Annual reports of the officers of state of the State of Indiana online

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fying influence of the light of truth, and their desponding hearts, to
which HopQ had long been a stranger, rousing up into fresh energy
in view of the brighter day now dawning upon them. But by no

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means the least gratifying evidence of success, may be found in the
steadily increasing interest in our cause which is manifested in every
section of the State. The universal sentiment expressed by the
numerous visiters who pass through our apartments, witnessing
the attainments of the pupils and the means provided for their com>
fort and improvement, is that of grateful satisfaction and a deter-
mination to do all in their power to further *an enterprise fraught
with so much good.


Of the several officers associated with me in the Institute, I am
happy in being able as heretofore, to bear most gratifying testimony :
and I believe I hazard nothing in the assertion that for harmony of
intercourse, and efficiency in the discharge of their respective duties,
they are unsurpassed by the faculty of any similar institution.

The resignation of Miss E.M.Hamilton on the first of March
last in consequence of the failure of her health, was a souixe of un-
feigned regret to her associates and pupils, as well on account of that
courtesy and amiability of deportment which rendered her so agree-
able a companion, as of the loss we sustained in the withdrawal of
her services from a field of labor for which she seemed so eminently

We have reason to hope however, that in her successor, Mr, B. M.
Fay, who entered upon the discharge of his duties at the commence-
ment of the current session, we will find an officer no less qualified
in any respect for the station. The field is indeed a new one to him,
but he has entered it with an evident determination to devote himself
permanently to the work; and from such evidence as has already
been given, we cannot doubt of his success as an instructor of the

Miss E. M. Curtis was also obliged on the first of April, to sever
for a time her connection with us, on account of the sickness and
death of her mother; but she resumed the duties of her post as as-
sistant in the school department and instructor of female handicraft,
with the opening of the present session. During the absence of
Miss C, Mrs. M. M. Churchman at your solicitation, kindly con-
sented to assume the charge of her department.

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At the date of our last annual report, our school numbered ihirly-
eight pupils. Since that time fourteen others have been received,
making the entire number in attendance during the year, fifty-two,
But of this number, six have left, viz :

S11.AS and Louisa Helton of Morgan county.
Phkbe a. Robinett of Hancock county,
LoHENzo T. Tucker of Jackson county,
Daniel Byrkit of Henry county,
Michael Courtney of Decatur county.

Three also have been removed by death, viz:
George W. Culbertson of Wayne county,
John S. R. Bergin of Marion county,
George W. Hibbitts of Dearborn county.

This leaves the number at present connected ivith the Institute,

Silas and Louisa Helton left informally after remitining only a
few months with us ; and therefore received but little benefit from
their connection with the Institute.

Phebe A. Robinett returned home in the latter part of December,
in consequence of her sight having so far improved, as to prevent
her being benefitted by our methods of instruction.

Lorenzo T. Tucker and Daniel Byrkit, after having made them*
selves acquainted with several branches of handicraft, retarned to
their respective homes with a view of applying their knowledge to
practice in the way of self-maintenance. They are cordially recom-
mended to the kindness and patronage of the community as compe-
tent workmen.

Michael Courtney has abo become quite expert in themanoiactore
of willow-work and brooms, and is temporarily engaged as an assis-
tant in our willow department, though he expects in a short time to
Q^ke an efibrt to establish himself in business. Should he do so, he
too will carry with him the confidence of both officers and pupils, as
^ell as their sincere desire for his success.

Most of this year's increase in our numbers, like that of the last»
is the result of our travelling with some of the advanced pupils for

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the purpose of visiting the Blind at their homes, and of making
public exhibitions of the practicability of our system of instruction,
in parts of the State, remote from the capital. It is earnestly re-
commended therefore, that these tours be continued annually until
erery county in the State shall have been trarversed. The labor and
expense attendant upon such journies, are by no means trivial; but
if we would extend the blessings of education to all the young blind
within our borders, we must for reasons presented at length in pre-
vious reports, pursue this as the most effective means of accomplish-
ing the desired end. Besides, it enables a large class of our citizens
whose business never calls them to the seat of Government, and who
would therefore never be able to visit us, an opportunity of witness-
ing the gratifying fruits of their beneficence in the support of the Insti-
tute, which goes far to insure a continuation of their cheerful co-op-
eration with the General Assembly, in its noble efforts to ameliorate
the condition of an alBSiicted though well deserving class of their fel-
low citizens.

Our recent tour of some of the southern ceunties, made under the
instructions of your board, was commenced it the close of the last
session, and occupied nearly four weeks. The counties visited on
this occasion were the following, viz: Johnson, Bartholomew, Jack-
son, Washington, Harrison, Floyd, Clark, Scott, Jefferson, Switzer-
land, Ohio, Dearborn, Ripley, Decatur and Shelby.

We found numerous eligible subjects for instruction in the course
of our route, the most of whom have since been placed under our
charge. We also gave public exhibitions in most of the principal
towns, which were generally well attended, and did much we trust
to interest the hearts of the people in our philanthropic work.

We received everywhere marked attention from members of the
Legislature and othei's, for which we would embrace this opportunity
to tender our grateful acknowledgments.

The law of the last session of the Legislature, requiring the county
Assessors to report the name, age and residence of each deaf and
dumb, blind and insane person throughout the State to the Auditors
of their respective counties^ aided us somewhat in our search for
scholars during the trip referred to; but the assistance from this
source was not as great as was designed by the General Assembly,
on account of the very imperfect manner in which the law was car-
ried out The cause of the failure on the part of many of the

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county officers, to comply fully with tb« rtquintions of the act
alluded too, may in this instance be mainly attributable to the fact
of their not having received their instructions until after they had
made their regular assessments, as we were informed by several that
they had been obliged on that account to make their reports from
memory. We think it more than probable however, judging from
previous experience in this and several other State, that we will
never be able to obtain a complete list of the Blind within our State
limits, until such functionaries shall be so impressed with the impor*
tance of accuracy in this matter, as to feel the necessity of making
strict inquiry at every house within their respective districts. They
are too prone to depend upon their personal knowledge of the fami*
lies of their constituents, and upon their memory of the situation of
each, with regard to such matters. We have often been told by
public men in different parts of the country, while travelling in quest
of blind pupils, that being acquainted with all the citizens of the
counties in which they resided, they knew there were no blind chil-
dren among them; but have afterwards found several within their
immediate neighborhoods, of which they knew nothing or had for^
gotten them. Blind children are generally shy of strangers, and OB
the approach of the latter to the houses of their parents, retire out
of sight. The parents too from various motives, are not onfrequently
averse to having their children exposed to the gaze of strangers and
when inquired of by persons appointed to collect such statistics, they
are apt to equivocate, especially if their children possess some vision.
It is doubtless from these causes that the well known inaccuracy of
the United States census arises.

Through the kindness of Dr. E. W. H. Ellis, Auditor of State, we
have been enabled to procure the returns of the Blind from some fif-
ty-four counties, in which there was some pains taken to compl>
with the requisitions of the act heretofore mentioned. These show
but two hundred and thirty-five blind persons, of all ages, in said
counties, which, from the acknowledged deficiencies in some of these
returns, is undoubtedly far below the actual number in these coun-
ties. But even sqpposing this to be a correct statement, we may es-
timate the whole number in the State, to be no less than four hund-
red. It is quite probable that the County Officers, in their enumera-
tion, included only those who were totally blind; while there are
very many partially blind, who, from their inability to acquire an

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education by rneaof of tlieir mferbci viaon, are d^iUe subjects
for our institate.

In Tiew of the importance to as of conect information upon tins
subject, allow me before dismissing it, to suggest tbe propriety of
your recommending to tbe next Legislature, the passage of a law,
making it tbe annual duty of the appropriate county officers to re-
turn to the Auditor of State, the name, age, Post Office address
and, in case of minors, the names of the parents or guardians, of each
blind person in the State, including all who do not possess sufficieot
sight to enable them to learn to read and write in the ordinary man-
ner. And, in order to insure accuracy, they should be required to
make particular inquiry at every house in the State. This would
add but little to the duties of these officers, while it would render as
invaluable aid in carr3ring out ihfc objects of the Institute.


In all previous communications to your board, it has been our in-
estimable privil^e, to be permitted to report entire immunity from
fatal disease, and even a remarkable exemption from sickness ofaay
form ; but while the priceless boon of health has still been vouchsafed
10 nearly all of our numerous household, yet it becomes our painful
duty, on this occasion, to record the inroads of Death, into our hith-
erto unbroken circle. Not only once did the Destroyer let us feel
the desolating power of his ruthless hand, but again, and even again,
did he make hb appearance, plucking from our midst, at each assault,
one of the most promising of our number.

George W. Culbbhtson departed this life on the eighteenth of
March, in the nineteenth year of his age. His death was occasioned
by Pulmonary Consumption, which was doubtless inherited from
his parents, as they both died with the same disease.

The deceased had been a pupil with us from the opening ^of the
school, and as such, won for himself the confidence of his teachers,
and the affectionate regard of all his associates. He had been for
some time an acceptable member of the Methodist Episcopal Church ;
and while his loss is mourned by all, we are cheered by the hope
that he has been transported to a brighter and better world, upon
whose beauties his unsealed eyes may gaze with rapturous delight,
and where he has experienced a re-union with his beloved parents.


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JoHH S. R. Bbboin died on the tweaty-e^hth of March, in the
sixteenth year of his age, after a painful illness of eight weeks. His
death was caused by Typhoid Fever. He, too, was a most exem-
plary pupilt and possessed an excellent mind. Enei^etic, industrious,
and persevering, he gave promise of much future usefulness ; and had
he been spared to us, would undoubtedly have proved an ornament
to his class, and an honor to his place of education. Though young
he also had made a profession of Religion, and united himself to the
Presbyterian Church before entering the Institute.

Gborob W. Hibbitts died very suddenly, on the fourth of May,
with Congestion of the Brain, being in the eleventh year of his age.

George was a remarkably interesting child, possessing, with many
noble and amiable traits of disposition, an intellect of more than usu-
al activity. Such, indeed, was his fondness for study, that it not un-
frequently became necessary to restrain him ; and it required con*
slant watchfulness on the part of his teaciiers, to keep him from pour-
ing over hb books, while his companions were at play. With such
qualities as these, it were needless to add, that he was a universal fa-
vorite with us, and that his untimely end was deeply felt by all, as a
severe affliction.

Thus have we been called to follow to their last resting place in
^he silent tomb, three of the brightest ornaments of our school. And
while we deeply mourn their departure, we are not unmiiidful of the
sad bereavement sustained by their relatives and friends. Heartily
do we sympathize with them in their loss, and rejoice with them in
the confident hope that the deceased, on awakening from the sleep of
death, will find themselves in a better and happier land, where in-
firmity can reach them no more. Were it consbtent with the na*
ture and limits of a communication like thb, it would be a source of
inexpressible pleasure, to dwell upon the memory of the departed
ones, who had so engrafted themselves upon our affections. A thou-
sand recollections spring up, as we write, which it would be a pleas-
ure to record ; but we must not tarry longer than to assure you, and
through you their friends, that during their hours of illness, they re-
ceived every care and comfort that the physician's art, and the kind
attentions of sympathizing friends could minbter. In our estimable
Matron, whose previous experience, added to a heart full of kindness,
eminently qualifies hei* for the peculiarly arduous duties of the sick
chambert they found a mother, indeed. No parent's hand could

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make a smoother pillow» no parent's eye be more sleepless during the
long and silent watches of the night, or mobten quicker at each re-
turning paroxysm of pain, than did hers ; and we are most happy
in being able to pay this slight tribute to her worth*

It must be to you, as it is to us, a matter of heartfelt congratola-
tion, that the deaths of these three pupils are in no wise attributable
to our location, or any other circumstance connected with the Insti-
tute, The character and diversity of the diseases which carried than
off, forbid the slightest apprehension upon this ground.


Of the improvement of our pupils in their various school exercises,
we are strU able to give a satisfactory account, though it must be
admitted that their progress has been somewhat retarded by the dim-
inution of our corps of Instructors, about the middle of the last ses-
sion. We were in cithsequence obliged to combine classes of differ-
ent grades, which not only made them too large for efficient Instruc-
tion, but at the same time kept the more advanced scholars from
progressing as they should have done.

The changing of teachers in a school like ours, even where their
qoalificntions are equal, is always to be deprecated; for the ne«
ones must, necessarily labor under no little disadvantage in impart-
ing instruction, before they have time to become acquainted with the
peculiar talents and acquirements of their pupils; but when, as is
most generally the case, they have had no previous experience in the
training of blind children, the loss of time is far greater. It is well
understood, that for success in any department of the profession of
teaching, much experience is needed, and in ours,tbis is pre-eminent*
ly the case; for though there is no intrinsic defect in the mental
structure, consequent upon the absence of sight, there exist, never-
theless, many obstacles to the perfect development of some of the
faculties, which obstacles must be appreciated, to be removed, and
studied to be appreciated. There are also many irregular tenden-
cies to be guarded against, many acquired peculiarities to be over-
come; all of which require much time and experience for the proper
understanding of them. If the imparting of knowledge, in some few
branches of Science or Literature, were all that is to be done, the
Mcessary preparation for the work would be, comparatively unim-

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porfant, wmi appvopriata salactioxn of teacharg more easily made.
Bat it is quite obTknis, that the teacher's duty does not end here, and
that higher qualifications are needed for success as an efficient labor-
er ia oor cause*

The design of these hints is to call your attention to the high im-
portanca of selecting for officers of the Institute, such only as possess
undoubted ability* and who will enter upon the work with a heart-
felt determination to devote their whole time and energies to it; for
these only are fit to engage in it There are, as you are doubtless
aware, many persons who adopt teaching as a temporary means of
support, using it as a stepping-stone to some other professiont and it
need hardly be remarked, that such have not sufficient interest in
the business, to make them truly useful.

About the same routine of study, labor, and recreation, as hereto-
fore reported, has been pursued during the year just closed. In this
order our constant aim has been, to so combine their manual and
intellectual exercises, and intersperse them with hours of recreation,
as to produce a harmonious development of both the mental and
physical natures. Nor is the moral being overlooked in our plan of
education. On the contrary, every pains is taken to prevent the
formation of, or continuation in, improper habits of any kind, and to
cultivate in our pupils, a high sense of their moral obligations. In-
deed, we would deem any scheme of education defective, which did
not have reference to the three-fold nature of man.


In the Science and Practice of music, our scholars are, through
the indefatigable labors of their excellent instructor, making most
commendable advancement. The band, comprising some ten or
twelve performers, is beginning to execute, in a creditable manner,
some quite difficult compositions, while the choir, consisting of al-
most the entire school, has been taught to perform with equal taste
and skill, a goodly variety of Choruses, Anthems, Glees, etc., from
the most approved authors. As favorable an account may also be
given of the Piano Forte Scholars, of whom there are, at this time,
ten or twelve. Several of them, indeed, have advanced sufficiently
to commence a course of instruction upon the organ ; and as it is
our design to prepare these for organbts and teachers of music, it is

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much to h% regretted that we have not an inatrumMit of this Iriod for
them to practice opoD. It is presumed, however, that upon tlie
completion of our main building, where there will be a snitable room
provided for it, you will adopt early measures to supply this defi*

Besides their instruction in the practice of Music, an advanced
class have been receiving lessons in Thorough Bass, and Composition.
The members of this class have likewise made gratifying progress.

We would not have you underrate the importance of this branch
in the education of the Blind. Be it what it may to the Seeing, it h
to those who are shut out from the visible beauties of creation, an
invaluable accomplishment, whether we regard it as an available
means of obtaining an honorable independence, or as a refiner of
the affections, and a source of innocent recreation — we speak not of
its abuse. As the visible world, with all its pleasing varieti^ ot
form, its endless combinations, and beautiful blendings of light and
shade, is to the soul that is permitted to look out upon it, and feel iti
refining, nay, its regenerating influences, so is the world of sound to
him who is denied the contemplation of these beauties. '*Ia the va-
ried stream of warbling melody,** as it winds its way, in graceful
meanderings to the deep recesses of bis soul, **or of rich and bound-
less harmony, as it swells and rolls its pompous tide around him,** he
finds a solace and a compensation for the absent joys of sight. Con-
sequently, the educated blind musician becomes enthusiastic in his
admiration of the Science and Art of Music. "Secluded ever from
the joys of vision, he seeks for consolation here. Oft, in the pensive
musings of his active mind, when lonely and retired, he contemplates
the excellence of music, and seeks the sources of its powerful channs.
He runs through the nice gradations, and minute divisions of its
scale, and fancies an unlimited extent, in gravity and acuteness, be-
yond the reach of all perception : — thence he traverses the rich and
devious maze of combinations which result from harmony, and all
its complicated evolutions — the soft and loud, the mingling light and
shade of music — the swelling and decreasing tones, which form the
®rial tracery and fading tints of just perspective— all are to him» the
body, color, strength and outline, which compose the vivid picture
his imagination has created. He ponders next upon the various
sounds produced in nature : from the soft and balmy whisper of the
vernal breeze, to the loud pealings of the deep-toned thunder, heard

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amid the inrailings of the fiercely raging storm. Lost in the tumult
of his strong emotions, he exclaims : ^<Wbat is there in the wide ere-
ation so sublime, magnificent or beautilul, as sound?' ^

In saying thus much upon the subject of Music, we would not be
understood as advocating its culture to the exclusion of other more
substantial studies; we would use it as an auxiliary only, to the in-
tellectual department of instruction, except with the few who are to
depend upon it as a means of support.

In addition to the Literary classes heretofore reported, we organ-
ized, at the commencement of the present session, one for the study
of the German Language. Our reason for so doing is two-fold ;
first, in consequence of the rapid increase of the German population
in this section of the country, it is being introduced into very many
of our best schools for the Seeing; and, secondly, because it will
greatly facilitate the acquisition of fluency in the use of the English
Language. In view of the difiiculties which beset the path of the
blind student, in attaining to a free and correct use of language, this
last consideration is one of no little importance. From the interest
manifested, and the attainments made thus far, we have reason to
expect that thb class will do well.

Appended to this report, will be found a specimen of poetical com-
position by one of our female pupils. In addition to the interest ari-
sing out of its intrinsic merit, the pleasure of its perusal will doubt-
less be enhanced by the fact of its having been dictated, as are all
the writings of the authoress, to a deaf amanuensis, by means of the
manuel alphabet, used by deaf mates. This amannensis is her sister,
and a pupil of our State Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb. We have
also added one from a collection of poems, published by a graduate
of the New York Institution for the Blind, which, we think, will be
read with interest

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For an account of the operations of the Work Department, since
the issuing of our last Report, we would refer you to the following
Table of articles manufactured, together with the exhibit of the re-
ceipts and expenditures. The latter shows, as usual, the gratifying
result of a balance in favor of the department, notwithstanding the
cost of instruction, waste of material by beginners, and other draw-
backs incident to work-shops like ours*

From November 1^, 1849, to November Ist, 1850.









Online LibraryIndianaAnnual reports of the officers of state of the State of Indiana → online text (page 20 of 40)