1864 Niagara County Poor House

“One in four and three-quarters of the inmates of the poor house of Niagara are insane, there being eighty-nine inmates, of whom twenty-one are lunatics. Nine of them have received treatment in an asylum. Ten are of native and eleven of foreign birth. Seven are males and fourteen are females. Twelve are confined to the house; fourteen are mild cases. Three males and one female are capable of doing some labor; six are destructive to their clothing, and the same number are restrained either by straight jackets or leather muffs. The whip is sometimes, though rarely, used to enforce discipline.

The yard is supplied with cistern and spring water; there is one bathing tub. There are basement cells in the building with cement floors, but they are not often used. The bedsteads are of wood, not fastened to the floor; one sleeps in each bed; three sleep on straw without other bedding. Such as are able come to the table with the sane paupers.

The building is heated with a furnace, but no attention is paid to the uniformity of heat or ventilation. Rooms with barred doors and grated windows, cells and wards, furnish the only means of grade for the insane. The apartments, with one or two exceptions, were very clean. The sexes are separated but the attendants are paupers. All had changes of under clothing and shoes, but not all had stockings. Twenty-five is the full number that the house is designed to accommodate. Recent cases are received; four were received in 1864. The medical attendance has no reference to ultimate cure, nor is compensation for medical service rendered with such a view.”

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 202.

New York State County Poor Houses.