1893 Yates County Poor House

Yates County Poor-house was visited by Commissioner Craig without notice, in company with the keeper, Mr. Charles S. Cook, and the matron, Mrs. Charles S. Cook, July 22, 1893.

Population.
The census of the day shows, inmates, 30; of which 23 were men and 7 were women; 4 males and 2 females were idiots or feeble-minded; 2 women were epileptics; none were insane; none were children between 2 and 16 years old.

Buildings.
The buildings remain substantially the same; but new bath-tubs have been put in; though they are not used, for the reason stated, that, being on the second floor, there is no way of supplying warm water for them in the summer weather, when steam is not turned on to heat the house, except by carrying hot water up two flights of stairs. The dormitories for men and those for women are divided into single rooms. This arrangement ensures classification or separation of the decent poor from the vicious pauper while in their respective rooms.

Administration.
The new bath-tubs not being used for the reason already stated, the women use pails for bathing, and the men bathe in the old movable bath-tub in the detached building known as “the hospital.” In this hospital are two men ill and nearly helpless, who have no care except such as may be given by a pauper inmate, who evidently, is not very efficient, or perfectly trustworthy; and save also such as the keeper’s supervision and occasional presence may insure. One of these sick men has palsy with dementia and occasional delusions. The other sick man has paralysis of his left side, and has to be lifted from and to his bed; but appears intelligent and uncomplaining. The situation, considerably removed from the main building, the dirty floors, the foul smells, and the general atmosphere of the place, aroused a feeling of profound pity for the uncomplaining sufferer. There is not intended any reflection on the keeper, who seemed disposed to do the duty devolving upon him personally, though, perhaps, unaware of the necessity of a better assistant in the hospital. The criticism is on the system which preceded the office of the present keeper. In correspondence with the superintendent of the poor, he writes, that “the building should be called a building for old men, as we do not take sick persons always to that room, but generally leave them in the main building; but the people have got in the habit of calling it a hospital.”

In one of the rooms of the main building was an inmate suffering with ulcers of the foot of a serious nature, who was attended by a pauper inmate. His request that Dr. Wm. Oliver, of Penn Yan, might, rather than the visiting physician, give him professional attendance, had been granted, showing evidence of the humane consideration of the wishes of the patients. One woman inmate, stricken with apoplexy and dying, by name Angeline Merritt, is remembered as giving evidence on former visits, of being an efficient and faithful helper, though an invalid. There are not wanting cases in poor-houses of which this is an instance, showing not only self respect, but due regard for others, and disposition to become useful on the part of the unfortunate, but worthy poor.

There is no dietary established as yet by the new keeper; but the diet includes fresh beef twice a week. Dr. McGovern, the physician, visits once each week, and whenever called.

The rooms in the main building, their contents and inmates were clean and in good condition, except remnants of bedbugs, against which a well conducted fight was in progress. The general administration under the new keeper and matron, who took office last April, appears to be relatively good, and likely to improve under their manifest purpose to do right.

Cost.
The annual salary of the keeper and matron is $500; the physician receives two dollars per visit; being about $160 last year, exclusive of medicines. The weekly cost per capita is one dollar and nineteen cents.

Recommendations.
Among other suggestions implied in the foregoing criticisms, it is recommended that the detached building, known as “the hospital,” so long as it may be used as such, for any cases, be put in cleaner and better condition, and under the care of a resident assistant, other than a pauper.”

SOURCE: Annual Report of the State Board of Charities for the Year 1893, Transmitted to the Legislature February 1, 1894, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1894, Pages 497-499. 

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