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Conditions of poorhouses in Mississippi
From The American Poorfarm and Its Inmates, by Harry C. Evans
July 29, 2002

One home is described as "horrible - not a redeeming thing about it."

Mississippi has the distinction of having invested less money per pauper, and spending less for his support, than any other state. There are 27 farms at which to keep 238 paupers - an average or less than nine to a farm. Yet she hasn't invested much money in these places - $416 per pauper. Scattered as they are, the expense of maintaining a pauper, eliminating the pay roll, is but $74 a year or 20 cents a day. The 20 cents a day is in addition to the foodstuff from the farm furnished to the inmates.

It is a startling fact that of all the money expended by the Mississippi counties for the maintenance of the poorfarms, 65 percent of it goes to pay the salaries of employees; $33,339 are paid to employees, while but $17,548 go for the keep of the paupers. For every pauper there is spent $140 a year in salaries to employees, and but $74 a year for the pauper's necessities of life.

The conditions of poorfarms and pauper are such as would inevitably follow such methods.

ATTALA COUNTY-One four-room one-story building; two colored women in one room; colored man in each of the other rooms; one two-room cottage occupied by old white man; in other room an insane white woman and her four-year.-old daughter, whose father was an inmate; among the inmates are insane, feeble-minded and blind. Food insufficient, no recreation; no music; no nurses; men and women mingle freely; sleep in adjoining rooms; no bath room, no :running water, outdoor privy used by both sexes, well, no sewerage; unhealthy.

CLARKE COUNTY -Food bad and insufficient; clothing poor and insufficient; lighting poor; no music or recreation; no examinations; diseased cages not segregated; no screens; bed rooms and bedding dirty; bed and body vermin; no running water; outdoor filthy privy used by both sexes; spring water, no sewerage, dangerous; men and women mingle and sleep in adjoining rooms; one pregnant inmate with her ten-year-old boy; a marriage between inmate with consent of officials.

COPIAH COUNTY-Dirty one-story buildings in which the sick, insane, epileptic, feeble-minded, and diseased live and sleep' together; three generations of the same family live in one room; everything filthy, vermin on beds and persons; no sanitation, no modern conveniences. But two meals a day served, morning and noon; food insufficient.

HINDS COUNTY-Convict farm and poorfarm combined; inmates neglected; no modern conveniences; both places under same management.

JONES COUNTY-About half the inmates are feeble-minded; men and women sleep in adjoining rooms; no sewerage, privies, well water; one child.

LOWNDES COUNTY-Pauper and penal farm combined; no running water or modern conveniences.

NOXUBEE COUNTY-No recreation; no segregation of sexes, feeble-minded or diseased; illegitimate child born to inmate; no running water; outdoor privies; cistern which goes dry; no sewerage.

OKTIBBEHA COUNTY-Buildings so bad paupers won't stay; none there now; the two inmates were married last year, with consent of officers, and left.

QUITMAN COUNTY-Five filthy one-story buildings; one occupied by a woman and her 10 year old boy; she married one of the inmates who deserted her and the farm; she is now pregnant; she cooks for the inmates - an insane man, a tubercular, a paralytic and a blind Negro. One room is occupied by three sisters, one cancerous, the others feeble-minded; their beds filthy and wet; they do their own cooking, live, eat and sleep in the same room. A colored inmate died a few days before the visit; the slats on his filthy bed were exposed through a hole torn in the mattress. Another room occupied by a paralytic and an insane man. The superintendent is paid $11 a month per inmate; the inmates all complain of neglect and lack of food.

RANKIN COUNTY-The county supervisors make a change of superintendents each year, so as to give each supervision a chance to name his own favorite supporter in the election. The dirty buildings are sagging board shacks, cracks in floors and wall; very cold in winter; barns and sheds and shacks ready to fall; men and women sleep in adjoining rooms; poor old well and no sanitation; the place and the inmates are dirty with vermin. The superintendent is paid $40 a month. A miserable place with no modern conveniences.

YAZOO COUNTY-A mess of human offal, and a few intelligent old folk are kept at this filthy place. There are a number who are violently insane and kept in cells; there are epileptics, paralytics. feeble-minded; the management is poor. the inmates neglected in their filthy rooms. The place is horrible - not a redeeming thing about it.