News & Tall Tales. 1800s. In the Poorhouse
March 19, 1871, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California
IN THE POORHOUSE
What a "Chronicle" Reporter
Saw at the Almshouse.
"All Who Enter Here Leave Hope Behind."
THE CHARNEL HOUSE OF DEATH.
SHAMELESS DESERTION BY SONS AND RELATIVES
Notable Characters who have Fallen from Opulence to Poverty.
San Francisco has a first-rate Almshouse, although we venture to say that very few of her citizens are aware of the fact. There is a general idea that away out of the city, toward the Ocean House, such an institution exists; but with its workings and management few are familiar. It is a little too far to go afoot, and everybody can’t well afford, in these hard times, to hire or borrow a friendly horse and Kimball buggy.
To a Chronicle reporter, however, all things are possible. He hies himself hither and thither, as hid judgment suggests, that the people may be afforded information of an interesting nature. To do the Almshouse has for some time been the desire of the Chronicle, and a few days since one of the ubiquitous staff seated himself behind one of the nattiest and fastest of horses and took his way out to the institution where the poor, destitute, friendless, and forsaken men, women and children find
The Almshouse is situated near Lake Honda, the reservoir of the Spring Valley Water Company. The tract of land comprises eighty acres, and is a part of the original San Miguel Ranch, having been purchased by the Hospital Committee of the Board of Supervisors from F. L. A. Pinochle, the successor in interest of one "Levi Parsons," of Bulkhead notoriety. The land is hilly, but adapted to cultivation after a certain style in some places.
The Almshouse building presents a fine appearance, having a frontage of 200 feet, with a depth of about the same, being built in the shape of a "T." It is of frame, four stories in height including the Mansard story. The view from the building is picturesque. To the right the Golden Gate and Lime Rock are seen; directly in front the gentle Pacific Ocean in the distance. The pleasant fogs which so frequently steal in upon us of a Summer afternoon are not denied to the Almshouse inmates. They are regular visitors, and for this reason this location is not one which recommends itself to general approval. The
Sweep through the ravines and howl around the buildings in mournful cadence. Of the eighty acres comprising the tract, forty are planted in potatoes for the use of the inmates. The potatoes are not boiled before being planted, as is the case in other places. Experience proves that the potato thrives better when planted raw. The vegetable garden occupies seven acres, and here are cabbages, beets, turnips, onions and every other kind of useful and life-giving vegetable. To secure a supply of feed for the horses and cows, sixteen acres have been sowed in oats; the other thirteen acres are laid out in grounds surrounding the buildings, and in pasturage. More potatoes have been planted this year, under the present Superintendent, than before, and instead of being compelled to purchase this necessary nutrient, the Almshouse will forge into the market as a seller, with a stock valued at $3,400. A hillside which rises at an angle of forty five degrees has been planted with potatoes requiring much time and patience. Many people want to know what credentials must be presented to the Almshouse
A permit from the Mayor generally does the work. The Mayor must be convinced of the poverty, destitution and inability to secure means of subsistence before granting the ticket of admission. Upon presenting oneself before the Superintendent, he is asked whether he will agree to work as much as he can. If he answers affirmatively he is received as an able bodied pauper, willing to work for his board. Of course, if too sick to work or unable to labor from any other cause, work is not required of them.
October 9, 1888, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Paupers May Vote.
City and County Attorney Flournoy has handed the Registrar an opinion on the question as to whether the paupers at the Almshouse are entitled to vote from the Almshouse, or whether they should be compelled to seek their former residence. The opinion holds that the fact of a man being an inmate of an Almshouse does not prevent him from assuming that institution to be his residence. About forty paupers will be registered to-day.