1864 Broome County Poor House

“In the Broome county poor house there are eighty-five inmates, twenty-one of whom, or one in four are lunatics. Ten are males, and eleven are females. Only four are of foreign birth. One has been in confinement since 1834. Nine of these cases are mild, seven are violent. Seven have been treated in an asylum. Eight of these insane are capable of labor. Four males and two females are destructive to their clothing, and four males and one female are in constant restraint, by hand-cuffs or otherwise. The other forms of restraint are persuasion and confinement. Whipping is seldom resorted to. The house has a full supply of water, but no bath tub. All but three are required to wash hands and face daily. Three are confined in cells above ground, without the privilege of coming daily to the open air. There are wood bedsteads in all the rooms but one. Six sleep on straw without beds or bedsteads; the straw is changed once a week. Part are fed in cells, others at a common table. The building is heated by a coal and wood stove. All the rooms are heated, without observation by a thermometer; it is intended to keep them all comfortable. The sexes are entirely separated at night. None other than paupers arc employed uniformly to administer to the daily wants of the insane. The cleanliness of the rooms is commendable, though they are badly ventilated. Vermin were observed. Recent cases are received; one had neither shoes or stockings during the winter, because he would not wear them. The institution is designed to accommodate only five lunatics. They receive medical attendance only when sick. Each case does not receive care with reference to its ultimate recovery. The buildings of the Broome county poor house are insufficient to meet the wants of the insane, but such as they are, are kept in good order, and the keeper and his family are attentive and humane.”

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 183.

New York State County Poor Houses.