Homeless Tid-Bits of the 1800s

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Homeless: One Entire Family Found Sleeping On The Street 1879

At 2 o'clock this morning, Roundsman Cole and Officer Patrick Campbell, of the Tenth Precinct, while out on patrol, found a man, woman and a girl sleeping in a doorway and upon the sidewalk in Butler street, near Nevins. The man was awakened. In reply to the queries of the officers, he said that his name was John Hart: he is 42 years of age: that the woman was his wife Margaret, aged 40, and the little girl his daughter Anne, aged 6 years. He said that he had been dispossessed yesterday and had no place to go. The few miserable articles of furniture which he possessed were stored in a stable. The man and his wife were in a wretchedly deplorable condition, and this was all caused by the intemperate habits of both. Hart was asked whether he had any other children beside the little girl. He said that he was the father of two boys, who were sleeping in a wagon a little further up the street. The boys were John, aged 9, and Jesup, aged 11 years. With them in the wagon was found another boy, named John Mackey, who, for some offense committed, was afraid to go home, and had been sleeping out for the last two or three nights. All the parties were taken into custody and locked up. This morning the facts of the case were explained to Judge Bloom, who committed the Hart family to the care of the Commissioners of Charities as paupers. Mackey was sent home to his parents. (1)

A Family Living In The Yard 1879

Ann Sloan was arrested yesterday on a charge of assault and battery preferred by Ann Kelly, of 193 Baltic street, who accused her of having struck her upon the head with a shovel. The matter came up for trial before Justice Ferry this morning when the facts were shown to be as follows: Ann Sloan, a middle aged woman, is a very dissipated character, and nearly always under the influence of liquor. She has three children, Kate aged 6 years, John aged 11 and Michael aged 13; these children for the most part have had to depend upon the charity of neighbors for their living. A week ago, Mrs. Sloan was dispossessed, since that time she and her children have been living in a shed in the yard of 193 Baltic street. She had a dispute with Ann Kelly yesterday, and struck her on the head with a shovel. Then Ann had Mrs. Sloan arrested. Justice Ferry found her guilty of the assault and committed her to the Penitentiary for three months. The two boys, Michael and John, were committed to St. John's Home, and the little girl, Kate, was sent to the Roman Catholic orphan Asylum. (2)

Homeless Children. 1882

Two more homeless and destitute children were brought before Justice Nacher this morning, making seven in all this week. Their names were Henry Ludwig, aged 9, and Mary, his sister, aged 7. They were in a deplorable condition. They had barely clothing enough to cover their nakedness, and it was very evident that they were not well, the little girl especially being very pale and sickly. Justice Naher was very much excited this morning, because the law is such that he is obliged to send these poor outcasts to the jail. In conversation with an Eagle reporter the justice said: "It is an outrage that this city cannot better provide for this class of unfortunate children. I have had seven destitute children before me this week, and everyone I have been compelled to send to the County Jail, in company with the prisoners. These children here today ought to be sent immediately to the hospital, but I have no authority to do t his. It is about time the citizens of Brooklyn awoke to the necessity of providing a suitable institution for those poor waifs. I don't believe the people would object to being taxed for this purpose." (3)

Mother and Children Homeless 1893

Harriet Brown is a widow and has no home. For two or three weeks past she has been sleeping in a vacant room at 146 Classon avenue, with her three children, Edward, 9 years old: Evaline, 7 years old, and William, 2 years old. There was no furniture in the room and Mrs. Brown and the children slept on the bare floor. Robert Anderson, the janitor, made complaint at the Twenty-first precinct, and last night the woman was arrested and was arraigned before Justice Haggerty this morning on a charge of vagrancy. She was sent to jail for three days in order that it could be learned whether or not she has any friends. The three children were committed to St. Dominick's home.(4)

Poor Children: How Shall the County Provide for Them? 1877

The Committee on Orphan Asylums and Homes of the Board of Supervisors met this afternoon. Present, Supervisors Strong, Fleeman, Moran and Quimby.

The Chairman said there was no idea on the part of the Committee to abandon the present system of maintaining county wards in the private institutions and returning to the old Nursery training.

The Superintendent of Public Schools said it would be neither in the interest of the children nor the public to return to the old system. Since the children have been transferred to the public institutions there has been a marked improvement in their physical and mental condition. Some of the children had made wonderful progress. He explained the increase in the number of county wards by attributing it largely to the disposition of poor parents to send their offspring to institutions where they knew great care would be taken of them, which did not exist when the poorhouse was the only asylum for indigent children.

The Chairman opened up the discussion upon the contr4act price of 28 cents a day for county wards. It seemed that the institutions could take the children at this price, with profit. The county appropriated $30,000, which was already exhausted.

Sup. Fleeman thought they were paying too much for that branch of the public charities. Sup. Quimby said it was better that they should pay for those children in the private institutions where they were surrounded by good influences than have them running at large and growing up in ignorance.

Sup. Moran-Homeless children must be taken care of. It was not the intention of the Committee to return to the old nursery system. Rather than send them to the poorhouse, it would be more humane to take them down to the dock and drown them.

Sup. Quimby said it should be best to request the representatives of the various institutions to appear before the Committee and give their views in regard to the payment for board.

Sup. Fleeman- We should inform them that the expense of maintaining the children has grown so large that some reduction ought to be made in the price. It was agreed that a circular should be addressed to them.

Sup.Strong said there might be other institutions equally as good as the ones which now care for them willing to take county wards for a less sum.

The Committee then adjourned.(5)

Homeless Little Folk 1899

As the winter approaches the agents of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children are kept busy looking after lost and abandoned children.

Officer Fuller of the Fifty-sixth Precinct picked up at the corner of DeKalb avenue and Ashland place on October 19, a boy about 4 years old, supposed to be of Italian parentage. he could give no account of himself further than to say that his name is Johnny and that his father has plenty of bananas and peanuts. The agents have made special efforts to trace his parents, but have not been successful.

Four colored children, Louise Schenck, 13 years old; William Beringer, 6 years old; Harry Beringer, 3 years old and Henry Beringer, 1 year old, were found in a hovel at Bayside, known as Squirrel Town, about three miles from Flushing, in the Borough of Queens, on Saturday. The mother of the children. Emma Beringer was arrested and held in $1,000 bail until
Thursday next, when her case will come up before the Flushing court. She has three older children, aged, respectively, 15, 17 and 19 years. They are employed elsewhere. Her husband is known about Flushing as a man who does odd jobs.(6)

A Sad Case of Destitution: Children Found Starving in an Eastern District House

James Connely, aged 18 years, entered the Seventh Precinct Station yesterday, accompanied by his sisters, Annie, aged 8 years; Maggie, aged 6 years; Alice, aged 1 1/2 years, and his brother Willie, aged 5 years, who, he said, were homeless. James told the sergeant at the desk that his mother was a habitual drunkard and that his father William, who was a cook, had been out of employment for some time. They had lived at 82 Eagle street. When Deputy Sheriff Lapine visited the place he found it in a most filthy condition. There was no furniture about and the young child was lying asleep on a pile of rags in one corner of the room, while the mother lay stupefied with liquor in another. The eldest son was in the room looking after his brother and sisters. There was not a morsel of food to be found and the children were crying with hunger. When the boy James was questioned, he said that he had been unable to find employment and in consequence was unable to relieve his brother and sisters from their destitute state. The father of the family had sold what little furniture they had and gone away.

After the sergeant had heard the story he notified the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which sent an officer later in the day and took charge of the children.(7)

To Aid Homeless Children 1900

A meeting to consider the advisability of forming an aid society for the Convent of Mercy, Willoughby and Classon avenues, was held by a number of women yesterday afternoon at the institution. The meeting was the outcome of the bazaar held last fall for the benefit of the orphanages connected with the convent, those present being among those who contributed to the success of the fair. The Convent of Mercy, like the other charitable institutions of the borough, has suffered a loss during the past year through the curtailing of the customary appropriation from the city, and the object of the proposed society is to aid the sisters in caring for the homeless children who are under their care in the Willoughby avenue house and the branch opened last summer at New Utrecht. In the latter home the younger children are placed, and in all probability the members of the new society will pay special attention to t his orphanage in addition to aiding in the work of the Brooklyn home.

The object of the meeting was stated by the Mother Superior of the convent, after which Mrs. J.W. Prendergast was chosen as chairman and Miss Leonora F. Shea as secretary. The regular formation of a society was deferred until the fall, but it was decided that each one present should constitute herself a committee of one to interest one or more women in the work. It was suggested that an effort be made to interest those who were not already identified with charitable organizations, and who would therefore be able to concentrate their efforts in behalf of the Convent of mercy.

The question of the annual dues was settled and a little time devoted to the discussion of the particular way in which the aid society could best serve the institution, but the details of organization, including the selection of a name, were left for consideration until the organization meeting to be held in the autumn. The middle of October was the time settled upon, and t his action concluded the meeting.

Those present were in addition to the chairman and secretary: Mrs. William J. Carr, Miss Annie E. O'Rourke, Mrs. J.J. Welsh, Mrs. James Shevlin, Miss McAvoy, Mrs. John McCarty; Miss Sarah McCarty, Miss Holbertin, Mrs. R.F. Hudson, Mrs. J.P. Shannon, Mrs. Rigney, Mrs. Schnibbe, Miss Rita Fitzgerald, Mrs. Fitzgerald, Mrs. Charles Olcott and Miss Loughran.(8)

Destitute and Homeless Children 1875

Two children, William and Emmeline Mellen, were taken to the Tenth Precinct Station House yesterday afternoon by Officer Harrigan, being destitute and without a home. Their mother is in the Lunatic Asylum at Flatbush and the father is in the Flatbush Hospital on the point of death. Mrs. Maguire, of 587 Washington avenue, has taken charge of the children for several months past, but being unable to do so any longer she informed the police. The children were transferred to the Charities Commissioners.' (9)

A Homeless Family 1883

August Heming, a tailor, his wife Louisa and their three children, aged respectively 5,8 and 10, applied to the Thirteenth Precinct police for a home last evening, having been put out of their residence, No. 144 Hopkins street, for non-payment of rent and being penniless. Justice Massey this morning turned the woman and children over to the Charities Commissioners and sent the man to look for work. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children will care for the little ones. The cause of the trouble is that both parents drink.(10)

Two Homeless Girls 1899

Mrs. Spaar Is Unable Longer to Care for Her Nieces

The officers of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children are interested in the case of Anna and Helen Ancker, aged respectively 12 and 9 years, who are at p resent inmates of the shelter on Schermerhorn street. The girls have been living with their aunt, Hattie Ancker, at 75 Front street, and have been attending the Bethel Mission School at 17 Hicks street. Yesterday they told their teacher, Mrs. Spaar, that they had been driven from home and were without shelter. An investigation resulted in the discovery that their story was true. Their aunt was unable to keep them any longer. Their mother died in their infancy and their father, who does not provide for them, is a sailor and is at present away on a voyage. It has been found that the girls at one time were inmates of the Industrial Home. They will probably be sent to some such institution again.(11)

A Barge For Homeless Men

The Blackwell's Island Buildings Overcrowded.

Charities Commissioner Faure has almost completed the furnishing of a large barge at the foot of East Twenty-sixth Street for the accommodation of homeless men at night. The barge will be ready for use next week.

Plumbers, electricians, and carpenters were bustling about the barge yesterday, putting on the finishing touches to what is to be a model floating dormitory. Along the dock stood many weary looking wanderers who contemplated the scene of activity with unrestrained joy.

"Glittering angels!" broke out one of the on-lookers as he saw canvas cots and bed clothing carried on to the barge. "They ain't agoin' ter gve us real beds!:

Commissioner Faure's plan goes even beyond real beds. The houseboat is well ventilated, and is lighted throughout with electricity. It is also provided with spray baths, and is equipped with cooking arrangements.

The houseboat owes its existence to the desire of the police to get rid of the class of persistent station-house lodgers, and to the overcrowded condition of the alms-house buildings on Blackwell's Island. With accommodations in the almshouse buildings for only 1,600 persons, there are more than 2,800 to be housed. The result is that every available inch of room has been taken up and tents have been erected. Tents in Winter with the wind blowing at the rate of from ten to sixty miles an hour across the island, would seem to offer little comfort, but so miserable are the other quarters on the island, that tenting on the frozen turf is preferred by the homeless to living in the buildings on Blackwell's Island.

The wards of the various leaky and wind-swept buildings in which the poor are lodged on Blackwell's Island have no spaces between the beds. The men and women who use the beds at night are obliged to get into them by climbing over the foot guards. Down the aisle, on the floor, between the rows of beds, have been spread mattresses, on each pair of which sleep three persons.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Homeless Tid-Bits of the 1800s
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 (1) (2) Brooklyn Daily Eagle September 5, 1879, (3) Brooklyn Daily Eagle May 4, 1882,  (4) Brooklyn Daily Eagle July 10, 1893, (5) Brooklyn Daily Eagle April 11, 1877, (6) Brooklyn Daily Eagle October 31, 1899, (7) Brooklyn Daily Eagle April 24, 1890, (8) Brooklyn Daily Eagle May 9, 1900, (9) Brooklyn Daily Eagle: November 10, 1875, (10) Brooklyn Daily Eagle June 25, 1883, (11) Brooklyn Daily Eagle: January 30, 1899.
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