1864 Rockland County Poor House

“The whole population of the Rockland county poor-house is fifty. During the year sixteen insane have been among this number, but the list of lunatics in present confinement is reduced to ten by two deaths, three absconded and never returned. Two of the number had been treated in an asylum. With three exceptions, the cases were generally of a mild character. Six were mentioned as filthy, and six as requiring occasional restraint by confinement. One has been in the poor-house since 1841. Ten were of native, and six foreign birth. Four were males and twelve were females. Only one male is capable of labor. The remaining nine have neither amusement, occupation, nor employment, except “reading and singing.” Five are destructive to clothing. The only mechanical restraint that is resorted to is to lock up the turbulent in cells. The house has not a full supply of water, nor are there any bathing tubs in it. The building is of wood, two stories high, with rooms 6 x 10, the ceilings being 9 and 8 feet respectively. The bedsteads are of wood and fastened to the floor. Straw is used as bedding, and is changed about once a week. “The diet is variable,” and is served out on plates the same as to the other paupers. The sleeping rooms are not heated. The accommodation for the various grades of the insane is as follows: “The mild are allowed the freedom of the house, and the violent are confined in cells,” and only paupers are employed in their care. There is no real accommodation for more than three persons—yet the number on hand is ten. Five is the greatest number ever confined at one time in the cells. Three escaped during the year, who never returned—three insane wanderers, or one-fifth of the whole number—it does not appear what ever became of them. They receive no medical treatment except when 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, Page 211-212.

New York State County Poor Houses.