Always Positive

Canton, SD, 1907, courtesy Library of Congress

Panoramic View of Canton, SD, 1907

The Sioux Valley News, Canton’s weekly newspaper, was unrelentingly upbeat about Canton and its prize establishments.

When the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians faced closure after two serious investigations, the newspaper decried all attempts to shut the facility down and rallied to the asylum’s cause.

Hagan Hall, St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington DC, courtesy Library of Congress

Hagan Hall, St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington DC, courtesy Library of Congress

In the September 28, 1933 issue, a front page story almost crowed about the success of legal blocks to the proposed closure,  which had been instigated by locals.
Seven attendants from St. Elizabeths Hospital, the federal government’s other (and much larger)  insane asylum in Washington, DC, had come to Canton to remove Indian patients as part of the closure process. A legal injunction prevented them from doing so, and they returned to Washington without their patients.

 

Chemistry Laboratory at St. Elizabeths, 1910?, courtesy National Institutes of Health

Chemistry Laboratory at St. Elizabeths, 1910?, courtesy National Institutes of Health

Not content with its public delight in seeing the closure blocked, the newspaper also wanted to make sure readers knew how pleasantly surprised the Easterners had been with Canton. “They were surprised to find that everybody out here didn’t wear ten gallon hats, carry six shooters and ride cow ponies,” the paper reported. Instead, after talking with townspeople and making an auto tour of Canton and the surrounding area, the visitors “decided that this wasn’t a forgotten race out here at all.” According to the paper, the attendants found the community looking prosperous compared to the poverty in the east. One attendant even told the newspaper that he was impressed by the cordiality of the townspeople and that he wished he had a job there.

All in all, the paper wrote jubilantly, the seven attendants got the impression that “Canton is a darn nice little town.”

 

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