THE INSANE POOR OF DELAWARE COUNTY

(Source: The Bloomville Mirror Feb. 21, 1865 page 2 column 3)
Transcribed & Submitted by:  Linda Robinson   fly@nas.net
 
The Delaware Gazette of last week contained a description of the building now occupied by the insane poor of this county, written by Dr. S.D. Willard, and reported to the State Legislature. We have had meetings to amend the Constitution, meetings to build flags, meetings to relieve distress abroad, even Africa, but none to relieve the suffering at our very doors. We hope some philanthropic people at a distance will hear of the misery of these poor people in Delaware County and send a Sanitary Commissioner to the rescue:---

Delaware County---To describe the building of Delaware County in which the insane are kept, will in some degree show the misery to which those unfortunates are necessarily subjected. It is a wood building two stories high, with rooms or cells 4x8 feet, lighted and ventilated only by a diamond hole in the door. Dr. Telford of Delaware, says, "The windows on the outside are of fifteen lights, 7x9 inches glass. A hall runs on each side of the building, and in the middle are located the cells (after the style of a prison,) which are 4x 8 feet square, made of rough material, the doors are made of rough hardwood plank, three inches thick, with a diamond hole in them 7x9 inches, which is the source of light and air. Beds are on the floor, with nothing to separate them from where they sit except a piece of plank set up edgewise, and indeed the whole construction is a stigma on humanity."

In apartments thus dark, and cold in winter, and filthy at all times, more gloomy than prisons, twenty-six insane individuals are kept. Ten are males and sixteen are females---and eighteen are American born. Two of them have been so confined from 1842 and 1844---and this Institution continues to receive cases! What can be more cruel? And only paupers extend these lunatics the care they receive. There are in all fourteen cells, in which twenty-six lunatics are confined.

Four escaped during the year who were not returned; and who would not escape even to die rather than live such a lingering death? There is no provision made for the medical treatment of the insane and they receive none with reference to a recovery. The sufferings of these unfortunates from whom the air and light of heaven is shut out, would form a dark chapter of human misery could it be written.

Return to DELAWARE County        Return to NEW YORK               HOME