1864 Ulster County Poor House

“The examination from Ulster county shows that in the poor house there are twelve insane paupers, three of whom are males, and nine females; all of whom are registered as having been admitted since 1850; but as three of them have been treated in the lunatic asylum, the date is not an index to the period of their lunacy. None of this number are capable of any labor; at least none are furnished with any suitable employment or amusement of any kind. Two of them require restraint a part of the time, and one constantly. Two are both violent and filthy. The house is represented to have a full supply of water, though it has not a single bathing tub for its one hundred and thirty-five inmates! The building is of wood, one story high, and the rooms are six feet by nine and a half. Not all the rooms have bedsteads in them; two sleep on straw, without either bed or bedsteads. And the food is served “the same as rations,” by which it may be understood that each insane person is handed a certain quantity of food. The building is heated with stoves, without any special regard to uniform temperature. The sexes are kept separately, but male attendants are employed to care for the female insane, and they are pauper inmates of the institution. After this style the provisions of the county house is for twenty-six insane. In this remarkable state of things, to the question ” Does each case receive care with reference to its ultimate recovery?” the reply is, “It does!” A physician visits the institution twice in each week. In 1857 the committee appointed to visit charitable institutions, &c., reported of this as follows: “Of the inmates fifteen are lunatics—three males and twelve females. Five have been admitted during the present year. They receive no special medical attendance, but a male attendant supplies their ordinary wants. Ten are confined in cells, and one restrained with chains. Beside the main building are several small old buildings on the premises, in one of which—a very poor one—were twelve cells for lunatics, very open, and where it is barely possible to keep them from perishing.” “In the house are twelve idiots—four males and eight females. Two of the females are under sixteen years of age.” The investigation of 1864 fails to show any considerable improvement in the care of the insane paupers in Ulster county.”

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 220-221.

New York State County Poor Houses.