Glore Psychiatric Museum / A Fascinating Trip Stop

The award-winning Glore Psychiatric Museum chronicles the 130-year history of the state hospital and centuries of mental health treatment.The museum is located on the adjoining grounds of the original state hospital in St. Joseph, Missouri. The Glore Psychiatric Museum certainly offers a unique trip back into history and is recognized as one of the 50 most unusual museums in the U.S. The museum’s address is 3406 Frederick Avenue, Saint Joseph, MO.

glore psychiatric museum

Glore Psychiatric Museum, St. Joseph Missouri

Establishing the Glore Psychiatric Museum

The Glore Psychiatric Museum was started in 1968 in an abandoned ward of the St. Joseph State Hospital by George Glore. Glore had been collecting historical psychiatric treatment devices as well as interesting items made by the actual patients of the hospital for over four decades.

o hallorans swing

O’Halloran’s Swing

The current collection includes interactive and audio-visual displays. Also, department store mannequins strapped into various psychiatric devices of the era. If this isn’t enough, there is an artistic display of 1,466 inedible items — safety pins, screws, nails, buttons bottle caps that were removed from the digestive tract of a former St. Joseph State Hospital patient.

There’s also the story about a patient who swallowed a Timex clock and when the item was passed it was still ticking. Permanent displays at the museum cover about 400 years of psychiatric history.

The hospital asylum had a working farm and farming equipment used in that period is on display. A work program was in place as a key therapy for patients. In addition to the working farm, a sewing room was in place, a car restoration project was begun, a rug weaving program produced rugs used throughout the hospital and several others programs were established.

Also you’ll view original hospital furnishings and various surgical equipment. Some of the permanent displays also include  the Bath of Surprise; O’Halloran’s Swing; the Tranquilizer Chair; and the Hollow Wheel. It’s been said that patients could spend up to six months in the tranquilizer chair.

tranquilizer chair

Tranquilizer Chair

George Glore

The museum is named for its founder George Glore, who spent most of his 41-year career with the Missouri Department of Mental Health. His work with mental health patients sparked his interest in the history and treatment of mental illness. His collection of  museum artifacts is one of the largest exhibitions devoted to the evolution of mental health care in the United States. The museum fills four floors.

The original Glore collection featured full size replica exhibits of 16th, 17th and 18th centurytreatmentdevices that very much resemble the torture devices used during the same period. George Glore created these exhibits for a mental health awareness week celebration. The exhibits were received well by the general public and Glore was urged by his superiors to expand the exhibit. After additional mental illness treatment items were added the museum came into being.

In 1997 the museum was relocated from the original Lunatic Asylum No.2 to it’s current location when the asylum campus was converted to a correctional facility. The museum is outside the prison fence in a group of brick buildings.

George Glore passed away in 2010. The museum is no longer affiliated with the State of Missouri but is part of the St. Joseph Museum. As of this writing the museum hours are M-Sat 10A-5P, Sun. 1-5P. The Glore Psychiatric Museum phone number is 816-364-1209.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Historic Missouri Travel Sites

The Quacks

M-Sa 10 am – 5 pm, Su 1-5 pm.
The museum sits right outside the prison fence, in a complex of brick buildings. – See more at:

The Original State Lunatic Asylum No. 2

bath of surprise treatment

The Bath of Surprise

Is the museum worth a visit? We certainly think so.The Glore Psychiatric Museum highlights the ways patients were treated in the old days and presents a glimpse of psychiatric history.

This is in many ways similar to the story of turn of the century medical devices that claimed to heal a variety of illnesses and aches and pains. Many of these were electrical in nature. The harnessing of electricity in the late 1800’s opened the door for quacks to make what seems today outrageous claims for healing.

The original ‘State Lunatic Asylum No. 2, by approval of the Missouri State assembly, opened in November of 1874 with 25 patients on land located east of the City of St. Joseph. At first there was added 120 beds which eventually grew to 350. As mentioned above, the asylum eventually became a prison and the present day museum was relocated adjacent to it.

The name of the asylum was changed in 1903 to the State Hospital No. 2. In 1952 it was renamed the St. Joseph State Hospital.

Visiting the Glore Psychiatric Museum

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Glore Psychiatric Museum is a very unique venue. There’s four floors of exhibits that give the visitor a real good feel for the progression of psychiatric treatment prior to the introduction of the powerful medicines of today.

If your travels take you to St. Joseph Missouri, you may want to take the time to visit what is one of the most unique museums found anywhere in the country. St. Joseph is located about 57 miles north of Kansas City Missouri and about 135 miles southeast of Omaha Nebraska.

(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History. Photos and images in the public domain)


Visit the Famous Bat Towers of Dr. Charles Campbell

At one time the world had 14 Bat Towers. Seven of these were built in Italy. Today, there are only a few remaining that you can view. One is in Florida and two are in Texas. This article is about why and how these old towers were built, how they operated, the man who designed them and where in the U.S. you can still see them. If your travels take you anywhere near where the surviving Bat Towers are located you may want to add a stop there to your trip planner.

The story of the Bat Towers designed by Dr. Charles Campbell is quite unique and quite interesting. It’s a story about a medical doctor who devised a plan to fight one of the most feared diseases of his era, malaria.

florida bat tower

Sugarloaf Key, Florida-Perky’s Bat Tower

Bat Towers Built to Help Fight Against Malaria

Dr. Charles Campbell worked as a city bacteriologist in San Antonio Texas around the turn of the twentieth century. Dr. Campbell was a physician who began experimenting with ways to eradicate malaria which accounted for millions of deaths worldwide annually. This was a natural thing for the doctor to do since he personally treated the malarial sick and knew that the disease was carried by mosquitoes. The question was, how do we cut down on malarial carrying mosquitoes.

The Bat Towers, also referred to as Malaria-Eradicating Guano Producing Bat Roosts, were designed and built to be a deluxe bat house that the bats would continue to come back to so they could feast on the mosquitoes. The towers were usually built in wet areas where mosquitoes were most prevalent.

See the Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower

Also named Perky’s Bat Tower, the structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Even though the local county commissioners at the time thought the bat tower plan was laughable they allowed it to be built.

The tower was built in 1929 by Richter Clyde Perky, a fish lodge owner with plans purchased by a  from Dr. Campbell. The tower was pretty well built as it survived several hurricanes. The purpose of this particular thirty foot tall tower was to help control the mosquito problem in the Lower Keys. Perky was also a real estate developer and the mosquito problem, and trying to get it under control, was a major issue for the success of his developments. Probably the biggest problem for tourists at that time in the Lower Keys was the mosquito problem.

comfort texas bat roost

The Bat Roost in Comfort Texas

Perky’s Bat Tower is definitely off the beaten path. The traveler who enjoys adventure will find this somewhat awkward yet very unique historic structure well worth a stop at. The bat tower, which is free to visit, is located just ff Hwy 1. When driving south on Hwy 1 take a right hand turn on Bat Tower Road toward the airport.

Comfort Texas Bat Tower

The Comfort Texas Bat Tower is located off of FM473 East of IH10 on the Albert Steves Property. The name of this bat tower on the banks of the Guadalupe River is the  “Hygieostatic Bat Roost” This is about thirty miles from San Antonio. You can see the tower from the road.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

 Visit Fredericksburg Texas

Touring the Texas Hill Country

 Orange Texas Bat Tower

This bat tower is located at the Shangri-La Gardens in Orange Texas. Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center comprising 252 acres is a world-class venue which is an excellent trip stop for the entire family. Orange Texas is on the border with Louisiana about 110 miles east of Houston.

campbell bat roost

Dr. Charles Campbell

How Effective Were Dr. Campbells Bat Towers?

Most research on the project will tell you that, in it’s entire existence, not one bat ever roosted in the Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower. There’s a story that Perky even sent someone to Cuba to try to bring their bats back to Florida. Perky also put bait in the tower with an unknown bait (obtained from Dr. Campbell) but this also didn’t work because a storm washed away the box. In the meantime Dr. Campbell had passed away and the bait formula was not obtainable.  Campbell reportedly sold the bait for $500 per box.

As a result, mosquitoes continued to rule on Sugarloaf Key and did indeed continue to bother the endeavors of Richter Clyde Perky.

Regardless of the results of Dr. Charles Campbell’s Bat Towers during the early part of the nineteenth century, the surviving bat towers that are largely off the beaten path offer a very unique trip into history.

If your travels take you to the Florida Keys, Comfort Texas or Orange Texas, a short stop at any of these three gives you a glimpse of one man’s experiment to help eradicate malaria.

(Article copyright Trips Into History. Photos and images in the public domain)

The Quacks

Early 1900’s Quack Medicine

Quackery and the quacks who promote it have been with us for centuries. It’s an interesting topic and in some ways a sad one. The first question is..why would people subject themselves to it? Quackery’s victims were in most cases people with illnesses who simply were searching for a cure. In some cases they were desperate.

snake oil cure

Snake Oil Cure

There’s probably more than a few answers to the above question. One answer has to do with the early medical associations. The medical associations, while being loosely organized, were nothing near what they are today. The other obvious answer is that available medical aid was not what it is in today’s modern world. Doctor’s didn’t have the degree of knowledge that they have today. In addition, oversight and licensing procedures were questionable at best. Thus thrived the quacks.

Quacks of the Early 1900’s

Two of the leading quacks of the early 1900’s, and there were many more, were Albert Abrams and John Brinkley. In the case of Abrams, he developed the “rheostatic dynamizer“. This was essentially a box with wires in it. Abrams would put a drop of his patients blood inside the box and then run additional wires from the box to the head of a healthy person facing west. Strange but true. When Abrams’ tapped the second persons abdomen he could not only tell his patient what was wrong with him but he could also tell him what his religion was. Incredible, unbelievable and you wouldn’t think this was true if it didn’t actually happen. It did happen. Abrams was also credited with devising the ” oscilloclast” which was an improved “rheostatic dynamizer” that he leased out to other quacks for a hefty price.

violet ray cure

Violet Ray Treatment

The Strange Doings of John Brinkley

The quacks came from a diverse background. In the case of John Brinkley, who actually did try to attend a recognized medical school but really never did, you had a “doctor” with a degree via mail from the Eclectic Medical University from Kansas City.

In 1915, for $100 Brinkley received his diploma and a license to practice medicine in eight states. Another amazing fact is that with this “medical” license goat  Brinkley became a U.S. Army doctor at Fort Bliss, Texas when he was inducted. For a variety of reasons this assignment lasted only a few months. After that Brinkley spent a short amount of time as a “physician and clerk” at a Kansas meat packing plant.

‘After he established himself as a small town doctor, Brinkley’s claim to fame were his “goat gland operations” which he declared would restore vitality and delay aging. He did many of these. Some were successful and some were not. His detractors would claim his patients walked in the front door vertically and exit the back door horizontally. Needless to say, the American Medical Association based in Chicago chased him down his entire life. Nevertheless, Brinkley made large sums of money.

dr john brinkley

Dr. John Brinkley, circa 1921

If that wasn’t enough, John Brinkley even ran for Kansas governor. He built hospitals for his operations and he owned a Kansas radio station to help promote his quackery. Thanks to the AMA Brinkley’s radio license was eventually rescinded but that didn’t stop him.

Brinkley approached the Mexican government in 1931 with a proposal to build a radio station across the border from Del Rio, Texas. The Mexican’s had no agreements with the U.S. Federal Radio Commission.and welcomed the idea. Brinkley built what eventually became known as the one-million wattBorder Blaster”. His new $350,000 radio station could be heard in every U.S. state plus in fifteen foreign countries. As a comparison, most U.S. radio stations at that time were putting out 5,000 watts of power.The station basically played country music and promoted Brinkley’s medical remedies and gadgets from paying advertisers. While Brinkley lost his small Kansas station he was now broadcasting to the world. Let’s remember that these were the years of the Great Depression and people were looking for miracles of any kind, especially if they were hurting. Many of the expanded audience made possible by the Border Blaster radio station liked what they heard.

This Border Blaster radio station stirred things up between the U.S. and Mexico as well as with the AMA. Lawsuits were flying left and right and as years went by Brinkley eventually lost the Mexican station as well as his palatial home in Del Rio,Texas.

quackery devices

Electro-Metobograph on display at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Advancing Science Meant Large Profits

Tens of thousands of Violet Ray Machines were sold by the quacks during the second decade of the 20th century. The quacks professed that the Violet Ray machines would restore health and one’s sex drive.

What’s interesting here is that during previous decades quite a lot was learned about electricity. What was not known by the mainstream scientific community was what real effect electricity had on humans.

Selling the Violet Ray Machines was an effort to take advantage of the publicity regarding science discoveries and turning that publicity into something totally different to make large profits off of a gullible public.

The same can be said regarding the “electric belts” which were sold under a dozen or more brand names. The mysticism of electricity was turned into an imaginary cure-all that brought in huge profits for it’s manufacturer’s. There are many other early 20th century miracle medical devices not discussed here.

Links to three additional Trips Into History articles you’ll find interesting are American Frontier / The Doctors ….. Psychics of Lily Dale New York and the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph Missouri.

Fighting Quackery

The end to quackery, if it truly totally ended, was brought about by several things. Among these were a more organized and formal medical licensing system, better mainstream medical procedures and pharmaceuticals and along with a better educated general public.

electric belt device

Heidelberg Alternating Curren Electric Belt

As an example, today the public wants and expects dietary information labels on food purchased at the supermarket. Something totally unheard of during the 1920’s and 30’s. I suppose you could make a case that there are cure-all’s on the market today. Some also may perform much less than advertised.This is probably true. I think what stands out about the quacks of the early 20th century was the magnitude of their claims and the invasive nature of some of the treatments. Goat gland transplant operations to restore vitality would certainly qualify as one of the most outrageous.

Interesting Sites on the Subject of Quackery

This was an interesting, if not odd, era in American history and there’s much more to read about on this subject.  Interesting to see what you stumble on when researching somewhat of a different topic. For those wishing to research the quackery subject in more detail there are two places I’m aware of. The Kansas State Historical Society has many manuscripts and records of all sorts regarding John Brinkley. In Minnesota the St. Paul Science Museum has excellent exhibits on quackery with some of the devices like the one shown in this article on display.

The foremost book about the quackery practiced by John Brinkley is Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam by author Pope Brock.

Another excellent book regarding the practice of quackery and the quacks is Quack!: Tales of Medical Fraud from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices by author Bob McCoy.

A third book I’d recommend is The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America by author Stephen Barrett.

(Photos and images from the public domain)

American Frontier / The Doctors

Frontier Medicine

American frontier medicine is one of the most interesting aspects of the westward migration during the 1800’s and there’s many unique museums and historic sites to explore regarding the subject.

Doctor's Horse Carriage

Make it a point to visit one of the many museums spread across the United States that chronicle the life and duties of frontier doctors. What was known of the art of healing during the 1800’s? How did doctors travel to tend to the sick and wounded? What types of instruments were available on the frontier? What medicines were available to the frontier doctor? All of these questions are answered in the artifacts, photos and articles exhibited at these museums. Visit one of these on your next vacation or road trip and you’ll be amazed at some of the things you’ll see and learn during your visit. Below are just a few of the museums you’ll enjoy visiting.

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Robert Wood Johnson Museum of Frontier Medicine located at Fort Concho in San Angelo Texas.

The Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum in Guthrie Oklahoma.

Medicine’s Hall of Fame & Museum in the former Central Harley-Davidson building in Shawnee Oklahoma.

The Fort Crawford Museum of Native American Medicine, in Prairie du Chien Wisconsin.

The Indiana Medical History Museum is located in Indianapolis Indiana.

native American Medicine Man from Alaska, circa 1890

Native American Medicine

Long before doctors from the east with their medical diplomas traveled to the western frontier, Native American tribes had their medicine men or shamans. Each may have performed their tasks a bit differently but all functioned as a link between the spirit world and the earth world. All tribes believed that illness came from the spirit world and it would take a man with a direct link to that spirit world to provide a cure.

Interestingly enough, the medicine man didn’t have things too easy. If a certain amount of tribe members died, the medicine man or shaman might be put to death.



Frontier doctors bag

The Role of the Frontier Doctor

In many western frontier towns during the mid to late 1800’s, the medical doctor could very well find himself as the most educated member of the settlement. Because of this the doctor at times performed duties not pertaining to medicine. He could also act as a political leader. It was a luxury in itself during the early days to even have a medical man within the community. One of the best example of this is the case of Dr. David S. Maynard who practiced in the Washington Territory during the 1850’s. Maynard, in addition to being the town physician, also served as a druggist, superintendent of schools, a merchant, justice of the peace and a notary public.

During the latter half of the 1800’s, many of the doctors who served on the western American frontier gained their skills during the Civil War. The doctor who settled there was an adventurous person who may have also been attracted to the region for potential mining opportunities. To be sure, the frontier presented more than enough challenges considering the gunshot wounds, epidemics and other injuries that were a common part of life there. The very way people had to live on the frontier, especially during the earlier years, bred a lot of sickness.

It’s often been said that the task of traveling to reach a sick or wounded patient was often considered as difficult or more so than successfully treating the patient.

The Military Doctor on the Frontier

The military doctor was in some ways quite different than the civilian American frontier doctor. The military doctor might have been an officer himself or in some cases was a contract physician assigned to a fort. The doctor was there in theory to treat soldiers but as was often the case would render his services to the nearby settlements if necessary.

Serving as a physician on the frontier was not without it’s dangers. A good example of this was Custer’s Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Reportedly there were three physicians attached to Custer’s column. Out of the three only one survived the massacre. This was Dr. Henry Porter who had been with Major Reno’s detachment about a mile away from the Custer fight.

Major Gen. Leonard Wood, 1903

The most noted military physician in the American west may have been Dr. Leonard Wood who served in the southwest during the campaign against Geronimo and later was a commander with the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War. Wood would later become army chief of staff and came close to running for president in the early 1900’s. Dr. Leonard Wood was an exception in that most army physicians didn’t pursue the military as a career. After their military service was completed, many doctors settled in towns that were nearby the forts they had served at.


Doctors who practiced medicine on the American frontier, whether they were military men or not, relied on remedies they were familiar with. Botonic physicians would be partial to herb and root concoctions. Allopaths would rely on calomel and ipecac. Generally though, many frontier doctors carried a bag that contained an assortment of medicines. A few of the more highly used medicines during the latter 1800’s included laudanum, morphine, quinine, jalap and ergot. There were many more.

Links to additional Trips Into History articles you’ll enjoy are Soldier Life on the Frontier and Frontier Women in the American West.

Early pharmacy supplies

The Druggist

The drugstore was the arsenal of the frontier doctor. It was common for the physician to also be the druggist. The medicines received by the frontier druggist were not received in the ready to use form as they are today. The druggist would receive herbs, roots bark and leaves and these materials would need to be mashed and pounded. Since bleeding was a common treatment during this era, it wouldn’t be uncommon for a pharmacist to carry a supply of blood sucking leeches.

The 1800’s military also used a drug wagon that contained medicines that could be used in the field. In essence it was a mobile pharmacy.

Eventually, as the settlements grew from towns to cities, the two professions, physician and pharmacist, separated and each had more than enough to do in their own profession than to practice both.

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Learn More About American Frontier Medicine

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, there are many interesting museums to visit in the U.S. which chronicle the efforts to provide health care on the wild American frontier. It’s interesting to learn how the profession evolved and about the challenges and dangers that went hand in hand in trying to treat the sick and wounded when supplies were limited.

All of these medical history museums, some of which are National Landmarks, make excellent additions to your vacation or road trip planner. They represent low cost ways to turn your road trip into an educational and fun experience.

Recommended books on this subject are Frontier Medicine by author David Dary and Doctors of the Old West by author Robert F. Karolevitz.

(Photos and images of medicine man and Dr. Leonard Wood from the public domain. Remainder of photos from the author’s collection)