1864 Allegany County Poor House

“Of the poor house and its insane inmates in the county of Allegany, Dr. John Norton remarks: “The old block house in which some insane are confined, occupied in part by idiots, is in very bad condition, with no ventilation, old, rotten and filthy, and entirely inadequate for the purposes for which it is used. All the buildings are poorly arranged and badly constructed. Most of the inmates are idiotic, and few are even competent to care for others. With so little help, spite the efforts of the keeper, many must be at times neglected. I found much suffering for want of medical care, as the surgeon employed so seldom visits the institution, and I learned, by those who were competent to speak for themselves, that he gives each case very little attention. I do not think the aged and sick receive proper nourishment. There is but one back yard in which to amuse themselves and get open air, which is entirely insufficient for the variety of cases there represented.” These remarks are based on the facts that the poor house has in it eighty-nine paupers, twenty-one of whom are lunatics or idiots. They have been admitted to the poor house at various periods since 1842. Fifteen are females; six are males; fifteen are natives and sixteen of foreign birth. Eight cases are mild; one has been in State prison; three have been treated in the State asylum; seven are capable of doing some labor. Those who cannot labor have no form of amusement. The house has no bathing tub, and in dry weather the supply of water is insufficient. Thorough ablution is not one of the virtues of the institution. There is no arrangement for uniformity of heat in winter and ventilation. None are without the privilege of coming to the open air every day, unless the keeper is absent. There are rooms without a window opening out of doors. All the looms have bedsteads; one and two sleep in a bed. The beds are ticks filled with straw, which is changed about once a month. There are large stoves in the hall, which are considered sufficient to heat the cells, but no attention is paid to its uniformity or sufficiency. The sexes are partly separated. The keeper has charge of the female insane, and pauper care is the only kind bestowed, beside that of the keeper on the males. As to cleanliness, “some of the cells are quite bad,” and the atmosphere in them “very bad.” Vermin were found in some of the beds. The insane are only partially separated from other paupers. Eight were removed during the year by their friends. A county physician averages a visit to the lunatics about once a month.”

Allegany County Poorhouse – The Art Of Abandonment / Photography by Walter Arnold.

Allegany – Linda Crannell, The Poorhouse Lady.

Allegany County Home Angelica – Louis Q Photography.

Allegany County, NY, Poor House Records.

Angelica, NY, Historical Research Links.

Allegany County NY GenWeb.

SOURCE: Documents of the Assembly Of The State Of New York, Eighty-Eighth Session, 1865, Volume 6, Nos. 199 to 112 Inclusive, Albany: C. Wendell, Legislative Printer, 1865, Pages 182-183.

New York State County Poor Houses.


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