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To the State Board of Charities:
I present herewith a report of the condition of the almshouses in the Eighth Judicial District.
The inspections made of the public institutions of this district during the year show that there is a decided tendency toward betterment. Some new buildings are about ready for occupancy, and repairs were made in almost every almshouse. In Erie county the long-debated question of removal has been finally settled in the negative, and the board of supervisors has determined on many changes and improvements in the present group of buildings.
THE CARE OF THE SICK. In Erie county the hospital is an important part of the almshouse system. This has received special attention, and within the last year a new tuberculosis pavilion was opened. The new building is a decided improvement upon the one destroyed by fire some time ago and is much better located. It will probably prove the first of a number of pavilions, which are proposed as extensions of the hospital.
In Chautauqua county the care of the sick has always been considered a matter of prime importance. Eight thousand dollars was appropriated in 1901 for an addition to the front of the hospital in order that there may be better accommodations for the infirm inmates.
Niagara county also has a separate hospital, and, generally speaking, much better care is now taken of the sick throughout the district than heretofore. The erection of hospitals separated from other buildings is a move in the right direction. The additional expense for maintenance is counterbalanced by the better facilities which the separate buildings provide for the care of the sick, to say nothing of the decided gain in health of all other inmates due to the removal of the sick from the general dormitories. The depressing influence of bed-ridden people upon other aged persons compelled to associate with them cannot be overestimated, and the pollution of the atmosphere must necessarily promote disease. The hospital is a necessary part of the almshouse, and it is a sign of progress that the counties of the district are making such large provision for the care of the sick and infirm.
In this district large numbers of the Indians of the State are resident. All the reservations are hemmed in by thriving communities, and the Indians feel the influence of daily contact with their white neighbors. This influence is both good and bad. In one way it is uplifting; in another way it is degrading; and it is sometimes difficult to know whether the net result at any given time is for the welfare of the Indians. The red man assimilates more readily the white man's vices than he does his virtues, and, as a consequence, upon the reservations in this district there are marked evidences of diseases and weakness directly traceable to vice. At the same time, to counterbalance, on all the reservations in the district there are centers of uplift. ing influence which are doing much to hold in check and overcome the tendency toward evil. The schools and the churches are at work, and from them we expect such assistance as will save the Indian from the many perils which surround him. These people, in the main, depend upon the products of their farms; they have not acquired the thrift and energy of their white neighbors, but they manage to raise enough farm products to sustain them from year to year.
Compared with the total number of the population, we have not a very large number of Indian paupers in this district. The State is compelled to give temporary relief to individuals or families from time to time, but few have to be cared for in the almshouses. It is only when diseased and helpless they are
willing to leave their friends and kindred and consent to removal to the almshouse. It is fortunate that this is so. Were all who require temporary relief to insist upon going to the alms house the expense of their maintenance would amount to a large sum each year.
Education has done a great deal for the Indians. Not the least of the educational influences at work in their behalf is the Thomas Asylum, which cares for orphan and destitute Indian children. The course of study mapped out is intended to develop habits of self-support, while the general influence of the asylum is promotive of sobriety and morality.
ADMINISTRATION. The administration of the almshouses in this district continues to deserve commendation. The general order and cleanliness are matters of note, while the food and care result in the contentment of the inmates.
The statistics of the district will be found tabulated at the end of this report.
W. H. GRATWICK, Commissioner Eighth Judicial District.
ALLEGANY COUNTY ALMSHOUSE.
Angelica, N. Y. D. C. GRUNDER, Superintendent and Keeper. This almshouse is built entirely of wood and is typical of the cottage plan. Although it has stood for eighteen years, all the buildings are in excellent condition and kept in thorough repair. Open corridors connect the dormitory buildings with the one devoted to work and service, and the atmosphere of the insti. tution is that of cheerfulness and contentment.
One important feature of this institution is the dairy. The barns and outbuildings are maintained in a very satisfactory way, and from the dairy a large income is received.
The food given to the inmates was found by inspection to be well cooked, varied in character, and abundant in quantity. This is one of the almshouses which permits the use of table cloths in the inmates' dining rooms.