Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Infirmary

The Marietta Times, January 6, 1870

Last summer we paid a visit to this institution and reported, with some detail, what we saw and heard. The substance was favorable to the Superintendent, William Gill, and to the Directors, Messrs. F. A. Wheeler, John Dowling, and S. E. Fay. By invitation of Mr. Gill on New year's Day, we again went out to the Infirmary Farm. The roads were muddy and the weather raw, with a tendency to rain. The very worst bed of mire we went through was Greene Street in Marietta. The mud pike is in tolerable order - perhaps as good as we ought to expect.

The County Infirmary has been in its present location since 1838. Before that, from 1835 to 1838, it was near town, where Mrs. Cone now lives. The main building, of frame, was put up at the start and is in an excellent state of preservation. The house to the northeast, where most of the paupers spend their time, was built in 1846. The "Jail," as they call it, was erected in 1854. This is used for the confinement of the insane poor who cannot be safely allowed at large. There are three such in the Infirmary now, but once in awhile a fourth and fifth become violent and have to be put in durance. The Dining Room dates back to about four years ago. These structures constitute the household arrangements, so far as buildings are concerned.

Entering the house where the paupers spend the day, we noticed in the first was room, two old men: Josiah Dow and John Delaney. Mr. Dow has been here with occasional intervals since 1865. In his prime he was a steamboat engineer and one of the best; but he was somewhat given to intemperance; was never provident for the future, and so, here he is, at three score and ten, the recipient of public charity. He came to Marietta, as we understood, in 1818. John Delaney, his room mate, is a native of Prince Edward's Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He was a sailor for 16 years of his life, and afterwards became a farmer. Mr. Delaney is 75 years old and has been in the "County House" about three years. He is a civil and good sort of man. Mr. Gill has him employed as gardener and says that he is the best hand on the farm. An incurable fever sore, which exhausted his money and his health, brought him here to end his days.

There are sixty persons in this place, 25 females and 35 males. Most of them are the aged or the infirm in body or mind, or both. Natural imbecility seems to be characteristic of nearly all that we saw. The proportion of paupers from intemperate habits is remarkably small, there being but three in the concern whose condition is directly traceable to drunkenness. One of these, an old man of 60, once owned a farm up the Muskingum River in Adams Township, but he drank it up. He now sets as steward to the kitchen, and is steady and clearheaded, but broken somewhat in health. His wife, who brought him most of the property he once had, is here with him, a hearty old woman. She manages well, bears her misfortunes with firmness and never pines about the causes which led to pauperism, when a better lot was rightfully hers.

Mr. Gill will be Superintendent for the next year. He is one of the best men for the place that can be found. All that we said last summer is but confirmed by what has since transpired.

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