North Carolina - Acts on Education Topics

An Act to Incorporate the Western Insane Asylum.

1881 Public Laws: Chapter 297

Public Laws of the State of North Carolina Passed in 1881 - Pages 520-533.

The General Assembly of North Carolina do enact:

Section 1. That the "Western North Carolina Insane Asylum," situated near Morganton, is hereby constituted a corporation, and shall be and remain a corporation under that name, and it may acquire and hold for the purposes of its establishment all such property and estate as may be devised, bequeathed or in any way given or conveyed to it.

Sec. 2. The commissioners shall complete that part of the asylum buildings heretofore authorized by law to be constructed, including the main building and one wing and such other structures as are necessary to its equipment for occupancy, and, when ready, turn the same over to the board of directors.

Sec. 3. The affairs of the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum shall be managed by a board of nine directors, of whom five shall be a quorum for the transaction of business. And the term of office of the first board appointed under this Act shall begin as soon as may be necessary to organize the institution. At the first meeting of said board, the directors shall be divided into three classes: the seats of the first class shall be vacated March the first, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-three, of the second class two years thereafter, and the third class at the expiration of the fourth year from the date aforesaid, and afterwards their successors shall be appointed at the expiration of the respective terms, for six years.

Sec. 4. The board of directors shall out of their number appoint three members as an executive committee, two of whom shall reside in or near the town of Morganton, who shall hold their office as such for one year, and shall have such powers and be subject to such duties as the board of directors may delegate to them.

Sec. 5. The board of directors shall direct and manage the affairs of the institution, and for its government shall make all necessary by-laws not inconsistent with the laws of the state, shall have power to receive, hold, manage, convey, or otherwise dispose of, in the name of the institution, all such property or estate as may hereafter be given or otherwise conveyed to said asylum; and the members of the board shall serve without reward save their traveling expenses incurred in the discharge of their official duties.

Sec. 6. The board of directors shall convene at said asylum as soon as convenient after their appointment, and at such other times as the interests of the institution may require and the board may appoint. They shall investigate the administration of the affairs of the institution, and report on the same to the general assembly, with such remarks and recommendations as to them shall seem expedient.

Sec. 7. The board of directors shall appoint a superintendent of the institution, and prescribe his duties. He shall be a skillful physician, educated to his profession, of good moral character, of prompt business habits, of kindly disposition, and a married man. He shall hold his office for six years from and after his appointment, unless sooner removed by the board, who may, for infidelity to his trust, gross immorality, incompetency to discharge the duties of his office, fully proved and declared, and the proof thereof recorded in the book of their proceedings, remove him and appoint another in his place.

Sec. 8. The board of directors shall appoint an assistant physician, and with the advice and consent of the superintendent, prescribe his duties. He shall hold his place for four years from and after his appointment, unless sooner removed by the board for good cause, which shall be specified and recorded in their proceedings.

Sec. 9. The board of directors, at their annual meeting, shall appoint a steward and matron, on the nomination of the superintendent, who shall hold their places for one year, unless sooner removed by the board, for good cause, which cause shall be specified in their proceedings, and other officers shall be appointed for the unexpired term of those removed. The public treasurer shall be treasurer ex officio of the institution.

Sec. 10. The board of directors shall fix the salaries and compensation of the superintendent, and the officers and employees whose services may be necessary for the management of the asylum: Provided, That the salaries shall not be diminished during the term of the incumbents.

Sec. 11. The superintendent shall exercise exclusive direction and control over all the subordinate officers and employees engaged in the service and labors of the asylum, and in every case of misconduct may discharge such employees as have been employed by himself or his predecessors, and shall report to the board of directors the misconduct of all other subordinates.

Sec. 12. The board of directors shall make all such by-laws and regulations for the government of the institution as shall be necessary, among which regulations shall be such as shall, in the language of the constitution make the institution as nearly self-supporting as is consistent with the purpose of its creation. The board shall cause the by-laws and regulations, the report of the superintendent and that of the treasurer to be published with their report to the general assembly, copies of which shall be sent to the clerk of the superior court of each and every county in the state.

Sec. 13. The first appointments to office under this Act shall take place at such times as in the judgment of the board of directors shall best subserve the interests of the institution.

Sec. 14. When in the judgment of the board of directors, the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum shall be ready for the accommodation of patients, the board of directors of said asylum shall receive from the board of directors of the North Carolina Insane Asylum, at Raleigh, such of the patients of said institution as may have their counties of settlement most convenient to the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum, to be designated by the board aforesaid, and not to exceed one hundred in number. And such additional patients as the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum may be prepared to accommodate, shall be received under the provisions of the sections of this Act, hereinafter recited, and upon the warrant of the governor draw such sums as may be actually necessary for their support and maintenance.

Sec. 15. Every insane person confined in jail for any other cause than crime may be removed to the asylum upon the order of the clerk of the superior court of the county in which the jail is situated.

Sec. 16. The judges of the superior court in the respective districts shall allow to be committed to the asylum as a patient any person who may be confined in jail on a criminal charge of any kind or degree, or upon a peace warrant, whenever the judge shall be satisfied by a verdict of a jury of inquisition that the alleged criminal act was committed while such person was insane.

Sec. 17. For admission into the asylum in other cases, the following proceedings shall be had: Some respectable citizen, residing in the county of the alleged insane person, shall make before and file with a justice of the peace of the county an affidavit in writing, which shall be substantially as follows:

State of North Carolina,
_____________ County.

The undersigned, residing in said county, maketh oath
that he hath carefully examined _____ _____ , the alleged
lunatic, and believes him or her to be an insane person,
and is, in the opinion of the undersigned, a fit subject for
admission into the insane asylum;

Dated, ____ day of _______________ , 18___
A ______________ B _____________ , (Affiant.)
Subscribed and sworn to C _________ D _____________ , J. P.

Whereupon, unless the person or persons, in whose care or custody the alleged insane is, will agree to bring him or her before the said justice without a warrant, the justice shall issue a precept directed to the sheriff or a constable as follows:

The State of North Carolina,
To the Sheriff or Constable of ____________ County—Greeting:

Whereas, Information on oath has been laid before me
that _____ _____ is an insane person: You are hereby com-
manded to bring him or her before me, or some other jus-
tice of the peace of said county, within the next ten days,
in order that necessary proceedings may be had respecting
his insane condition.

Given under my hand this ____ day of ______________ , 18___.
C _________ D _____________, J. P.

Upon the bringing of the alleged insane person before the justice by his or her friends, or upon the return of the precept with the body of the insane person, the justice shall cause to be associated with him two or more justices of the county, who together shall proceed to examine into the condition of mind of the supposed insane person, and shall take the testimony of at least one respectable physician, and such other of them as they may think proper.

If the justice, or any two of them, shall decide that such person is insane, and some friend, as he may do, will not become bound with good security to restrain him or her from committing injuries, and to keep, support and take care of him or her until the cause for confinement shall cease, the said justices, or any two of them, shall direct the insane person to be removed to the asylum as a patient; and to that end they shall direct a warrant to the sheriff or constable, and at the same time shall transmit to the board of directors the examination of the witnesses, and a statement of such facts as the said justices shall deem pertinent to the subject matter, which warrant shall be substantially as follows:

State of North Carolina,
To the Sheriff or Constable of ___________ County— Greeting:

Whereas, It has been made to satisfactorily appear to
us, C _____ D _____ and E _____ P _____ , justices of the peace
of said county, that A _____ B _____ , a citizen of the state, is
an insane person, that he has a legal settlement in said
county, and is a fit subject for the insane asylum, and that
his being at large is injurious to himself, and disadvan-
tageous if not dangerous to the community: You are
hereby commanded to take the said A _____ B _____ , and
convey him to the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum,
and there deliver him to the superintendent thereof
for safe-keeping.

Given under our hands this ___ day of ____________ , 18___
C __________ D __________ , J. P.
E __________ F ___________ , J. P.

Sec. 18. Whenever the justices of the peace, under the provisions of the preceding section, shall direct any insane person to be removed to the asylum as a patient for safe-keeping, it shall be their duty to make a full report of their proceedings to the clerk of the superior court of their county.

Sec. 19. The following interrogatories, with their respective answers by competent witnesses, shall likewise be transmitted with the other papers to the board of directors:

Question 1. What is the name of the patient?
Question 2. Is he or she white or colored?
Question 3. What is his or her age?
Question 4. Is he or she married or single?
Question 5. What is the supposed cause of insanity?
Question 6. In what way is the disease exhibited?
Question 7. Has any medical treatment been pursued? If so, what kind and by whom?
Question 8. How long has he or she been insane? Count from first symptoms.
Question 9. Has the patient manifested any propensity to injure himself or others? If so, in what way?
Question 10. Has he or she been subject to epilepsy?
Question 11. Has any of his or her ancesters been insane? If so, state what ancestors, and what was the character of their insanity?
Question 12. Has he or she any family, and, if so, what persons compose it?
Question 13. Are any of them insane, and what is the character of such insanity?
Question 14. What is the occupation of the patient?
Question 15. How many attacks of mental disease has the patient had?
Question 16. Are parents of the insane person related by blood? If so, what is the degree of relationship?
Question 17. Has the applicant property? If so, state in what such property consists, and what is the value thereof?
Question 18. Is the applicant under any forcible restraint? If so, what?
Question 19. Has the patient received any aid from the county? If so, what?
Question 20. Give name and address of the friends of the patient with whom the superintendent of the insane asylum can correspond, as circumstances require, for the benefit of the patient.
Question 21. Give any information in your possession not embraced in the above questions, which may throw light on the mental or physical condition of the patient.

Sec. 20. Whenever any insane person shall be conveyed to the asylum, and the superintendent is in doubt as to doubt the propriety of his or her admission, he may convene the board of directors (any three of whom shall constitute a quorum) for the purpose of examining and deciding if such person is a proper subject for admission; and if a majority of such board decide that he or she is such, he shall be received into the asylum, but such board may at any time thereafter deliver said insane person to any friend who will become bound, with good security, to restrain him or her from committing injuries and to keep, maintain and take care care of him or her, in the same manner as he or she might have become bound under the authority of the justices of the peace.

Sec. 21. Whenever the superintendent shall deem an insane person to be incurable, and that his or her being at large would not be injurious to himself or herself, or dangerous to the community, he shall certify the fact to the clerk of the superior court of the county from which the patient was sent, and also to the board of directors (any three of whom shall constitute a board) who may, if deemed expedient, remove such patient from the asylum. And it shall be the duty of the sheriff of the county from which the patient was sent, to convey said patient from the asylum to the county of his settlement at the expense of said county.

Sec. 22. When an affidavit in writing shall be made before a justice of the peace by any citizen of the state that any person who has been found by the inquisition of a jury to be an idiot, lunatic or non compos mentis, and whose estate in the hands of his or her guardian shall be sufficient to support him or her and family, if he or she has any, is mischievously inclined, and that his or her going at large is dangerous to the community, it shall be lawful for said justice to issue his warrant requiring the sheriff to bring him or her before two justices of the peace within ten days, in order that the complaint may be duly examined, and the sheriff, when he executes the warrant, is to notify the guardian.

Sec. 23. If the said justices, on the return of the warrant, are satisfied that the facts stated in the complaint are true, it shall be their duty to issue process to the sheriff, commanding him to take such insane person and convey him or her to the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum, and there to deliver him or her to the superintendent thereof for safe-keeping: Provided, however, That the mischievous disposition of such insane person shall have been proved by at least two competent witnesses, who have been acquainted with him or her for more than twelve months.

Sec. 24. If the insane person mentioned in the preceding section be sent to the asylum, a copy of the proceedings shall be returned by the justices to the clerk of the superior court of his county, who shall have power from time to time to make such orders or decrees concerning the payment of the expenses of sending him or her to said asylum or sending him or her back, should he or she be discharged therefrom, as to said clerk shall seem just and reasonable under all the circumstances of the case.

Sec. 25. Any judge of the superior or supreme courts may make an order for the discharge from the asylum of any person confined there under this Act, if the superintendent thereof shall certify to him in writing that he is well satisfied that such person is not mischievous, and would not be dangerous to the community if discharged: Provided, That the signature to the certificate be duly acknowledged or proved before the clerk of the superior court for Burke County, and shall be certified by him under his official seal. All bonds executed for restraining insane persons from committing injuries, and for their safe keeping, support and care, shall be payable to the state of North Carolina in the sum of five hundred dollars at least, and shall be transmitted to the clerk of the superior court of the county wherein the insane person is settled for safe keeping, and may be put in suit by any person injured by the insane person, by reason of his or her insane condition, and shall be put in suit by the solicitor for the judicial district in which the county of the insane person's residence is situated, for any other breach thereof, wherein the damages received shall be for the use of the insane person, and shall be at least fifty dollars.

Sec. 26. The form of the bond mentioned in the preceding section shall be as follows:

State of North Carolina,
County of ___________.

Know all men by these presents, that we, A _____ B _____ ,
principal, and C _____ D _____ and E _____ F _____ , sureties,
are held and firmly bound unto the state of North Caro-
lina, in the sum of ______ dollars, for the payment whereof
we bind ourselves and each of us.

Witness, our hands and seals, this the ___ day of ____________ , 18___.

The condition of the above obligation is this:

Whereas, the said A _____ B _____ , with the view of hindering
G _____ H _____ , an insane person, resident in the
county aforesaid, from being sent to the Western North
Carolina Insane Asylum, (or effect his release from the
said asylum, as the case may be,) hath undertaken to
restrain him or her from committing injuries, and to keep,
maintain, support and take care of him or her: Now, if
the said A _____ B _____ shall faithfully comply with the
conditions of this obligation, then the same shall be void,
otherwise it shall be in full force.

A _____ B _____ [Seal.]
C _____ D _____ [Seal.]
E ______ F _____ [Seal.]

Sec. 27. Wherever it shall be made to appear to the clerk oi the superior court ot the county in winch such insane person was resident, that the conditions of the bond are not faithfully complied with, the insane person shall be sent to the asylum by such clerk of the superior court, unless some other and responsible and discreet friend will undertake to fulfil the duties of said obligation, and whenever said insane person shall be sent back to the asylum, he or she shall not be delivered on any new bond of the defaulting obligor.

Sec. 28. All dues to the asylum from any and all sources shall be paid into the public treasury, and the said asylum shall be supported by appropriations from the public treasury.

Sec. 29. The board of directors shall have power to regulate admissions into the asylum, having regard to the probabilities of curing the parties of their mental diseases.

Sec. 30. All money applied for the use and support of the Western Insane Asylum, and the insane therein, [shall be paid] out of the public treasury on warrants drawn by a majority of the board of directors, or by the superintendent, and countersigned by at least two of the board of directors, and approved by the governor.

Sec. 31. All money and the proceeds of property given to the asylum, and all money arising from any estate which may be owned by the asylum, shall be paid into the public treasury, and all donations in which there shall be special directions for its application shall be kept as a distinct fund, and shall be faithfully applied as the donor may have directed.

Sec. 32. In order to secure their constant supervision and attendance, the officers and employees of the asylum shall be exempt from serving on juries, in the militia, and from the duty of working on the public roads.

Sec. 33. The board of directors shall cause all their proceedings to be faithfully and carefully written and recorded in books, and to this end may employ a clerk and pay him a reasonable compensation for his services. The books shall, at all times, be open to the inspection of the board of public charities and of the general assembly.

Sec. 34. The board of public charities and the members of the general assembly shall be ex-officio visitors of the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum. It shall be the duty of the board of public charities to visit the asylum from time to time, as they may deem expedient, to examine its condition, and make report thereon to the general assembly with such suggestions and remarks as they think proper. And to said board of public charities and to the board of directors of the asylum only shall the superintendent be required to make reports or furnish statistics.

Sec. 35. The close of the fiscal year shall be the thirty-first of December in each and every year, and all accounts and estimates shall be made with reference thereto.

Sec. 36. It shall be the duty of the county commissioners, by proper order to that effect, to discharge any ascertained lunatic in their county not admitted to the insane asylum, when it shall appear upon the certificate of two respectable physicians and the chairman of the board of county commissioners that such lunatic ought to be discharged if in the insane asylum.

Sec. 37. Whenever any person shall be found to be insane in the mode hereinbefore prescribed, and such person shall be possessed of an income amply sufficient to support those who may be legally dependent for support on the estate of such insane person, and moreover to support and maintain such insane person in any named asylum situate out of the state; and such insane person, if of capable mind to signify such preference, shall in writing declare his or her wish to be placed in such asylum without the state, instead of being in one of the asylums established by the state; and two respectable physicians, who shall have examined such insane person with the justices appointed by said Act to make the examination, shall deem it proper, then it may be lawful for said justices of the peace, together with said physicians, to recommend in writing that such insane person shall be placed in the asylum so chosen as a patient thereof.

Sec. 38. It shall be the duty of any person, having the legal custody of the estate of such insane person, to supply the funds for his or her support m the asylum in which he or she may be placed, during his or her stay therein, and so long as they may be sufficient for that purpose over and beyond maintaining and supporting those persons who may be legally dependent on the estate as aforesaid.

Sec. 39. It shall be the duty of said justices to report the proceedings in all such cases to the clerk of the superior court of the county in which such insane person may reside or be domiciled as provided.

Sec. 40. The clerk of the court shall lay the said proceedings before the judge of the superior court of the district in which the insane person may reside or be domiciled, and, if he approve them, he shall so declare in writing, and such proceedings with the approval thereof shall be recorded by said clerk.

Sec. 41. A certified copy of such proceedings, with the approval of the said judge, shall be sufficient warrant to authorize any friend or friends of the insane person appointed by the said judge to remove him or her to the asylum designated.

Sec. 42. In the admission of patients to the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum, priority of admission shall be given to the indigent insane: Provided, however, That the board of directors may regulate admissions, having in view the curability of patients and the welfare of the institution.

Sec. 43. All laws and clauses in conflict with this Act are repealed.

In this general assembly read three times, and ratified this the 10th day of March, A.D. 1881.

Thomas J. Jarvis, Governor
Charles M. Cooke, Speaker of the House of Representatives
James L. Robinson, Lt. Governor and President of the Senate

State of North Carolina,
Office Secretary of State,
Raleigh, May 14th, 1881.

I, William L. Saunders, Secretary of State, hereby
certify that the foregoing are true copies of the original
acts and resolutions on file in this office.

William L. Saunders,
Secretary of State.



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