More Odd Decisions

Law West of the Pecos Judged Horse Thiefs Harshly, photo taken of Langtry, Texas in 1900, courtesy National Archives

Law West of the Pecos Judged Horse Thieves Harshly, photo taken of Langtry, Texas in 1900, courtesy National Archives

After being accused of horse theft, Peter Thompson Good Boy met an Insanity Commission in South Dakota and was adjudged insane. Oddly, he was sent to the government hospital in Washington, DC instead of the much closer Canton Asylum in SD. ¬†Good Boy asserted that because he pleaded “not guilty” to the theft charge, he was sent to an insane asylum far away. He accused a neighbor of instigating the maneuver, because Good Boy knew something about the neighbor’s criminal behavior.

St. Elizabeths' Center Building, circa 1900, courtesy National Archives

Center Building, circa 1900, courtesy National Archives

No one in authority quite believed Good Boy, but two congressmen made inquiries on his behalf, as did a chaplain. Apparently, the authorities at St. Elizabeths had told one of the congressmen (Congressman McGuire) that if someone would take responsibility for Good Boy and give him proper attention, he could probably be released. The chaplain wrote to say that a former employer of Good Boy’s had offered him employment in Nebraska.

Patient Room at St. Elizabeths, circa 1905

Patient Room at St. Elizabeths, circa 1905

Additional inquiries were made on behalf of Good Boy, so that whoever wrote Good Boy’s case summary concluded: “In view of the various conflicting statements (some not included in this post) which we have regarding this man, it is quite impossible for us to definitely decide as to what should be done in this case. His past conduct here has been exemplary, and aside from his ideas concerning, Whipple [the neighbor], he has manifested no signs of psychosis.”

The writer said that he would write to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs about the whole matter, and urged that Good Boy at least go to an institution nearer his home.

Good Boy was transferred to the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians on May 3, 1916. My next post will discuss this asylum superintendent’s take on Good Boy’s insanity.

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Click here to order "VANISHED IN HIAWATHA: The Story of the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians" by Carla Joinson.

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