1864 Oswego County Poor House

“There are at the Oswego county poor house seventy-two inmates, and twenty-nine of them are lunatics. Twelve are males and seventeen arc females; eighteen are of American birth. The register of the institution does not show the first admittance of these insane. Twenty of these have been treated at the State asylum in various periods from a single month to nine years. Three males and six females are capable of labor; those who cannot work have some light amusement furnished to them, such as playing chequers, light sewing, &.c. Five require occasional restraint and one constant restraint. The means used are a leather cap, leather muffs, occasionally a dark cell, &c. The house is supplied with water and has a bath tub in it, in which the insane are required to bathe every week. There are bedsteads in all of the rooms, and only one sleeps in each bed. The diet table appears sufficient and wholesome. The males are confined in one ward and the females in another, and the superintendent or overseer, his wife and one female assistant take care of the insane. The rooms were clean and well ventilated. The house is designed to accommodate twenty-eight, but thirty-three have at one time been confined in it; but few of the mild cases are put with the sane paupers. The institution received recent cases, but to no considerable extent is the treatment directed to effect their cure. The amount appropriated for the medical care of the insane and the whole number of inmates is but one hundred and fifty dollars, inclusive of medicines. Oswego city cares for a few of its own insane without sending them to the county house.

The building at Mexico is 64 by 30 feet, three stories high, with suitable apartments for the insane, and also for culinary purposes. The location is healthy, and the rooms have generally a clean, wholesome look. The building is warmed by a furnace and kept comfortable in winter. The diet was not only sufficient but well cooked. There seems to have been a most commendable effort to send the patients of this county to Utica for treatment. Nearly all of the cases are now of a mild type, which is, perhaps, owing to the modification of the disease by early treatment. These incurables are kindly cared for, and if not all that might be, yet much is done to make them comfortable.”

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 207-208.

New York State County Poor Houses.