Difficult to Leave

Cato Sells, Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1913-1921)

Allen Owl, a patient at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, demonstrates how difficult it was to convince Dr. Hummer that a patient could safely leave his care. Owl wrote to the commissioner of Indian Affairs on December 16, 1919, and ended his letter by saying: “Would be glad to get my discharge from this place. Also will obey the public & government laws from now on.”

Hummer wrote to the commissioner in reply: . . . “In other words he is about as well as he ever will be. He has a good home here, is well taken care of, is well-behaved and trusted with parole privileges of the grounds and an occasional pass to town to the picture shows. In addition to which he was permitted to work with neighboring farmers this season, earning about one hundred and fifty or sixty dollars.”

Unfortunately for Owl, Hummer added, “This, however, does not mean that he could or would do as well were he discharged and thrown upon his own resources. . . . Accordingly, I must recommend adversely to his request and hope that your Office will write him a nice letter to that effect.”

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