1896 State Care System Complete

WILL COMPLETE THE STATE-CARE SYSTEM.

The Governor has approved the bill creating the Manhattan State Hospital and providing for the transfer of the lunatic asylums of this city and the care of their inmates to the State. Thirty days are allowed for carrying its provisions into effect, and then the system for the State care and maintenance of the dependent insane will be completed, save for perfecting the accommodations and facilities required.

Sixty years ago all the indigent insane in this State whose friends or relatives could not or would not take care of them were sent to the county poorhouses. The care they got and the condition of their wretched loves may be imagined. In 1836 the State hospital at Utica was established for the reception and treatment of acute cases of insanity only. Nearly thirty years later, in 1865, the movement originated by the State Medical Society for the State care of the chronic insane was carried to partial success by the establishment of the Willard State Hospital. That was a formal adoption of the State-care policy, and was followed by the opening of the Hudson River Hospital, at Poughkeepsie, and the Homeopathic Hospital, at Middletown, in 1871, the Buffalo State Hospital in 1880, and the Binghamton State Hospital in 1881.

Instead of fully carrying out the policy thus adopted, the Legislature began to exempt one county after another from the operation of the act of 1865 and to permit them to retain the milder cases. It caused a relapse in about a third of the counties of the State to the old poorhouse system, with all its horrors. This was deprecated by the State Board of Charities, the Commission in Lunacy, and the State Charities Aid Association, and many reports and recommendations were made in favor of completing the State-care system and transferring all the dependent insane to the State hospitals, whose accommodations and facilities should be enlarged correspondingly. It was in 1886 that the State Charities Aid Association took the first active steps in formulating a plan and preparing for legislation. Its first bill was introduced in 1888 and was defeated. It was defeated again in 1889, but in 1890 it had rallied public opinion to its support with so much effect that the State Care bill was carried through both houses, in the face of vigorous opposition from county authorities, and was approved by the Governor. The same year the St. Lawrence Hospital was completed.

The act of 1890 established the hospital districts and placed the administration of the system in charge of the Lunacy Commission and the first special appropriation f $454,850 was made in 1891. This was for enlarging the facilities of the existing hospitals and preparing for the reception of patients from the county asylums and poorhouses. The three counties of Monroe, Kings, and New-York had been exempted from the operation of the act because they had adequate institutions of their own, but provision was made for bringing them into the system by their own voluntary action upon the transfer of their asylum property to the State. Monroe County took advantage of this in 1891, and her asylum was reorganized as the Rochester State Hospital. The first appropriation for maintenance of the system by a special tax levy was made in 1893, and amounted to $1,300,000, and by the beginning of 1894 the transfer from poorhouses and the miserable “asylums” of counties was completed.

New-York and Kings still remained outside the State system, though they had to contribute their share of the special tax for its support. This payment was contested by New-York, but not by Kings, and last year the act was passed which took possession of the Kings County institution at St. Johnland and made of it the Long Island State Hospital. The bill effecting the corresponding result for this city would have become a law then also, except for the litigation over the unpaid arrears of State taxes and the condition imposed in the bill of their payment and the abandonment of the suit then pending on appeal. A short time ago the litigation was ended, and now the Manhattan State Hospital act is a law of the State. This will bring the dependent insane of the whole State, now numbering 18,898, under one uniform, enlightened, and effective system of care and maintenance.

For this gratifying result much credit is due to the State Charities Aid Association and the Commission in Lunacy, which worked persistently and zealously together for years, and the completion of the system will redound to the honor of the State of New-York.

SOURCE: Reprinted from The New York Times. Published January 30, 1896. Copyright @ The New York Times.

2013 Follow-Up to State Hospital Cadavers

After my post yesterday, 1893 State Hospital Cadavers, a reader asked, “How long did this go on?” I didn’t know but I felt that it didn’t go on for very long. I was thinking about 20 years or so. Another reader stated that it is still the law in New York State and she included a link to the statute. She was right and I was very wrong! After reading the law I was amazed at how little it has changed since 1893. The reason I thought that this practice didn’t go on for very long is because of the thousands of anonymous graves in every state of this country. Even today cemeteries have special lots that are reserved for the poor and for bodies that no one has claimed. According to this law, one would think that any body that wasn’t claimed within the 48 hour time period would be given to a medical university but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Willard State Hospital Cemetery, which was used for 130 years, has close to 6,000 unmarked, anonymous graves. This cemetery is the final resting place of the patients that no one claimed. That’s only 1 New York State Hospital out of 17. I’m sure that somewhere there is a list of those deceased patients whose bodies were given in the name of medical science. That information would certainly be in the patient’s medical records which as of this date, are unavailable to the public. If anyone can explain this law further, please feel free to do so. If you would like to learn more about this subject, please click on the RED links below.

N.Y. PBH. LAW § 4211 : NY Code – Section 4211:
Cadavers; Unclaimed; Delivery to Schools for Study.

“1. Except as hereinafter provided, and subject to the conditions specified in this article, the director or person in charge of any hospital, institution, morgue or other place for bodies of deceased persons not interred or otherwise finally disposed of, and every funeral director, undertaker or other person having in his or her lawful possession, any body of a deceased person for keeping or burial, shall deliver every body of a deceased person in his or her possession, charge, custody or control not placed therein by any person, agency or organization for keeping, burial or other lawful disposition to:

(a) any medical college, school or institute including chiropractic colleges registered by the regents of the university of the state of New York as maintaining a proper standard;

(b) any university within the state authorized by law to confer degrees of doctor of medicine or doctor of dental surgery;

(c) any other college or school incorporated under the laws of the state of New York for the purpose of teaching medicine, anatomy or surgery to those on whom the degree of doctor of medicine has been conferred;

(d) any university within the state of New York having a medical preparatory or medical postgraduate course of instruction; or

(e) any college, school or institute maintaining a mortuary science program that has either been approved by the department or holds a certificate of accreditation from an accrediting organization recognized by the department pursuant to article thirty-four of this chapter, provided, however, that such bodies remain unclaimed by any of the aforementioned institutions. Any college, school or institute maintaining a mortuary science program may only claim and utilize such bodies for anatomical and embalming instruction purposes.

2. The professors and teachers in every university, college, school or institute hereinbefore specified may receive the body of a deceased person delivered or released to the university, college, school or institute, as herein provided, for the purposes of medical, anatomical and surgical science, anatomic embalming, and study.

3. No body of a deceased person shall be delivered or released to or received by, any university, college or school or institute.

(a) if, within forty-eight hours after death it is desired for interment or other lawful disposition by relatives and in the counties of Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Madison and Cortland, by relatives or friends, or,

(b) if prior to his or her death, the person shall have expressed a desire that his or her body be interred or otherwise lawfully disposed of, is carrying an identification card upon his or her person indicating his or her opposition to the dissection or autopsy of his or her body, or,

(c) if the deceased person is known to have a relative whose place of residence is known or can be ascertained after reasonable and diligent inquiry.

4. (a) A body of a deceased person shall not be delivered or released to, or received by a university, college, school or institute, if within twenty-four hours after notice of death by the person having lawful possession, charge, custody or control to the next of kin, or in the counties of Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Madison and Cortland to the next of kin, or friend of the deceased person such next of kin or friend shall claim such body for interment or other lawful disposition.

(b) Unless a relative or friend of the deceased person shall claim the body of the deceased person within forty-eight hours after death, or within twenty-four hours after receipt of notice of death as provided in paragraph (a) of this subdivision, the next of kin, relatives or friends, as the case may be, shall be deemed to have assented to delivery or release to, and receipt by the university, college, school or institute, of such dead body.”

SOURCE: FindLaw for Legal Professionals-Cadavers; Unclaimed; Delivery to Schools; Procedure.

FindLaw for Legal Professionals-NY Code-Article 42: CADAVERS.

FindLaw for Legal Professionals-Cadavers; Delivery to Relatives or Friends.

FindLaw for Legal Professionals-Cadavers; Autopsy by Order of Hospital Authorities.

Post-Mortem.

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. 

2013 The Hart Island Project

This is another great project that concerns unmarked, anonymous graves. For some time now, I have heard the same talking points from the New York State Office of Mental Health about how the release of patient names of those who have been dead for over a hundred years may be offensive to some families, especially those “who live in small towns.” This is the dumbest statement I have ever heard considering that close to half of all the inmates who were incarcerated in insane asylums during the nineteenth century were newly arrived immigrants. Hopefully bill S2514-2013 will be become a law soon and will include provisions for a searchable database similar to those at The Hart Island Project. Maybe the Inmates of Willard, and the former patients of all New York State Hospitals and Custodial Institutions will finally be next

“A nonprofit charitable organization assisting families across the globe to relocate a diverse, international community of people who disappeared in the greater New York areaThe City Cemetery occupies 101 acres in the Long Island Sound on the eastern edge of New York City. It is the largest tax funded cemetery in the world. Prison labor is used to perform the daily mass burials that number over 850,000. Citizens must contact the prison system to visit Hart Island. There is no map of the burials and no one is permitted to visit a specific grave. The Department of Correction restricts visitation to every third Thursday of the month and only to visit a gazebo near the ferry dock. Records at this location consist of intact mass graves since 1980. Many older records were destroyed in a fire on Hart Island in 1977. Some surviving records are available on microfilm at the Municipal Archives. The mission of the Hart Island Project is to make the largest cemetery in the United States visible and accessible so that no one is omitted from history. On September 27, 2012, The Hart Island Project testified before the New York City Council concerning updating the administrative code for operations on Hart Island.”

PLEASE CHECK OUT The Hart Island Project.
Digging Hart Island, New York’s 850,000-Corpse Potter’s Field.
Piercing the Mystery of Potter’s Field by Francis X. Clines.

I always wondered where the patients of the New York City Asylums / Manhattan State Hospital were buried. I now believe that they were buried on Hart Island.