1864 Delaware County Poor House

“To describe the building of Delaware county in which the insane are kept, will in some degree show the misery to which those unfortunates are unnecessarily subjected. It is a wood building two stories high, with rooms or cells 4 x 8 feet, lighted and ventilated only by a diamond hole in the door. Dr. Telford, of Delaware, says, “The windows in the outside are of fifteen lights, 7 x 9 inches glass. A hall runs on each side of the building, and in the middle is located the cells (after the style of a prison,) which are 4 x 8 feet square, made of rough material, the doors are made of rough hard-wood plank, three inches thick, with a diamond hole in them 7 x 9 inches, which is the only source of light and air! Beds are on the floor, with nothing to separate them from where they sit except a piece of plank set up edgewise, and indeed the whole construction is a stigma on humanity.”

In apartments thus dark, and cold in winter, and filthy at all times, more gloomy than prisons, twenty-six insane human beings are kept. Ten are males and sixteen are female—and eighteen are American born. Two of them have been so confined from 1842 and 1844—and this Institution continues to receive recent cases! What can be more cruel? And only paupers extend these lunatics the care they receive! There are in all fourteen cells, in which twenty-six lunatics are confined. Four escaped during the year who were not returned; and who would not escape even to die rather than live such a lingering death? There is no provision made for the medical treatment of the insane, and they receive none with reference to a recovery. The sufferings of these unfortunates from whom the air and light of heaven is shut out, would form a dark chapter of human misery could it be written.”