Although it was already a mecca for health seekers on the eve of the 1880s, 

Los Angeles was not far removed from the dirty, unsanitary pueblo that had 

confronted newcomers in earlier years.  Drinking water still came from communal 

ditches that also served as laundries or, in the case of Harris Newmark's 

family, as a convenient drain for the bathtub.  Sewers, as previously noted, 

were virtually non-existent.  Efficient disposal of garbage and trash was years 

away, and residents still complained about dead animals found in the zanja or 

decaying on the city's streets.

    Smallpox epidemics periodically swept Southern California, and diphtheria, 

typhoid and tuberculosis took their toll.  Public health measures before the 

1880s were ineffectual or ignored, and opposition arose when authorities took 

steps to establish a "pesthouse" in Chavez Ravine for the isolation of those 

with smallpox.  While a number of doctors had settled in the region, hospital 

facilities were minimal.  The result was that much remained to be done to make 

the area as attractive to health seekers as they expected it to be.


    The fragrance of orange blossoms was not the only aroma carried by the 

breeze in Los Angeles, but the offensive odor came from more than the source 

cited by sewer farm opponents.  Throughout the 1880s residents complained about 

the stench that arose from a variety of places and accused local government of 

failing to take appropriate action.  Singled out for particular criticism was 

the city's Health Officer, whom residents charged with failing to move against 

offending sources of pollution.  One of these was the municipal dump, 

established by ordinance in 1874 on city land where First Street ended at the 

river and hardly the 19th century equivalent of a sanitary landfill.  Residents 

deposited all manner of discards and debris there, apparently ignoring the 

restriction that dead animals be buried no less than three feet deep.  "H," 

writing in 1882, captured in a short paragraph the essence of the city dumping 


                          {Times, Oct. 3, 1882, p. 4}

                                Wants to Know.

         To the Editor:

              Has Los Angeles a Health officer, or some one whose duty 

         it is to look after the public health?  If not, the city 

         authorities ought to employ one, even though it be but 

         temporarily.  If we have one, he should be started out on a 

         voyage of discovery.  The public find the gutters of most of 

         the streets in a horribly offensive condition.  If that 

         officer had time he might make a pilgrimage to the foot of 

         First street, the city dumping ground, where his nostrils 

         might be regaled with odors most suffocating, where carcasses 

         are permitted to fester in the hot sun, and garbage exhales 

         its deadly vapors, rendering the neighborhood utterly 

         unbearable.  Let us hear from somebody.              


    The odors emanated not only from the dump but from a number of sources, 

some much closer to downtown.  In an era before sewers had become common, 

individual efforts to deal with overflowing cesspools and other waste often 

left much to be desired, as noted by "A Man with a Nose."

                         {Times, Aug. 11, 1883, p. 3}

                       Is It the Health Officer's Duty?

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  "Shoo! what a stink!"  

         Such is the constant exclamation made by numberless people as 

         they make their way through the main streets after dark, when 

         things are quiet.  Noisome odors that come up from basements 

         of houses and water closets that are placed under the 

         sidewalks, some without any traps at all and others with 

         defective ones.  Is it not the Health Officer's duty to look 

         up such nuisances, not only dangerous to health, but 

         injurious to the fair fame of our city for cleanliness?  A 

         time will come when wiseacres will want to know why this 

         thing was not done long ago, when cholera, fever, malarious 

         disorders in general take hold of many of us.  I want to 


                                          A MAN WITH A NOSE.

              Los Angeles, Cal., Aug. 10, 1883.

    Some complainants singled out specific offenders, as in these two letters 

printed the same day.

                         {Times, Mar. 11, 1887, p. 6}

                             It Smells to Heaven.

              Los Angeles, March 10.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Whereas, an appeal to the health officers and the police is 

         of no avail, we try to draw the attention of the public in 

         general to the filthy condition of the lots between 

         Sainsevain and Ducommun streets, in a densely-populated 

         district.  There is on Alameda street, near Sainsevain, the 

         hide house of Mr. Caspar Cohen.  In the rear of it is an 

         extensive yard, where the hides are spread out to dry, 

         exhaling an odor strong enough for anybody.  Besides that, 

         there is a manure pile and other rubbish in one corner, which 

         has not been removed since a year ago.  Hoping to see 

         something done, I remain respectfully, in the name of 


                                                JOHN FORSTER,

                                       No. 24 Sainsevain street.

                         {Times, March 11, 1887, p. 6}
                                   No. 424.

              Los Angles, March 10.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  We 

         desire to call the attention of the proper health officers to 

         a nuisance existing on the premises No. 424 New High street.  

         An inspection will convince them of the immediate necessity 

         of an improvement thereon.  By calling attention to this  

         matter you will confer a great favor upon   

                                       MANY RESIDENTS.

    While Howard Nelson, The Los Angeles Metropolis, and Joseph O'Flaherty, An 

End and A Beginning, suggest that municipal garbage collection was not 

undertaken until well after the 1880s, a city ordinance of 1874 placed the 

overseer of the city jail's chain gang in charge of garbage removal, utilizing 

"the regular police carts."  In 1889 the city required removal of garbage from 

private homes once a week.  Commercial residences, such as hotels and boarding 

houses, were to provide for garbage disposal at their own expense.  

    "K. L.," one of the thousands of migrants who poured into Los Angeles in 

the boom years, gave a graphic description of the garbage problem in this 1887 

letter and in the process poked fun at the city's backwardness in matters 

Easterners took for granted in a civilized community.

                          {Times, June 2, 1887, p. 3}

                               Garbage, Garbage!


              Los Angeles, June 1.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  Not 

         exactly garbage on the brain, but garbage under our 

         noses--too much of it!  We are here in your beautiful City of 

         the Angels, fresh from the bleak but cleanly hills of the 

         extreme East, trying to solve the question of how to live 

         plainly, comfortably and in accordance with the laws of 

         health as we understand them.

              We find ourselves pupils, notwithstanding we had availed 

         ourselves of every opportunity to inform ourselves in 

         relation to life in Lower California before coming here.  We 

         are slowly learning the tricks of trade practiced by your 

         grocers, butchers, bakers and laundrymen, and hope, in time, 

         to be able to master the situation, and enjoy life without 

         more worry and expense than the living is worth.

              Just now, with the sun pouring down good and strong, the 

         garbage question is the greatest problem.

              Every day our family--not a small one--must have fruits 

         and vegetables prepared for our table; and the accumulation 

         of refuse is a matter over which we are troubled.

              Our garbage barrel has a tightly-fitting cover, and is 

         placed in the farther corner of our yard, which is quite as 

         large as our purse permits.  Monday the barrel is emptied, 

         and Monday and Tuesday it stands out in the yard a harmless, 

         inoffensive affair.  We approach it with quite a degree of 

         comfort and safety.  Wednesday the barrel begins to become an 

         object of offense, and you hurry from it.  Thursday you lift 

         the cover gradually, and get a sniff of filth that is only a 

         foretaste of what is in store for you.  Friday, Saturday and 

         Sunday that barrel stares at you, an object of loathing and 

         fear.  We call our children out of the back yard, and send 

         them in the street to play--send them anywhere away from the 

         pestilential garbage barrel, for we well know the filthy 

         stench is a breeder of malarial, typhoid and diphtheritic 


              When obliged to open our barrel during the latter days 

         of the week, one hand must shut the nostrils tightly; the 

         contribution is thrown in at arm's length.

              Should you venture to look in, the wriggling mass will 

         be very apt to take away your relish for a good dinner.  If 

         there is any way to remedy this condition of things we want 

         to be quickly taught it.

              It seems to us that, in a climate like this, a week is a 

         long time to leave this accumulation.  On Monday mornings 

         when the garbage is trundled to the front the stench is 

         fearful; yet the barrel often stands there till afternoon.  

         Why, as a matter of health and cleanliness, should not our 

         garbage be removed every day, or, better yet, every night?  

         Must our refuse be left standing in our yards a whole week, 

         with the flies and maggots swarming and breeding about it by 

         the thousands, and the offensive stench poisoning the air we 

         breathe?  By all means let me know how we can abate this 

         nuisance, more fearful in the results than our late smallpox 


                                                     K. L. 

    Though private garbage collectors periodically came through town to pick up 

food scraps for nearby hog farms, such as those in Vernon, the efficiency of 

that system was in doubt.  "K. L." had been annoyed by garbage that waited a 

week for collection.  "Citizen" would have found that once-a-week pickup a 

Godsend.  Several months after "Citizen's" complaint appeared in the Times the 

council adopted the 1889 ordinance mentioned above, providing for a more 

efficient system of garbage collection.

                         {Times, April 22, 1889, p. 3}

                            It "Smells to Heaven."

              Los Angeles, April 16.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Please allow me, through the medium of your well-circulated 

         paper, to call attention of the Board of Health to the 

         disease-breeding, malaria-inviting barrels of garbage 

         standing in the alley way of the Millard House, corner of 

         Fourth and Los Angeles streets.

              These barrels of garbage and house slops have been 

         standing there three or four weeks, causing a stench that is 

         almost unendurable.

              The garbage wagon passes the house daily, but no effort 

         is made to utilize it.

              Is there no law compelling property-owners to attend 

         such matters?  Yours,


                      B) SPITTING, HEALTH, MEN AND WOMEN

    Spitting on the street was primarily a health matter, but three letter 

writers in December, 1887, broadened the scope of the subject into something 

much more profound.  Rather than comment on the health hazard resulting from 

spitting on the public streets, they turned the discussion into an attack on 

the general uncouth character of men.  That these letters appeared during the 

women's rights debate following the death of Charles Harlan and the arrest of 

Hattie Woolsteen, the young woman he had seduced {see chapter on "Women"}, may 

not have been a coincidence. 

    "Guadaloupa," who was never identified, was one of the more frequent 

contributors to the letters column.  The pseudonym "St. Katherine" appeared but 

once in the 1880s.  Here was a woman who should have lived in the late 20th 

century, not the Los Angeles of the 1880s.  "Vassar Graduate" could have been 

one of the two alumna of that college known to be living in Los Angeles in 

1887: Miss Sarah P. Monk, professor of chemistry at the city's newly-opened 

state normal college, or Mrs. Susan Dorsey, who later became superintendent of 

city schools.

                          {Times, Dec. 2, 1887, p. 6}

                          Observations by Guadaloupa.

              Los Angeles, Nov. 30.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         This morning, on Spring street, I heard one gentleman say to 

         another:  "Oh, the repulsive habits of men!  Look at this 

         sidewalk."  Then and there I could have given that man the 

         traditional gold snuff box, and have added to it the united 

         thanks of all the women of Los Angeles.  Man is God's last, 

         best work, I said to myself as I walked on--the work that He 

         did not hesitate to make in His own Image.  But what a 

         showing is the degenerated result!  Nearing and entering the 

         postoffice, it seemed as if one of the divine images was 

         rivaling the other to see which could be filthiest; and my 

         mind went back to a question I heard John B. Gough once ask 

         his audience (the women part of it):  "In view of this total 

         indifference of men to the sweet and pure and cleanly things 

         of life, I beg of you, tell me how can you ever love them?"

              But the serious question is, do women ever really love 

         any but the great and cleanly men?  Are not the constant 

         marital upheavals everywhere in America the result more of 

         the uncleanly habits of men than of any other brute?  Oh, 

         it's a dreadful thing to be linked forever, through all the 

         days of life, to an object who makes himself repulsive to 

         us--repulsive, when it is so easy to be beautiful and clean.

              Constant expectoration cannot but injure health; the 

         wizened, cadaverous, stunted, and altogether undivine-like  

         looking men that the streets are full of are, at every hour, 

         proving this.  If the fact that we have no right to make 

         ourselves repulsive to each other will not weigh with men, 

         the thought of health should weigh; thought of the knowledge 

         that the race must pay in physical disobedience--that the 

         race must go down just in proportion as its source goes down.

              I have read somewhere, and lately, that dentists 

         attribute the longer life of the lower teeth over the upper 

         to the fact that the saliva rests upon the lower teeth, and 

         hence is guardian to their strength.  Now, it is certain that 

         the Great Physician knew well his own methods when he 

         supplied the body with all its intricate and beautiful 

         machinery.  What then must we say of the intelligence of men 

         who, every few minutes of their waking hours, are throwing 

         off the best medicine for their physical salivation, 

         apparently unaware that they are blighting their best of 

         today and wrecking hopelessly all their tomorrows.


                          {Times, Dec. 4, 1887, p. 7}

                            She Likes "Guadaloupa."

              Los Angeles, Dec. 2.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         won't positively assert that nothing in your interesting 

         paper has ever struck so sympathetic a spot, with me, as 

         "Guadaloupa's" letter in today's Times has done; but I will 

         assert that just at the moment I can't recall anything to 

         which I more vigorously cry Amen! and Amen!  Being a 

         spinster, and a very radical one, I have a good deal of time 

         to ponder about this humanity, that Horace Walpole calls 

         comical when we only lightly think of it, and tragical when 

         we deeply feel for it; and one of my most earnest conclusions 

         is that the time will yet come when women will seek and ask 

         for their life partners, just as men only do now.  The reason 

         for much of the unhappiness of the married is, as 

         "Guadaloupa" says, largely because of the uncleanly and man-

         permitted habits of men; but also it is the result of women 

         being obliged to sit by and await the offer of any man who 

         proposes.  It may not be a compliment to women that so many 

         of them take up with indifferent offers; but, God help us! we 

         all have dreams of home and children! and the per centage is 

         very small of women who have an assured support.  But, Mr. 

         Editor, what I want briefly to say is, that if women ever 

         have opportunities to make offers of marriage, unless Los 

         Angeles is born again, I do not believe that there are 100 

         men in it who will ever fulfill their dream of home and 


                                          ST. KATHERINE.

                         {Times, Dec. 23, 1887, p. 6}

                                 Vassar Vexed.

              Los Angeles, Dec. 21.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         propose as my Christmas greeting to the men of Los Angeles a 

         question.  Why do you not use the gutters of the city, if you 

         must expectorate, for expectoration?  If gutters are for 

         debris and for everything dirty and filthy, even for the 

         results of the dirty habits of men, why not use them?  A 

         promenade on either of the main streets of Los Angeles is 

         enough to sicken women forever of men, and yet so much has 

         been said and written everywhere upon this loathsome 

         subject--so many appeals have been made to men to make 

         themselves cleanly, decent and lovable, that I, for one, have 

         lost heart, and so, though still doubting, only propound my 

         question.  If you must be repulsive in public, why not let 

         the results go to the gutter, rather than before the eyes and 

         under the feet of women?

                                         VASSAR GRADUATE.

                             C) THE HEALTH SEEKERS

    The movement to Southern California by those seeking to restore their 

health has been expertly recounted by John Baur in The Health Seekers of 

Southern California, 1870-1900.  As Baur noted, many of those who came west in 

the late 19th century were beyond help and, in fact, jeopardized their fragile 

health by undertaking what was still a rather trying journey.  For those who 

were not already too far gone, Los Angeles and surrounding areas did offer a 

climate that was beneficial in recovering from various pulmonary ailments.  

Tuberculars were especially prominent among those settling in Southern 

California before the turn of the century.

    At the Times several members of the staff were health seekers.  Charles 

Holder, Charles Lummis, Charles Willard and Harry Chandler came in the 1880s, 

partly to restore their health.  As noted earlier, several of Willard's doctors 

followed him west, either for their own health or to participate in the booming 

health care business.

    Facilities to care for those in need sprang up in various Southern 

California locations.  The fifty-four room Sierra Madre Villa, attested to by 

Emily Mayberry, was established in the mid-1870s on a 500-acre estate at the 

foot of the San Gabriel Mountains east of Pasadena, near what is now Sierra 

Madre.  When the State Board of Health selected Sierra Madre as the best 

location for a state sanitarium for consumptives, though it was never built, 

invalids sought out that area as one of their primary destinations.  Frederick 

M. Shaw {see chapter entitled "Crazy Shaw"} had grandiose plans for building 

his own sanitarium in that city.

                         {Times, Jan. 29, 1887, p. 2}

                           A BOOM FOR THE INVALIDS.

              Alhambra, Jan 24.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  If 

         real estate were 2 bits a mile, I could not buy a rod; 

         consequently, I have none for sale, but I have a very tender 

         spot in my heart (not for sale, however) for that 

         unfortunate, unwanted, no-place for class of persons, yclept 

         invalids.  Given the unknown quantity of this "Porterhouse" 

         portion of my anatomy, I have arrived geometrically, through 

         infinite angles and circles, at the belief that you would, 

         perhaps, allow me to make a short statement in your valuable 

         journal, as thereby, in view of its large circulation, it 

         might come under the notice of more unfortunates, and, what 

         is more to the purpose, be the more readily credited.  I have 

         been suffering two years with bronchitis, and came to the 

         Sierra Madre Villa two weeks ago.  Have not coughed once 

         since the second day, and not over six times in all since I 

         came.  Observe, this is a simple, fringeless fact.  I have 

         been waiting 15 years for an opportunity to find somebody 

         somewhere to whom I could give a testimonial from something, 

         somehow, some way, and now--Eureka!  Anywhere in this part of 

         the State is just as near heaven as any person has any right 

         to expect, or ought to be; but I wish to say to all who have 

         any throat or lung trouble, that if there is any further 

         chance for them in this world, it lies right here at the base 

         of these mountains, and not in Italy.  Nevertheless, they 

         should exercise a modicum of common sense, and not expect 

         that six weeks, or six months, in many cases, is going to do 

         satisfactory work; but that it will do it if, as I said 

         before, there is any chance, you may be fully assured.  Those 

         who know me are surely aware that the playful persistency of 

         the ancient Doges of Venice could not thumbscrew a statement 

         out of me unless I knew from personal experience it was an 

         undraped truth.

              Therefore, relying also on the well-known integrity of 

         The Times, I trust my unfortunate compatriots will accept 

         this from their esteemed contemp, without an affidavit.

                                       EMILY GRAY MAYBERRY. 

    Looking back on the era of health seekers, John Baur wrote in 1959 that 

"excessive exercise probably killed more than the praiseworthy climate saved."  

Invalids were advised that roughing it was bad medicine for those who were in 

advanced stages of chronic ailments, yet many ignored that advice and followed 

the suggestion of boosters such as Will Marion, taking to the deserts or 


                          {Times, Dec. 4, 1886, p. 7}

              Los Angeles, Nov. 30.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Permit me to mount your forum to say a few words to the so-

         called "one-lunged" Yankees and persons of a consumptive 

         tendency, in regard to the best manner of deriving benefit 

         from this climate.

              In the first place, discard starched shirts.  Polished 

         collars and cuffs, encircling, as they do, some of the most 

         exposed highways of the blood, are constantly sending cold 

         chills through the entire body.  Wear woolen, if it isn't 

         quite so tony.  You'll not need a wooden overcoat so soon.

              Secondly, buy a burro, likewise a pack-saddle.  If there 

         be two of you, buy two burros.  Pack upon them plenty of 

         blankets, a small tent, provisions--including bacon--a 

         frying-pan and kindred utensils, an ax and a shotgun.

              Pull out for the mountains.  Put yourself on an equal 

         footing with the donkeys and walk.  Go up Wilson's, Switzer's 

         or some other trail in the Sierra Madres; or the Santiago and 

         Silverado canyons, in the Santa Ana Mountains to an altitude 

         of 3000 to 4000 feet, and make camp.  You will find dry wood 

         in abundance, and pure water, some rabbits and plenty of 

         quail.  The quail sings a cheerful song from the frying-pan.  

         Have a few buckshot handy, for you may be attacked by a deer.  

         Select a camping-place on a hillside or mesa, where a shower 

         will not remind you that you have pitched your tent in a 

         water-course, small or great.

              You will find enough to do--hunting, getting wood, 

         cooking, and looking after the burros.  Your appetite will 

         surprise you.  You will find bacon more palatable than the 

         fried oysters of civilization.

              After a few weeks of this kind of life you will come 

         down from the mountains, un hombre nuevo, in quest of the 

         fellow that said you had only one lung.  Your current 

         expenses need not exceed $12 per month.  This prescription 

         costs you nothing.  I do not wear a medical diploma or an 

         Aesculapian handle to my name, but I do carry around with me, 

         as a result of this course of treatment, 20 pounds more 

         corporosity than when I came here a year ago.  Go thus and do 


                                             WILL MARION.

    Editor Otis recognized that Southern California was not for every one, that 

two patients suffering from the same disease might not react to the climate in 

a similar fashion.  His evasive answer to a query about the restorative power 

of the Southland for those suffering from nose and throat ailments was not what 

the boosters wanted to read.

                         {Times, Feb. 14, 1888, p. 6}

                                As to Catarrh.

              Los Angeles, Feb. 13.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Will you state through your paper whether a person being 

         troubled with catarrh East coming here would be benefited?  

         This is to settle much talk about this damp climate, as 

         croakers call it.

                                         MRS F. S. PARR. 

              [Answer.--In some cases, yes; in others, no; according 

         to the experience of many invalids.--Ed. Times.]

                         D) A MENTAL HOSPITAL IN EDEN

    In Wisconsin Death Trip {1973}, Michael Lesy told the story of arson and 

insanity on the bleak prairies of that state in the years following the Civil 

War.  Presented largely through reprints of news items found in rural weeklies, 

Lesy left readers with the understanding that life in the far corner of the Old 

Northwest was not quite like Little House on the Prairie.

    Frontier life was especially hard on women.  Separated from their nearest 

neighbors by great distances and confined to a rude house and a brood of 

children - or worse, none at all - farm women were more isolated than their 

husbands, who worked in the fields and perhaps had the company of a hired hand.  

The many barn fires recorded in the pages of Wisconsin newspapers may not all 

have been caused by spontaneous combustion or the accidental overturning of a 

lantern.  The reader is not far into Lesy's book before reaching the conclusion 

that a barn fire was an excuse to leave the prairie.  Another way was to go 


    The rigors of life in Southern California in the 1880s did not rival that 

of Wisconsin or Minnesota, but by that decade residents already recognized the 

need for a mental hospital.  A state hospital for the insane had been 

established at Napa in 1873, and for several years it was the only such state 

institution in California.  While that facility was relatively convenient for 

Northern California residents, its remoteness from the rapidly growing 

population center in the Los Angeles basin made it unacceptable to those living 

south of the Tehachapi.  By the mid-1880s Napa and a newly-built second asylum 

at Stockton were badly overcrowded.  This was the concern addressed by Simeon 

M. Metcalf, a physician and surgeon, in a letter to the Times.

                         {Times, July 17, 1886, p. 2}

                           An Insane Asylum Needed.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  While visiting Los 

         Angeles, in the early part of last year, I read a number of 

         articles upon the needs of a hospital for the treatment of 

         the insane in this part of the State.  As I have not heard a 

         word about this project since my return to California, last 

         November, I judge that interest in this subject is dead.  It 

         seems to me that it is full time that the people of this 

         section awoke to the importance of the subject and the 

         demands of common humanity.  Insanity is a very frequent 

         disease, and one which may invade any home, rich or poor, 

         without warning.  The wealthy may be able to provide for 

         their friends at home, in certain forms of the malady, but 

         the friends of the poor must be bundled off some five hundred 

         miles to secure proper treatment.  Why should we thus treat 

         our insane as we do criminals, and cut them off from all 

         association with their loved ones?  Insanity, while 

         destroying the capacity for work, does not always destroy the 

         capacity for the enjoyments of the comforts of life.

              In the majority of cases, frequent visits from friends 

         are a great benefit to the patient and a privilege to the 

         friends.  Cases of sudden illness are of frequent occurrence, 

         calling for the presence of near relations; but in Southern 

         California the truly unfortunate one is sent far away, 

         perhaps to die, among strangers.   This exile from home is 

         detrimental in at least two classes of cases:  The fatigue of 

         the long journey may prove fatal to those already exhausted 

         by the disease, and the shock of being carried beyond the 

         possibility of intercourse with one's friends may be the 

         means of plunging certain timid, home-loving patients into 

         hopeless insanity.  Accidents in transportation are by no 

         means uncommon when the hospital is far distant.  It is 

         disgraceful to send our insane women off hundreds of miles in 

         charge of an officer, as we send convicts to prison.  Such 

         patients need constant attention, and such attention as no 

         officer, however conscientious, is able to render.  It is as 

         much our duty to provide for our insane near at home as it is 

         to establish general hospitals.  An insane hospital should be 

         in the midst of its constituency, and within quick and easy 

         access.  Some objection was made last year to the location of 

         an asylum here because it coupled the name of Los Angeles 

         with such an institution!  Such sentimentality is a reproach 

         to the one who utters it.  Prejudice against insane hospitals 

         is born of ignorance regarding them.  Most people have a 

         natural shrinking from such institutions, but I never knew a 

         recovered patient to go away save with the kindest feeling 

         toward the hospital and its officers, and a desire to return 

         again with the first symptoms of a second attack.  Many other 

         reasons--secondary ones--might be given for the establishment 

         of a lunatic hospital near at hand, such as the saving in 

         cost of transportation, the advantage to our merchants, etc., 

         but I think the reasons already given are sufficient, and 

         that we, one and all, ought to insist upon the establishment 

         of a hospital for our insane in Southern California at the 

         earliest possible moment.

                                         S. M. METCALF, M. D.

    As noted by Henry D. Barrows, a prominent Los Angeles educator and 

historian, not all residents supported the move to locate a mental institution 

in Southern California.  Democratic leader James de Barth Shorb was so strongly 

opposed to the plan that one state senator facetiously suggested locating the 

facility on Shorb's San Marino estate.  

                         {Times, April 15, 1885, p. 2}

                                Sane Lunatics.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  I do not see how 

         sensible people can view otherwise than with undisguised 

         contempt the absurd and finicky objections that have been 

         raised, from time to time, by sentimental persons against the 

         establishment of an insane asylum in Southern California.  We 

         expect, some day, to have a State of South California, and if 

         we do, we will have to provide, among other things, for the 

         insane, for the unfortunate, and for the criminal 

         classes--that is, if we expect to be considered civilized.  

         Indeed, these things we ought to look upon, as no doubt most 

         of us do, as exigent necessities, whether we become a new 

         State or not, the ignoring of which is the merest namby-

         pambyism.  The sanity--or pretended sanity--that is afraid of 

         being demoralized, or of having its material prosperity and 

         social standing blighted by the proximity of insanity 

         anywhere in a county as large as Los Angeles, or anywhere in 

         Southern California, cannot be far removed from the insanity 

         or mental imbecility that it pretends to fear.  As well might 

         the people of Worcester, Mass., Hartford, Conn., Philadelphia 

         and Pittsburg, Pa., and hundreds of other cities in the 

         United States, distress themselves about having asylums for 

         the insane located in their several vicinities.  They are not 

         such finicky people as all that!  Virile, robust communities 

         don't indulge in any such sentimentality.  The main question 

         with us is not sentimental at all, but economic.  Further 

         provision must be made somewhere, both for the insane and for 

         the criminals of California.  As institutions for those 

         classes are easily accessible to the upper part of the State, 

         it becomes a question whether, if new ones are to be built, 

         it would not be cheaper in the long run (not for us 

         particularly, but for the State itself), to build both a 

         branch asylum and a branch prison in this section than to 

         transport all our lunatics and criminals, as is now done at 

         great expense, from 400 to 600 miles.  This is the whole 

         question in a nutshell.  If we are too utterly aesthetic and 

         sentimental to have these institutions in our midst we had 

         better abolish our jail and almshouse and orphan asylums and 

         dispatch their inmates to the upper country at once, and thus 

         carry out to its logical results the theory that that 

         benighted region is what we have been trying to make it for 

         more than thirty years, a sort of penal colony for this 

         angelic and saintly section in which we live!

                                          H. D. BARROWS.

    Among those interested in a Southern California mental facility was Gov. 

Robert Waterman, owner of a San Bernardino county tract near Highland that he 

wished to sell to the state for a hospital.  Several nearby sites were also 

tendered to the state in a region that the San Bernardino Courier referred to 

as "the foothill Eden."   Waterman's offer and that of Mark S. Severance, the 

son of social reformer Caroline Severance {see chapter on Women}, drew sharp 

criticism from Otis, who referred to those in charge of site selection as the 

"Insane Commissioners."  Further complicating the matter was Waterman's 

appointment of Severance to the site selection committee.  Echoing Otis' 

criticism were "W. M." and "Justice," whose writing style and argument reads 

like that of "W. M."

                          {Times, July 2, 1889, p. 6}
                            What's in the Woodpile?

              San Bernardino, June 29.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         In connection with the location of the insane asylum for 

         Southern California it will do no harm to state a few facts 

         and let the public draw their own conclusions.  While the 

         people of this county feel entitled to the institution, and 

         believe there are as good locations for it here as anywhere, 

         we are not, as a people, willing to lay aside all humane 

         considerations and become silent accessories to the crime of 

         locating it in the hottest part of the valley, and on a tract 

         of sandy, third-rate land.

              It is currently reported and believed that the 

         commission has decided to purchase for the site a tract 

         answering this description, lying north of San Bernardino and 

         adjacent to Gov. Waterman's home place in Waterman canyon.

              The commission, consisting of one member from each of 

         the five southern counties, was appointed by Gov. Waterman.  

         The member for Los Angeles county, Mr. M. S. Severance, is 

         and was known to be interested in a large tract of land 

         immediately adjoining the above-mentioned places.

              When the commission began their search the Governor 

         consented to offer the State his own place in Waterman Canyon 

         at about $75,000.  The location is a healthful one, and the 

         water supply is good, but the fact of its being the 

         Governor's own place and the noble price asked for it made so 

         much talk that it was withdrawn.  There have been offered to 

         the commission at least half a dozen tracts as well-situated, 

         having equal advantages and less mountainous in character for 

         one-fourth the money.

              The selection of the commissioners requires the approval 

         of the Governor.  The building of the asylum in the sandy 

         wash mentioned, means that a railroad will be extended to the 

         immediate vicinity of the Governor's place.

              With so many cool and beautiful locations at hand what 

         will be the verdict of the people if the welfare of the 

         unfortunate inmates is made secondary to the pecuniary 

         interests of a few men whom we call honorables?

              A protest against the proposed site is now being 

         circulated and generally signed.

                                                W. M.

                         {Times, Aug. 22, 1889, p. 6}

                           That Insane Asylum Site.

              San Bernardino, Aug. 20.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Having read an article in your paper descriptive of the 

         supposed location of the southern asylum I wish to 

         corroborate it.

              Since your article appeared the two subservient papers 

         of San Bernardino, to wit, the Times-Index and Courier, have 

         denied the statements in your correspondent's article.  Both 

         papers said that all the locations offered are good.  This is 

         not true.

              In fairness to all other locations (except the Waterman 

         and Severance location) I must say they are good, and some of 

         them are all that the people of the State could wish in 

         respect to the climate, soil and high, dry atmosphere, with 

         hot and ditch water taken from the best springs and ditches 

         for domestic and irrigation purposes.  We would be glad to 

         see this asylum matter properly ventilated.

              Some remarkable things happen.  If Gov. Waterman, the 

         one to approve the location, and M. S. Severance, one of the 

         commissioners, are to locate the asylum on their land, 

         thereby bargaining with themselves, woe be unto the State of 

         California and the inmates of the asylum.

              I am not a lawyer, but I know something of human nature, 

         when a man can make a bargain just as he would have it.  As 

         soon as the commission came in search of a location, the 

         Courier, our Democratic organ, got it into its big brain 

         (just after the Governor had arrived) that Gov. Waterman 

         might be prevailed upon to sell to the State his valuable 

         mountain home worth $250,000 for the small sum of $75,000.

              Since this article in the Courier appeared I have made 

         inquiry among real-estate men and old citizens as to the 

         value of the Waterman place, and no one values it at over 

         $10,000.  There is quite a difference between $10,000 and 

         $75,000.  Moreover, all the old citizens say they have often 

         seen the canyon from which Waterman claims water, where the 

         water did not run at all.  It is a fact that if all the water 

         that rises in the canyon in summer was used with care in the 

         best seasons, it would not water 50 acres of alfalfa, while 

         the dry seasons are to be guarded against.

              If the commissioners only want a location on which to 

         build an asylum, the Governor's home is a good one, 

         consisting of some 25 acres of land and water sufficient for 

         the same.  But to talk about watering any of the Severance 

         land is folly, and, in the judgment of the writer, will never 

         be agreed to by any of the commissioners.

              It is the general impression here at San Bernardino that 

         Waterman and Severance are trying to unload at a high price 

         property to the State that cannot be of any value to the 

         State for any purpose.  The postponement has been a puzzle.   

         It might be for Severance to get his title clear from the 

         White heirs, the Supreme Court having decided in his favor.

              I wish to say that the people here have not lost faith 

         in some of the commissioners.  But you can see they have to 

         work against the veto of the Governor, and as Brown said to 

         your former correspondent, all want harmony.

              Every person admits that the Waterman-Severance 

         proposition is far worse, and cannot be reached by rail, 

         while the locations most suitable are easy of access by rail, 

         and a road will be extended to the location as soon as 

         made--a distance of one or two miles from the terminus of the 

         Harlem and Rabel road, now at said Harlem and Rabel Springs.

              Four propositions have been made in Highlands, near said 

         Harlem and Rabel Hot Springs, and the railroad company stands 

         ready to extend its road to the asylum if located at 

         Highlands.  Those Highland propositions all offer the same 

         inducements, which is land, not surpassed, and an abundance 

         of never-failing water from the Bear Valley reservoir, north 

         fork ditch from the Santa Ana River and City Creek, all 

         never-failing streams.

              Should Waterman & Co. succeed, the fire of the 

         indignation may burn up some of the small brush between the 

         twin creeks.  If the Governor wants to be happy let him allow 

         the commission to use its judgment honestly in the selection, 

         and its conscience will be at ease, and all the people of 

         this county will say:  "Well done, good and faithful 



    In the end the site selected in 1889 was the 300 acre Harlem tract at 

Patton, near the present-day community of Highland, where it remains today.  

The facility opened in 1893 and by June, 1894, the number of patients had 

reached 311.  Within a decade the population was nearly 800, though that was 

only half the number at either Napa or Stockton.

    Democratic Governor James H. Budd vetoed the legislature's appropriation 

for the maintenance of mental hospitals in 1895, citing care of the insane as 

one of the unnecessary extravagances of state government.  {The funding was 

later restored.}  He further charged that a large number of the so-called 

patients confined in state asylums were not legally entitled to a home in those 


    The Governor seemed to share the prejudice against mental hospitals and 

their patients that Metcalf and Barrow referred to in their letters.  That 

prejudice and the use of mental patients as the butt of jokes would long 

continue.  In the 1930s a popular brand of peanut butter in Southern 

California, manufactured by the "L. A. Nut House," depicted a grotesque and 

ranting cartoon-like inmate, behind bars, on its logo.

                           E) THE SICK AND THE DEAD

    Located at a site known to later generations as County-U.S.C. Medical 

Center, the first county hospital opened in 1878 as a combination hospital and 

almshouse for the indigent.  With a capacity of one hundred residents in 1880, 

the facility included a forty acre farm manned by the "inmates," as J. Albert 

Wilson called the residents in his 1880 history of Los Angeles County.

    Wilson noted that the actual cost to the county for each inmate for food 

and medicine, "including even necessary liquors," did not exceed $5.50 per 

month.  That frugality drew a response from "An Eastern Observer" who compared 

the amount of money spent on patients with that spent by the city on convicts.

                         {Times, Feb. 16, 1882, p. 2}

                       The Greater of These is Charity.

              Editor Times:  In looking over your issue of the 12th 

         inst. my attention was engaged by the following items 

         contained in the report of the Superintendent of the 


         Paid for provision and medicines..................$279.31

         Paid for salaries................................. 278.33

         Cost per day per patient..........................    .39 1/2

         Or if we deduct amount paid for salaries then we

            have cost per day per patient...................  .20

            Perhaps this may help to explain the following:

         Total treated during month ......................     70

         Died during month................................      8

              About twelve per cent for the month.  In the same issue 

         it is to be noticed that the city contracts to pay fifty 

         cents per day for feeding the prisoners confined in the city 

         prison, or the criminal is to be treated two hundred and 

         fifty per cent. better than those whose only crime is 

         sickness and distress.

              Surely Los Angeles has need to boast of her charity, 

         else that there was any shown might be doubted by

                                     AN EASTERN OBSERVER.

              Los Angeles, Feb. 13, 1882.

    Had he not been a former Chaplain in the U. S. Army, Darius Crouch might 

have drawn the scorn of tightfisted taxpayers when he penned this 1886 letter 

applauding the work of Dr. Walter Lindley and the county hospital.  Surely 

welfare reformers a century later would argue that Crouch took advantage of the 

county's generosity when he checked into the hospital for a three week stay at 

taxpayers' expense in late 1885.  From his description of the facilities and 

the care provided, conditions must have improved vastly since the criticism by 

"An Eastern Observer" nearly four years earlier.

                         {Times, Jan. 21, 1886, p. 2}

                             The County Hospital.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  The chief object of 

         this communication is to speak of your "County Hospital" in 

         contrast with various other hospitals in which I have had 

         large experience as an assistant and overseer, in charge of 

         government hospitals during the late war.

              I am from St. Louis, Mo., and, having received a 

         fracture of the skull in 1861, while chaplain in the army, 

         which paralyzed my whole nervous system and prostrated all my 

         physical energies, I came here to enjoy warmer climate, 

         recruit my strength, and if possible regain my physical 

         energies and get rid of those long, dreary, bitter cold 

         winters which invariably prevail there.  But I came with a 

         limited amount of money, expecting to find light employment 

         which could sustain me, but finding none I sought for a 

         friend, who came here last spring with plenty of money, and 

         who told me if I came and needed any he would give me all I 

         wanted.  In trying to find him I spent all the money I had 

         before I ascertained he had left the city and could not avail 


              Finding myself without money, in the midst of strangers, 

         fatigued with a long journey and worn down with inexpressible 

         anxiety and disappointment, my physical debility greatly 

         increased.  On the advice of an estimable lady at whose house 

         I had been hospitably entertained, until she broke up house-

         keeping on account of ill-health--on her advice and the 

         hospitality of your worthy Superintendent, Dr. Lindley, I 

         took a three-weeks' residence at your County Hospital.

              On entering the institution, I was surprised to find 

         everything in such excellent condition.  All the wards and 

         halls are kept as clean and nice as any parlor.  No spitting 

         on the floors, or dirt allowed to accumulate in any corners, 

         and the wards are swept and dusted every morning, and floors 

         washed twice per week, every berth supplied with clean linen, 

         and a towel every Sunday morning, a sink and water for 

         washing convenient to every ward.  Preaching by various 

         ministers on Sunday afternoon.  Provisions for the table are 

         of the best quality, and for each meal well prepared and 

         properly cooked, which argues well for the cook.  Meat of the 

         best quality is given twice per day, a change of food at 

         every meal, tea and coffee good, butter of good quality is 

         occasionally furnished, and better bread could hardly be made 

         than that put upon the table in ample supply at each meal.  

         All have all they want to eat and a surplus remaining, which 

         is added to the next meal, and hence little waste in the 


              Dr. Lindley seldom misses a day but that he visits every 

         ward personally, administering to the sick and helpless, 

         giving explicit directions to the steward and nurses, and 

         frequently inspecting the entire premises.  Other physicians 

         are in frequent attendance and the sick and helpless are 

         carefully attended to.  The steward and his assistants are 

         intelligent, competent and efficient, and less coercion is 

         required to control the inmates than most other hospitals.

              I see no turbulent or refractory element, I hear no 

         complaint of the lack of food, medicine or attention.  All 

         seem to be a "happy family" of dependent individuals.  In 

         short, the institution as a whole is superior to any 

         charitable institution I ever visited.

              I have deemed a public statement of these facts as due 

         not only to the citizens at large, but to the proper 

         authorities that they may feel assured that the object of 

         their charity is being well accomplished.  Respectfully,

                                           DARIUS CROUCH.

              (Formerly Chaplain in the Army).

              Los Angeles, Jan. 4th.

    Protecting the sick from medical malpractice was a major concern of both

the health professionals and the public at large.  Dr. Henry Lathrop  

explained the danger of permitting unlicensed practitioners, politely called 

"irregulars" by some, "quacks" by others, to minister to the ill.  Writing 

three years later, "Medico" clearly depicted the scope of the problem as it 

existed in 1889.  If their reasoning was not sufficient, "A Regular," 

responding to "Medico," put it in terms that the average Angeleno could 

understand even if Otis seemed a little unsure of the writer's intent.

                         {Times, June 12, 1886, p. 2}

                                "Five Unknown"

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  The above words are 

         taken from the report of the City Health Officer, who, in 

         summing up the month's deaths, reports that five persons died 

         from "unknown causes."

              "Five unknown!"  How did they meet their end?  Were they 

         shot, stabbed, strangled or poisoned, or did they die from 

         the malpractice of some Chinese or other quack?  Were they 

         "unfortunates, weary of breath?"  Were they victims of the 

         abortionist--were they the prey of malignant or contagious 


              Was the cause of these five deaths, or any one of them, 

         concealed, in order to prevent a "scare," and thus injure the 

         reputation of this city as a health resort?

              The five persons who died last month from "cause 

         unknown" may have expired from any one of the above, and the 

         city authorities are none the wiser.  It is the duty of the 

         Health Officer, when reports of deaths are not accompanied by 

         the proper certificate, to at once notify the Coroner that an 

         inquest may be held and the cause of death fully established.

              The reason for this is plain; first, prevention to 

         crime, and second as a stop on the spread of contagious 

         diseases.  In five cases in May, this course was not pursued.  

         Why not in ten this, and twenty next month?  Or, why have any 

         certificate of death required?

              Anyone who has seen a sick person a few times may make 

         return of the death and sign the certificate.  Many such will 

         be found on file in the Health Office.  Then it would save 

         printing and stationery, and the time of the health officer.  

         I do not wish to attack or blame Dr. Baker, because, under 

         the existing system, his hands are tied.

              The very fact of his being obliged to ask the Council if 

         he should accept death certificates issued by Chinese quacks 

         shows his position to be a peculiar one, and his freedom to 

         exercise his own common sense extremely limited.

              If no death certificates were accepted but those issued 

         by physicians legally empowered to practice medicine and 

         surgery, it would do much to prevent crime, lessen the 

         liability to contagious disease, and materially aid in 

         getting rid of some dozens of quacks.

                                     HENRY B. LATHROP, M. D.

              Room 4 and 5, Schumacher Block,

         Los Angeles, June 9, 1886.

                         {Times, April 22, 1889, p. 3}

                        Regular War on the Irregulars.

              Los Angeles, April 20.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         In a recent issue of your paper I noticed an article which 

         stated that the regular physicians of this city were about to 

         instigate proceedings with a view to suppressing 113 

         irregular, unlicensed practitioners of medicine in this 

         community.  Now why should the expense and work of such 

         prosecution be borne only by the regular, respectable 

         physicians?  As a rule, medical men are poorly paid for their 

         services.  It is expected of them that they give at least 

         one-half of their time to charitable work--and the payment of 

         their bills is always deferred until every other obligation 

         is settled.  What is, or should be, of more interest to the 

         public--what of more vital importance then that the man to 

         whom they intrust their health, happiness, nay, lives, should 

         be an honest, competent, practitioner of the art he pretends 

         to practice, and that such is the case is shown by the 

         enactments of very efficient laws by our legislature, 

         regulating most satisfactorily the practice of medicine; but 

         there is no one to inform them.

              The officers of the law and the public sit calmly by and 

         allow 113 charlatans to practice upon the credulity and 

         confidence of our people.  The sick man, looking for 

         somebody, or anybody, who will promise him hope and healing, 

         is easily gulled and duped by the cancer quack, consumption 

         cure, blood doctor, electrician, etc., etc.

              Heretofore, if anything has been done, the respectable 

         physicians of all schools, homeopathists and regulars, have 

         combined and fought this common evil, not so much because 

         they were injured financially (for most of the patients, if 

         they survive the quack treatment, come back to some regular), 

         but from a higher motive--to rid an honorable profession of 

         the odium of sheltering such blights upon the community.  And 

         even in this good work the cry of "jealousy" has been raised 

         against us by the adherents of these bloodsuckers.

              In San Francisco the two county medical societies 

         (regular and homeopathic) have both expended thousands of 

         dollars in this work, and to a good purpose.  But, as I asked 

         before, why shall the physicians stand the expense alone, 

         when the public is a much more interested party?

              The laws of the State upon the subject are clear and 

         explicit.  They require any person wishing the privilege of 

         practicing medicine or surgery to hold a diploma from some 

         reputable medical college.  Such diploma must be presented to 

         the State Board of Medical Examiners for inspection.  If they 

         discover fraud or find the medical college which issued it 

         not up to the standard of excellence required, they can 

         reject it.  If they are satisfied that the holder is in all 

         respects, as to knowledge, ability, etc., eligible, they 

         issue to him a license to practice in this State, which 

         license the doctor must record with the County Clerk in 

         whatever county he locates to practice.  Now, it seems to me 

         that there should be proper officers to see that no physician 

         does practice in any community unless he does so register his 

         diploma with the County Clerk.

              When a man peddles tins, fruit, or sells jewelry on some 

         street corner, the fact as to whether he has a license is 

         soon investigated by an officer of the law.  But 113 

         unlicensed practitioners of medicine can do business in the 

         city of Los Angeles unmolested--113 charlatans, cancer 

         quacks; electricians, mind-cure fakirs, etc.--are gulling, 

         duping, extorting money under false pretenses of ability to 

         cure, and no one to enforce the law, unless the regular, 

         respectable physicians put their hands into their pockets and 

         raise funds to protect the public at large.  The 

         responsibility rests somewhere.

              There is many a case of death, many an instance of 

         malpractice (for with 113 irregular practitioners they must 

         occur daily) where a person is made miserable for life, to be 

         laid at somebody's door.  Where does it belong?


                         {Times, April 22, 1889, p. 2}

                               SOMEWHAT OBSCURE.

              Los Angeles, April 19.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         In response to an article written in your valuable paper this 

         morning, regarding the prosecution of charlatans or quacks, 

         would it not be feasible for the law-abiding people to assist 

         in the extermination of this two-legged vermin which infest 

         our Angel City?  Surely it is of as much importance to the 

         laity in general to know whom they employ for the safety of 

         their well-being, as also the protection and honesty of 

         preserving our honor and good name.

                                        A REGULAR.