KINGS COUNTY POOR HOUSE
The several buildings
embraced in the alms house establishment in this county are located just
outside the limits of the city of Brooklyn, some three or four miles from East
Among the more
important buildings may be mentioned:
1st. The alms house proper, built of brick, 50x250 feet, three stories high
above the basement.
2nd. A hospital building, 48x254
feet, four stories.
3rd. A nursery, 50x200 feet,
4th. A lunatic asylum, 260 feet
long, wings 45 feet, and the centre 80 feet wide, four stories high.
Connected with the alms
house is a farm of seventy acres, owned by the county; also forty acres held
by lease. This land is worked
mainly by pauper labor, and yields an annual revenue of $3,515.
The basements of these several buildings are used for domestic purposes. Furnaces and stoves are employed for heating the apartments. The importance of ventilation is acknowledged by an abortive attempt to
secure it. The lunatic asylum is
the only building essentially benefitted, and even there it is by no means
what the necessities of the case require. 1,365 inmates were found in the establishment as follows:
Alms house proper...............................................380
Of these 674 are males
and 691 females; 870 are foreign and 495 native born, including 424 children
under sixteen years of age.
The supervision and
management of the alms house is under the care of one keeper, aided by three
male and four female assistants. A
complete separation of the sexes is preserved at all times.
The food furnished
appeared to be of good quality and in sufficient variety and quantity,
consisting of meats, fish, milk, and the various vegetable products of the
farm. The average number of
inmates during the year is 1,800. The
number being much the largest during the cold season. All who are able are required to labor about the house or on the farm. Children upon reaching twelve years of age are bound out by the
The establishment has
been visited once during the year by the board of supervisors. By the kindness and efforts of benevolent individuals, preaching is
enjoyed every Sabbath, both in the alms house and in the lunatic asylum, also
a Sabbath school is maintained. The
house is supplied with Bibles. A
few cases of yellow fever, small pox and scarlatina have been received and
placed securely in the pest house during the year; but these diseases have in
no case extended to the resident inmates.
The number of deaths
during the year is 342. The
number of births 142.
A physician is employed
at a salary of $200 to prescribe for and treat those in the alms house
building. The hospital is in
(the) charge of a resident physician, aided by four assistants.
There is also a
resident physician in the lunatic asylum.
Of the inmates, five
aged ones are blind.
The only form of
punishment practiced is solitary confinement. It is estimated that two-thirds of all the inmates are reduced to the
necessity of receiving public charity consequent upon habits of inebriation. A school is maintained in the nursery department through the year, with
an average attendance of two hundred scholars, all under the care and
instruction of a single teacher, who of course, can do little more than
exercise a supervisory control.
There are a number of
other wards in the same building in which the smaller children are gathered
and classified according to their respective ages, and in (the) charge of
attendants whose mission it is to minister to the constant and varied wants of
these little ones, and it was gratifying to your committee to observe the care
and interest that were in various ways manifested in their behalf. In the nursery hospital there were twenty-five cases, mostly opthalmia,
under the care of the hospital physician.
The hospital building
possesses ample accommodations, judiciously arranged to meet the wants of the
inmates of such an establishment. Though
sadly deficient in ventilation, this defect is partially atoned for by
spacious corridors that surround the building, at each story, arranged so as
to be closed or opened according to circumstances.
The lunatic asylum is a
fine edifice, very conveniently arranged in its construction, and better
ventilated than either of the other buildings, and is capable of properly
accommodating 150 patients, but containing 205 at the time of the committee's
visit. During the year, 145 new
cases have been admitted (one eight and one four years of age). Ninety-three patients have been cured and discharged, and sixteen more
have been materially improved, which result is the best eulogium that the
physician and managers can receive, county asylum though it be.
The building contains
ten halls, five appropriated to the use of the males and five for the females. The patients are classified according to the nature and stage of their
respective maladies, and are constantly under the watchful eye of attendants
of whom there are twenty--ten males and ten females. Of the lunatics, seventy-nine are males and 126 females.
restraints have been imposed upon any of the patients for the last year,
during which time it has been under the control of the present physician, and
only one is confined in his room. The
lunatics freely mingle together in the halls or in the yards provided for
them, in which to take air and exercise. The committee were informed that one year previous, under a different
administration, from forty to fifty of the inmates were constantly confined to
their rooms, and twenty more subjected to mechanical restraints of different
kinds, of which number five were made cripples, and three of them permanently
so for life from that cause in the old asylum, and that quite a number
exhibited upon their person, marks of violence received after their admission
into the asylum. A different
policy now prevails. The resident
physician observed that he considers "kindness" more potent than
the above was in type, a letter has been received from the resident physician
of Kings County lunatic asylum stating the "corporeal punishment",
above alluded to, "was inflicted by the attendants, as I have been
informed, unknown to the superintendant."
Transcribed by PHS-Volunteer, Cheramie Breaux in Louisiana