1864 Franklin County Poor House

“It is a circumstance most fortunate that there are only five insane persons confined in the county poor house of Franklin county, for the record of its condition is shocking to humanity. The whole number of inmates is forty. Two of the lunatics arc capable of some labor. One is restrained constantly in a cell, without the privilege of coming daily to the open air. There is a spring of water near by, from which the building is supplied, but the insane are not required to bathe, or even to wash their hands and face, except when they see fit to do it themselves. There is no provision for ventilation, or uniform heat in winter. “Have you bedsteads in all the rooms?” answer, “In two only.” Two or three sleep on straw, without other bedding; the straw is changed once a month. Of course there can be no provision for the various grades of insane. In the day time the sexes mix as they please, and receive their only care from the sane paupers. The rooms were “not cleanly,” and the atmosphere was “bad enough,” and the keeper said that vermin were “somewhat plentiful.” They have no changes of undergarments. One escaped during the year, who has not returned. They have no medical treatment, and are not visited by a physician. Only one case has been treated in an asylum. Dr. Sidney P. Bates says: “I believe the great object had in view by the people of this county, in the maintenance of the poor, is economy.” The particular kind of economy is indicated by this report. The poor house buildings are all old, the roof leaky, the floors uneven, by reason of the settling of the foundation walls. The buildings are woundrously unfit for the purposes for which they are used.”

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 193-194.

New York State County Poor Houses.

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