Cayuga County Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story
NY Poorhouse History by County

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the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story
1824 LAW (required establishment of poorhouse vs. exempted): Required
the Poorhouse Story

This house is located about three miles from the city of Auburn. The structure is a long wooden building of two stories, quite ancient and dilapidated, being for the most part occupied as a farm house prior to its purchase by the county, and conversion to its present uses. There is a farm attached of ninety acres all in a state of cultivation. The house contains about thirty rooms, wards and cells, almost all of which are small, confined and destitute of all means of ventilation. The building is warmed by stoves. The number of inmates was seventy; forty males, thirty females; fifteen of them are under sixteen years of age. They are bound as apprentices by the superintendents of the poor on reaching this age, or as soon as suitable opportunities present. About one hundred is the average number of inmates, and three-fourths of these are of foreign birth. During the day the sexes mingle promiscuously, but at night there is an attempt at separation. The males who are able labor on the farm. Their fare is plain and wholesome, furnished by the superintendents at a weekly cost of seventy cents each. For four months during the past year a school has been kept in the house for the instruction of children, and others disposed to attend. Of religious instruction there is none save occasional preaching during the summer months. The house is supplied with bibles. Six deaths have occurred since last December, at which time the present keeper, took charge of the house. There was but a single birth. A physician is employed by the year and visits the house once a week and oftener if called. the paupers would indicate an entire ignorance of the bath and its uses.

Nine lunatics were found here; five males, four females; all paupers. Three of them have been at the State Lunatic Asylum, and returned to the county. They are attended by the keeper of the house but receive no special attention. Those disposed to violence are often placed in small dark cells, but as we are informed, only for a single day or night. As a means of restraint the ball and chain is frequently used. In the winter they are often placed in cells, without means of warmth, and their limbs frequently become frozen. It is rumored, that some even have died from this exposure. They receive no medical attendance unless physically ill, when the house physician prescribes. Three have been admitted since last December. The construction of the house allows of no classification and except where furious, the insane mingle with the other paupers. Nine have been improved or cured since entering the house. Three of the paupers are idiots; all females.

During the year no contagious disease has visited the house. As a precautionary measure a small but neat pest house has been erected a short distance from the main buildings. This is not yet finished and furnished, otherwise it might well be used to relieve the main building of some of its too crowded inmates.

From its age and original faulty construction, the main structure is now utterly unfit for the purpose for which it is used. At all seasons of the year it is impossible property to ventilate the rooms and to a person in health the sensation produced on entering them is nauseous and sickening. The ill and the maimed, the filthy and the diseased are crowded in the same rooms, and in many cases lie on the floor together, wrapped in wretched blankets, more like beasts than human beings. As many as ten is the usual number so placed together in one room.

The basement is low--this part of the building is quite open and so illy supplied with stoves as to be seldom sufficiently warm in winter. Some rooms or cells are never warmed, and in these when the building is crowded, the paupers are made to sleep without other covering than their wearing apparel. During the last winter a number of emigrants, sick with ship fever, were sent to the house. These men, women and children were placed in these basement cells, in size about eight by ten feet, fourteen in each cell, with no stoves or other means of warmth, with no covering for their protection at night and nothing but some straw litter to keep them from the damp floor. At this time the mercury was twenty degrees below zero. Of course numbers were frozen. The house is a disgrace to the county, and in no way fit for the reception of paupers.

Transcribed by PHS-Volunteer, Cheramie Breaux in Louisiana
the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story

The Cayuga County Poorhouse may be found in the 1850 Census in Sennett Township on pages 384b-385b.
    Information submitted by: Edrie Anne Broughton 

Microfilm Series A1978  Roll Number(s) 13-15
  more information
the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story

We are hoping to build this base of information about the poorhouse in CAYUGA county through the helpful participation of readers. All are requested to submit items of interest by sending
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