1864 Tioga County Poor House

Dr. L.H. Allen, of Tioga county, remarks, “It will be seen at a single glance, that the insane in our poor house are in a most miserable condition. Pity and disgust are at once excited. Under existing circumstances it is impossible for the keeper to improve the condition of those who are confined in cells. Nothing short of a new and properly constructed building can meet the demands of this unfortunate class of persons. When the county will feel able and willing to make the outlay I cannot say.”

There are in the poor house eighty-five paupers, twenty-one of whom are lunatics. Six of the number are of foreign birth. Thirteen are males and eight are females. The records do not show the years of their admission. One has been confined more than twenty years. But five of these cases are classed as mild; eleven are of filthy habits; six have been treated in an asylum; several are idiotic. Four males and four females are capable of labor. Those who do not labor have no form of amusement. Ten are destructive to their clothing. The house has water but no bath tub. The insane are not required to bathe at all, nor to wash hands and face daily. Insane are confined in cells without the privilege of coming daily to the open air. The light is admitted into their cells through a grating in the front of the cell. Bunks are used in some of the rooms, with straw, upon such eight sleep; others have straw in ticks. The food is distributed in tin basins, or put into the hands of the individual. The building is heated by a coal stove in the hall, which can at best only imperfectly heat the cells. [The plain truth is that in very cold weather it does not heat them at all.] No attention is paid to the uniformity of heat by a thermometer. There are no accommodations for the various grades of the insane. The sexes are not entirely separated. Male attendants are employed to take care of the female insane, and they only paupers; pauper attendants for all the lunatics. The rooms are filthy, and the air in them bad. This institution receives recent cases. Mild cases have their garments changed weekly. Five had neither shoes nor stockings during the winter. The building is designed to accommodate only eight. It has now in it twenty-one! The cells are in two separate out-buildings. They are seldom or never visited by a physician. No case receives care with reference to its ultimate recovery.”

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 218-219.

New York State County Poor Houses.

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