1864 Essex County Poor House

“The population of the Essex county house is ninety-three. Nine of whom are insane, the ratio being one in ten. The oldest case was admitted in 1830, and is both blind and idiotic, another case was admitted previous to 1850. Three are males and six are females, four are capable of doing some labor. Only one has been treated in an asylum. Four are filthy in their habits. Those who do not work have no mode of pastime provided for them. The method of restraint used is the straight jacket, and tying the hands behind the back. The house has a full supply of water, but no bathing tubs, nor is there any particular arrangement for uniformity of heat or ventilation. The building which is of wood, two stories high, has two rooms without windows opening out of doors. The arrangement for sleeping seems to be comfortable, and the straw is frequently changed. The diet is represented as ample, the mild eat at a common table, while the more violent and raving have their food served in their cells. The attendants are the keeper and his family. The rooms are clean and nicely kept. One insane lives with her mother near the county house. There are but six cells, and each cell is designed to accommodate but one person, but some are so mild that they sleep with the sane paupers. Recent cases are received! They receive the attendance of a physician whenever they are sick.”

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 193.

New York State County Poor Houses.