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Modern Persecution, or Married Woman's Liabilities

From: Modern Persecution
Creator: Elizabeth P. W. Packard (author)
Date: 1873
Source: Available at selected libraries
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 1  Figure 2  Figure 3  Figure 4  Figure 5  Figure 6  Figure 7  Figure 8  Figure 9  Figure 10  Figure 11  Figure 12  Figure 13  Figure 14  Figure 15  Figure 16

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Page 79:


One day after I had cut and made me a neat and becoming white dress, the Doctor seeing me in it remarked:


"I don't see how a man could put a lady like you from her home."


At another time, he remarked:


"If you were my wife, I should want you at home." Would he want an insane wife at the head of his family?


I enjoyed many privileges there which others did not, and I might have used these liberties to escape; but I chose rather to remain until all my prison keepers had had a fair opportunity to see that I was not insane. I also wished to look into the secret workings of this prison, but in order to do this I knew I must first secure their entire confidence, and any attempt to escape I knew would at once circumscribe my limits of observation. By the course I have pursued the Doctor has had a fair opportunity for arriving at the candid conviction he expressed to my husband of my sanity, viz:


"Mrs. Shedd is not crazy nor can she be with her organization."


The confidence my keepers had in my sanity was expressed in various ways. One was by their allowing me to have my own pen-knife and scissors during all my incarceration, which act is strictly forbidden by the by-laws; and, of course, it would be necessary to keep these articles from insane people.


Another fact I found out through them was, that this house is used as the headquarters for the Masons to get their bountiful feasts in; and yet the prisoners have heard the Doctor deny that he was a Mason, himself!


But feasting the Masons is not the only feast the Doctor is in the habit of bestowing at the State's expense, and at the sacrifice too of the much needed table comforts of the invalid Prisoners, such as fruits, berries, melons, butter, cream, milk, wines, vegetables and such like.


I know the State has a heavy wine bill to pay yearly, charged for the "good of the patients;" but judging from both of the Doctors' appearance at times, I should think they made free use of it themselves, and I am sure they and their guests use far more of it than the patients do.


The prisoners are kept uniformly on the plainest and coarsest kind of fare, far better suited to a class of working men than sick women. Even butter is not always furnished, and when it is, it is often so very poor that it is not fit to eat, and I have known meat sent to the wards so very foul that the attendants would not put it upon the table, and the boarders would have nothing left them to eat but molasses and bread.


Only once a week are we allowed any kind of sauce or relish of any kind to eat with our butterless bread. It is true the prisoners have the privilege of looking through the iron grates of their prison windows at the twenty-five nice fat cows, "headed by the buffalo," on their way to and from their rich pasture; but it would afford us far more solid satisfaction to have been allowed to use some of their new milk and sweet butter, for our health and comfort.


It does seem that with all the money the State expends on this Institution that its boarders ought to be decently fed. But they are not.


Great injustice is done the prisoners in respect to their clothing, by losing much of it, which the Doctor accounts for on the false plea, oftentimes, that "the patients tear their own clothes." Some of the prisoners do tear their own clothes, but most of their losses in clothing, are the result of wrong conduct on the part of the employees.


I once saw Miss Conkling held under the water, until almost dead, and I feared she would never get her breath again.


I saw Mrs. Comb held by the hair of her head under a streaming faucet, and handfuls of hair were pulled from her head, by their rough handling, simply because she would not eat when she was not hungry.


I have seen the attendants strike the hands of the patients with their keys, so as to leave black and blue spots for days.


I have seen them pinch their ears and arms and shoulders; shake them, when they felt that they could not eat; and were thus forced to eat when their stomachs were so rejecting it as to be retching at the time.


There is one married woman there who has been imprisoned seven times by her husband, and yet she is intelligent and entirely sane? When will married woman be safe from her husband's power?


And yet, she must assert her own rights, for the government does not protect her rights, as it does her husband's, and then run the risk of being called insane for so doing! I do not think the men who make the laws for us, would be willing to exchange places with us.


This house seems to me to be more a place of punishment, than a place of cure. I have often heard the patients say:


"This is a wholesale slaughter-house!"


And there is more truth than the people ought to allow in this remark. They bury the dead in the night, and with no more religious ceremony than the brute has. We can hear the dead cart go round the house in the night to bury those prisoners who have been killed by abuse; and their next door room-mates would not know, sometimes for months, what had become of them, because they were told they had gone home, when they had gone to their silent graves!

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