaths; a resident pushed out of a second-floor window; and hangings also believed reported.

• 1882 description details “constant care” of from 45 to 70 inmates, with greatest number at one time reported as 78. The number of homeless children residing in institution from 6 to 12.

• A Miss Mary J. Blair lately died in the poor asylum, shortly after giving birth to a child. Previous to her death she wrote a note and addressed it to a man named A.H. Green, of West Liberty, Ohio, who afterwards confessed to being the father of the child. He professed to having been ignorant of the whereabouts of the woman during her stay in the asylum. 

(The Cambridge City Tribune, 8/21/1873)

• Sam Preston, inmate, lately tried to commit suicide by driving a penknife blade into his head with a flat-iron. The doctor pulled out the blade and Sam did not succeed in shuffling off.

(The Cambridge City Tribune, 8/21/1873)

• The mummy Mose, which has been on exhibition at fairs and reunions in western Ohio and eastern Indiana for several years was buried at the Randolph County Infirmary cemetery a few days ago. Mose was the body of a tramp found murdered in a barn near Lima a few years ago. As no one claimed the body, a local undertaker took charge and embalmed and preserved it after it was placed on exhibition. The body began to show signs of decay and it was ordered buried. (The Indianapolis News, 7/25/1918)

• Orlando Hiatt died at the infirmary. He was 10 years old. (Palladium-Item, 6/5/1924)

• Thomas Gray, 68, died at the infirmary. His brother, James Gray, died a short time ago at the same place. (The Richmond Item, 8/13/1924)

• Randolph Spencer, 69, died at the infirmary. Death, it is believed, was due largely to exposure. The aged man was found in a little cabin, where he had been living. 

(The Richmond Item, 9/24/1924)

• William Miller, 73, inmate dropped dead while loading an infirmary wagon with coal from a car. (The Richmond Item 9/17/1925)

• Phillip G. Fraze, 55, inmate, died after struck by automobile as he walked behind a team of horses near the infirmary. (The Tipton Daily Tribune, 9/2/1941)

 

Responses from Residents?

• Doris M. Addington (1915-2006) institutionalized since age of 11; lived for decades at infirmary and worked in kitchen. She and six siblings taken by state after her mother died. Sent to live in homes because told too old to be adopted like siblings. Suffered nervous breakdown and went blind for some time. Her father also inmate at infirmary, where she returned to at age 21 and witnessed him die of heart attack in living room. Described as cheerful, chatterer and obedient. (The Indianapolis Star, 3/3/1997)

• Willis Fields (1870-1957) custodian of courthouse, gardener, raised prize flowers. 

(Palladium-Item 9/28/1940)

• Wilson listed as name of 1-year-old child (?) of Amos Hall in 1870 Census. Amos was a longtime superintendent of infirmary.