1857 Investigation Report for Jefferson County NYthe Poorhouse Story


Of the inmates, thirty-one are lunatics; thirteen males, eighteen females. Twenty-nine of these are paupers; the remaining two pay $1.50 and $2.00 per week respectively. One is from St. Lawrence county and is supported by that county. For the accommodation of lunatics, the county has recently erected an asylum in connection with the county house. The building is eighty by twenty-eight feet, two stories beside basements, and these are mostly above ground. There are twenty-one sleeping apartments in the two upper stores opening into large halls or parlors, where the patients remain usually during the day. Basements are occupied for domestic purposes, except four cells or sleeping apartments for the more violent insane. There is in the building a good bath room for the use of patients, and a plentiful supply of water. Patients are received from adjoining counties at a charge of $2.00 per week. During the past year two have been discharged as cured. All are confined in separate rooms at night. But one is subject to constant confinement. The insane have one attendant, a female, beside assistance from the paupers. The more violent are restrained by confinement and sometimes the straight jacket is used. Ten have been admitted during the past year. They receive particular medical attendance from the house physician, who has the general charge of the asylum. Its construction is such as to allow classification of the insane. The superintendant, keeper and physician jointly exercise the power of discharge. No application has been made to the State asylum to receive patients during the last year, the county, with its present accommodations, preferring to assume themselves the care of their poor insane.

Much credit is due Mr. Ely, of Watertown, for his efficiency in securing this valuable and commodious erection for the insane poor of his county. Their improved condition and healthful appearance testify to its beneficial results.

Of the paupers, eight are idiots; two males, six females. There are two deaf and dumb; three blind.

Corporeal punishment is sometimes administered both in cases of adults and children.

Intemperance brings to this house three-fourths of its inmates.


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