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Visitation of Almshouses in the Sixth

Judicial District.



To the State Board of Charities:

I present herewith the annual report upon the almshouses in the Sixth Judicial District. In making this report it is gratifying to be able to state that the year has witnessed no backward movement in the management of these institutions; in fact, “ progress” seems to be the general watchword, and as a consequence the outlook for our dependents is hopeful.

ÎMPROVEMENTS. The improvements of the year are generally those which have to do with the care of the sick and protection of the population from the dangers of fire. It is generally understood that in making provision for the care of dependents it is necessary that the buildings be made safe. Many of the almshouses in this district were built years ago, at a time when the attention to sanitation and safety was not paid which is deemed essential to-day. As a consequence the older buildings were not equipped with fire-escapes, and the general sanitation was more or less neglected. These defects of construction are being overcome by repairs and improvements made from year to year. In some counties buildings have been torn down and replaced by more modern structures; in others buildings have been remodeled and the plumbing and drainage made satisfactory. In spite of these efforts to adjust the old buildings to present requirements some of our almshouses will not be made satisfactory until new structures replace those in use to-day, and the sooner this fact is recognized by boards of supervisors the better it will be for the public. It is not in the interest of economy to spend large sums of money in remodeling buildings which can never be made satisfactory.

THE CARE OF THE SICK. It is gratifying to see the attention which is given to this part of the work of our almshouses. As a general thing the inmates of alushouses are old and infirm, with a pronounced tendency toward chronic disease. There are, however, in all the almshouses of the district certain inmates who are comparatively young, but prevented from self-support by defects or infirmities. It is not desirable that these inmates and others in the enjor. inent of health should be imperiled by daily and nightly associ. ation with the sick. The erection of separate buildings for hospital purposes is a move in the right direction. Their use will take out of the ordinary dormitories the sick smells and germladen atmosphere which are always found where the sick are. The separate hospital will relieve those in ordinary health from the depressing influence of constant association with the sick. It will have a tendency to assure better care for the sick, as the hospital is usually much better equipped than the ordinary dormitory. It is hoped that the day is not far distant when each almshouse in the district will have its well-equipped hospital for the segregation of sick inmates.


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Next to the matter of protection from the dangers of fire, the matter of water supply is important. In fact, upon an abun. dant water supply the general safety of the institution depends, for without water fires will usually get beyond control, while with standpipes and hose, fires can be extinguished before they gain much headway. Besides this an abundant water supply assures domestic and personal cleanliness and the cons--quent health of the inmates in the institution. Attention is being paid to this matter in the several counties of the district, and where water has been scarce heretofore at certain seasons steps have been taken or are in contemplation which will secure an abundant supply for all purposes.


Some changes have taken place in the list of officials charged with the management of our almshouses, but these changes are comparatively few. Consequently the administration remains

substantially as heretofore. This is an advantage to the sereral counties. Where changes in the official staff are made frequently the discipline is more or less disturbed. Fortunately for the institutions the benefit of the continuance in service of capable officials, is recognized in the district. Kindliness has marked the intercourse of inmates and attendants.

In this district the food supply is usually abundant and varied, although the methods of cooking are not always satisfactory. In this matter of the preparation of food the attempt to economize results occasionally in waste and discontent. It is better to pay for a competent cook than to depend upon the services of the usually incompetent inmates.

The statistics will be found tabulated at the conclusion of the reports of the several counties.

Respectfully submitted,

PETER WALRATH, Commissioner Sixth Judicial District.


JOHN Moses, Keeper.

This almshouse has accommodations for about 150 inmates. The buildings are estimated to be worth about $40,000. There have been few improvements during the year outside of fencing and some new furnishing.

At the times of inspection the almshouse was found in good condition and the inmates appeared contented. The old wooden buildings are unsafe in the event of fire, and should therefore be removed entirely or relocated and converted to other purposes. A special building for a hospital for men ought to be built as soon as possible.

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