New Year, New Problems

February 1909 Blizzard, Canton, S.D.

February 1909 Blizzard, Canton, S.D.

New years may imply fresh starts, but for the superintendent of the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, a new year often meant the same old–or brand new–problems to deal with. The asylum was inspected by Supervisor Jacob Breid in January, 1912. A new sewer had just been completed, but did not work; water was not flowing correctly through one of the manholes about 1,500 feet away from the buildings.

Family in Yankton County, South Dakota, circa 1911 to 1917

Family in Yankton County, South Dakota, circa 1911 to 1917

The sewer had been a headache for the asylum’s superintendent, Dr. Harry Hummer, for some time. The work specifications had been changed as problems arose, one of which was a grade issue and another of getting the pipe down into the ground deep enough that it would not freeze. Perhaps that is what had happened during the time of Breid’s inspection, when it was 40 below zero!

A Snow Storm in South Dakota, February 2, 1910, courtesy University of South Dakota

A Snow Storm in South Dakota, February 2, 1910, courtesy University of South Dakota

 

Of course, Hummer himself could do little about a problem of this nature, and would likely have had to simply wait for a spring thaw before the contractor could find the point where the pipe had broken or cracked. Meanwhile, the asylum had to make do with a sewer that did not function.

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