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Island, made by Mrs. Alice N. Lincoln” have investigated the same and report as follows:
Concerning the quality of the food, a general inquiry among the inmates fails to substantiate the complaint, and an examination of the materials used shows them to be of good quality and fully up to the standard in all our institutions, of which it has been elsewhere officially stated that “the quality of the goods is as a rule acceptable, and well suited for the institutions.” The particular complaint was found to be against the fish chowder, and diligent inquiry led to the discovery of the originator thereof, who finally stated that he
did not like cusk anyway.' Q. So cusk was the basis of that fish chowder? A. Yes, sir.
Q. One inmate said that the molasses was not good, but the statement was qualified by the assertion that he's disliked molasses on his rice.” An examination of the molasses proved it to be of good quality.
The complaint that “the dishes are not washed clean” may have been based upon the appearance of specks in the ware, but the committee found no dishes which were ready for table use which were not perfectly clean.
In relation to the daily taking out-of-doors of the children, nearly all of the mothers and women in charge of the infants stated that they were taken out nearly every day.
Whenever the women are out for exercise, they are, very properly, accompanied by a matron.
Close inquiry elicited the fact that all the mothers, as well as women in the infirmary, were out on the day of the conimittee's visit and upon five of the six days preceding -- that is, all who desired to go. For a few days previously, the matron being ill, the outings were less frequent.
Of the forty-four wonen in Ward 6 infirmary, the matron stated that but seven are capable of doing anything, and though fully aware that they may go out of doors daily they prefer to sit in their chairs in the ward, while but few can be persuaded to go out.
No complaint of the defects alleged had been made by the inmates to the officials of the institution, thus giving an opportunity to them to remedy the same had such existed.
The committee feels that all of the officers and attendants exercise, case, and patience in the performance of their duties, particularly those who have to do with the sick, the feeble, and the helpless.
It is the opinion of the committee that the complaints were groundless, and it is therefore recommended that they be dismissed.
THOMAS H. DEVLIN.
Has the quality of the food been a matter concerning which you knew all the time during your incumbency as a Commissioner ?
A. It has.
A. Well, more particularly the institutions in the harbor, and those institutions several a week.
2. Well, I was only referring now to the institutions which have been made the subject of inquiry here - Long Island, Deer Island, Rainsford Island, and the House of Correction. How often have you visited those institutions ?
A. I have visited, as I stated before, the institutions in the harbor very frequently, the House of Correction less frequently than the others.
Q. Well, have you often made examination of the food in process of being cooked or already cooked ?
A. Very often not alone when I have seen it upon the tables, but I have gone
into the storerooms and looked into the refrigerators. Q. Well, what do you say as to the quality of the meat ?
A. I say the quality of the meat is excellent. Q. How is that bought? A. Bought by contract. An annual contract is made in the spring of the year under competitive bids.
Q. By a vote of the Board ?
Å. By vote of the Board. We advertise for bids and they are opened in the regular process, iind the contract awarded to the lowest bidder, he being a responsible party.
Q. Well, what do you say as to the food in the institutions during your incumbency as a Commissioner?
A. I believe that the food has always been good. There may have been some exceptions when, as in your house or mine, it might not have been cooked as well at one time as another. But the law material has always been of good quality, and if it were not of good quality it has been the fault of the superintendent that he has not returned it to the source whence it came. Those have been their instructions always.
Q. Well, I suppose you have often tasted of the food ?
A. I have been very well satisfied. Last week I ate a bowl of the fish chowder there. It wasn't known that I was coming to the island, and I, being hungry, enjoyed it and ate it all and it was made of cusk.
Q. With regard to the House of Correction, Mr. Pilsbury, I suppose that you don't regard that as a suitable building ?
A. I certainly do not, sir.
X. None of them do, present or past Commissioners, if you may bebelieve the reports and recommendations which they have made. Q. Well, you think there ought to be a different one
a larger and more suitable one?
A. I do.
X. Very much over-crowded. There are about 476 cells, including the hospital, with a population of 650 to 700.
Q. Well, Deer Island is that crowded too?
A. It is -- about 767 cells there, I think, and I didn't see the morning report which we usually receive on Saturday, but I should think there were from 1,200 to 1,300 men and upwards of 300 women. I might say there, Mr. Proctor, that the Commission endeavored to remedy that defect at Deer Island some time ago when they asked for an appropriation for building, for new cells, and had the law remained as it was then and the commitments continued in the way in which they were being made when our cells were completed we could have housed all our men in cells. But with the change in the law in July, 1893, our commitments increased 500 in six weeks, and we were as badly off when we had our new cells as we were in the beginning. Of course we are not responsible for the law.
Q. (By Mr. BRANDEIS.) Mr. Pilsbury, you state that to Dr. Jenks was committed the buying for the institutions. What wils the division of labor in other l'espects among the Commissioners ?
A. That was the only division, Mr. Brandeis – believing that the buying could be better done by one than when distributed. The other matters were managed in general.
Q. Now, the other expenditures -- I mean the expenditures on buildings, either on new buildings, or for repairs or improvements on old buildings — those were matters within the province of each of the Commissioners ?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And upon which each of the Commissioners were consulted ?
Q. Had an equal amount. During this past year your Board, under the report of the Board of Visitors incorporating Chief Egan's report as to the absence of fire appliances at Rainsford Island, made certain improvements in fire appliances or additions to fire appliances there which he recommended. Do you recall the date when that was done?
A. No, I do not, Mr. Brandeis. It is in the record.
Q. Well, you remember Chief Egan's report ?
I do. Q. In which he stated practically that there was an entire absence of fire appliances at Rainsford Island, didn't he?
A. He stated so, I believe. I don't remember the exact language.
Q. And the Mayor transmitted that report to you, or transmitted the Visitors' report, with a request that you should carry out the recommendations of Chief Egan in regard to fire appliances ?
A. He did.
Q. And that was done shortly after, I presume, the letter was received by you?
A. As soon as it was possible.
Q. Now, what was the cost of these improvements, of these fire appliances, which you put in at Raiusford Island ?
A. What was the cause of it?
A. Oh, the cost — I do not know, Mr. Brandeis. We considered the cost of the two practically together. It was all the same class of work very largely.
Q. You mean the cost of Rainsford and Long Islands?
Q. That is, Chief Egan made a similar report in regard to the absence of fire appliances at Long Island ?
A. A similar report. For instance, standpipes to be put in both buildings, and hose and connections all a part of the same contract.
Q. And the conditions were substantially the same in each place?
Q. Then you are able to give me the cost of the fire appliances for the tyvo islands?
4. Well, I can't say that I am, Mr. Brandeis. Q. Well, I mean approximately --- I don't care within a few dollars. A. I should say some $2,500.
Q. Two thousand five hundred dollars covers the cost entirely at the two islands?
A. I think it would. Q. Now, these fire appliances, this $2,500 --- if that was the amount was charged to what fund ?
A. We were authorized by the Mayor to pay for it from our appropriation.
Q. Yes, and that you conceived to be within the ordinary powers of the Mayor ?
A. The letter is on file in our office.
Q. You, of course, are familiar with the reports of the Commission, I mean the printed reports of the Commission, from the beginning, not
only during the time in which you were Commissioner, but also from the commencement of the Commission in '89 ?
11. Well, somewhat. I have looked at them.
Q. Yes, and isn't it a fact that in no report of the Commissioner's has the necessity of fire appliances at Long Island or at Rainsford Island been mentioned ?
Mr. PROCTOR. Those reports have been put in, have they not?
Q. (By Mr. BRANDEIS.) I ask Mr. Pilsbury a question. certainly answer that question.
A. I could not state positively that no such recommendation has been made, but I do not recollect that it has.
Q. So far as you know no such recommendation has been made by any Board of Commissioners at any time?
4. I don't recollect it, sir, I have to depend upon the reports.
Q. And so far as you know no request was made by the Commissioners for an appropriation for such purposes outside of their reports ?
4. No, I think not.
Q. Now, the necessity for such fire appliances, and the danger of leaving the inmates exposed to fire, was called to the attention of the Commissioners at various times, was it not?
4. Shortly, or some time, I think, after I became a member of the Board. My first knowledge that any suggestion was made, was,
I believe, through Mrs. Lincoln, through the public prints.
Q. Well, hadn't the suggestion been made by Mrs. Lincoln in the public prints, even before you were appointed ? d. Well, I couldn't answer as to that, Mr. Brandeis.
that, Mr. Brandeis. I ought perhaps to take an interest in such matters as a citizen, but I was connected with another department which consumed my time, and I don't recollect it. I may have read it.
Q. You do not recollect the articles which appeared as early as 1890 and in the summer and fall of '91, some by Mrs. Lincoln and some by others articles that appeared in the “ Post” and the “ Herald," whicii have been referred to in this testimony, calling attention to the danger from fire to the inmates at Rainsford and Long islands, I think principally Rainsford Island ?
d. I do not. I don't recollect that. I don't mean to say that I doubt that they were published.
Q. Well, now, the first recollection you had was when you naturally, in the course of your duties, gave attention to this matter shortly after your appointment in 1892 ?
A. Some time after.
Q. Well, now, besides these articles in the newspapers to which I have refered and the suggestion from Mrs. Lincolo, this matter was also called to the attention of the public and your Board by the Special Committee appointed by Mayor Matthews in '92, was it not ?
A. It was.
Q. Nothing, however, was done during that year by you - the year 92?
d. Nothing was done, nothing that I recollect, except that water pails and such other ordinary appliances were added, I think.
Q. In the beginning of '93, in February, '93, the matter was called very extensively to the attention of your Board and the committee by the disaster in the almshouse in New Hampshire, was it not ?
A. Yes, sir.
. It was the occasion, also, I think, of some communication from the Mayor, and the matter was even discussed in the City Council, Į believe
A. It may have been, Mr. Brandeis.
Globe,” in the “Herald)," in the " Transcript,“ describing yiridly the danger of fire to the inmates there, to the infirm and to the sick, l'esulting from the absence of these fire appliances ?
4. In all institutions ?
Q. In the institutions at Long Island and Rainsford Island particularly, do you not? Å. I don't remember the application there, but that may have been
There has been so much said and published that my memory, I am afraid, would fail me if I endeavored to recall it all. Q. Merely with a word. I want to locate it.
I remember very well the disaster in New Hampshire where so many lives were lost by the inmates being locked in their rooms, making it impossible to escape.
Q. And that fire in New Hampshire was an occasion for the renewal of the complaints or suggestions which had been made by Mrs. Lincoln and the Board of Visitors and others previously, and attention was then called to the fact that no provision was made for remedying the defects and averting the dangers to which attention had been called before, was it not?
A. That may have been so.
Q. That is, you remember, do you not, the first revival of the subject in 1893 an article entitled Our own pauper fire-traps”?
A. Yes, sir; I recollect it.
2. February 16, 1893 – and then an article which appeared in the “ Beacon on February 18, 1893 ? 4. Yes, sir; I recollect that.
Q. And the article which appeared in the Sacred Ileart Review," of February 25, '93 ?
4. I don't remember that.
Mrs. Alice N. Lincoln, in a letter to the " Transcript," tells some very ugly truths about the way in which Boston's dependent poor are taken care of. We were all greatly shocked by the fire at Dover, N.H., last week, and the burning of thirty or forty insane paupers.
Yet we have in Boston, on Rainsford Island, every facility for just such another horror. In the old small-pox hospital there fifty-six sick women are kept. Mrs. Lincoln speaks calmly and with no attempt at working up a sensation, yet her description of the place, its foul and unhealthy condition, and its great dangers, is enough to make the whole city blush with shame.
4. I have no recollection of having read that article, Mr. Brandeis.
Q. And don't you remember that at that time, in addition to the ibsence of fire appliances which was referred to in these various articles, that there were the suggestions which had been made us to the total absence of a fire drill at the institution ?
A. Didn't Mr. Egan speak of that?
Q. Yes, he spoke of it in a report he made to the Board of Visitors, but I ask you if you do not recall the fact that the same matter was called to the public attention at the same time when this New Hampshire horror filled the public mind ?