Good Bye!

I started this blog on July 10, 2011, thinking that maybe 5 people would actually read it and find the posts interesting. Five years later, I have created 12 pages, written 211 posts including countless PDF files, published 739 comments, and received 352,795 views. I self-published The Inmates of Willard 1870 to 1900: A Genealogy Resource, on December 17, 2011, with my own money, to further the cause of restoring dignity to the forgotten people who lived and died at New York State Hospitals (Insane Asylums), who had been buried on New York State property in anonymous, unmarked cemeteries and graves for over a century. New York State Senate Bill S840A-2015 became a law on August 18, 2016, but it did not include provisions for a searchable database available to the public as New York State lawmakers and the Office of Mental Health believed that if they did so, they would be sued. Their belief is that putting a name on a memorial or a headstone in public is different than publishing the names on a specific public website (as if no genealogy geek in the future will photograph the graves along with the names and publish them on the internet). This makes no sense to me. I believe that the New York State Office of Mental Health did not want to disclose the names of deceased patients because the burial ledgers may have been carelessly lost or destroyed. They would also have to explain why these cemeteries had never been marked in over 150 years, why they fell into such a state of neglect and disrepair in the first place, and why Kings Park State Hospital Cemetery is being used as a youth baseball field. The following states took a different approach and put searchable databases on the internet available to the public: Kansas; Minnesota; Nebraska; Ohio; TexasMaryland; Florida; Washington; and even Binghamton State Hospital of New York has a searchable list on line.

Monument For The Forgotten-Museum of disABILITY History, Buffalo, NY.

Monument For The Forgotten-Museum of disABILITY History, Buffalo, NY.

The reason why New York State Hospitals / Insane Asylums, Feeble-Minded and Epileptic Custodial Institutions are so important to the world is because there were 26 of them, possibly more. These institutions housed many newly arrived immigrants during the mid 19th and early 20th centuries from all over the world, especially Western Europe. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who would like to know the final resting place of their long, lost ancestor. It just doesn’t seem fair to me that this one stigmatized group of people are being denied the one and only thing that we really have to be remembered by; our name. Even though I initiated the original bill in August 2011 and it was introduced to the New York State Senate by Senator Joseph E. Robach in March 2012, I was never allowed to write it. This is the bill that I would have written:

“This bill is important and necessary in order to restore the dignity and personhood of the thousands of people who were incarcerated and died at former New York State Insane Asylums, (later renamed State Hospitals), Feeble-Minded and Epileptic Custodial Institutions. When the bodies of the inmates were not claimed by family members, they were buried in anonymous, unmarked graves, or, their bodies and brains were given to medical colleges for research. These forgotten souls deserve to have their names remembered and available to the public by means of a searchable internet database. Some of these deceased patients were undoubtedly United States Veterans who served during the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam, who suffered from PTSD and Shell Shock. Their graves deserve to be marked with the American Flag and honored like any other veteran’s grave.

The list of these former New York State Hospitals includes but is not limited to: Binghamton, Buffalo, Central Islip, CreedmoorDannemora, EdgewoodGowanda, Hudson River, Kings Park, Long Island, Manhattan, Marcy, Matteawan, Middletown, Mohansic, Pilgrim, Rochester, St. Lawrence, SyracuseUtica, and Willard

The Feeble-Minded (Intellectual Disabilities) and Epileptic Custodial Institutions of New York includes but is not limited to: Craig Colony for Epileptics, Letchworth Village for Epileptics & Intellectually Disabled, Newark State School for Intellectually Disabled Women, Rome State School for Intellectually Disabled Adults & Children, and Syracuse State School for Intellectually Disabled Children. There may be more.

There is no good reason why these long deceased souls need to be punished and stigmatized in death for an illness or intellectual disability that they lived with in life. The great majority of these former state hospitals closed in favor of smaller group home settings or changed their names to Psychiatric Centers in the early 1970s. This in turn led to many patients being thrown onto the streets to live in cardboard boxes, or thrown into jail with no psychiatric services, just as they did 150 years ago. I do not understand why anyone would need to have their name withheld from any cemetery list until 50 years had passed after their death. This requirement in the bill only serves to feed the stigma.”

Well, the bill that I wanted didn’t come to pass. I will keep this blog up and running for the purpose of historical research and I might post something now and then but there is nothing left for me to blog about, and I will not continue to bang my head against the wall trying to convince New York State lawmakers and the New York State Office of Mental Health to change their position. So, I will say, Good Bye! A few years ago, I donated $100.00 dollars to the Willard Cemetery Memorial Project and I cannot afford to give any more. If you are so inclined, please donate to the cause or start a cemetery organization of your own. The saddest part of this law is that by the time this organization raises enough money to mark 5,776 graves, I will be too old to care, and I am not aware of any other cemetery organizations for the other 25 New York State institutions. Thank you for all of your support over these past five years! May God Bless You and Your Loved Ones!!

Sincerely, Linda S. Stuhler

QUESTIONS & CONCERNS: CONTACT JOHN ALLEN, Director, Office of Mental Health, Office of Consumer Affairs, Central Office Staff, 44 Holland Avenue, Albany, New York 12229, Phone: (518) 473-6579, Fax: (518) 474-8998.

Photo by Roger Luther at

Photo by Roger Luther at


1864 Dr. Willard’s Poor House Report By County

New York State County Poor Houses – Dr. Sylvester D. Willard’s Report 1864.

1864 The Willard Asylum and Provisions For The Insane – County Poor House Investigation – 8.29.2013.

1864 Albany County Poor House – 9.18.2013.
1864 Allegany County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Broome County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Cattaraugus County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Cayuga County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Chautauqua County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Chemung County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Chenango County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Clinton County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Columbia County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Cortland County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Delaware County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Dutchess County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Erie County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Essex County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Franklin County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Fulton County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Genesee County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Greene County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Hamilton County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Herkimer County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Jefferson County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Lewis County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Livingston County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Madison County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Monroe County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Montgomery County Poor House – 9.19.2013.
1864 Niagara County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Oneida County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Onondaga County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Ontario County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Orange County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Orleans County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Oswego County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Otsego County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Putnam County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Queens County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Rensselaer County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Richmond County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Rockland County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Saratoga County Poor House – 9.21.2013.
1864 Schenectady County Poor House – 9.21.2013.
1864 Schoharie County Poor House – 9.21.2013.
1864 Schuyler County Poor House – 9.21.2013.
1864 Seneca County Poor House – 9.21.2013.
1864 St. Lawrence County Poor House – 9.20.2013.
1864 Steuben County Poor House – 9.21.2013.
1864 Suffolk County Poor House – 9.21.2013.
1864 Sullivan County Poor House – 9.21.2013.
1864 Tioga County Poor House – 9.21.2013.
1864 Tompkins County Poor House – 9.21.2013.
1864 Ulster County Poor House – 9.22.2013.
1864 Warren County Poor House – 9.22.2013.
1864 Washington County Poor House – 9.22.2013.
1864 Wayne County Poor House – 9.22.2013.
1864 Westchester County Poor House – 9.22.2013.
1864 Wyoming County Poor House – 9.22.2013.
1864 Yates County Poor House – 9.22.2013.

The following excerpt from NEW YORK The Empire State is a wonderful outline for those who want to understand why County Poor Houses were created in the State of New York. Here are a few additional resources:

1. David Wagner, “Poor Relief and the Almshouse,” Disability History Museum.
2. 1603 – 1900 Brief History of Charity in New York State transcribed and annotated by L.S. Stuhler.
List of Counties in New York State.

Public Welfare – Though privation and hardship were fairly general throughout the Dutch Colonial period, the number of actual dependents was small, and relief, when needed, was administered by the officers of the Dutch Reformed Church. Churches of other denominations were expected to care for their own poor, an in localities lacking a religious organization relief was a function of the civil authorities. Funds for the poor were raised through church collections, individual donations, and court fines for misdemeanors and violations of the excise laws.

Soon after the organization of the Colonial Government, several sieck-entroosters, minor ecclesiastical functionaries, were sent to the Colony charged with the duty of visiting sick persons in their homes. These were the first social workers in what is now the Empire State.

For the dependent aged, almshouses were established by Dutch Reformed congregations at New Amsterdam, Rensselaerswyck, and other settlements, and a company hospital was erected in New Amsterdam in 1657 to care for sick soldiers and Negroes. Orphanmasters were appointed at New Amsterdam, Beverwyck (Albany), and Wildwyck (Kingston) to protect the interests of propertied widows and orphans, but when the latter became desititute they were turned over to the care of the deacons.

After the Colony came under English rule, poor relief in the southern counties was regulated by the Duke’s Laws (1665), which made each parish responsible for its own poor and for raising funds by taxation. The few general poor laws enacted were directed against vagabonds, beggars, and others moving from their places of legal settlement. Until formally accepted as an inhabitant of a town, a newcomer might at any time be “warned’ to depart by the authorities. An undesirable was ‘passed on’ from constable to constable until her reached his place of legal settlement or the border of a neighboring colony.

The prevailing attitude toward dependency was stern, cold, and strait-laced; in many places the pauper was made to wear a brightly colored badge on his sleeve inscribed with a large letter ‘P.’ No attempt was made to segregate the types of dependents; the insane and the physically handicapped, the aged and the young, the inebriates and the sober were housed together. The first public institution for ‘the employing of Poor and Indigent People’ was established in New York City in 1734 and opened two years later under the name ‘House of Correction, Workhouse and Poor House.’ The only method of caring for destitute children was through apprenticeship and indenture, by which children were bound out singly or in groups with the specification that their masters have them taught to read, write, and cipher.

During the Revolutionary War the local poor relief system broke down in many communities. Refugees from areas controlled by the British or ravaged by raids, not being chargeable to either county or town units, became the first ‘State poor,’ cared for by State commissioners. In the wake of the Revolution a great wave of humanitarian reform surged over the new Nation. Private philanthropic organizations were set up, the most important being the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism established in New York City. A sweeping revision of the penal code in 1796 reduced the number of crimes punishable by death from thirteen to two and established the first State prison. Corporal punishment, such as confinement in the stocks, whipping, and branding, was gradually abolished. Reforms were made in the laws against debtors. Public poor relief was completely secularized; the office of overseer of the poor was made elective instead of appointive; and towns too small to maintain individual almshouses were permitted to join others in town unions for the purpose of providing institutional care. Poor funds continued to be raised by local taxation supplemented by income from fines.

Several severe yellow fever epidemics at the turn of the century resulted in such public health measures as systematized quarantine, general sanitation, isolation of patients, and appointment of public health officers. The Ladies’ Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children was established in New York City in 1797 to help surviving dependents of fever victims. An offshoot of this Society founded the first orphan asylum in 1806. But child aid grew slowly, and for many years dependent children were herded indiscriminately with all other classes of dependents.

In the same period the insane were recognized as a separate social problem. In September 1792 the first mental patient was admitted into the newly opened New York Hospital, but treatment remained custodial rather than curative. The Bloomingdale Asylum, opened in 1821 as a separate unit of the New York Hospital, was the first institution for the insane in the State operated primarily on therapeutic principles. It received annual State grants for many years. The New York Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb-second of its kind in the Untied States-was incorporated in 1817 and later received State grants.

In 1824 the secretary of state, J.V.N. Yates, published under legislative authority the first State-wide poor law survey, which revealed that besides almshouse and home relief, the indigent were being cared for under the ‘contract system,’ whereby the dependent poor were let out to householders at a fixed rate, and under the ‘auction system,’ whereby the poor were bid off to persons offering to maintain them for the lowest cost. After summing up the chaos, cruelty, and waste arising from prevailing poor law practices, Yates recommended a State-wide system of county poorhouses, where all paupers were to be maintained at county expense, the able-bodied to be set to suitable work and the children to be given adequate education.

As a result of the Yates report the legislature in 1824 passed ‘An act to provide for the establishment of county almshouses’; but so many exceptions were allowed that, although poorhouses were established in all but four counties during the ensuing decade, the attempt to put the county system into effect eventually collapsed and relief was returned to local responsibility. However, the indiscriminate herding of dependents resulted in abuses so shocking as to lead to constant pressure for proper classification and segregation of different groups. The earliest effective changes took place in the field of child welfare. In 1824 the House of Refuge for Juvenile Delinquents, the first juvenile reformatory in the country, was established in New York City by the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents. It was supported mainly by State funds. In 1849 the Western House of Refuge (now the State Agricultural and Industrial School at Industry) was opened in Rochester as the first American juvenile reformatory under complete State financial and administrative control. The Asylum for Idiots (now the Syracuse State School) was established in 1851, the first of its kind to be opened under State ownership and control.

Several other important child welfare organizations were founded in the middle years of the nineteenth century, including the New York Juvenile Asylum (now the Children’s Village at Dobbs Ferry) and the Children’s Aid Society, which inaugurated the placing-out movement. The Thomas Asylum for Orphan and Destitute Indian Children was organized in 1855 under private auspices and taken over by the State in 1875. By 1866 the total number of privately managed orphanages exceeded 60.

A distinctive feature of this period was the development of State institutional facilities for the mentally and physically handicapped. The State Lunatic Asylum at Utica was established in 1836 and opened in 1843. The New York City Lunatic Asylum (now Manhattan State Hospital), founded in 1834, was the first municipal mental hospital in this country. The blind had received separate care as early as 1831, with the founding of the New York Institution for the Blind. In 1865 the State Institution for the Blind (now the New York State School for the Blind) was established at Batavia to serve the western counties.

Mass immigration in the nineteenth century brought in its wake grave problems of public health and poor relief. Large numbers of immigrants needed medical care upon landing; many were poverty-stricken; others were mulcted of their meager savings by thieves and swindlers. Without friends of funds, they soon found themselves drawn into the slums or the poorhouse, or were obliged to engage in the meanest forms of work for low wages and under conditions that exposed them to vice, disease, and death. Alarmed by the growing hordes of indigent aliens, poor-law officials demanded State and Federal legislation to protect local communities. In 1847 a State board was created to help and advise newcomers and to reimburse local communities for immigrant relief. Funds for this purpose came out of head taxes and indemnity bonds imposed on immigrants. The agitation against ‘alien pauperism’ culminated in 1882 in an act of Congress regulating immigration and containing a provision intended to exclude persons likely to become public charges.”

SOURCE: NEW YORK A Guide to the Empire State, Copyright 1940 by New York State Historical Association, First Published in November 1940, Bureau of State Publicity, New York State Conservation Department, State-wide Sponsor of the New York State Writer’s Project, Pages 118-121

1824 New York State Poor House Law

1824 – An Act To Provide For The Establishment Of County Poorhouses.   Chapter 331, Laws of 1824, Passed 27th November 1824.   

“I. Be it enacted by the People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, That it shall be the duty of the board of supervisors of each county in this State (the counties of Genesee, Yates, Greene, Washington, Rensselaer, Queens, Essex, New York, Montgomery, Suffolk, Schoharie, Chautauqua, Cortland, Dutchess, Orange, Allegany, Richmond, Monroe, Sullivan, Cattaraugus, Kings, Putnam, Delaware, Franklin, Oswego, Otsego, Columbia, St. Lawrence, Rockland, Albany, Tompkins, Tioga, Schenectady, Seneca, Madison, Onondaga, Oneida and Ulster, excepted), at their next meeting after the passing of this act, to direct the purchase of one or more tracts of land, not exceeding the quantity of two hundred acres, and thereon build and erect for the accommodation, employment and use of the said county, one or more suitable buildings, to be denominated the poorhouse of the county of _____ and to defray the expense of such purchase and building, raise by tax on estates real and personal, of the freeholders and inhabitants of the same county, a sum not exceeding the sum of seven thousand dollars, by such installments and at such times as may be ordered by the board of supervisors, to be assessed and collected in the same manner as the other county charges are assessed and collected, which money, when collected, shall be paid over by the treasurer of said county to said supervisors, or such persons as they shall for that purpose designate, to be applied to defraying the expenses aforesaid. II. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the supervisors of said county, at their meeting on the first Tuesday of October, annually, to choose and appoint, by plurality of votes, not less than five persons, who shall be denominated superintendents of the poorhouse of the county of who shall, until the first Tuesday of October next thereafter, take upon themselves, and have the exclusive charge, management, direction and superintendence of said poorhouse, and of everything relating to the same: and shall and may, from time to time, with the approbation and consent of a majority of the judges of the county courts of such county, make, ordain and establish such prudential rules, regulations and by-laws, for the well ordering of the same, and the employment, relief, management and government of the persons therein placed, and the officers and servants therein employed, and the correction of the refractory, disobedient and disorderly, by solitary confinement therein, and feeding them on bread and water only, as they shall deem expedient for the good government of the same; and shall and may, from time to time, appoint and employ a suitable person to be keeper of the same house, and necessary servants under him, and the same keeper and servants remove at pleasure, or otherwise, if they shall deem it more advisable; and it shall be lawful for the said superintendents to contract with some suitable person for the support of those persons who are placed in said poor house, who shall give a bond to said superintendents, with sufficient sureties, for the faithful performance of his contract, and who shall and may be authorized to employ the persons so committed to his charge, in like manner as if he was appointed keeper of said poorhouse. III. And be it further enacted, That whenever, after the said poorhouse shall be completed, any poor person in any city or town of the same county shall apply for relief, the said overseer of the poor of such city or town shall make application to a justice of the peace of said county, which said justice and overseer shall enquire into the state and circumstances of the person so applying for relief as aforesaid; and if it shall appear to the said justice and overseer of the poor, that such person is in such indigent circumstances as to require relief, it shall be their duty (unless the sickness of the pauper prevent) instead of ordering relief in the manner directed in and by the twenty-fifth section of the act entitled “An act for the relief and settlement of the poor,” to issue his warrant under his hand, directed to any constable of such city or town, whose duty it shall be to execute the same, thereby requiring said constable forthwith to take such poor person so applying for relief, and remove him or her to said poorhouse, and there deliver him or her to the care of the keeper of the same house, to be relieved and provided for as his or her necessities shall require; and he or she shall be discharged therefrom by order of the superintendents of the same house, or some one of them. And further, That in case the said superintendent, by a resolution to be passed by a majority of the board, shall give permission, and so long and no longer, as such permission shall be continued, it shall and may be lawful for any justice of the peace of said county, whenever a disorderly person, under or within the meaning of the act entitled “An act for apprehending and punishing disorderly persons,” instead of the punishment directed by the same act, by warrant under his hand and seal, to commit such disorderly person or persons to said poorhouse, into the custody of the keeper thereof, there to be kept at hard labor for any time not exceeding six months, unless sooner discharged therefrom by order of such superintendents or a majority of them; in which warrant it shall be sufficient to state and set forth generally, that such person has been duly convicted of being a disorderly person, without more particular specification of the offence. IV. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the overseers of the poor of any town or city in said county, to take up any child under the age of fifteen years, who shall be permitted to beg or solicit charity from door to door, or in any street or highway of such city or town, and carry or send him or her to said poorhouse, there to be kept and employed, and instructed in such useful labor as he or she shall be able to perform, and supported until discharged therefrom by order of said superintendents, whose duty it shall be to discharge such child as soon as he or she shall be able to provide for himself or herself. V. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the keeper of said poorhouse, to require and compel all persons committed to his care or custody in the same by virtue of this act, to perform such work, labor and service, towards defraying the expense of their maintenance and support, as they shall severally be able to perform, or said superintendent shall from time to time direct; and in case any such person shall neglect or refuse to perform the work, labor and service required of him or her, or shall at any time refuse or neglect any rule, regulation or by-law which, shall as aforesaid be made and established by said superintendents, for the well ordering and government of the persons committed or placed in said poorhouse, or shall at any time depart therefrom, until he or she shall be regularly and duly dismissed and discharged therefrom; in each and every such case, it shall and may be lawful for the keeper of the same house, to place and keep each and every such person in solitary confinement in some part of the same house, and feed him, her or them, with bread and water only, until he or she shall submit to perform the same labor, work and service, and obey, conform and observe the rules, regulations and by-laws aforesaid; or for such time as said keeper shall judge proportioned to his or her respective offence or offences: Provided however, That every such person who shall think himself or herself aggrieved by the conduct of such keeper towards them, may and shall be permitted to make his or her complaint to said superintendents, or any one of them, who shall immediately examine into the grounds of such complaint, and make such order and direction in the case as to him or them shall appear fit and proper; which order shall be final and conclusive in the case. VI. And be it further enacted, That the expense of supporting and maintaining such persons as shall or may be sent to or placed in said poorhouse pursuant to the provisions of this act, and all expenses incident to keeping, maintaining and governing said poorhouse, shall be a charge upon said county; and it shall and may be lawful for the supervisors of said county, to cause such sum as shall remain unpaid at the end of each year, and may be necessary to defray the same expenses, to be annually assessed and collected by a tax on the estates, real and personal, of the freeholders and inhabitants of the same county, in the proportion to the number and expenses of paupers the several towns respectively shall have in the said poorhouse; which monies, when collected, shall be paid by the collectors of the several cities and towns in the said county, into the hands of the treasurer of such county, subject to the orders of said superintendents, to be by them applied to the paying and defraying of the same expenses. VII. And be it further enacted, That the said superintendent may, at the expense of said county, from time to time, purchase and procure such raw materials to be wrought and manufactured by the persons in said poorhouse; and shall and may at all times sell and dispose of the produce of the labor of the same persons, in such manner as they shall judge conducive to the interests of said county; and it shall be the duty of the said superintendents annually, at the meeting of the supervisors of said county, on the first Tuesday of October in each year, to account with the board of supervisors of the said county, for all monies by them received and expended as such superintendents, and pay over any such monies remaining in their hands, as such superintendents, unexpended, to the superintendents who shall then be chosen and appointed in their stead. VIII. And be it further enacted, That no person shall be removed as a pauper, out of any city or town, to any other city, town or county, by any order of removal and settlement; but the county where such person shall become sick, infirm and poor, shall support him; and if he be in sufficient health to gain a livelihood, and still become a beggar or vagrant, then he shall be treated as a disorderly person: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall prevent the removal of any pauper from one city or town to any other city or town in the same county. IX. And be it further enacted, That if any person or persons shall hereafter send, carry or transport, or cause to be sent, carried or transported, any pauper or paupers, or other poor and indigent person or persons, from and out of any town in any county of this State, into any town in any other county, with intent to charge such other town or county with the maintenance and support of such pauper or paupers, poor and indigent persons, such offense shall be deemed and adjudged a misdemeanor; and such person or persons so offending, on conviction thereof before any court of competent jurisdiction, be punished, by fine in a sum not exceeding one hundred dollars, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both, in the discretion of said court. X. And be it further enacted, That if any board of supervisors, or a majority of them, in any of those counties heretofore excepted, shall, at any of their annual meetings hereafter, determine that it will be beneficial to their county to erect a county poorhouse, that by filing such determination with the clerk of said county, they shall be at liberty to avail themselves of the provisions of this act.”

SOURCE: An Act To Provide For The Establishment Of County Poorhouses. Documents of The Senate of the State of New York, One Hundred and Twenty Seventh Session, 1904, Vol. XIV. No. 22, Part 4, Annual Report of the State Board of Charities for the Year 1903, In Three Volumes with Statistical Appendix to Volume One bound separately. Volume Three Charity Legislation in New York 1609 to 1900. Transmitted to the Legislature February 1, 1904, Pages 241-245. 

1864 Yates County Poor House

This county poor house report really hits home knowing that my great-great-grandmother, Charity, lived in this place of squalor, with three of her children after her husband and eldest son, my great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather respectively, enlisted in the Union Army on January 18, 1862, at PennYan – Company B, 3rd Regiment, NY, Artillery. It has been a humbling experience uncovering the layers of the untold stories of my ancestors.  

Yates county poor-house has eighty-seven paupers, fifty-four males and thirty-three females. Six are insane, one male and five females; four of the females work a little, or, if unable to work, they amuse themselves in the care of pauper children. The male patient requires occasional restraint, but only confinement in a cell is resorted to to enforce restraint. The house has one bathing room, and is supplied with water, except in dry times in the summer. The insane are required to bathe every one or two weeks, and to wash hands and face daily. The more rational, room and sleep with the paupers, and eat at a common table with them. One male and one female are each confined in a separate cell. The county receives recent cases for treatment, and they are visited by a physician about once a week. They are usually healthy, and have the appearance of being comfortably and carefully taken care of.”

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, Page 223.

New York State County Poor Houses.
Yates County Cemetery Project – Part VII: Cemeteries in the town of Jerusalem.

1864 Wyoming County Poor House

“No report.”

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, Page 223.

New York State County Poor Houses.

1864 Westchester County Poor House

“To a population of two hundred and twenty-five in the poor-house of Westchester county, twenty-two are lunatics. Seven are males, and fifteen are females. Three-quarters are of foreign birth. Seventeen of these cases are of mild form of insanity. One was admitted in 1829. It is not known that any of the whole number have been ever treated in an asylum. Several have been admitted to the poorhouse for the second or third time. Four males and eight females are capable of labor. Those who do not labor have no amusement or employment. The manner of restraint and coercion is by straight jacket, handcuffs and confinement. The house has a full supply of water and two bathing tubs, in which, however, the insane are washed and bathed at no particular times. The building is of stone, two and a half stories high, with eight feet ceilings, and rooms 8 x 5 feet. The cells are in the centre of the building, with corridors, after the style of a prison and penitentiary, and receive their light only through the doors. They are, of course, dark and ill ventilated, and there is a total and studied absence of all that contributes to cheerfulness or mental elasticity. The building is heated by furnaces, and a comfortable temperature is maintained in winter, but there is no provision for the various grades of the insane. The sexes are separated, the males in one ward and the females in another, with pauper attendants, and one male assistant in the care of the female insane. The general appearance of the rooms is clean and tidy. Provision is made to confine twenty-five insane, but thirty-nine have at times been forced into the space designed for twenty-five. All have shoes, and their under garments are changed weekly. Whenever they are sick, the physician of the alms-house visits them, but they never receive treatment with reference to their convalescence, yet the county does not, in view of such a startling fact, hesitate to receive recent cases for confinement, not for cure.”

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 222-223.

New York State County Poor Houses.

1864 Wayne County Poor House

“Of eighty inmates in the poor-house of Wayne county, twenty are lunatics, or one in every four. They have been severally admitted since 1850; thirteen are males and seven are females, Fifteen are of native birth. Fourteen of the cases are mild; two have been discharged during the year, and two have been sent to Utica for treatment. Previous to September, four cases were admitted in 1864; nine cases were admitted in 1863. Five males are capable of doing some labor; the only amusement for the others is going in the yard when the weather will admit of it. One is constantly restrained by handcuffs. The house has no bath tub, and the insane are not required to bathe more than their hands and face daily. One is confined in a basement cell without the privilege of coming daily to the open air. All the inmates have beds or bedsteads, none sleep without them; the straw in the beds is changed every two months. Their food is served on tin plates in their rooms. The rooms are heated by stoves in the hall, but no attention is paid to uniformity of heat in the winter. The rooms are neat and clean; in most of them the air is good. It is intended to separate the insane from the sane paupers. The accommodations are designed for ten lunatics, though twenty are now in confinement, crowded into the meagre room designed for ten. Three escaped during the year who are not returned, and two were removed by their friends. There is no provision for their management or treatment with reference to recovery. The county receives, as will be seen, recent cases. A new building designed to be used exclusively for the insane is in process of erection.”

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, Page 222.

New York State County Poor Houses.

1864 Washington County Poor House

“The Washington county poor house is a three story brick building, with nine feet ceilings, the rooms being seven by eight and eight by ten, lighted by windows two feet square. The whole number of inmates is (120) one hundred and twenty, of which thirty-six are insane. Several were admitted previous to 1840. Three are past seventy years of age. Thirteen are males, twenty-three are females; twenty-five are of native birth; ten have been treated in an asylum: twelve are capable of doing some labor. Those who do not labor have no light occupation or amusement, except going into the yard when circumstances admit of it. One is constantly restrained by hand-cuffs. The building is supplied with water, and has one bath tub; the insane are required to bathe occasionally.

The bedsteads are of wood; the bedding, straw and feathers. Two sleep on straw without bedstead or bedding. Those who are able eat at a common table, others have their food distributed to them. No attention is paid to the uniformity of heat in the winter, though it is designed to keep the rooms comfortable. Two are often confined in a single cell. The attendants employed to care for the insane are paupers. The county receives recent cases. The building is designed to accommodate fifty. They receive no medical treatment with reference to an ultimate cure. Cleanliness, comfortable clothing and sufficient food, are the three virtues of the institution. It aims at nothing more.”

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, Page 221.

New York State County Poor Houses.

1864 Warren County Poor House

“While in several counties the ratio of insane to the paupers is one in four, in Warren county it is but one in seventeen and a fraction. There are fifty-four sane and three lunatics in the county house. The number is so small that they receive no particular care, nor is any special provision made for them; they do not labor; they are locked in cells if violent; they sleep on bunks; their diet is pork, potatoes, bread, beans, &c., and milk once a day; two eat at the table; to one the food is carried. They are cared for by paupers only. In the female apartment the atmosphere was bad. The county takes recent cases. No provision is made for medical treatment, and they receive none.

In short, the insane take their chances, and receive no care worthy that name.”

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, Page 221.

New York State County Poor Houses.

1864 Ulster County Poor House

“The examination from Ulster county shows that in the poor house there are twelve insane paupers, three of whom are males, and nine females; all of whom are registered as having been admitted since 1850; but as three of them have been treated in the lunatic asylum, the date is not an index to the period of their lunacy. None of this number are capable of any labor; at least none are furnished with any suitable employment or amusement of any kind. Two of them require restraint a part of the time, and one constantly. Two are both violent and filthy. The house is represented to have a full supply of water, though it has not a single bathing tub for its one hundred and thirty-five inmates! The building is of wood, one story high, and the rooms are six feet by nine and a half. Not all the rooms have bedsteads in them; two sleep on straw, without either bed or bedsteads. And the food is served “the same as rations,” by which it may be understood that each insane person is handed a certain quantity of food. The building is heated with stoves, without any special regard to uniform temperature. The sexes are kept separately, but male attendants are employed to care for the female insane, and they are pauper inmates of the institution. After this style the provisions of the county house is for twenty-six insane. In this remarkable state of things, to the question ” Does each case receive care with reference to its ultimate recovery?” the reply is, “It does!” A physician visits the institution twice in each week. In 1857 the committee appointed to visit charitable institutions, &c., reported of this as follows: “Of the inmates fifteen are lunatics—three males and twelve females. Five have been admitted during the present year. They receive no special medical attendance, but a male attendant supplies their ordinary wants. Ten are confined in cells, and one restrained with chains. Beside the main building are several small old buildings on the premises, in one of which—a very poor one—were twelve cells for lunatics, very open, and where it is barely possible to keep them from perishing.” “In the house are twelve idiots—four males and eight females. Two of the females are under sixteen years of age.” The investigation of 1864 fails to show any considerable improvement in the care of the insane paupers in Ulster county.”

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 220-221.

New York State County Poor Houses.