From the Richmond Dispatch, 3/8/1854, p. 2, c. 3
THE POOR HOUSE. – Those who have never visited this asylum for the needy and afflicted, can form but a faint conception of the number and character of persons who are compelled to resort to it in time of need, and of the treatment they receive from the Superintendent and his kind lady, who have all the paupers under their charge. – Quite unexpectedly to MR. MICHAELS, we made a call upon him yesterday, and in company with a friend, were conducted through the various apartments of the establishment. The female portion, under the care of Mrs. MICHAELS, presented a neat, quiet, orderly appearance, and the inmates seemed well and cleanly clad and otherwise provided for. Those who had health and strength were busily employed in attending to the sick and afflicted, and in washing, ironing, mending and making apparel. While others more feeble seemed to be spending their time in reading and meditation. We were somewhat surprised to learn that there were three or four “foundlings” in the institution, and that they were attended to with great tenderness and care, by the most humane and gentle of the female paupers. Then, too, there were several little “prattling brats” running about, laughing and singing, and apparently as happy as if they had been in the finest mansion in the universe. Having been reared where they are, they know of no different life, and of course can find no fault with their present abode.
The male department, as we have said, is under the charge of MR. MICHAELS, and is most admirably managed. Some of the men are able to work a few hours in the day, and they are then employed in tending the grounds belonging to the institution, and in keeping in order the Shockoe Hill Cemetery; but the greater number of them are so afflicted with disease, that they can do little or nothing. We notice that most of the male inmates – or at least a majority of them – were foreigners by birth, and that they presented the appearance of having been intemperate drinkers, to which cause they owe their present condition.
In order to afford employment to an old gentleman in the institution, Mr. Michaels has established a school for the pauper children, and made him their teacher. How he succeeds with his pupils, we are unable to say, as there was but one scholar in the school-room when we were there.
There are at this time in the Poor House 138 inmates, thus classed: White men 35; white women 44; white boys 19; two of whom are idiots; white girls 18; negro men 8; and negro women 14. We understand that the support of each of these paupers costs about $60 per annum, including the salaries of Mr. and Mrs. MICHAELS, Doctors’ bills, board, clothing and fires, etc. – which is about one shilling per day for each pauper.