This paper is reproduced with permission of the author through Project Canterbury http://anglicanhistory.orgCopyright The Episcopal Diocese of New York 2006




A Historical Account ofThe Mission of the Diocese of New York

of the Protestant Episcopal ChurchTo the Institutions and the Potter’s Field on Hart Island

By Wayne Kempton,Archivist for the Episcopal Diocese of New York


In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 2


I first became interested in Hart Island while on a fishing trip out of City Island in2004. The ruins of old buildings poking their heads from the shore of Hart Island beggedthe question, what had been on this now apparently vacant island? In 2005 theArchdeacon for Mission of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, the Ven. Michael S.Kendall, would introduce me to Melinda Hunt.

Melinda first became aware in 1991 of Hart Island, where the poor, unknown, andunwanted—mostly children—are buried in mass graves. These discoveries led Hunt toresearch and commemorate the history and stories of the island. This led to the 1998publication of the book Hart Island, in collaboration with photographer Joel Sternfeld.We spoke about the sacredness of the place, and the difficulty individuals had in visitingit. The island is run by the New York City Corrections Department.

That piqued my interest. Had the Episcopal Church ever had a presence on theisland? Did the Episcopal Church ever pray for those buried there? Searching the internetI found a wealth of material. Searching the diocesan archives I found even more.

On November 17, 2005 the Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk, 15th Bishop of the EpiscopalDiocese of New York, visited the Potter’s Field on Hart Island. Accompanying him were Archdeacon Kendall and members of the advocacy group ‘Picture the Homeless’. All were there to pray for and honor the hundreds of thousands of people who are buriedthere.

I soon learned from their web site that the interest of ‘Picture the Homeless’ in Hart Island was grounded in their belief that “all who pass from this life possess a sacred dignity intrinsic to their membership among the human family; and all consequentlydeserve to be reposed in dignity and remembered with honor.” This is of course the belief of the church as well. And so my research project began.

The result of that research is found within these pages. There had been an activeEpiscopal ministry on Hart Island, both to the old public institutions that were oncelocated there and to the Potter’s Field. Many of these institutions were penal institutions, jails and reformatories. In fact the rugged cross monument found today on the PottersField was erected by the City Mission Society of the Episcopal Diocese of New York in1907.

The institutional chaplains who had served on the island in years past had anexcellent working relationship with the Wardens and others in the CorrectionsDepartment at that time. Now as faith leaders work with that department to allow for amonthly interfaith service at the Potter’s Field, and as they seek greater access to the site for mourners, I see that cooperative relationship once again developing.

The title for this work, In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty and In AllThings Charity, is taken from an 1887 description by our Episcopal Chaplain to BellevueHospital of how chaplains from all faiths worked together at that post. It seemed a worthymoniker for this current effort as well.

Wayne KemptonArchivistEpiscopal Diocese of New York 2006

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Introduction: A Genealogy of Hart Island in Pelham Manor

First known as Lesser Minneford Island, Hart Island was included in the 9,166acres that the Siwanoy Indians sold to Thomas Pell in 1654. Great Minneford is nowknown as City Island. The Minneford comes from the Indian word minneweis, said tohave meant mulberry.

November 14, 1654 –Thomas Pell of Fairfield, Conn. made a treaty with theIndian Sachems for the land subsequently created into the Manor of Pelham. This treatywas signed under an oak tree, near a spring, known as the Treaty Oak, and was instigatedby the Connecticut authorities with the object of extending their boundary westward. Thegrant was about eight miles square, beginning at the present bridge over East ChesterRiver in Pelham Bay Park, running outside City Island and the adjacent islands in theSound to Larchmont, thence inland and westward to the Hutchinson or East ChesterRiver.

On October 6, 1666 “Richard Nicholls, Esq., Governor under His Royal Highnessthe Duke of York, of all his Territories in America” gave, granted and confirmed to Thomas Pell, Gentleman, all the land purchased from the Indian proprietors and createdthe same into an entire enfranchised township and manor.

On October 20, 1687 “Thomas Dongan, Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over the Province of New York…” to John Pell, Gentleman, nephew of Thomas Pell, confirmed the previous grant and constituted the Manor of Pelham. This patentgives, among other rights, the patronage of all and every church erected or to be erectedwithin the boundaries of the Manor. Interestingly enough, John Pell’s father had been a Minister of the Church of England.

On September 20, 1689 John Pell conveyed to Jacob Leisler more than 6,000acres of Pelham Manor. Leisler in turn released the land to exiled Huguenots; the areawould soon be known as New Rochelle.

On March 24, 1693 an Act of the Assembly was passed by which the Manor ofPelham was made one of the four precincts of “Westchester parish”. Westchester Parishalso included the towns of Westchester, Eastchester, and Yonkers as well. The firstvestryman elected under this act for the parish, in 1702, was John Pell. The first ministerof the Church of England assigned to the parish was the Rev. John Bartow. It would be agood many years before an “Episcopal church”would be erected in Pelham properhowever. That distinction for “Westchester parish”would go to St. Peter’s Church in Westchester Square,St. Paul’s Church in East Chester and St. John’s in Yonkers first.Achurch in New Rochelle would soon follow.

The Pells still owned Hart Island on 28 March 1713 when John Pell (1644-c.1719), Second Lord of Pelham Manor, transferred both Minneford Islands to his son,Thomas Pell (c.1675-1739), later Third Lord of Pelham Manor. There is no registereddeed by Thomas Pell selling the island. However, on 7 November 1775 Oliver Delancey,Esq. of New York City sold the 85 acres of Spectacle or Hart Island to Samuel Rodmanof the Manor of Pelham, yeoman, for £550 (Westchester Co. Deeds 674:443). The island,described as one of the Minneford Islands, included buildings, orchards, fields andwoodland. Samuel Rodman [Sr.] had married Mary Pell, granddaughter of John Pell.

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At the time of the sale, the island was already in Samuel Rodman’s possessionbecause he and John Wooley of Great Neck, Queens County, had been leasing it fromDelancey since 25 June 1755. That lease had contained a condition that Rodman andWooley would transport Delancey over the Sound to and from the island. This must be areference to the ferry established in 1755 by Samuel Rodman from Pelham Neck toHempstead Harbor. Oliver Delancey, Esq. was a very wealthy Loyalist whose extensiveland holdings were confiscated after the Revolutionary War and sold by theCommissioner of Forfeitures.

Samuel Rodman retained the island until his death, and passed half of it in his willto his eldest son, Joseph Rodman. Unfortunately, he neglected to say who was to inheritthe other half of the island. In a lengthy recounting (Westchester Co. Deeds U:106) hisother sons, William Rodman and Samuel Rodman Jr., maintained that they owned theother half because they had joined with their father and paid half of the £550 when hebought the island. Perhaps this was why Samuel did not mention the other half. Williamsaid he subsequently bought the share of Samuel Jr., but William’s name wasn’t on thedeed and his half wasn’t mentioned in his father’s will, so he had no proof of title. Josephwas aware that William owned half the island. In a deed (not registered) dated 28 August1780, Joseph agreed to sell William the half of the island that Joseph had received in theirfather’s will.

Shortly thereafter, on 4 May 1781, Joseph leased the island to Benjamin Farrantonand Samuel Norse for a term of three years, but when the lease ended Joseph moved backto the island and lived there until his death in 1792. His widow, Leah Rodman (later LeahHuestis), and his daughter, Mary (Rodman) Haight, wife of Nicholas Haight, were hisonly heirs. Leah had a right of dower that she relinquished 21 September 1802 after herremarriage. Mary and Nicholas Haight lived on the island until 6 January 1819 when theysold it to John Hunter [Sr.] for $3,250 (Westchester Co. Deeds U: 106-112).

Besides the purchase of Hart Island, John Hunter [Sr.] bought farms on the nearbyPelham mainland, Hog Island (formerly known as Sheffield Island), and Hunter’s Island(formerly known as Henderson’s or Appleby’s Island). It was on Hunter’s Island that hebuilt the mansion in which he lived in great style until his death in 1852. He left his son,Elias Debrosses Hunter, a life interest in many of his lands, but bequeathed the bulk ofhis estate to his grandson, John Hunter (Westchester Co. Wills 34:219-239). If grandsonJohn, who lived on Bayard Farm near Throggs Neck, moved to Hunter’s Island he was toinherit Hart Island and many other properties. If he stayed on Bayard Farm, Hart Islandand the other properties could be sold and the proceeds divided equally among John andhis three sisters.

One published work indicates that on Hunter Island there was a “lovely wooded game preserve”. In fact the 1687 John Pell document above makes mention of the rightsto “all…fishing, hawking, hunting and fowling…” These facts lend credence to theprevailing theory related to the origin of the name “Hart” as it applies to Hart Island. Hartis an expression for a stag, particularly a Red Deer stag past its fifth year. The Red deer isthe largest mammal in Britain and has been there in some form or other since the islandwas joined to mainland Europe. It would be natural for the early English settlers to call amale deer a hart and some may have found their way to‘hart’ island.

John did stay on Bayard Farm, where he raised race horses and became a founderand chairman of The Jockey Club. On 16 May 1868, as executor of his grandfather’s will,

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he sold to The Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of New York “all that certain island called Hart Island surrounded by waters of Long Island Sound and in theTown of Pelham. . . .” for $75,000 (Westchester Co. Deeds 674:447). The island had been expanded to 100 acres in size from the 85 acres of a century earlier. Three of theacres had been leased to the U.S. Army but the Army assigned their lease to the City ofNew York. To clear the title for the sale to the City, the deed acknowledged by OliverDelancey in 1775 and a 1802 quitclaim from Joshua and Leah (—) (Rodman) Huestiswere finally recorded on 27 May 1868, decades after the fact (Westchester Co. Deeds674:443-6; 446).

Meanwhile, in 1840, the Rev. Robert Bolton, then rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Eastchester, extended his ministry to the town of Pelham. Bolton lived inPelham and a parish was finally organized there with the cornerstone of a church laid onhis own estate. The edifice was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Benjamin T. Onderdonk onSeptember 15, 1843 by the name of Christ Church, Pelham.

Much of the material above came from three sources:

(1) An article on the Genealogy of Hart Island by Anita A. Lustenberger, andoriginally published in The NYG&B Newsletter, summer 2000.

(2) “The History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Westchester County” by the Rev. Robert Bolton 1855

(3) “The Pell Manor”, a booklet published by the Order of Colonial Lords of Manors in America in 1917, it being an address by Captain Howland Pell delivered beforethe New York branch.

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From a Map of the Manors erected within the County of Westchester, compiled from theManor Grants and Ancient Maps by Edward F. De Lancey in 1886

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Part I: The Early Missionary Days on Hart Island

In 1849 the Rev. Cornelius Winter Bolton, son of the Rev. Robert Bolton - Rectorand founder of Christ Episcopal Church in Pelham Manor, Westchester County - came toCity Island. A building known as the “Union Chapel” was secured “for the use of alldenominations” there. In 1862, the Rev. Marmaduke M. Dillon Lee, then rector of ChristChurch, in his parochial report found in the Episcopal Diocese of New York’s Journal of Convention for that year, indicates that “a church is in the course of erection” on City Island. He reportedly held the first service on City Island on February 7, 1862. Thechurch building was completed in 1863 and on October 13, 1863 Grace Church, CityIsland was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Horatio Potter, the Sixth Bishop of the EpiscopalDiocese of New York.

In a timeline found on, the website of the New York CityDepartment of Correction, we read that in 1863 on Hart Island the 25th Calvary musteredin during February, March, and April, the earliest known recorded mustering on theisland of Union recruit units in the Civil War. Facilities on the island housed between2,000 and 3,000 recruits and over 50,000 men were trained there.

By this time the Civil War was raging and many sick and wounded soldiers werecared for on David’s Island. The ladies of Christ Church, Pelham participated in thisministry.

The first mention of missionary work on Hart Island appears in the Christ Church,Pelham parochial report found in the 1864 Journal of Convention.

“Hart Island, a military depot, with an average of 2,000 men upon it, is as yet unprovided with a Chaplain of its own; the Rector (then the Rev. Edward W. Syle) visitsthe post on Sunday afternoons, as often as weather and other circ*mstances will permit… Several ladies in the parish are unwearied in their attention to the sick and woundedsoldiers in the Hospital on David’s Island.”

Again from the timeline we read that the 31st United States Colored TroopsRegiment was organized on Hart Island during April 1864, one of New York State's threeUSCT regiments. The Hart Island regiment would see action at the fall of Petersburg onApril 2, 1865. It would pursue Lee's army from April 3 through April 9 and be atAppomattox before, during and after the Confederate surrender on April 9, 1865. . . InNovember, 1864, construction began for barracks on Hart Island to house ConfederatePOWs. The final prison established by the Union for Confederate soldiers opened on HartIsland in April of 1865, a month before the Civil War came to an end yet 235 POWsperished there. Within three weeks of its opening, 3,413 POWs are crammed into thepost's tiny enclosed area. Hart does not become completely cleared of prisoners untilJuly. Within the four months of its operation, nearly 7 percent of all the camp's POWsdied.

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In his 1865 report Fr. Syle writes that “Hart Island, a military rendezvous, where large numbers of soldiers are constantly to be found, has no Government Chaplain. TheRev. Wm. Feltwell (then Asst. Minister at Christ Church) visits the post diligently, andfor a few weeks held one of the regimental chaplaincies.”

By 1866 Fr. Syle reports that City Island had been organized into a separateparish with the Rev. Feltwell elected as Rector. “The important post at Hart Island is included in the bounds of the new parish”he wrote.

Another early mention of the presence of a minister of the Protestant EpiscopalChurch on Hart Island appears in a New York Times article dated June 2, 1865. Theheading of the article reads, “The Rebel Prisoners at Hart’s Island”. The text of the article appears in full below.

“At Hart’s Island yesterday, the day was observed in the prison camp by the suspension of the rules requiring marching for exercise, and by religious services in theforenoon, conducted by the Rev. Robert Lowry, Chaplain U. S. A. He was invited byGeneral Wessells at the suggestion of the prisoners themselves, who had seen thePresident’s proclamation for a day of humiliation and prayer, and wished to observe it. Nearly 2,000 of them were gathered in the centre of the grounds, which cover four and ahalf acres, and gave good attention to the preaching and prayers, and joined in thesinging. After the exercises several pressed forward to shake hands with the Chaplain;they had known him when they were prisoners in David’s Island Hospital. Several of thesquads also held prayer meetings at 8 a. m. and in the evening. The papers, hymn books,tracts, and testaments, of which a liberal supply have been placed in their hands by theagents of the American Tract Society, and are very much prized, and will mostly bepreserved and taken home with them. Whether sitting within their comfortable barracksor outside, or walking around the ground, many are constantly reading these. They hopesoon to be sent home. The hospital is located in a fine airy position outside the camp.”

The Rev. Robert Lowry is listed in the 1865 and 1866 Journal of Convention ofthe Episcopal Diocese of New York as Chaplain U. S. V. and Missionary.

But what do we know of the history of the Potter’s Field in New York City? Again we turn to the web site of the Department of Correction of the City of New York,

“The City of New York has undertaken the responsibility of laying to rest the bodies of those in the City who died indigent or unbefriended, since the early part of the19th century, when they were interred at Washington Square in Greenwich Village. In1823, these remains were removed to Fifth Avenue and 40 - 42 Streets, Manhattan. Whenthis site was selected for a reservoir, the remains were again removed to Fourth Avenueand 50th Street, this ground being later granted to the Women's Hospital. In 1857, theremains of 100,000 paupers and strangers were transferred to Ward's Island, 75 acres ofwhich were allocated for this purpose.”

A short article appearing in the October 3, 1866 issue of an Episcopal Churchpublication known as The Church Journal relates the following: “the Bishop (Horatio Potter) for the first time in the course of his Episcopate consecrated a cemetery. It is onWard’s Island, and is intended for the poor.”The consecration took place the day before.

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It was only a couple of years later that Hart Island became the home of the City Cemeteryknown as “The Potter’s Field”. It is said that on April 20, 1869 Louisa Van Slyke, anorphan who died alone in Charity Hospital at the age of 24, became the first to be buriedthere.

An article in the New York Times dated February 1, 1874 and titled, “Where the Unknown Dead Rest”, tells the tale of the Potter’s Fieldon Hart Island this way:

“Between Bellevue Hospital and Hart’s Island there is carried on weekly a ghastly, if necessary traffic. Once, or sometimes twice a week in Winter, and three orfour times a week in Summer, a steamer leaves the wharf at the end of 26th Street, EastRiver, with a freight consisting of the unknown and unclaimed dead of a great City.Those poor waifs and strays of humanity had a melancholy ending. They went out of theworld without any friendly solicitude concerning them and public charity accords to themthe decencies of burial…A new steamer has recently been commissioned for these melancholy voyages. She is named the Fidelity…The number buried during this season averages 50 per week, of which about half are grown persons. Their deaths came about inmany ways…Some were found drowned in the rivers, others died of cold, exposure, orstarvation, some made an ending in a public hospital, many were suicides, a considerablenumber of them were abandoned children; but at all events, from whatever cause theycame by their deaths, nearly all died friendless.”

Meanwhile, the missionary work to the Public Institutions for the poor in the Cityof New York was the charge of the Protestant Episcopal Mission Society. It wasincorporated in 1833 “to provide, by building, purchase, hiring,or otherwise, at differentpoints in the City of New York, churches in which the seats shall be free, and missionhouses for the poor and afflicted; and also to provide suitable clergyman to act asmissionaries and assistants in and about the said churches and mission houses.” After the field at first marked out had been so successfully occupied, the City Mission Society wasled to take up the public institutions of the City and adjacent islands, and minister to thethousands and thousands found there.

By 1875 the City Mission Society had seven clergy in their employ. Their fieldsof labor ranged from Bellevue and Roosevelt Hospitals to the Tombs and other Jails andHomes around the City. Two of the missionaries were positioned on the islands; the Rev.William G. French on Blackwell’s Island served the Alms House, Lunatic Asylum, Workhouse, Penitentiary and the Charity Hospital there; the Rev. V. Van Roosbroeckserved at Bellevue Hospital and at the Hospital and Lunatic Asylum on Ward’s Island.

Each year the City Mission Society would publish an annual report. Included inthe appendix to this report were the detailed reports of the work of each of theirmissionaries. Written by the missionaries themselves, these reports often ran severalpages. They provide a wonderful first person account of the conditions at their stations.We will be reproducing some of these reports on the following pages.

It would still be several years before this Protestant Episcopal City MissionSociety would be called to Hart Island.

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In the appendix to the 1877 annual report of the Protestant Episcopal MissionarySociety we find a mention of the Potter’s Field in the report of the Rev. P. T. V.VanRoosbroeck, missionary to Bellevue Hospital. He reports as follows:

“And what words of praise shall I bestow on the ladies of the “Guild of St. Elizabeth”, who have taken up that most needful and holy work, of giving a decent burial to the sick of our communion who die in the Hospital. It is the greatest of all Christianwork to bury those who belong to us in a decent Christian manner, in a consecratedground, and not allow them to be sent to Potter’s field.”Clearly the impression is madethat the Potter’s Field is not a desirable place of burial.

In that same year the Rev. William G. French, missionary on Blackwell’s Island (now Roosevelt Island) with regard to his work at the Alms House reports,

“Traveling down the Island, we come upon the Alms House, filled, as are the rest,with the children of the Romish Church, chiefly Irish, with a sprinkling of Germans.Little change has taken place in the past year, except in an increase of numbers, and thetrue condition of things is hardly made known by this statement; for the other Islands, andchiefly Hart’s Island, are made the receptacles of the overflow of the poor of every sort,sent away from Blackwell’s Island, a few only returning to the city. The death rate has been greater for the past nine months than for the same period in the previous year. In1876, there were 142 deaths; in 1877, there were 174.”“In regard to one of the evils of which I have spoken in former reports, we are in a fair

way to see the end, through the Christian feeling and energy of the “Guild of St. Elizabeth,” viz.: the unchristian way of treating the Christian dead. It is an undertakingwhich needs to be, and ought to be, vigorously sustained by our Church out of love toChrist’s departed children, and also to maintain our claim to primitive Faith in the blessed resurrection of the dead. To allow our Christian brethren to have only the “burial of an ass” is a reproach to this generation of churchmen. To Christian women belongs thehonor of taking the first action in this blessed work. The “Guild” engages to furnishburial robes and coffin, and a conveyance to, and a grave in, St. Michael’s Cemetery in Astoria. At my suggestion they provided a pall, and a hearse to be drawn by hand, so thatdecency in the burial of the poor who die in Christ may show our belief in something yetto come to the bodies of our Christian dead.”

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An extremely long and detailed article entitled, “In the Potter’s Field” appeared in the New York Times on March 3, 1878. The excerpt below speaks to the feelings of the poorabout the Potter’s Field.“The people housed in the Institutionson Blackwell’s Island, particularly the old men

and women, seem to know what freight the steamboat (Fidelity) carries under the bigblack sheets of oil cloth, and to shrink back into darker shaded corners and press awayfrom the river banks and look with terror and awe at the big black heap upon the forwarddeck. Some of their friends are there; some of the friends with whom, perhaps a week agothey chatted…The next time the boat goes up they may make a part of this black cargo. They know it and shrink away.”

But there was more than a Potter’s Field on Hart’s Island. By 1883 Episcopalmissionaries were assigned to two institutions on Hart Island, they being the “Hart’s Island Hospital for Chronic and Convalescent Cases” and the “Female Branch of the New York City Lunatic Asylum”. Fr. French appears to have handled some of this work inaddition to his duties on Blackwell’s Island. In his 1884-1885 annual report he speaksdirectly to the issue of Christian burial.

“It is a hopeful sign of progress in this Apostolic and primitive work that young ladiesand children of some city parishes are becoming interested in these labors of love. It is animmense pleasure to the old people to receive anything from a young person’s hands, and to hear their voices in song.”“The Guild of St. Elizabeth continues their beneficent Christian work of burying the

dead. The limit put to this work by the want of adequate means ($11 only for each burial)leads us to ask why the Episcopal Church of New York City, so abundant in all goodworks to all worthy objects, should be so lacking in this. We esteem the body of thedeparted Christian sacred as the temple of the Holy Ghost, to be raised at the coming ofCHRIST, to enjoy with the soul a fadeless inheritance. The old man and the infant ofdays she lays to rest with the same words of comfort and triumphant faith in aresurrection. Are not the bodies of her dead poor of the same value in theLORD’S sight,as the bodies of the rich? Why not bury them in her consecrated ground? Why a pauperburial?”“The old hand-dray of years past still carries the bodies to the filthy dead-house for

dissection; and thence to the dock; thence by boat to the Morgue, and the Potter’s Field on Hart’s Island.”“We have had a churchly pall for several years, the gift of Christ Church while in

charge of Dr. Ewer of blessed memory; it is useless without a hand-hearse. I was askedonce by a wealthy churchman what the cost would be, but nothing came of it.”“It is no small drawback to the work and the influence which the Christian religion

ought to have upon the poor, to have this ignoble ending up of a sad and distressed lifeconstantly before their eyes. For as a man said, “In what respect is it worth while to be a Christian, if, after this life of misery here, I must be cut up and buried like a dead dog;and Christians, who profess to be my brethren, do not care enough for me to give me adecent burial. I am poor, but I have never been a criminal.”

An article in the New York Times dated December 29, 1885 tells us a little bit moreabout the Guild of St. Elizabeth.“The Guild of St. Elizabeth, a society organized for charitable work in Bellevue Hospital

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and on Blackwell’s, Ward’s and Hart’s Island, has submitted its annual report. A plea is made for continued contributions to the little funds which fall so far short of meeting theconstant demands upon them. Subscriptions to the almshouse, Charity Hospital, Hart’s Island, and lunatic funds amounted to $501.05, of which, after purchases of tea, sugar,and medicine, abalance of $12.57 remained…. Contributions of clothing, old linens, anddelicacies for the sick will be gratefully received by the Rev. W. G. French, CharityHospital, Blackwell’s Island….Among the donors were the Girls’ Friendly Society and the Ladies Society of Corning, N. Y., the St. Stephen’s Aid Society, the Trinity Chapel Mothers’ Aid Society, Cornelius Vanderbilt, the Rev. Morgan Dix, the Rev. C. T. Woodruff, the Rev. C. B. Smith, Mrs. W. H. Aspinwall, and Mrs. B. de Peyster.”

In 1886 Fr. French continues his work and reports on “burials” as follows:

“The burial of the Alms House dead is a sad business, at best. It is not surprisingthat even the unbelieving inmates who look forward to death should have a horror of thesurgeon’s knife, and the “Potter’s Field.”; how much more they who believe their bodiesto be “The Temples of the Holy Ghost,” incorruptible in their corruption, immortal in their mortality.”

“It is pitiful to hear their prayers for a Christian burial, by the Guild of St.Elizabeth, whose efforts in their behalf are now so well known in the institutions.”

“These ladies receive the blessings of many poor Christians, as they richlydeserve the honor of their decent burial. They have placed the Episcopal Church in theforemost rank of Benefactors of the poor.”

“They began their good work in 1877. In that year two were buried, in St.Michael’s Cemetery, Astoria. In 1878, four; in 1879, five; in 1880, fifteen; in 1881,seventeen; in 1882, seven; in 1883, eleven; in 1884, sixteen: in 1885, seven.” “It is impossible to measure the influence of this work upon the minds and heartsof the multitudes that sicken and die on the Islands, and on the larger multitudes that seeso prominent and so blessed a work done for the poor in Christ’sname.”

By 1886 the Field of Labor of the Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society hadexpanded considerably. Fourteen clergyman were then in their employ. TheSuperintendent of Mission Work was the Rev. Alexander Mackay-Smith, Archdeacon ofNew York.

To better understand the field of labor covered by this Protestant Episcopal MissionSociety what follows is a list of the clergy in their employ ca 1886, along with theirassignments.

Rev. ALEXANDER MACKAY-SMITH, Archdeacon of New York,Superintendent of Mission Work.

Rev. WM. G. FRENCH, Missionary to the Alms-House and the Lunatic Asylumfor Women,on Blackwell’s Island; address, 332 East Eighty-Fourth Street.

Rev. J. G. B. HEATH, Missionary to the Tombs, Prisons, Homes, etc.; address,172 East Seventy-Fourth Street.

Rev. N. F. LUDLUM, Financial Agent and Special Missionary; address, CityMission House, 38 Bleecker Street.

Rev. G. W. MAYER, Missionary to Charity Hospital and to the Germans at theAlms -House on Blackwell’s Island; address, Charity Hospital.

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Rev W. B. HOOPER, Missionary to the Penitentiary and the Work House onBlackwell’s Island; address, City Mission House, 38 Bleecker Street.

Rev. T. C. WILLIAMS, M.D., Missionary in charge of St. Barnabas Chapel,Doctor in charge of Dispensary; address and residence, City Mission House, 38Bleecker Street.

Rev. HENRY ST. GEORGE YOUNG, Missionary to Bellevue Hospital,Gouverneur Hospital and the New York Infant Asylum; address BellevueHospital.

Rev. JAMES JAMIESON, Missionary to the Homeopathic and EmigrantHospitals on Ward’s Island; address, City Mission House, 38 Bleecker Street.

Rev. EDWARD C. HOSKINS, Missionary to the Ophthalmic and HarlemReception Hospitals and the New York Home for Convalescents.

Rev. GEORGE MONROE ROYCE, Missionary to St. Ambrose Church; address,City Mission House, 38 Bleecker Street.

REV. CHARLES A. WENMAN, Missionary to Institutions on Randall’sIsland,Lunatic Asylum (Male) on Ward’s Island, Lunatic Asylum(Female) and BranchWork-House on Hart’s Island; address, No. 1614Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn.

Mr. F. U. HUTTON, Missionary and Visitor among the French, working inconnection with Church Du St. Esprit.

Mr. D. A. SHOU SHIN, Chinese Missionary and Bible Reader, working inconnection with the Chinese Sunday School Association.

The annual report of 1886-1887 saw one additional institution listed on HartIsland, that being a “Branch of the Work-House”. Fr. French reported that “As to thePotter’s Field, as now kept, the poor’s portion will compare favorably with othercemeteries. The Commissioners deserve great praise for this part of their charge.”

Also in 1886 the Rev. Charles A. Wenman was appointed Missionary toRandall’s, Ward’s and Hart’s Island. In his 1886-1887 annual report he refers to Hart’s Island as “the most remote portion of my field.” Although rather long, his detailed reporton Hart’s Islandfollows in full.

“This island lies out in Long Island Sound, about seventeen miles distant from thecity. It is reached by steamer, running up every week day from the foot of Twenty-SixthStreet. It is my custom to spend here six days and four nights in each month, includingthe time consumed in making the trip to and fro, leaving on Saturday morning, andreaching home again on Monday evening. A suitable and comfortable room is providedme at this point also.”“The institutions on this island are the Branch Work-House for male prisoners

committed for short terms, the Branch Lunatic Asylum for females, mostly chronic cases,the Hart’s Island (male) Hospital and the Department, for Insane Men, being a branch ofthe City Asylum on Ward’s Island.Until recently there was also a Hospital for females,comprising three pavilions; but this has now been broken up, the patients transferreddown to the Homeopathic Hospital, and the pavilions filled up to accommodate the lateingress of insane women, transferred from Ward’s Island.This class of patients nownumber, all told, about one thousand. A new, beautiful and commodious two-storypavilion of brick, for these people, erected at large expense, was completed a few monthsago. Nine separate pavilions for the insane, four of which are very fine, are now

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occupied.”“While the attendance at our chapel service is altogether voluntary on the part of these

afflicted women, yet they gladly avail themselves of the privilege. Some of them haveexcellent voices, and sing with enthusiasm. The chapel is most always well filled.”“At every place of worship in my field, excepting on Ward’s Island, I am obliged to

lead the singing myself; the tune is readily caught up, since I select, if possible, old,familiar airs, such as “Old Hundred,” and the like, occasionally substituting for lessfamiliar airs certain “Gospel Hymns” which are universally known, such as, “Shall We Gather at the River?” These are sungwith a great deal of gusto.”“On week-days it is my practice to enter the different pavilions where the insane are

confined, and converse with them cheerfully, as far as practicable. Some are veryloquacious, while many of them have little or nothing to say, while engaged in broodingover their real or imagined wrongs.”“The insane men are, through the week-days, kept steadily at manual labor.”“At the other end of the Island, the “Upper Landing,” are located the Branch Work

House and the Hart’s Island Hospital. The prisoners of the Work House, when notengaged in labor, are confined in seven separate buildings or “dormitories,” some of which are able to accommodate from 80 to 100 men. On Sunday mornings I enter eachone of these dormitories, notify of our ensuing church service, and invite the men to bepresent. This painstaking attention has been abundantly rewarded by reciprocity on theirpart; for by going to them, they are induced to come to me, or rather to the Lord in thecourts of His house, Their orderly behavior is excellent, and their attention to the servicequite as good as that of any average congregation outside. At the close of the service Iusually distribute to them religious papers or tracts; and also afford to any who maydesire, an opportunity to confer with me on matters affecting their spiritual or temporalinterests. Convalescing patients from the male hospital, and Work House women fromthe laundry, also attend this service.”“In the afternoon, I go to the “Lower Landing,” and officiate for the insane women

already alluded to; after which it is my custom to return to the “Hill,” and administer Holy Communion to the sick in the male hospital wards. The number of recipients isfrom five to nine.”“Our Public Communion in chapel is celebrated once in two months.”“The hospital wards are systematically visited, and prayers held with the sick, while

the pillows of the dying are smoothed with the consolation of our holy religion. In theseministrations, I have had several touching experiences illustrating the power of Divinegrace. But in addition to our clerical work proper, we missionary chaplains are calledupon to do numerous and various favors for the islanders—a large number of letters towrite, many commissions to execute in the way of bearing messages to relatives in thecity, and in endeavoring to reconcile alienated members of families, etc., etc. Often theserequests are so numerous, that it is out of the question to give attention to them all.Indeed, some of them are not deserving of attention, while others of them we feel in dutyand in conscience bound to regard. They have to be brought to the bar of our judgmentand discrimination. Active work of this sort involves time, travel and expense.”“Both on Hart’s and Randall’s Islands,we have libraries which are doing a blessed

work in entertaining and edifying the unfortunates, and in helping to relieve theirlaborious or tedious hours.”“The State Charities’ Aid Society has kindly furnished many books, magazines and

daily papers, as well as binding material.”“The ladies of the New York Bible and Fruit Mission make monthly visitations to the

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 15

hospitals, always bringing with them good cheer, not only in the way of spiritualsustenance, but also in distributing to the patients delicacies and refreshments to break themonotony of their ordinary diet.”“Credit to this effect must likewise be given to the good ladies of the St. George

Society.”“The Potter’s Field, more properly called the City Cemetery, is located on Hart’s

Island. That morbid dread which possesses many of the poor, of being laid within itsprecincts, is often felt by visitors to be foolish and unfounded, when they view for the firsttime its pleasing appearance, the good order in which it is kept, with the thrifty grassblooming over the mansions of the dead.”“With all the officials of the islands, I have, from the first, been on the best of terms.

They have always treated me with courtesy and kindness, and have ever stood ready tofacilitate my labors in every way within their power.”

Some sacramental burial records for many of the City Mission Society chaplains maybe found in the Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. These books arecollections of submission forms pasted together in each volume. The earliest records thatshow some entries indicating the Potter’s Field or the City Cemetery as the place of burial of the deceased are in four volumes covering the period 1887 –1901. Oddlyenough we do not find any entries submitted by Fr. Wenman here.

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The missionary to Bellevue Hospital, in his 1887-1888 annual report writes mostdramatically about how well the ministers of the various denominations work together intheir field of labor.

Do all Christian Agencies in the hospital work in love and harmony? Yes. And we arehappy to think that the legend on every worker’s heart is,


Continuing with the annual reports of the Rev. Chas. A. Wenman for Hart’s Island we read:

Branch Work-House 1887-1888

1. Present census, 175 men, 22 women: total number of admissions for one year (menonly) 1,269 giving an average monthly Census of 106 men.“For reasons easy of explanation the number of commitments is always lighter during

the summer months. At the approach of winter the Census largely increases. Some, intheir destitution, commit themselves for a temporary home and others (to their credit) as aplace of refuge from their great enemy and tyrant, strong drink.”“The men are put to various kinds of labor. In the summer season they are largely

engaged in cultivating the soil, which is very rich and productive, they plough, they plant,they hoe; and in due time gather in a bountiful harvest of beets, onions, carrots and othervegetables. For several years past, the Warden has been carrying out a project ofincreasing the territory of the island by widening it at the neck or isthmus which connectsthe two ends of the island. For this purpose barges of refuse ashes are sent up from thecity and dumped into the water inside of the “crib”in order to make the new land. To

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unload these ashes from the barges and to dump them, is the work assigned to largenumbers of the prisoners in the late fall and winter. For sanitary reasons this work isdiscontinued during the warm months. Numbers of the work-house men are alsoemployed at the Cemetery, in opening the trenches and burying the city’s friendless dead.Twice each month I sail out to this island to do what good I can to these men chargedwith petty crimes, and to assemble them together for Divine Worship; to which invitationI believe the Protestant menvery generally respond. Having “done their time,” they often have not decent clothing with which to go out and begin the world again: so they appealto their minister, who gives them a note to our P. E. City Mission Society, which willalways do for them, in the way of clothing, what lies in its power. The work-housewomen are employed at laundry work, and as cooks and waitresses.”“All of these unfortunate people have access to a good library of books and

magazines, for which I must duly thank the Book and Newspaper Committee of the StateCharities Aid Association, as well as for the daily papers which they regularly send up.And, while on this subject of reading matter, I desire to express my obligations to the N.Y. Prot. Episcopal City Mission Society for the abundance of religious and miscellaneouspapers which it has furnished to me for distribution: and also especially for the twenty-five copies of the Parish Visitor per month, kindly procured from the EvangelicalKnowledge Society. In my own humble opinion no better practical and devotional paperthan the Parish Visitor, has ever been published. It is singularly adapted for circulation inour public institutions; because, being not controversial or sectarian, it can also be readby the large percentage of Roman Catholics, not only without offence, but with positivegain and benefit to their spiritual life.”“My Hart’s Island men appreciate the monthly visits of this friend and counselor.”

Branch Lunatic Asylum 1887-1888

2. Census 1,087, of which 875 are women, and 212 are men.“These patients, with very few exceptions, are chronic cases; and may be said to be

incurably insane, though there is considerable difference among them as to the degree oftheir malady. They are distributed among twelve pavilions, one of which is used as ahospital ward for the sick. Quite a number of the women are put to sewing, knitting anddarning, which they do very nicely, while many have not sufficient reason to engage inany work at all.”“Save in stormy weather, they are exercised out once or twice daily, being marched in

procession, two by two, around the lower end of the island.”“Beside the male physicians in attendance, a competent, trained female doctor or“doctress,” is now stationed on the island to look after the physical health of the femalelunatics.”“The insane men are put to various kinds of labor (mainly outdoor) adapted to their

sex.”“Both the men and women who have sufficient self-control to preserve order, are

brought out to my afternoon service; to be present at which appears to be genuinepleasure and recreation to them. The attendance usually ranges from eighty to onehundred.”“I have been in the habit from time to time of going into all the pavilions and holding

with the patients such friendly intercourse as the nature of the case will admit of. Herealso I give special attention to the sick in the hospital pavilion; and frequently observe an

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appreciation of the prayers held with them.”

Branch Work-House and Reformatory 1888-1889

Present Census: 206 men, 24 women; total, 230; Total admissions for one year, 1,142.“It is the plan and purpose of the present Warden to make this a reformatory as well

as a penal institution; and to have its inmates consists mainly of young men whosecharacter and habits may be more easily molded for the better. Accordingly, he hasestablished for their benefit a night school where they may be drilled in the branches of acommon education.”“At my semi-monthly service here I have been always favored with the presence of the

good Warden and his family, to whom I am much indebted for the leading and support ofour church music, both vocal and instrumental. But this mention reminds your missionaryof the pleasurable duty of again expressing the most profound thanks to the StateCharities Aid Association for the noble gift of a superb cabinet organ, worth $180, havingthirteen stops, and manufactured by Messrs. Mason & Hamlin.”“From what combination of causes we will not attempt to explain, yet it is ‘a cheering

fact’that of late my congregations at the Branch Workhouse have been largely on theincrease, yes, are literally double the size they were. Undoubtedly the new organ andmore attractive music have been potent factors in the result.”“Every Sunday at 2 P.M. Warden Stocking also assembles the men in chapel. Their

coming is optional; but as this is not a gathering for worship, they turn out irrespective ofcreed. Usually there are as many as two-thirds of the (male) Workhouse present.”“The object of this convocation is to inculcate the duty and desirability of temperance,

or rather of total abstinence from intoxicants. Accordingly, temperance Hymns and songsare sung. What a volume of voice proceeds from these men as they are supported by ournew organ. The Warden talks to them in a familiar way on the evils of intemperance, andreads to them, telling facts on the subject, and also talks on other subjects of currentinterest.”“Your missionary is always present at these gatherings from a desire to uphold theWarden’s hands in the noble work he has undertaken, and on a standing invitation toaddress the men I quite often respond. Able speakers are sometimes brought from the cityand other localities. Declamations and readings are delivered by the school children ofthe island. In a word, everything is done to keep the prisoners interested. Finally,opportunities are afforded to these unfortunate men (especially on the eve of theexpiration of their terms) to sign the pledge, either for a limited time, or else for life.”“Two hundred new books of temperance and sacred songs have been kindly donated bythe Island Mission for the Warden’s purposes; these books are used on above occasions.”

Branch Lunatic Asylum 1888-1889

Present census: 1,167 (955 women, 212 men).“The female census has been increased by the transfer of eighty women from the sister

asylum below (on Blackwell’s Island).For the benefit of these unfortunate people I holda semi-monthly service in the afternoon, to attend which certainly affords pleasure to themore tractable cases (who are alone admitted), and, to say the least, helps to break up themonotony of their lives. And from many evidences it is certain that not a few of them arebenefited spiritually, for they manifest devotion in their singing and responses. At the

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conclusion of Divine service, some of them, at times, approach the missionary to expresstheir appreciation of the discourse or address. God will bless His own agencies to theedification of even the demented, and will fulfill the promise that “His word shall not return unto Him void.” But the dilapidated frame pavilion at this end of the island usedas a place of worship, is a wretched place indeed in many respects, and has for a longtime been complained of by both Protestants and Roman Catholics, who use it incommon. But we have cause to rejoice in the hope of better things to come, since ourenergetic superintendent, the Archdeacon, in his late visit to the island, happily lookedthe situation over and virtually gave us the assurance that, if possible, in due time aProtestant Episcopal chapel shall grace the territory of Hart’s Island. This goodly prospect seems to afford general delight, and the Medical Superintendent himself (thoughnot of our persuasion) is more than pleased at the idea, and will gladly do what in himlies to promote the good work. His suggestion we think an excellent one, viz., to locatethe new chapel in a central position, midway between the two landings, in order that itmay afford a common place of worship both for the Branch Workhouse and the BranchLunatic Asylum, which at present (as aforesaid) worship in separate chapels.”

Branch Work-House and Reformatory 1889-1890

Present census: men, 158; women, 20; total, 178; admissions (both sexes) for one year,1,105“To this remote island I have made a missionary visit twice a month, remaining on

the island six days and four nights monthly.”“The Reformatory, under its devoted warden, is making steady progress, and exerting

a constant influence for good upon all of its inmates, without respect to creed. Throughthe kindness of Mr. Montague Marks, the warden has secured a printing-press, throughwhich facility he publishes and edits a semi-monthly paper, entitled “Sprays from the Sound.” This little paper is devoted to the interests of temperance reform, and to Hart’s Island news. Its subject-matter is also calculated to promote general morality and piety;and it doubtless has had a most healthful influence upon its readers in this school ofreform. The better educated of the inmates are always invited to contribute to itscolumns; and many most creditable articles, in the line of both poetry and prose, haveemanated from their pens.”“In years past, the one serious drawback to the moral improvement of men committed

to the Branch Work-house has been the system of herding them together in barracks ordormitories containing from 40 to 70 men each, the youthful offender and the morehardened transgressor, without discrimination. To this state of things protest was made bythe former warden and others. But the time was not then ripe for the desired change.”“In removing this great obstacle in the way of reforming manners and morals, Warden

Stocking has taken the initiatory step for the division of the dormitories into separaterooms or cells. By this excellent arrangement the more vicious will not be able to corruptthe young and comparatively innocent, who, by enforced seclusion in non-working hours,can enjoy much better opportunities for reading, for reflection and, perchance, for prayer.By the praiseworthy liberality of a Christian lady, one of these dormitories has alreadybeen divided off into separate compartments; and the warden has made application to theBoard of Commissioners to have the rest of them likewise divided, which application hasbeen favorably considered, and (we believe) will be acted upon at no distant day.”“From time to time a list is furnished me, from the office, of the new Protestant comers

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since my last visit to the island; these men I talk with face to face, and try to interest themin our Church service, inviting them to be regular attendants during their term ofimprisonment. Beside my regular service in the morning, I have never failed to be presentat the warden’s temperance meeting in the afternoon, at which (on standing invitation) Ihave almost always had something to say or to read to the assembled inmates.”“The chapel at this end of the island is a commodious one, and well adapted to

purposes of assembly and worship; through the action of the warden, it has undergonemuch improvement by the raising of its ceiling, by fresh and tasty painting within andwithout, etc.”

In November 1890 an article appeared in the Mission News of the Archdeaconry, amonthly publication of the City Mission Society. Titled “A Bird’s Eye View of the Work of the City Mission”, a short paragraph concerning Hart’s Island is reproduced below.

“On Hart’s Island are the Branch Work House and Reformatory…This island is at the opening of the Sound. Execution Rock is just opposite the southern point of the island,and City Island lies about a mile away to the southwest. To this island, our missionary,the Rev. Mr. Wenman, makes a visit twice every month, remaining Saturday noon untilMonday noon. The Warden, Rev. Dr. Stocking, says that he is more isolated here thanwhen he was a missionary in the interior of Persia. With a printing press, he edits andprints a little paper called “Sprays from the Sound”; and creditable contributions to its columns have frequently been made by inmates.”

Branch Lunatic Asylum 1889-1890.

Present census: females, 1,100; males, 212; total, 1,312.“I have here conducted our Church missionary service (as compiled for the admirable

leaflet) twice a month in the afternoon, with an average attendance of at least 75. There isalways a large percentage of the lunatics of every creed who are not rational enough toattend service; for instance, on one occasion, in a pavilion containing fifteen Protestants, Ifound but one who was deemed, by the nurses in charge, sufficiently sensible orcomposed to be brought out to church; nevertheless, those patients who are in propercondition, evidently enjoy our service very much; and many of them manifest not a littleof true devotion. Our facilities for worship have been greatly promoted by the grant of afine, large, and well-ventilated hall in the new pavilion, which will be cool in the summerand well warmed in winter. This magnificent hall we now use and enjoy in place of theinconvenient and dilapidated chapel formerly in use, but now taken down.”“In our last annual report we alluded to a proposed new Episcopal church on Hart’s

Island, to be erected under the auspices and by the exertions of the energeticArchdeacon. This project has now been wisely abandoned by him, as it was ascertainedthat the proposed church building could not be a common place of worship for both endsof the island, inasmuch as the warden of the Branch Workhouse considered that too muchrisk was involved in having the workhouse element brought on Sundays so far away fromtheir places of confinement.”“This adverse decision was at first a disappointment, but the necessity for a new and

more desirable place of worship has now been removed by the doing away with theformer chapel, and by the conveniences of the new hall.”

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“To render the service more interesting and attractive, I have happily succeeded insecuring a good pianist, who comes from the other end of the island, and accompanies thesinging with the piano.”“Mention should be made of the erection, in the past twelve months, of another large

and costly pavilion for lunatic women, calculated to accommodate about 350, since thecompletion of which, the census has been increased by the transfer of patients from themother institution on Blackwell’s Island. Another improvement is the introduction of the electric light into the pavilions and residences of the officials; its benefits extend over thewhole island.”“In reviewing the past year of labor we can not but feel that as a missionary, a kind

Providence has blest our efforts to the good of immortal souls. To His Holy Name beascribed all the glory and the praise for any good that has been wrought through the poorefforts of His humble and unworthy instrument.”

The Rev. W. G. French in his 1890-1891 annual report speaks of the Almshouse onBlackwell’s Island thusly:“The burials at the Almshouse have been many, as might be supposed. In the month

of July over 60 died…We do not have occasion to use the crypt (of the Chapel of theGood Shepherd) often in the summer…speedy removal to the morgue is necessary.Seldom, however, do we fail to have the bodies of our dead Protestants brought to theChapel… Many of the women have a “horrible dread” of burial in the Potter’s Field on Hart’sIsland. For if they think that friends might bury them elsewhere, they know that inthe “field” they bury in pits; and fear that their body might be at the bottom, and dozenslaid over them, and so out of reach of all recognition if friends should wish to removethem.”

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By 1890 the Episcopal Diocese of New York had become keenly aware of the need fora respectful place to bury its poor. A committee of the Archdeaconry of New York “On Inexpensive Burials” met in May of that year to discuss the issue.The following accountof that meeting was reprinted in The Mission News of the Archdeaconry, a monthlypublication, in January 1893.

At a meeting of the Archdeaconry, held on the 6th day of May, 1890, it was resolved:

“That a committee of three be appointed to take into consideration the subject of cheapburials for the poor, and report at the next meeting as to the best mode of securing suchcheap burials, whether or not by the appointment of one or more undertaker who willagree to a schedule minimum.”“The committee appointed under the above resolution was composed of the Rev. T. M.

Peters, the Rev. Scott M. Cook and the Rev. I. C. Sturges.”“The committee prepared and sent to each clergyman of the city in charge of a

congregation a circular, asking for such information as might aid in forming an opinion inregard to the best course to be pursued.”“Replies were received from eighteen only of those who were addressed.”“These eighteen replies represented congregations composed of every class of society,

and covered the territory of the Archdeaconry from the Battery to the Twenty-thirdWard.”“The usage of these churches in the burial of the poor is various. In some parishes the

whole charge of each burial is assumed by the parish, the cost ranging from $22 to nearly$50, not including the price of a grave, which is from $10 to $25, according to thecemetery selected.”“In other parishes the sum of $25 is appropriated for each burial, and a grave given

besides in a plot in some cemetery secured for the special use of that parish.”“The numerous benefit and insurance societies in which almost all who are able to pay

the dues become members, render the expenses of burial to all but the very poor muchless burdensome than was formerly the case. Instead of having to collect from neighborsin the case of death, an amount is realized from the society which makes the family of thedeceased independent of outside aid.”“The communicants of our Church dying in public institutions are buried in ground

given by St. Michael’s Church in its cemetery, the City Mission Society paying the charge for opening a grave and St. Elizabeth’s Guild meeting other costs of a plain funeral.”“There still remain in connection with almost every church a fewwhom the parish is

called upon to bury. With reference to such burials it might be well for the City MissionSociety to record the names of certain undertakers in different portions of the city, whowill agree to a low schedule of prices and furnish the information to any clergymandesiring it.”“But your committee is of the opinion that at present it would seem more convenient

and preferable to each rector to employ the usual undertaker of his parish in time of need,and that application for information at headquarters would be few. Almost all thearrangements of our Church in New York are so exclusively parochial that any generalcentre for the purpose of burying the poor is hardly likely to draw attention or itsadvantages to be availed of.”“Your committee ventures upon the suggestion of a course not indicated indeed in the

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resolution under which it is appointed, but which, it is believed, would, if carried intoeffect, find general favor and result in the attainment of the object contemplated.”“That suggestion is the establishmentof a cemetery by our own Church, within

convenient distance and easy of access. There would be a choice from many desirablesites for the purpose. If a large area were purchased, the extent to be not less than that ofthe new Kensico Cemetery, which embraces six hundred acres, a sufficient portion mightbe set apart subject to use as a place of free burial upon the order of any city rector.”“The remaining and chief part of the cemetery, if artistically laid out and properly kept,

could hardly fail to be extensively used by members of our large and increasingcommunion.”“The outlay for the purchase of ground would be comparatively small. The large

demand for funds, exceeding many fold the purchase price, would commence with layingout and improvements.”“The early expenses would, however, be much lessened by following the usual course

of starting with a general and tasteful plan, and keeping in the adornment just in advanceof the demand for lots.”“It is the experience of all cemeteries that many years mustelapse before the first

outlay would be returned. Your committee would therefore suggest that it might be betterto ask for absolutely free gifts for all preliminary purposes, and to stipulate, inconsideration thereof, that a certain portion of ground should be set apart for the free useof those needing it; and, further, that a certain proportion of the receipts should bedevoted to meeting the funeral charges of the absolutely destitute.”“Should the establishment of a large cemetery for our Church be deemed undesirable,

another method of providing for the burial of the poor would be by making parochial orgeneral arrangements with some one of the cemeteries already existing.”“Since the abandonment of the use of the old churchyards two new cemeteries have

been opened by our Church—one, in 1842, by Trinity Church, and the second, in 1850,by St. Michael’s.”“Trinity Cemetery contains nineteen acres between One Hundred and Fifty-third and

One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Streets and Tenth Avenue and the Hudson River. In itsearlier years graves were allotted by the rector of Trinity upon request of the pastors ofcity churches. This cemetery has long ceased to be used for purposes of general burial.Trinity Church uses St. Michael’s for the interment of those to whom it is called upon togive free graves.”“St. Michael’s Cemetery commenced with seven acres in 1850; has been enlarged from

time to time, until it now embraces seventy-five acres.”“The burials within its limits exceed twenty thousand, of which one-fifth were provided

for by parishes or societies.”“Plots have been purchased by the Churches of the Ascension, Holy Communion, Holy Apostles, St. Clement’s and the Transfiguration; also by St. Luke’s Hospital, the Homes for Old Men and Aged Couples, Leake and Watts Orphan Asylum, the Leake and WattsAssociation, the Italian Mission, St. John Baptist’s Foundation and the Sheltering Arms.”“Lots have also been assigned to the following churches and societies for the burial of

their members: Trinity Church, St. Mary the Virgin, St. Mary’s (Manhattanville), St. Timothy’s and St. Ann’s.”“It may not seem an encouragement to the plan of opening a large Church cemetery to state that many years elapsed after the opening of St. Michael’s Cemetery before the receipts began to meet the annual expenses. This is owing to the fact that the ground wasfirst intended to provide a burial place for the poor, and hence not many others availed

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themselves of its privileges.”“Since the enlargement and laying out of the newer portions on the landscape plan the

cemetery has attracted more notice, and the number of family plots now taken up is about700, and the expense of maintaining the ground in good order met by the receipts.”“In establishing a large Church cemetery, for general use, the chief portion of its area

being intended for family plots, and the burying of the poor being but incidental, thedifficulty which so long hampered St. Michael’s would be avoided, and the equilibrium between receipts and expenditures ensured at a much earlier day.”

Your committee is of the opinion that the establishment of a Church cemetery asproposed is the best solution of the difficulty which it is appointed to consider.”

History tells us that a large Church cemetery was not established, the diocese opting forthe use of St. Michael’s and others established by individual congregations whenever possible.

The Rev. C. A. Wenman reportson Hart’s Island as follows:

The Branch Workhouse 1890-1891

Present census: men, 177; women, 21; total, 198; admissions (both sexes) for one year,1,197.

“Concerning my individual work, with unbroken regularity, I have made the journeyto this island twice a month, making week-day visits, at both ends, and on Sundays,officiating both morning and afternoon. I have also never failed to be present at theSunday “temperance meeting” instituted by Warden Stocking, addressing the convicts in attendance.”“One hundred dollars’ worth of books by standard authors has been kindly donated

through Mr. Montague Marks of the island mission.”

Branch Lunatic Asylum 1890-1891

Present census: females, 1,150; males, 200; total, 1,350.

“Our Sunday afternoon service is the prominent feature of interest in this portion of ourfield. It is a glorious service! To see a congregation, averaging about eighty persons,praising God with enthusiasm, and preserving (with but few exceptions) excellent order,is an interesting and moving sight indeed. It shows the potency of things Divine, even onminds deranged.”“In the course of the year, I have admitted to Holy Baptism two of these female

lunatics, one, at her own request, the other, at the urgent request of her mother.”“The first had comparatively much sense and reason, was in fair health, and yet feared

that death might come unawares, before she had received this sacrament of “water and the Holy Ghost.” Three Protestant nurses, who felt she was quite rational enough torealize the step she was about to take, stood as her witnesses. The solemn ceremony wasperformed in the chapel, after the regular service. The other patient, who had notordinarily so much reason, seemed to be granted a “lucid interval;”and even evincedsome emotion. This baptism was administered in the patients’ pavilion. When

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circ*mstances have rendered it expedient, I have gone more or less (on week days) intoall of the twelve pavilions, holding interviews with the more rational patients, seeking outthe Protestants, especially those who attend church; but our chief attention has been givento those lying sick in the hospital, and to the ones in extremis mortis. One very agedScotch Presbyterian woman stated that she had reached nearly a century; and appearancesconfirmed the truth of her statement; she said she was daily praying for death to come,but was glad to bear all the suffering in this world, which her Lord was pleased to layupon her.”

Editor’s Note: The sacramental register of Baptism for the Missionaries of thisProtestant Episcopal City Mission Society may be found in the Archives of the EpiscopalDiocese of New York. The records of the baptisms mentioned above now follow.

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“In conclusion, we beg leave to remark that there is a vast amount of good alwaysaccomplished by the faithful missionary that can never be reduced to figures, or even towritten statements.”“The merciful Lord be praised, and to His Holy Name be the glory for all the

consolation we have been the humble means of applying to the hearts and souls of thepoor, suffering unfortunates comprised within our diversified field.”

Summary of work done on Randall’s, Ward’s and Hart’s Island 1890-1891 by Fr.Wenman

Public services 113Aggregate attendance 6,552Average attendance 58Holy Communion (public celebrations) 8Aggregate number of recipients 168Holy Communion (private celebrations) 10Aggregate number of recipients 54Baptisms: infants, 116; adults, 3; total 119*Private services (bedside and others) 470Visits 5,628Papers and tracts distributed 5,990Books and magazines given out by libraries 15,880

* Most of the infants baptized were from the Infant’s Hospital on Randall’s Island

The Branch Workhouse 1891-1892

Present census, men, 86; women, 19; total, 105; admissions (both sexes) for one year,844 (sic).“Our City Mission work has here been maintained with the usual regularity, your

missionary making the journey from the city twice a month, and holding our missionservice with the prisoners on the first and third Sundays, in the forenoon.”“Considering the decreased census, our attendance has been relatively larger than

ever. It has been my unfailing custom to enter each of the barracks or dormitories onSunday morning before the service, notifying of the same, and inviting all (theProtestants especially) to attend. Thus by going first to them with the invitation I havereason to believe that they have come out in larger numbers to us and to the Lord’s house, than would have otherwise have been the case.”“In the past year we have been favored with the presence of two men of the

Workhouse, endowed with excellent musical talent. These at different times, havepresided at the fine M. and H. organ, donated about three years ago; thus making a greatacquisition to the singing, which is hearty under all circ*mstances.”“Our Christmas and Easter Services were memorable for the extraordinary numbers

present. At Easter an unprecedented number of communicants, men and women, partookof the sacred emblems of their risen Saviour’s love. These had been carefully prepared by their pastor on Easter Eve.”

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“It is the custom of your missionary to administer Holy Communion at theWorkhouse once in three months. And although the number of recipients has not beengenerally large, yet those who have partaken have given every indication of humility andsincerity. Some of these unfortunates who find their way to the Workhouse have hadprevious religious training and advantages. And may we not reasonably believe that thepartaking of this sacrament is to some of them the strengthening in them of those goodthings “which remain, but are ready to die”and to others of them the beginning of a newand better life?”“On the Saturday previous to our service, I rehearsed the hymns with the organist,

conversed with the Protestant inmates, as far as practicable, and wrote letters for clothingto be presented to the City Mission on the discharge of some of the men. Books,magazines and newspapers, have been regularly distributed in the barracks.”

Branch Lunatic Asylum 1891-1892

Present census, females, 1106; males, 78; total, 1184; admissions for one year,females, 84; males, 4.“This is really a branch of the New York City Asylum for the Insane. About 150 of

the inmates have been transferred down to the mother institution on Ward’s Island.”“At 2:45 pm on Sundays your missionary is driven from the Workhouse to conduct

his second service at this lower end of the island. The lunatic women and some men arebrought in from the different pavilions and a hearty and enthusiastic service is held.There has been an average of about eighty worshippers.”“I have gone more or less into the different pavilions seeking out the Protestants and

visiting with them, if such a term is applicable to these unfortunates. But our chiefattention has been given to those lying sick in the hospital, praying at their bedside andinterceding for the souls of the ones passing from earth. And while we feel humble andgrateful to the Power who has sustained us in our mission field, yet we resolve to striveafter new conquests for the glory of His Name and the extension of His kingdom.”

The Branch Workhouse 1892-1893

Total admissions for one year, males, 558; females, 112; total, 670; present census, 25“Our city mission work has here been maintained with the usual regularity, your

missionary making the journey from the city twice every month, and holding our missionservice with the prisoners on the first and third Sundays, in the forenoon.”“The attendance has been very good in proportion to the relatively low census. The

Parish Visitor, as well as other religious and instructive papers, has been distributed afterthe service; and the whole census of prisoners have had the privilege of drawing booksand magazines from the library.”“Holy Communion has been administered quarterly to these men and women deprived

of their liberty. And although, as might be inferred, the number of recipients has not beenlarge, yet those who have partaken of the spiritual feast have given every indication ofsincerity and good intention.”“But it is worthy of note that on the 30th of July, ultimo, the Branch Workhouse was

abolished from Hart’s Island, twenty-five men only being detailed as a standing census to

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work the cemetery and bury the friendless dead in the Potter’s Field.”.“Yet, at this end of the island, which is designated the “Hill,” from the fact of its being

an elevation of rising ground, our mission service is maintained as heretofore, as thebarracks, formerly occupied by people committed to the Branch Workhouse, have beentransformed into pavilions for the insane, and are now occupied by 400 lunatics, thelarger proportion of whom are females; but to speak particularly of the class ofunfortunates located at this upper landing would be to anticipate a future report.”

The New York Asylum For The Insane 1892-1893 Geo. M. Smith M. D. Acting Med. Sup’t.Present census (both landings), females, 1374; males, 176; total, 1550; nurses and

orderlies, 124; admissions for one year, 474

“The above is the official title of this Institution, as it is a branch of the great CityAsylum, located on Ward’s Island; although it was formerly designated as the BranchLunatic Asylum; but the mother institution has another important branch at Central Islip,L. I.”“To conduct a 3 P.M. service (twice a month), your missionary is driven from the

upper landing to the lower end of the island, which is termed the “Hollow,” in contradistinction to the “Hill.”“Here nearly three-fourths of the patients are domiciled. In orderly procession they are

brought in from their respective pavilions, and a hearty service is held of worship andsong.”“There has been an average of eighty or more in congregation, including the nurses in

charge.”“I have kept a full list of the Protestants, and have gone, from time to time, into all of

the pavilions, without exception, visiting with them, as far as they have been in a talkingmood, and have also conversed with other patients, without regard to creed.”“It is our constant effort to seek out such patients as are eligible to Holy Communion,

and to administer to them this sacrament in their own pavilions. At no visitation has thehospital ward been passed over, but prayers have been said at the bedside of thoseprostrated with illness and infirmity; and intercessions made for the souls passing fromearth to (we trust) a better condition.”“For any measure of success that has crowned our humble efforts, God’s holy Name

be praised through Jesus Christ.”“We omitted to state, under its proper head, that the Lunatic Asylum on Hart’s Island

has been favored with a visit from our superintendent, the Rev. Brockholst Morgan, whopaid a visit to the patients in their pavilion, as well as to others.”

The 1892-1893 report of the Rev. C. C. Profitt for the Almshouse and Workhouse onBlackwell’s Island speaks of the recent typhus fever epidemic.

“Three months of the year there were no public services held, the prisoners not beingallowed to assemble on account of the typhus fever. Tents were erected outside of thebuildings for those who had the dreaded disease, or those who were suspected of havingit.”“During part of this time a number of cases were received from the City Hospital,

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Bellevue Hospital and the Penitentiary. The Commissioners of Charities and Correctionshaving made the Workhouse a quarantine station for the care of its own sick, who weresupposed to have the typhus fever, fourteen tents were erected, accommodating about 140patients.”“There were also five tents erected on the grounds at the Almshouse for suspects,

which, developing, were sent at once to the Workhouse. Only the doctor, the clergy andorderlies procured for the occasion were allowed to visit the tents. It was a time of greatuneasiness and anxiety, of gloom and depression. A number died of the terrible scourge.It gives much satisfaction to your missionary to report that of this number those whowere Protestants and committed to his spiritual care received the Blessed Sacrament athis hands and the Benediction of the Church. In the administration of the HolyCommunion in the quarantined tents, only the paten and chalice were used. A small, plainwooden table answered for an altar, devoid of linen. The celebrant used no vestments, forhe was enveloped from head to foot in a large cloak, with hood attached, so as tocompletely cover the body, except a small aperture for the front of the face. Yet with allthis necessary rudeness and simplicity, the grandeur and dignity of the service wassublime, as the participants received the “Bread of Life,” of which they would never more partake. These were men who had been sent to the Island for misdemeanors ordisorderly conduct. Truly penitent on their death-bed, they found the Saviour. Resignedand filled with hope they found comfort, as did the “penitent thief,” in the words of Christ, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”

“It might be of interest to note the manner of burial when one died of the disease. Thebody was wrapped in blankets saturated with a disinfectant solution, then placed in aplain pine coffin, coated with pitch on the inside, the lid nailed on, and then the wholewrapped in another blanket saturated with the same solution, and sent away by thesmallpox boat, Franklin Edson, to Hart’s Island, to be buried in the Potter’s Field. Surely it must have been a source of comfort and consolation to the friends of the dead to knowthat the Church had ministered to their sick and suffering ones, more especially sincethey were not allowed to visit them in their last hours or to attend the burial.”

The Rev. C. W. De Lyon Nichols, Chaplain to Metropolitan Hospital on Blackwell’s Island relates in his 1893-1894 report the following account of the dying words of awoman destined to be buried in the Potter’s Field.

“Let us enter one of the wards of the Metropolitan Hospital…Thirteen women in the

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last stages of consumption are lying side by side on cots, seeing one another die…One poor woman was evidently breathing her last, for a white screen had been drawn aroundher cot. A nurse whose face was all gentleness stood by her bedside, smoothing herclammy forehead. The card at the foot of the bedstead had not the name of a solitaryfriend written on it.”“The dying woman, who was only in her twenty-third year, nerved herself up to

make one parting request, “Won’t you pray for me, minister? I got somebody to write to my sister a week ago that I was dying, but she would not come near me. The only man Iever was really fond of abandoned me as soon as my health broke down. Oh! Oh!” the dying consumptive sobbed, “I want one person on earth to remember me just a little while after I am gone and laid away, piled up in one of those trenches in the Potter’s Field. Here is a little plain gold ring that my mother gave me before I went to the bad;won’t you take it and wear it for my sake, nurse? See that my shroud looks nice whenthey lay me out, and cross my hands upon my breast. Oh, if I had one friend or relation toput a single white flower upon my coffin, a lily; I was not worthy of it when I was alive,but when I am dead—”

Continuing now with the annual reports of the Rev. C. A. Wenman on Hart’s Island:

New York City Asylum For The Insane 1893-1894Geo. A. Smith, M. D. - Acting Med. Sup’t.

Present census (both landings), total, 1600; males, 225; females, 1375; attendants—male,86; female, 125; admissions for one year, 193

North Hospital (Upper Landing) 1893-1894

Present census, 306; males, 146; females, 160; attendants - males, 12; females, 28“Since rendering to our City Mission Society my previous annual report, this north

end of the island has undergone a radical change in its institutions. For the branchWorkhouse with its several buildings was then located here, but now the insane aredomiciled at both ends of the island, as the Workhouse was abolished from Hart’s about one year ago, excepting that a standing census of thirty men are detailed here from the

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main Workhouse to work the cemetery or bury the dead, who are committed to thePotter’s Field. These men being prisoners are subject to Workhouse rules and regulations, and occupy one of the old barracks or dormitories. They are termed citycemetery helpers. But all of the other dormitories have been renovated, and transformedinto pavilions for the insane of both sexes. For convenience and to designate theparticular portion of the island where the patients may happen to be domiciled, theofficial terms have recently been adopted of “North” and “South” hospital. The islanders have heretofore used the designations of the “Hill” and the “Hollow,” and no doubt will continue so to do, except when alluding to the institution itself.”“At this end it is not an unpleasant sight to see the patients out of doors on the grass,

under the shade of the trees, taking in the wholesome air, while enjoying the sights andsounds of nature. They are seated on their long wooden benches, and are favored with themagnificent water view presented by the broad Sound. Much better this than to beconfined within the buildings.”“On this remote island your missionary has spent six days and four nights monthly

(including the journey to and fro), administering to the patients and others, both in publicand private, the teaching and consolations of the Gospel, rendering two public services amonth, at each end of the island. At this upper landing I have held a mission service inthe chapel at 10:45 A.M., with an average attendance of about thirty-five (the lightercensus is here), and have administered Holy Communion once a quarter, and upon thegreater festivals. On the week days I have visited and conversed with patients of theasylum, endeavoring to cheer their spirits with the exercise of sympathy, and to lightentheir mental or spiritual burdens in cases where such a thing is feasible.”“We have not overlooked the convict laborers who are placed on the cemetery, but

have visited these men in their quarters, inviting them to attend our Sunday services, towhich the Protestants, happening to be among them, have most always responded.”

(b) South Hospital (Lower Landing) 1893-1894Present census, 1293; males, 79; females, 1214; attendants—males, 24; females, 97

“At this point also your missionary has held two public services a month at 2:45 P.M.,being driven (after his morning service) from the north end of the island. The heaviercensus being here, our average attendance has been (we may safely say) ninety.”“Could certain persons happen in to our worship, and observe the good order

generally maintained by these people, could they hear the hearty singing of some, and atleast the effort on the part of others to sing and respond, could they witness thesatisfaction, nay, the joy depicted on the countenance of these unfortunates, they wouldnever put the question: “What is the use of holding services for the insane?”“Let us be sure that God will bless and honor His own instrumentalities, and through

them apply His grace to souls, as He deems fit.”“For the past two years, at least, we have employed the extempore mode of preaching

(rarely using a written sermon) as being very much better calculated to interest and torivet the attention of our special classes of hearers than the other mode. A plain, informal,even blunt face-to-face talk, drawing illustrations, perhaps, from our own every-dayexperience is what these people need for their greater benefit.”“As for several reasons it has not been practicable to administer Holy Communion

publicly at this portion of the island, we have therefore gone into the different pavilionsfrom time to time and administered the “comfortable sacrament” to such as desire to

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receive it. At these celebrations a privacy and quietude has been insured by assemblingthe communicants in apartments isolated from the main ward, though adjoining it.”“This has been done of a Sunday, immediately after our afternoon service, being

almost equal to a third service.”“The general hospital ward for the female insane is at this lower landing. It carries a

census of forty patients, and is always full. We never pass this by, but always enter itsdoors to find out and to minister to the Protestant sick, holding prayers at their bedside,also trying to have a friendly or a comforting word for all the rest.”“In this resting place for the sick the following interesting incident but recently

occurred: The patient was on my list, a Lutheran in faith, a German in nationality, thoughhaving excellent command of English. Her mind was evidently less impaired than weremany minds around her. Two female friends had come from the city to pay her a visit. Iwas on the ward when they were there. She introduced me to them as her pastor. Aftertheir departure I again approached her, saying, “So you had the pleasure of a visit from your friends.” She said she had, and was so glad to see them. The patient was then sittingup in bed, not being very ill. Her face was the personification of contentment and of joy.“Oh,” said she, “God has been so good to me. I have had much sorrow in the past; for my husband met a fearful end; he choked to death. But I feel that God is my friend, and allwill be well. I offer my prayers to Him night and morning. As Jesus suffered and died forus all, we know that He loves us; and because He loves us He will make all things worktogether for our good, and will bless to us our trials and troubles.”Oh, the radiance ofthat face; for the woman was exalted in spirit as she uttered these words. She wastriumphant, and could not have been more so had she possessed the world. She must havefelt in that exalted moment that through Christ all things were hers. Such is the power offaith.”“And now to God’s Holy Name beascribed all the glory and the praise for any good

that may have been wrought through the poor efforts of His unworthy servant.”“We omitted to mention the interesting fact that at the Insane Asylum on Hart’s

Island I have administered Holy Baptism, at her own request, to a Jewess, who declaredher faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the true Messiah of promise. Her Protestant nurseacted as her witness.”

New York City Asylum For the Insane 1894-1895Herman C. Evarts, M.D. - Acting Med. Supt.

Present census (both landings), total, 1543; males, 290; females, 1253; admissions forone year, 113

“North Hospital” (Upper Landing) 1894-1895

Present census, total, 270: men, 220; females, 50.

“Until recently, at this north end, the female patients have predominated; but by latechanges most all of the women have been transferred either to Ward’s Island or to the south end of Hart’s. So that all the pavilions here (with one single exception), are now occupied by men which gives me at this upper landing an almost entirely malecongregation, especially as the men at the branch Workhouse form an accession to thenumber. These male insane are for the most part new transfers from Ward’s.On this

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island lying out on the broad Sound, City Mission work has been maintained with theusual regularity; your missionary making the journey from the city twice each month, andholding a service at each end of the island, beginning at 10:30 A.M. at this north end.Holy Communion has been administered in public quarterly, and also in celebration ofthe higher festivals, all taking place in the regular Chapel building. I have paid visits tothe male and female patients in their respective quarters; and also to the men of theBranch Workhouse, who are detailed here as “cemetery-workers,” to consign to their last resting-place the friendless dead. Of the names of these “helpers,” who are of the Protestant faith, I have kept a current list; and have always invited them to church, andthey have come.”

(b) “South Hospital” (Lower Landing) 1894-1895

Present census, 1273; males, 70; females, 1203

“A regular semi-monthly mission service has been held in the afternoon at thislanding. There has been an average of perhaps 100 in congregation, including the maleand female attendants. The sick in the general hospital have been systematically visited,and prayers offered at their bedside. After the regular P.M. service I have (whencirc*mstances favored), gone into some pavilion and administered Holy Communion tosuch communicants as were desirous of receiving the same. On one of these occasions Icame across a patient who was weeping aloud and bitterly, the tears copiously flowing.Approaching her I inquired the cause of her grief and the occasion of her tears. Thedistressed woman replied, through her sobs, that she had committed a sin and feared shewould not be forgiven. In the course of the interview, it was ascertained that the personwas a communicant. So she was informed that my main object in entering the ward wasto give Communion to such as would receive it. Said she: “I am not worthy of it. My sin has been too great.” She was then reminded that there is no sin so great but that the precious blood of Jesus can wash it away. And I quoted to her that Scripture which says:“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be crimson,they shall be as wool,” at the same time exhorting her to communicate, stating the beliefthat it would prove a comfort to her, as it was called the “comfortable sacrament”; that it would, through the merits of Christ, seal to her the forgiveness of her sins. And lookingup, said she, through her sobs: Do you really think that it will be a comfort to me? If youthink so, I will receive it with the rest.”

“And as the holy and impressive office proceeded, her sobs were hushed, her tearswere dried. And this afflicted woman evidently received that inward consolation whichthe Holy Ghost the Comforter alone can administer in all the sorrows of earth.”

“It is the Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society, which (through hermissionaries), systematically brings the consolation of the Gospel; and which breaks theBread of Life to these unfortunate and isolated people of reformed faith, thus helping toaccomplish one of the blessed results of Messiah’s advent: The poor have the Gospelpreached to them.”

“And now for any measure of success that has crowned my humble efforts, God’s Holy Name be praised through Jesus Christ.”

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The Manhattan State Hospital 1895-1896Hart’s Island Branch.Amos E. Macdonald, M.D.: General SuperintendentHerman C. Evarts, M.D.:First Ass’t Physician in Charge

Present total census of patients, 1,550; males, 375; females, 1,175 total admissions forone year, 299; number of attendants, male, 57; female, 134; total, 191

“North Hospital” (Upper Landing) 1895-1896Present census: Total, 365; males, 296; females, 69.“This institution was formerly entitled the New York City Asylum for the Insane; but

on February last, by an act of the Legislature, it was formally transferred over to the careof the State, and now bears the official title of the “Manhattan State Hospital.” The mother institution is located on Ward’s Island, while its two branches are here, and at Central Islip, L. I.”“On this Island, lying out in the broad Sound, city mission work has been maintained

with the usual regularity, your missionary making the journey from the city twice eachmonth (occasionally three times), and holding a service at each end of the Island,beginning at this North end at 10:30 AM. Holy Communion has been administered inpublic quarterly, and also in celebration of the higher festivals, all taking place in theregular chapel. I have paid Visits to the male and female patients and others in theirrespective quarters. Our work here on the “Hill” has been furthered and rendered more interesting from the fact that since last February Mrs. Fred Bartels (a resident of theIsland, and an official), has kindly volunteered to lead our music on the fine Mason &Hamlin organ in our possession. Mrs. Bartels is a most competent musician, both vocally,and on the instrument, and, as representing the Roman Catholic faith, deserves ourwarmest thanks and appreciation. Such acts of kindness and courtesy manifested betweendifferent Christian churches are a significant sign of that unity for which Christian peopleare longing and praying.”

“South Hospital” (Lower Landing) 1895-1896Present census, 1185; males, 79; females, 1106.“At this South end we have no chapel building; but our mission services are held in

the dining-room of Pavilion 5, at which 400 patients are seated at meal-time. This roommakes a very desirable and comfortable place in which to hold service, as it is abundantlylarge, well ventilated, cool in the summer, and well warmed by steam in the colderweather. In it our City Mission has maintained a regular semi-monthly service at 2:30P.M., at which there has been an average attendance of between ninety and one hundred.After this service I have most generally gone by rotation into one of the pavilions, andadministered Holy Communion to such Protestant patients as were desirous of receivingit. There are often sixteen or more wishing to communicate. On one occasion, in theafternoon service, we were discoursing on the subject of the glory of the resurrectionbody, and of the new and exalted faculties and powers it would likely possess; and weredwelling upon the comforting truth that in the resurrection there would undoubtedly be arecognition of parted loved ones; when, at the conclusion of worship, a patient sittingnear came up, and exclaimed: “Oh, I love to hear you preach! I love to hear you preach! I

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shall some day see my father and my mother, and the friends that I have loved, Oh! Oh!” at the same time rubbing her hands together, through happy expectation. She was truly“rejoicing in hope” with joy unspeakable.”

“To present to these unfortunate people the bright side of religion, and a good hope,through unmerited grace, of better things to come, is the spiritual food they need.”

“The sick and dying, in the general Female Hospital, have been systematicallyvisited, prayers offered at their bedside, and the Eucharist given when occasion hasrequired.”

“A Presbyterian patient of no little intelligence and of much good sense on manypoints (although she had her delusions) recently passed to her rest in the above Hospital.Through sectarian prejudice, she would (though respectfully) decline our offers ofbedside prayer with her; but when she felt the end approaching, she, of her own accord,requested me to give her the Holy Communion “in the name of the Presbyterian Church,” I replied that we would gladly administer to her in the name of Christ and of His oneuniversal Church, which included all the baptized. The patient was entirely satisfied, andcommunicated with several others. She received with the greatest devotion, drinking inevery word of the solemn office, and making it her own; departing this troubled life in thefollowing week.”

“Another patient here, feeling her life ebbing away, stated uncertainly as to herbaptism; so we gave her clinic and hypothetical baptism, to her great satisfaction.” “It is the Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society which (through her missionaries)

systematically brings the consolatory sacraments of the Gospel, and which breaks theBread of Life to these afflicted and isolated people, thus helping to accomplish one of theblessed results of Messiah’s advent: The poor have the Gospel preached to them.”

CITY CEMETERY HELPERS 1895-1896Present census, 21“This small body of men virtually constitutes a limited branch of the Workhouse on

Blackwell’s Island, though they are not so termed; but are officially called as above, “City Cemetery Helpers.” Their maximum census is thirty-two, though it has not reachedthe full complement for many months. They are detailed from the main Workhouse to thisIsland in order to bury the poor and friendless dead in that ground popularly known asthe Potter’s Field.”“They are really prisoners, convicted as drunk and disorderly, and are in all respects

under prison discipline. To them I have given quite some attention, trying to do themgood and to keep them interested in our services on the “Hill.” To this effort in their behalf they have well responded, and have been very well represented at church. For twoor three of these persons I have, at their own request, drawn up a limited pledge ofabstinence, to which they have attached their names. Though the pledge will not, in andof itself, keep the signer from intemperance, yet doubtless it will help him, if he beconscientious and in earnest humbly depend upon the grace of God. But the one great anduniversal temperance society is the Christian Church, with its means of grace, whichteaches temperance in all things.”“One Sunday, while conversing with some of these “Cemetery Helpers,” one ofthem

remarked: “I have read today in my Testament a text which I learned when a boy.” He then quoted in full from St. John’s first Epistle: “If we walk in the light, as he is in thelight, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Soncleanseth us from all sin.” And the tears most profusely gushed from the man’s eyes, his

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breast heaved with emotion, and his utterance was choked through sobs, as he said: “Iwas piously brought up a Presbyterian, and once attended to all the duties of religion; butthrough temptation and drink, I departed from the narrow way; but I now read myTestament regularly, and say my prayers. When discharged, I mean to try hard to keepfrom drink, and from further trouble.” This manhad been a faithful comer to our services.The Sunday before his discharge he conversed with me again amid many tears.”“The above touching incident presents another phase of the good work of the City

Mission Society, that it helps those who are thus disposed to carry out the will of theirdivine Lord to minister to those who are “sick andin prison.”“And now for any measure of success that may have crowned our humble efforts in thisgood cause, God’s holy namebe praised through Jesus Christ.”

In the June 1896 issue of “The Mission News of the Archdeaconry” an account of the Decoration Day service on Hart’s Island is given as follows:

The little cemetery on Hart’s Island, where soldiers and sailors whohave died at theAlms House on Blackwell’s Island have been buried, was not forgotten on Decoration Day. Each grave was decorated with a little flag and with beautiful flowers by Reno Postof the Grand Army of the Republic. The simple but graceful monument erected by thatPost, in 1877, in memory of veteran Union soldiers and sailors buried close by, was alsosimilarly decorated. About one hundred and fifty of the members of the Post in fulluniform, accompanied by a band of music and many friends from the city, were present,General OBeirne having placed the steamer “Brennan”at their disposal to convey themto the Island and bring them back to the city. After the reading of the beautiful ritual ofthe Grand Army of the Republic, the Rev. George F. Nelson (superintendent of the CityMission Society) delivered an address appropriate to the occasion. First of all hereminded these veteran soldiers and sailors of the vastness of the war in which they andtheir deceased comrades had been engaged. He reviewed the first call for 75,000 men,then the action of Congress some weeks later authorizing the President to accept a millionvolunteers, then the increase of this number till more than 2,600,000 men had beenenrolled on the side of the Union, at one time or another, before the war was ended ;—then the appalling causalities—5,221 officers and 90,868 men who were killed in actionor who died of wounds; 2,321 officers and 182,329 men who died of disease or accident,making a total of 280,739 casualties in the Union Army alone. He said that the lastveteran of the war buried in this “God’s Acre” on Hart’s Island was an old man who had died recently at the Alms House after living there ten months without letting any oneknow that he had been a soldier, though it was found from papers on his body after hisdeath that he had served three enlistments—eleven years altogether—in the Union Army,during the war and afterwards, had fought in thirty-four battles, had received anhonorable discharge at the termination of each enlistment, and yet had asked for nopension nor for admission to a Soldiers’ Home, so far as is known, being content to suffer the poverty of his old age in silence, like one who has learned to endure hardness as agood soldier.

Mr. Nelson did not conclude his address till he had reminded the veterans of RenoPost and their friends of the duties of citizenship and religion which call every day for theexercise of faith and courage and loyalty.

Continuing now with the annual report of the Rev. Charles Wenman:

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 38

The Manhattan State Hospital 1896-1897Hart’s Island Branch.Amos E. Macdonald, M.D.: General SuperintendentHerman C. Evarts, M.D.:First Ass’t Physician in Charge

Total census of patients, 1,550 ; males, 375; females, 1,175; total admissions for oneyear, 108; number of attendants, male, 58; female, 136; total, 194.

“North Hospital” (Upper Landing) 1896-1897

Present census: total, 365; males, 296; females, 69.“On this Island, lying out in the broad Sound, about sixteen miles from New York, City

Mission work has been maintained with usual regularity, your missionary making thejourney from the city twice each month, alternating his Sundays with Randall’s Island, and holding a public service at this end of Hart’s at 10:30A.M., and one at the south orlower end at 2:30 P.M. Our average attendance at this first service has been betweenforty and fifty, the “cemetery helpers,” from the Workhouse being well represented. Mrs.Bartels, our organist, has most faithfully continued her volunteer musical ministrations,even amid personal difficulties, and is well deserving of our gratitude and appreciation,which have been already manifested by the Society. I also have visited among thepatients and officials in this section, and have ministered to the Protestant sick in the malehospital ward. Celebrations of Holy Communion have been made quarterly, and for thegreater festivals.”

“South Hospital” (Lower Landing) 1896-1897

Present census, 1,185; males, 79; females, 1,106.“As has been already stated, our mission services at this lower landing begin at 2:30

P.M. The heavier census is in this portion of the Island, and, consequently, the largerattendance at divine service. The average has been from 100 to 110. Through the effortsand appeal of Dr. Evarts, physician in charge, the State has generously furnished us witha very good organ for the use of our service. And we have had another valuableacquisition to our Church work in the advent of Miss Mahoney, the regularly appointedpharmacist, who is not only a competent organist, but a zealous worker, and acommunicant of our own Church. A year ago Miss Mahoney volunteered to play the neworgan, and, moreover, has formed and drilled a choir of nine persons, all employees.They have been drilled and rehearsed with infinite pains, meeting the organist weekly forthe purpose. A choir is something we never had before. Too much praise cannot be givento this zealous and self-sacrificing worker. The music has increased the interest in, andthe attendance on, our service, and the worshippers are delighted.”“On Saturdaywhen here, I have always visited in the general female hospital,

administering to, and holding bedside services with, the sick, and smoothing at times thepillow of the dying.”“At the close of the afternoon service on Sundays I have (with but few exceptions)

gone by invitation into one of the pavilions, and administered Holy Communion to thefemale Protestant communicants.”

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 39

“For the relaxation and diversion of both patients and attendants, the State hasfurnished, at least once a month, a series of amateur theatricals, with music, songs, etc.Large numbers have been present at these entertainments, which have furnished (it is tobe hoped) those temporary changes of scene and of thought so essential to the impairedmind.”

This would prove to be the last report of that good and faithful servant the Rev. CharlesAldis Wenman. He retired due to illness in 1898, and would die on February 27, 1899.From his obituary in the New York Times February 28, 1899 and other sources we relatethe following biographical information as follows:

The Rev. Charles Aldis Wenman died yesterday at his home, 436 Macon Street,Brooklyn, from the effects of a paralytic stroke sustained last November. He was born inthis city 58 years ago, and was a graduate of the General Theological Seminary. He wasordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1868 by the Rt. Rev. Horatio Potter, Bishop of theEpiscopal Diocese of New York. His first charge was that of Assistant Rector of GraceEpiscopal Church, Brooklyn Heights. He also served as rector of various parishes in thenorthern part of the State. For the last sixteen years he had been Chaplain of Ward’s, Randall’s, and Hart’s Islands under the auspices of the City Mission Society. He issurvived by a daughter and three sons.

From the 1897-1898 annual report of the Rev. Charles C. Proffitt, Chaplain to theAlmshouse and City Hospital on Blackwell’s Island we read:

“The Right Rev. Henry C. Potter, Bishop of the Diocese, visited the Chapel of theGood Shepherd on Trinity Sunday and confirmed a class of 42 men and women, thelargest class ever presented at the Almshouse. It was a most impressive service, as theBishop was accompanied by a number of Deacons he had ordained in the morning atCalvary Church, several of them assisting at the service. There was also present the Rev.George F. Nelson, D.D., Superintendent of the Society, the Rev. Hugh Maguire, andothers of the clergy. After the Confirmation Service in the Chapel, the Bishopadministered the apostolic rite in three of the hospital wards to those who were unable tocome to the Chapel on account of sickness or physical disability.”“We are deeply grateful to the Guild of St. Elizabeth for their valuable assistance

rendered at the Almshouse. The usual Christmas-tide and Easter-tide dinners were givenin the library under the Chapel. There was a bountiful supply of good things, and overtwelve hundred partook of the feast, including many of the people in the outer wards. TheGuild also provides tea and sugar to be dispensed in the hospital wards, or to those whoare sick, the whole year round. There are also four members who visit the Almshouseweekly, especially the hospital wards. The Guild also has a “Burial Fund,” but can only bury a limited number of those who have no friends, as the death-rate at the Alms-houseis very large. During the last ten years over nine hundred people (Protestants) have died,and all of these have had the Burial Service of the Church. Many of these have beensaved from Potter’s Field by the Guild of St. Elizabeth.They have accomplished a grandand noble work for the Master in ministering to the sick, relieving the needy, comfortingthe distressed. Such is their work. The field is indeed large, and many wants are supplied;

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 40

still, much more could be done if Church-people would only come and see forthemselves. May God bless and prosper the works of mercy, love and charity of thisGuild, and in the hereafter may theirs be the happiness to realize Christ’s words, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done itunto me.”

In October 1898 the Rev. David T. Howell was appointed Missionary of the City MissionSociety. His duties included visits to Hart’s Island. His first report, printed in the 1897-1898 annual report of the society, follows.

“On October 1st I was appointed to succeed the Rev. Charles A. Wenman, to whom Iam indebted for many valuable suggestions concerning my work.”“The duties assigned to me by the Superintendent are: Alternate Sunday services at

Randall’s and Hart’s Islands, a week-day service at the Colored Home and Hospital,visiting Yorkville and Harlem Prisons. The work, as I have been able to see it thus far,may be divided into five classes: feeble-minded children, insane adults, sick people,paupers, and prisoners—a work varied enough to demand all the energy, sympathy andwisdom possible.”“At the very beginning, I was forcibly and agreeably impressed by the courtesy and

consideration shown to me by the superintendents, physicians and officials of theinstitutions to which I was sent. They made the introduction to my work easy andpleasant.”

“One Saturday night I received a telephone message from the Woman’s Hospital, and, going down, the doctor met me, and said, “There is a woman dying; she can’t live many minutes.” Conscious, but weak, a poor, homeless woman was on the border-land.Kneeling beside her, softly and slowly I said the Lord’s Prayer. Her eyes opened and her hand moved. Then I said the Kyrie. The nurse, who stood watching, said, “She understands.” I then repeated the Creed and the Prayer of Commendation, and in a few moments her soul had gone into the world beyond, and found, I hope, a home, though inthis world it knew none, and her body must be buried in Potter’s Field.”

“The Roman Catholic Chaplain at Randall’s Island told me, and I am finding it to be true, that, in a certain way, the paupers are the most pitiful class. The world has no use forthem, nor do they seem to have much use for themselves. They represent the dross ofhumanity; a lunatic will interest you, a sick person will arouse your sympathy, a prisonerwill seek your aid for release or help, but the paupers seem to be mentally, morally andphysically dead, and yet a little kindness shown or some interest taken often arouses theirgratitude.”“In visiting prisoners I find, having had some experience in this work before, that the

most hopeful cases are those who are in for the first time. It is hard to deal with men whoare “jail birds,” but a man who is locked up for the first time has some sense of the shame and sorrow, if not the sin, of it. I asked a man in a cell what he was in for; he said, “For trying to ride a bicycle when I was drunk.” “Did you ever try to ride when you weresober?” “No.” To those who have gone through the experience of learning to ride, the sight of a drunken man trying to master the wheel is ridiculous. He promised me thatwhen he got out he would learn to ride a wheel while he was sober.”

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“The work of the City Missionary is indeed a sowing “beside all waters,” and the motive for it all must be, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” May He give strength and wisdom to doit wisely andwell, for His sake.”

Unfortunately Fr. Howell’s tenure at with the City Mission Society would be a short one. Due to marital difficulties he renounced the ministry on May 27, 1899.

Moving along to the 1898-1899 annual reports of the City Mission Society we findanother mention of the Potter’s Field in the report of the Rev. Charles S. Brown at Bellevue Hospital.

“My chief point now is Bellevue Hospital perhaps the most widely known hospital inAmerica. This house of healing, with the pavilions for alcoholic and insane patients,training schools for male and female nurses on its grounds, or near by, is a scene ofconstant activity. The ambulance gong is heard at all hours, for the territory which thisbranch of the service looks after extends from Houston Street to 42d Street east of FourthAvenue, and, in emergency, even farther. This hospital can accommodate about eighthundred patients, and the number of the employees almost reaches the same figure, soright here we have a population sufficient to make several Western villages. The largerportions of the procession of sufferers who pass within its gates are restored to health bythe medical attendance they there receive; many are transferred to the homes andhospitals on Blackwell’s Island. Others die here, their tenement of clay being taken to themorgue adjoining the hospital and interred, if not claimed by friends, in the Potter’s Field on Hart’s Island.Our Chapel of Christ the Consoler has two services on Sunday—the Holy Eucharist and Evening Prayer with addresses, also Litany on Wednesday withaddress, at all of which times special intercessions are made for the sick and the dying.Our services are short and bright, with music at each under the leadership of our efficientorganist, Miss Stahl. At the Morning Service we have a choir composed of young ladies,

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whose tuneful solos and anthems cheer the patients and help them to forget their troubles.The chaplain visits the wards, caring for the Protestant inmates. The Eucharist isadministered privately to those about to undergo the trying ordeal of the operation-table.Patients who have been cured but are still weak, and perhaps have no home to go to, aresent by us to Convalescent Homes. Our library is a great boon, and is well patronized bythe patients and hospital employees. Magazines and papers, including a gift of ParishVisitors from Mr. Thomas Whittaker, are very acceptable to the readers. Committees ofChurch ladies come to the hospital to visit the sick and to care for the altar and itsfurnishings. Flowers, when in season, are sent in every week to brighten dark lives withtheir message of hope.”

Following Fr. Howell on Hart’s Island itself was the Rev. Arthur Forbes. He had justaccepted the rectorship of Grace Episcopal Church on City Island on March 25, 1890 soadditional duties on Hart’s Island were quite appropriate. His 1898-1899 report follows.

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Branch Workhouse 1898-1899

“I began to officiate as missionary on Hart’s Island last Trinity Sunday, May 28th,1899. Since then I have held a service at the south end of the island every Sundayafternoon. There were, however, two Sunday afternoons when I could not get across fromCity Island in a small rowboat on account of the heavy sea which prevailed.”“The prisoners to whom I minister have been committed for periods of time varying

from three to six months for vagrancy, disorderly conduct, etc. The present census is 120.The average attendance at the services has been thirty.”“What an inestimable privilege to point out in simple language to these poor, benighted

souls the way of the better life! I am glad that such a privilege is mine, and I am thankfulto say that not a few of the prisoners have given proof of their hearty interest in ourChurch services.”

Fr. Forbes makes no mention of the Manhattan State Hospital on Hart’s Island in his report. That work seems to have been assigned to the Rev. T. Gardiner Littell; howeverhis report mentions only the branch of the hospital found on Ward’s Island.

In the volume of annual reports for the year 1899-1900 the only institution listed onHart’s Island is the Branch Workhouse; Fr. Forbes reporting.

“In the constantly changing congregation on Hart’s Island, to whom I minister, I have all classes and conditions of men who serve short terms.”“Some of the prisoners are there for the first time, while others have been committed

again and again. One bright, intelligent young man said that when he was released fromcustody he had no place to go to; he could not obtain employment and, being hungry, hewas compelled to beg, but to give him courage to beg he foolishly resorted to the use ofspirituous liquors, and then he found himself once more within the grasp of the law.”“Your missionary tries, with God’s help, to impress his hearers with the fact that the

goodness of God, which loves and saves men, should lead them to repentance, and thatthe inward and spiritual grace removes all social distinctions and men become one inChrist.”“How uplifting it must be for the prisoners to be enabled to hear the glad tidings of the

Gospel of Christ and have their steps in life’s pathway guided by the light of God’s truth! They seem very grateful for the religious services, and join heartily and audibly in theresponses.”“Through theCity Mission Society I am on Hart’s Island as a watchman on the tower

of Zion, to warn sinners of the great danger that confronts their souls and to encouragethose who are innocent sufferers, downtrodden, destitute, homeless and forgotten by theirfellowmen.”

Average census for the year 125; Average attendance for the year 30

The Rev. Arthur Forbes continues with his 1900-1901 annual report as follows:

“The religious work at the Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island, continues with unabated vigor. During the year last past your missionary humbly endeavored to look after the

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spiritual interests of those whom the City Mission Society saw fit to entrust to his care.”“Many of the prisoners expressed to me their deep gratitude for the religious

advantages which were so kindly afforded them, while they were serving their brief termsof commitment.”“It was certainly a great pleasure to see how orderly and attentive my congregations

were during the preaching, and to hear them join heartily and audibly in the responses inthe services on the leaflets.”“Many men were so profoundly impressed with the great necessity of prayer, that they

asked me to pray to God to help them, to abstain from the use of strong drink and to quitthemselves like men.”“Among my hearers were professional men who were so unfortunate as to fall victims

to the morphine or opium habit, and were, through the solicitation of friends, committedto save them from utter ruin. Penury led others to beg, and because they begged theywere arrested and confined in prison.”“I urged my hearers to possess the mind of Christ, which will command and restrain

all fleshly impulses and move them to desire only that which will please God.”“At my request the City Mission Society furnished temporarily many of the

discharged prisoners with food, shelter, clothing and employment, and thus gaveexhibition of the practical charity which Christ Himself preached, clearly showing thatthe Society attends to the whole man— his material as well as his spiritual wants.”“The Warden and keepers treated your missionary with the greatest courtesy.”“The prisoners are indebted to the City Mission Society for twenty-seven pairs of

spectacles, ten New Testaments, three Bibles, four Prayer Books and reading matter.These gifts made the hearts of the recipients glad, and showed them that although theywere in prison, yet they were not forgotten by the followers of Christ, “Who went about doing good.”

Average census for the year 213Average attendance for the year 35

Again, for 1901-1902, Fr. Forbes now writes of the establishment of a Reform School onthe Island:

“Since my last annual report, a reform school, consisting of sixty-eight boys, has beenestablished on Hart’s Island. The school has been organized with two sessions. Half ofthe boys attend in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Periods of work andrecreation are provided for the sections alternately with the periods of instruction. Manyof the boys attend the service, which is held every Sunday afternoon. Besides the spiritualcare of the boys, it is my duty and privilege to preach to all sorts and conditions of men,who are committed to this branch of the Workhouse. Thanks are due to Mrs. Bartels, whoacts as organist, and to Mrs. Kane and Mr. and Mrs. Kelly, who lead the singing.”“The Society has furnished the prisoners during the year with Hymnals, Prayer Books,

New Testaments, Bibles, and copies of the Gospels in raised letters for the blind. Manydischarged prisoners were afforded temporary relief and shelter.”

Average census for the year 243Average attendance at the services for the year 44

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In the March 1902 issue of “The Mission News” the Rev. George F. Nelson,superintendent of the City Mission Society reports on another visit to Hart’s Island.

On the occasion of my last visit toHart’s Island I was more than ever impressed by thefact that as “all that glitters is not gold,” so all is not dross that wears prison garb.Hart’s Island, situated in Long Island Sound, opposite Glen Island, is our “Potter’s

Field,” and we are told that one hundred and twenty thousand persons are buried in the unmarked graves of that city of the dead. There is at present a branch workhouse on theisland, containing about two hundred and twenty prisoners, who are set to work chieflyas grave diggers. These men are detailed for this purpose out of the large number ofprisoners that are sent to the Workhouse on Blackwell’s Island.

On my arrival at the building in one of the rooms of which our religious service wasto be held I noticed in a group of prisoners near the entrance nine men leaning oncrutches. Four of these prisoners were one-legged. About sixty persons came to theservice. Young men and old, white and black, robust and crippled were there. The facesof some of them were frank and intelligent, but most of them looked stupid and ignorant.All of them, however, preserved an attentive and respectful, if not a reverent, demeanorthroughout the service. They sang heartily, and most of them made responses accordingto the printed leaflet in their hands.

Before I came away my attention was specially called to one of the men who wascertainly out of place in that motley gathering. He was a French Canadian twenty-sevenyears of age, tall and strong, with a clear and manly face. He said he was an experiencedbarber. He had gone to Australia, and while there, working at his trade, he was touchedand impressed by what he heard of the good opportunities in New York. If he did not seein his mind’s eye that this metropolis was a great harvest field ripe for his razor scythe, heat least believed that he could better his fortune by coming here. Not having any savingshe shipped before the mast in a sailing vessel by way of Chili. On his arrival here hisclothing—after ten months’ service as a sailor—seemed somewhat shabby, and probablyits appearance had something to do with his failure to find work. He spent two weekssearching for employment. During that time he did not sleep in a bed for a single night.He never begged in the street. When his hunger became clamorous he went into arestaurant or bakery and asked for something to eat. One cold night he found himself soweak that he feared it would be fatal to remain in the open air. He sought shelter at apolice station, but it was refused. On the following day, chilled and half starved, he askedfor permission to rest a while in another police station. The sergeant saw at a glance thatthe man was in a distressing condition. He sent a policeman out for food, but thehomeless stranger was at first too weak and faint to eat it. After a rest of some hours atthe police station he requested one of the policemen on duty there to conduct him to apolice court in order that he might beg the privilege of being sent to the Workhouse tokeep from freezing or starving. The magistrate heard the pitiful story and granted thestrange request; and so the friendless wanderer soon found himself in prison garb. Iverified his statement that he was a prisoner at his own request; and it is needless to saythat I have promised to do what I can to provide him with suitable clothing and to helphim to find work when he comes back to the city early in March.

I mention this incident to remind the readers of The Mission News that all prisoners arenot criminals, and to remind them also of the struggles and hardships which many of theunemployed class have endured before they have yielded to temptation and found

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themselves in the clutch of the law. It is sometimes said that men who really want workcan always get it, but it is not a true statement. I can give at this moment the names oftwenty men who are eager to set their hands at any honest task however hard andwhatever the wage, but who are hoping against hope, almost blistering their feet everyday in a fruitless search for work.

It is not wise to give out doles to street beggars, nor is it right to treat every appeal inthe street as if it came from an incorrigible vagrant. When such an appeal is made to us, ifwe cannot give it our personal attention, it is a good rule to mention the address of somewell-known charitable society, such as the Association for Improving the Condition ofthe Poor, 105 East Twenty-Second Street, which has facilities for investigation andresources for relief.

The Rev. Arthur Forbes would continue his ministry to the Branch Workhouse on Hart’s Island for two more years, while continuing his duties as Rector of Grace Church, CityIsland. His last two yearly reports follow.

Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island1902-1903

“Among the changes for good at the Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island, during the past year, we must give a prominent place to the Reform School for Boys, the influence ofwhich is already felt in the marked improvement in the general deportment of the pupilsand their physical and intellectual condition. The discipline is firm yet kind, andeverything tends to impress upon the minds of these young offenders, that a decent,manly, self-respecting life is worth striving for. Even a short confinement under suchtraining cannot fail to leave its mark upon many lives.”“The demand among the men prisoners for more Bibles and Prayer Books is

encouraging. This demand has increased since, through the courtesy of the Commissionerof Corrections, a part of the old Hospital has been renovated, and set apart as a place ofworship. A service is held in this well-ventilated room every Sunday afternoon. Many ofthe prisoners have fine voices, and appear to take a real and heartfelt interest in theservice. The average attendance is about sixty-two, a fair percentage of the entire numberof inmates.”“In spite of the sin, the hardness, the callous indifference, which seems to surround one

in the daily contact with these Workhouse prisoners, there comes now and then, somebright sign of hope, to cheer and encourage. Who knows what fruit our words may bear!And, as many of these men pass the threshold - free men once more - who, but Godalone, hears the silent vow to lead a better and a purer life!”

“No life can be pure in its purpose, and strong in its strife,And alllife not be purer and stronger thereby.”

Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island 1903-1904

“During the past year the work at the Branch Workhouse on Hart’s Island has progressed steadily. A service is held every Sunday afternoon in the old Hospital, and theattendance has been regular, although, as is to be expected, it comprises but a smallproportion of the inmates. There seems to be a marked improvement in the boys of the

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Reform School, as to their conduct at these services, their interest and attention.”“Many of the prisoners when leaving the Island, or later, are furnished with clothing,

and helped to employment, thus proving to them that we care for the physical side oftheir lives as well as the spiritual.”“While the results may seem small, the ever-changing population making it

impossible to do much more than start in the right direction, yet who knows what strengthand help may have been found, or how often the blessing given, which is promised tothose who are willing to seek?”

Evidently plans were in the works for the City to greatly expand the population at theReformatory on the Island. The Rev. Henry St. G. Young assumed the duties as ActingChaplain there, and his 1904-1905 annual report follows:

The proportions of the classes of offenders vary little from day to day. The bulletinfor to-day, October 22d, is as follows:“Males, mostly aged and infirm, 282; their offences are such as come under the head

of vagrancy, men unable or unwilling to work, the homeless, the unemployed, beggars,etc., not many of whom are vicious, but all unfortunate. Not a few of them have been atone time prosperous, useful citizens, whom sickness and reverses in business and theweight of years have cast down. Females, mostly women of middle age, committed foroffences coming under the head of “disorderly conduct,” and sentenced for two or threemonths. These on today’s bulletin number 35. Besides the aged and infirm males, the bulletin designates young and stalwart men as city cemetery workers and to dig thegraves. Today they number only 88 men.”“In the Reformatory are 218 classed as boys, varying in age from sixteen to twenty

years, and in occupations from bell-boys to electrical engineers. These are most capableand hopeful of improvement.”“The last on the list of today are three babies, born in prison.”“There are 626 in all, of whom one-third are Protestants; the other two-thirds are

Roman Catholics, save a few, not more than twenty, who are Hebrews, or unclassed.”“For the intellectual betterment of the boys, there is a public school on the island,

over which one of the city’s trained teachers is.”“There are preparations for an industrial and trades school, in which the youth will be

taught trades to enable them to become useful citizens. It will soon be under way.”“The industries on the island at the present time are cemetery work, road repairing,

kitchen gardening, stone breaking, and the usual house duties, cleaning, washing,cooking, sewing, etc.”“In addition to the Sunday duty, I have been trying to visit the island on Thursdays,

or, at least, on one week-day, but have not been always able to get across from CityIsland. Indeed, to do much good to the members of the Reform School, the Chaplainshould reside upon the island all the time, or do so at least three nights in the week. Heshould have a reception-room, in which the boys and young men, whom the keepers andwarden would commend, might meet, socially for improvement and entertainment two orthree times a week.”“The average attendance at the Sunday services has been almost one hundred; the

deportment there at necessarily good. In the services all who can read join heartily inconfession, responses and song.”“Alas! Many of the aged men, whose eyesight has been dimmed by years and tears,

need spectacles, which may the good Lord, send us. The Commissioner gives spectacles

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to the mechanics only. I have been enabled to buy a very few. To be in prison, and indarkness, is almost death-like.” “All hear the Gospel, many are comforted, and almost all purpose amendment of life.To three I gave the Blessed Eucharist, one of whom (an English Churchman) died ingreat peace, after long suffering in much patience.”“On Hart’s Island will be established, it is said, aReform and Trades School, to

accommodate 500 or perhaps 1,000 youths. I think the islet is by far too small for that.But compression and oppression are the evil genii that prevail in the laying out andconstruction of New York City; witness downtown office buildings, twenty stories oneach side of lanes or streets not fifty feet wide. The surface of Hart’s Island is not much more than 100 acres, one-half of which is occupied as a public cemetery.”

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Part II: A Cross forthe Potter’s Field

Mission News January 1906

Mr. Thomas McCandless has been elected a member of the staff (of the NewYork Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society), and assigned to duty on Hart’s Island, where he is doing a splendid work among the boys in the new Reformatory establishedthere.

Mission News February 1906


Seventeen miles by water from East 26th Street, well out in Long Island Sound, liesthat “ultima thule “of New York’s penal system—Hart’s Island. On this little-known andrarely-visited islet are located the Branch Workhouse, and the Boys’ Reformatory. The Workhouse, in its scattered wooden buildings, houses approximately 500 men and 25women. The Reformatory is overcrowded with nearly two hundred boys. Not one NewYorker in ten thousand, perhaps, has ever heard of this place, and yet Hart’s Island has a peculiar interest, for here one may see boys, who have only begun a life that perhaps shallbe largely spent within prison walls, and also ancient pensioners at the scant table of acity’s charity—old men who look from the windows of the only home they know, upontheir last long resting place—the Potter’s field.

The boys are housed, in a separate building, on the dormitory plan; which meanssimply that two hundred boys can be and are packed into a building that should properlyshelter not many more than one hundred. With no privacy possible, each boy must carrywith him, wherever he goes, his entire possessions. So when our Sunday School classcomes in, each boy wearing a heavy Turkish towel around his neck, in a hot and badlyventilated room, we recognize this strange garb as only a practical way of keeping one’s property. “Dormitory” has a prettier sound than “cell,” but the quiet chance for reading orstudy would be a boon to most of them—a boon that the dormitory system denies.

To a worker in this field, the task appears at once hopeful and hopeless—hopeless,when one considers these aged or crippled, bodily or mentally unsound, inmates of theWorkhouse; hopeful, when one looks into the faces of these boys. The men have longsince been cast aside, useless and perhaps dangerous derelicts on the sea of life. The boyshave life’s great journey still before them. Very few of them are deliberately criminal; themajorities are here because of bad companions or parents worse than none.Under a law lately put into effect, a new class of boys, known as “misdemeanants,” is being sent to Hart’s Island. They are committed for a term of three years, but this may becommuted for good behavior, to a minimum of three months. These newcomers are beingtaught to work at making hosiery and shoes for the various penal institutions; andultimately, it is thought; most of the boys sent here will belong to this class. Under atrained and efficient instructor, school sessions are held morning and afternoon; regularattendance is compulsory.

On Sunday mornings, we gather the boys for an hour of Bible study. They are quietand studious, giving far less trouble than many a city class. At half past one, we have

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afternoon service; and it is an interesting sight to see the long line of men, the lame, thehalt and the blind, come slowly into the chapel. Then comes a division of the able-bodiedmen, and lastly the boys. All join heartily in the service; the hymn, if at all familiar, issung with a splendid and uplifting zeal.

As this is the least known, so it is also the neediest of the city’s institutions. The boys and men ask for reading matter with an eagerness that is pathetic. We receive, anddistribute weekly, about two barrels of magazines and periodicals, which are furnished usby the Church Periodical Club. Among so many elderly men, there is a great demand fortobacco. And if this should reach the eyes of some smoker, who has plenty of this world’s goods, let him bestow a little private charity. Five dollars a month would mean morehappiness here than ten times as much could purchase outside.

The Chaplain is very anxious to secure the amount needed to hire a larger-sizedgramophone, with twenty or thirty records, to give the prisoners now and then anafternoon’s entertainment,which they would greatly appreciate.“A very needy field,” you will say. And it is. But it is a blessed privilege to work in

such afield, to bear light into so dark a place, and to feel that, through God’s mercy, even the walls of a prison may ring with songs of praise and thanksgiving for the souls of menredeemed.

Mission News March 1906

THANKS! –The prompt response to the request for funds to get a graphophonefor Hart’s Island, deserves a prompt expression of thanks. We are in a fair way to own an instrument, and have given an entertainment by this means. 750 men and women, boysand babies –which means every soul on the Island who could crowd into the Hall –enjoyed an hour of good music well played. We have hopes also in the way of tobacco.

Mission News April 1906

The Chapel at Hart’s Island

An Old Hospital Building a portion of which we are allowed to use as a Chapel. It is base, cold anduninviting

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 51

Mission News April 1906


When writing to the Churches it was St. Paul’s mannerly custom to preface his letter with thanksgiving. If the readers of THE MISSION NEWS are to hear more of Hart’s Island and the work being done there, they must first bear with our hearty thanks for theirprompt and encouraging response to every suggestion of need. Ours is a long catalogueof mercies. We rejoice in the possession of a first-rate graphophone; that means a weeklytreat to every soul on the Island. The Church Periodical Club is our mainstay for readingmatter of all sorts. Several persons have answered our appeal for tobacco and formagazines. We have received a piano and a communion service. Altogether, our “cuprunneth over,” and Hart’s Island seems every day less forlorn, less forsaken of the people of God. Surely THE MISSION NEWS may boast of generous, as well as “gentle,” readers.

It is a pleasant duty also to express our appreciation of the unfailing courtesy andhelpful kindness of Warden Kane. Himself a Roman Catholic, he has in every possibleway aided and encouraged the work we try to do. The suggestions of such a man, at oncea trained official and a devout Christian, are by no means the least valuable part of ourequipment.

The work among the boys is, of course, by far the most interesting and hopeful. Theseare no depraved and desperate criminals, defiant toward God and dangerous toward man.They are simply boys who, born into families too poor and too ignorant to constitute ahome, have never been given a fair chance in life. Many of them are here for no crime butpoverty and homelessness. Now and then we find among them an ambitious boy whocame to the city to make his fortune, and was picked up as a vagrant. Of course, there is asmall percentage of out-and-out scoundrels among them, but the most of them areunfortunates, who have not yet found their place in life.

To them all New York City owes a home and training far different from what she sogrudgingly gives. Our great, rich city abuses a good word when she speaks of her“Reformatory.” These boys should be taught useful trades, taught the proper care of their own bodies and minds, made to realize that there is for each one a useful and honorableplace among men, and not be turned out at the end of their stay on the Island as ill-equipped for life’s battle as when they came here.

To be sure, the city has made one step forward in their treatment. The new class ofboys, called “misdemeanants,” is required to work at the making of shoes and hosiery,and a small class of them is being taught telegraphy. But simply to supply power to amachine that makes a stocking, or to cut endless pieces of leather by a set pattern, willnever train a boy for useful toil outside prison walls. The ranks of labor are alreadycrowded with those who can do nothing but supply the infinitesimal factor of intelligenceneeded in the running of most machinery. The boys should be taught plumbing, brick-laying, painting and such other trades as could be utilized in improving and beautifyingthe buildings on the Island.

But even under the present faulty conditions it is a pleasure and a privilege to workamong these boys, to make them feel that they have in us a friend. Many of them are soterribly homesick! They write woeful little notes beseeching those at home to write themand to visit them. Some of their appeals would well-nigh break your heart, especially ifyou knew they would probably go unanswered, or result in a visit from parents quite unfitto see even their own child. And in this desert of loneliness and lack of sympathy they

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turn naturally to us. A kind word will always unlock the door behind which lie feelingsand yearnings too sacred for their companions’ ears. To bring this poor, troubled soul tothe Redeemer’s feet makes a man thank God for such a task.

Less hopeful, but more exacting than the boys, are the men in the Workhouse; whoare here for a variety of causes—drunkenness, pauperism, homeless vagrancy, and “wife cases”—the poor’s substitute for the divorce court. In a separate building are the women, about thirty of them, mostly victims of drink. In the annex are gathered eighty or moreunfortunates, largely elderly men, not a dozen of them in full possession of their senses.These men are absolutely out of place here. They should be in an asylum for the imbecile.They need nurses, not keepers. It is from them we hear always the pitiable request fortobacco. Fit for no employment, hardly ever allowed to leave their secluded quarters,their days and nights are embittered by their ceaseless craving for this, the only solacethey can enjoy. Once a week the city lavishes upon each of them half-an-ounce oftobacco - enough for an hour or two. Then they begin to wait till the next week’s allowance is doled out. But, thanks to the readers of THE MISSION NEWS, we havebeen able to add a little to their comfort in this way. It will doubtless please you to learnthat your beneficence has materially decreased the consumption of their blankets, sooften used in lieu of tobacco.

On this out-of-the-way island, set apart for a season from the glitter of temptation,God has placed these men and boys. They are a little Mission Parish, and for them we areresponsible. We need not “go out into the highways and byways” for them, they are already gathered into our hands; they are in a mood to think over their lives; they canreadily be made to see the error of their ways. To them the Church can now appeal asnever before. The field is ripe for the harvest. But we are pitifully equipped for the workto be done. We summon these poor, wayward children of God to worship Him in Hishouse, and lo! They gather in a place shamefully unworthy. Their very great needs, andour very great responsibility for them, alike demand a fitting church home. Are there notsomewhere in this rich city, in the stewardship of some faithful servant of God, fivethousand consecrated dollars wherewith to erect on Hart’s Island a proper place for the worship of Him who“came to seek and to save even that which was lost”?

The 1905-1906 annual reports of the Rev. Thomas McCandless follow:

The Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island 1905-1906

Early last summer a mechanic left his wife and home in Chicago to seekemployment in New York. His letters, at first, were cheerful and confident. There mustsurely be a place for him in the busy workshops of this great hive of industry. And then,like many another, he was sucked down in the maelstrom of the metropolis. The lettersceased. His wife sought him, high and low, only to find at last that he had died, after asingle day’s illness in a public hospital. His body lay unclaimed at the morgue for a week, and was then buried in Potter’s Field. So, to her sorrow, did his widow learn whatand where is Hart’s Island. For here, on the far outskirts of our widespread city, lie the unknown and unclaimed bodies of those who came unwelcome and who died unmourned.

Here, too, are the Branch Workhouse and the New York City Reformatory, orSchool for Misdemeanants. The former, in winter, shelters as many as 650 inmates. Thelatter contains on an average over 150 boys. In a separate building are about twenty-five

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women prisoners, enough to care for the laundry and other necessary women’s work forthe island.

To the Branch Workhouse the inmates are committed for a variety of offences—desertion and non-support, drunkenness and disorderly conduct, but most commonly forvagrancy. The last named, like charity, covers a multitude of sins. For instance,imbecility—the sole offence of many—will bring us a homeless idiot to atone for hiscrime by six long months of confinement. The old soldier who comes with his pensionmoney in his pocket to see the great city, and who is knocked senseless and robbed by thekind stranger who offers him a drink, may stand next morning, speechless and dazed, butguilty and a vagrant in the eyes of justice. The orphan country boy who makes his way bystolen train rides to the city of his dreams may be rudely awakened, if caught in thefreight yards, by a six months’ sentence for his crime of vagrancy. Bowery “rounder” and homeless boy, drunkard and petty thief, may all be branded with this convenient legallabel and are all treated alike by the impartial arm of the law.

But, to realize how far apart law and justice are, come and look upon the motleycompany that crowds the Annex. These mental and physical cripples, blind and lame, oldand sick, are but poor game for the huntsmen of the law. These men, who cannot careeven for their own persons, are patients, not prisoners; they need nurses, not keepers;medicine, not law.

Or come to the Island Hospital and see worn-out unfortunates dying the slowdeath of senility, mumbling old men awaiting the boon of mortal sleep. They lay here,perhaps fifteen or twenty, cared for by the faithful physician who does his best,handicapped by insufficient help and prison diet. No fruit or flowers are ever sent to theseuncomforted sick; seldom does a visitor seek this lonely room.

The New York City Reformatory 1905-1906

On the first of January, 1905, a law went into effect by which boys and youngmen, between the ages of sixteen and thirty years, for such offences as petty larceny,were to be committed to the New York City Reformatory or School for Misdemeanants,on Hart’s Island. But not till December of that year were any boys committed under the new law. Hence the latter date marks the first well-meant, but ill-equipped, attempt ofthis great city to care for a rapidly growing section of her criminal population.

The school is still in a formative stage; each new problem is worked out withsmall help from similar experience elsewhere, but that any attempt is being made to dealwith this class of criminals is a hopeful sign. Something is gained; a definite advance ismade in our penal ideas and processes, where correction aims at reform.

The system of merit marks differentiates this institution from similar reformschools elsewhere. By this plan, for good behavior the maximum term of three years maybe commuted to a minimum of three months. Yet to anyone aware of what radicalchanges must be effected in these young men and boys before they can be calledmeasurably, not to say permanently, reformed, it must be apparent that such a minimumterm is all too short. To change the habits of even a plastic, unformed boy is not the workof ninety days. To fall into the ditch is the affair of a moment; it takes time to crawl outagain and to remove the traces of one’s fall. And so to send forth a boy three monthsfrom the date of his conviction, labeled reformed and re-equipped for an honest life, isunfair to the boy and unjust to the school. Yet there is great hope for the plan; the honestdesires of the officials to further the best interests of the boys are a guarantee that its

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ultimate success is certain.Thus far, about 350 boys have been sent to the school. Of these, over 200 have

been paroled, most of them after serving only the minimum term. There is now anaverage of over 150 boys, never over 20 per cent of them Protestants. The “various trades” they are taught, according to the hopeful prospectus, comprise at present the rudiments of painting and shoemaking. A plant for the making of hollow cement blocksis soon to be started, which will serve the double purpose of teaching the boys aprofitable trade and furnishing material for much-needed buildings. Every boy, not agraduate of the public schools, is required to attend school for one session daily.

Beyond this meager curriculum, its equipment does not, at present, permit thework to advance. Such obvious reformatory training as the teaching of personal neatnessand decent table manners is made impossible by overcrowding in an ill-adapteddormitory. The same cause prevents the boys from spending their evenings in any mannermore uplifting than waiting for bedtime. Yet these defects will work their own cure.There will be, one day, a great school for reform on Hart’s Island, where the city will send her weak and erring sons to give them a fresh start and a better training for the battleof life.

It has seemed best to go somewhat into detail in our description of the institutionson this Island, because it is a little known and practically new field for the work of theCity Mission, and because to describe such a field defines very clearly the work mostneeded. And this precisely has been our aim: to know the inmates and their needs asintimately as possible and to befriend them in whatever manner suggests itself as most fortheir good.

What they all need most is a friend. The boys have too many of a sort they mightwell dispense with: the old men seldom have a true friend on earth. So it is our aim to bethe friend of every inmate; to listen with what patience we may to endless tales of formerglories from the old, to make these reticent boys feel that someone is helpfully concernedin their welfare. How often we are rewarded with the heartfelt tribute: “You’re the only friend I have in the world.”

Even to mention our work is to call thankfully to mind the names of many whohave helped us, in various ways, to make this island less desolate and forlorn. It is ourpleasant duty to acknowledge the continual kindness of the Church Periodical Club insending us weekly gifts of papers and magazines. It is a gala day when the word is passedthat “a barrel” has arrived. To the helpful interest of these ladies, and of many other friends, we owe it that we can always grant the pathetic request for “something to read.”

Another source of much-needed aid is the Chrystie Street Home for Boys, and itshead, Mr. Gilpatrick. Many a boy of ours has he sheltered and clothed and set to work.But for him many a boy would still be waiting for release from the Reformatory.

Nor can we ever forget in our thanksgiving the great number of anonymousfriends who have enabled us to supply regularly the poor old men with tobacco. This mayseem a very humble charity, but to remember and supply an old man with such comfortwill not count small when the good deeds of many are written in the Book of Life.

Where there is genuine desire to help, the opportunity seldom fails. Almost daily,some poor fellow about to be discharged will assure us that he could easily find work ifonly he had some presentable clothes. The City Mission is ever ready to help in such acase, and to give him food and shelter till he does find work. Now and then a man isfound in prison that has a place waiting for him outside. In such a case the judge willusually grant a shortening of sentence. In this way, during the past year about a dozenmen have been helped to their freedom, and, so far, not one of them has been

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recommitted.On Sundays we have morning service at 10 A.M. and Sunday-school for the boys

at 1:30 P.M. Both services attract practically all the boys and men as well as the fewwomen who are Protestants. We are proud of our services, for our congregation is asreverent as and far more cordial than the usual gathering of worshippers. The Rev. Mr.Young, the former Chaplain, visits us on special occasions to celebrate HolyCommunion. And it is but simple justice to testify that our chief equipment for helpfulwork has been the cordial affection he has inspired in every soul on the island. Ourorganist, Mr. A. J. Gethen, deserves great praise for his patient skill in developing out ofchaos into inspiring harmony the musical part of our services.

Since last May we have regularly read the Burial Service over the bodies of thoseunfortunates who are buried in Potter’s Field. The city can dolittle for these pitiful relicsof failure, except to give them a decent grave; the Church can and does consign them toearth with the same stately service and the same high hope of a glorious resurrection asshe chants over the open graves of her own more fortunate dead. This vast and silent city,numbering already over 142,000 dead, adds to its census the body of one in every ten ofthose who die in all New York City.

To work in such a needy field, among the poorest and lowliest of our humankind,is a sacred privilege. For here, in the lives of men deserted and given up as hopeless bytheir brethren, we are privileged to see the omnipotent power and grace of Him who’s Gospel we are to preach. Our work is a very needy one; we have no fitting Church home;we worship in an ugly and cheerless room; we gather the lame, the halt, the blind and thediseased; but even here our hearts are warmed by the glow of the unseen Presence of Himwho came “to seek and to save that which was lost.”

From the 1905-1906 annual report of the Rev. Henry St. G. Young we read:“On Hart’s Island I have officiated at two celebrations of the Holy Communion in the Chapel and administered to four sick in the hospital, and at five other services in Chapeland Sunday-school.”

Mission News November 1906

The City Cemetery--Hart’s Island--Popularly known as the Potter’s FieldMission News November 1906

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“Perhaps in the neglected spot is laid some heart, once pregnant with celestial fire” –Gray’s Elegy

On wind-swept, sea-girt Hart’s Island, to the left of the millionaire’s yacht and the humbler craft of popular pleasure or commerce that sail forth into the Sound, lie fifteen ortwenty desolate acres, the Potter’s Field. Here are no stately marble shafts, no brazenepitaphs to tell the virtues of the silent dead. Unclaimed or unknown they died; and so thecity has laid them in this unvisited and almost unknown resting-place.

Few citizens of New York could tell you where the Potter’s Field is; fewer stillhave ever visited it, and yet here lie the bodies of over 142,000 persons, about threequarters of them children. And here, we are told, every tenth person in this great cityfinds his last long home. No matter that prosperity floods our gates with wealth, nomatter that here opportunity ever points the road for ability and ambition, this silentprocession steadily marches to an unknown and unlamented grave.

He is a man of no ordinary fortitude or indifference who can look dry-eyed uponthese bare, brown coffins, huddled by the gaping trench. Here are the tiny bodies of thosepitiable children who came to homes where poverty denied them a welcome. Others,more fortunate, have never breathed the breath of life. So many of them lie here, littlewanderers whose life journey mercifully ended almost as soon as it began.

There, in a separate trench, the bodies of adults are laid in rows. “All sorts and conditions of men,” for whom we pray, come here at last. Here is thepoor battered andsin-scarred relic of the Bowery, the social Ishmaelite of our times. No more will the lightsof his old haunts lure him to his undoing no more must he purchase his scant sustenancewith the price of scorn. Here is the sad Prodigal who never returned, the man whose sindrove him away from home and friends, and whose pride made him seek the oblivion ofcrowded streets. His weary course has ended; the longed-for grave has brought himpeace. And here is “one more unfortunate,” the victim of man’s cruelty and lust. Drunken and unclean she has been a sight to stir loathing and horror in the tenderest heart; nowDeath has composed her weary limbs and sent her soul to God.

“Huddled in the Gaping Trench” “Here are tiny bodies of those pitiable children”

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From many different walks of life, burdened each with his own sin, they have come tothis gathering of the clans of those who failed. They have paid the common tribute to ourcommon mortality; at our hands they need only the poor boon of a quiet grave, only thattheir bodies be consigned decently to the earth whence they came, and their soulscommended to God.

The comprehensive purpose of the City Mission is to minister, in her varied fields, toevery spiritual need. The foundling at Bellevue is baptized into the Kingdom of God. Thepeople are shepherded throughout their lives; at death they are given the last Christianrites. As soon as the Society had secured a regular missionary for Hart’s Island it was possible to complete the circuit of our work and give Christian burial to the dead ofPotter’s Field. The officials of the Island gave their hearty consent, and offered every aid in their power. The very prisoners who dig the graves were anxious that the serviceshould begin. We wondered why so decent a thing had not been done always.

And so, since last May, the Service for the Burial of the Dead has been read each timethe bodies are brought from the morgue to Hart’s Island. To the visitor it can hardly failto be a most impressive scene. The little group of prisoners, in their striped clothes,gathers by the trench. They are quiet and reverential in bearing, standing with headsbared of their own accord. No mourners weep for these lonely dead; no tribute of flowerscovers them. But, over the open grave are spoken the stately words of our Burial Serviceas the bodies are committed to the ground, “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust;looking for the general Resurrection in the last day, and the life of the world to come,through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Mission News December 1906

“Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?”was the contemptuous proverbquoted by Nathanael long ago. “Can any good boy come from Hart’s Island?”might wellbe asked to-day. Like Philip, we will answer, “Come and see.”

About a month ago, one of the boys on the Island came to me, asking if I couldfind him a shelter in the city for a few days. Though in the regulation clothes, rough andgray, of a prisoner, the boy’s clear, steady eyes were convincing. Here was a boy worth while. When his time was up he was sent down to the Chrystie Street Home, where Mr.Gilpatrick took him in, fitted him out with clothes and gave him a home. Less than aweek later he announced, in a triumphant postal, that he had found work as assistantjanitor in a public school— hours, 5 a.m. till 11 p.m., wages $20 a month.

Since then this boy has found work for two other boys who sorely needed it. To-day he is “hanging on,” as he calls it, looking for an easier job, where he can attend night school. He’s a splendid fellow, with the makings in him of a noble man.

Is it not worth while?

Mission News March 1907


Tacitus speaks somewhere of “Ultima Thule,” the “Ultimate Island,” and the phrase recurs inevitably when dealing with that outpost of our city’s penal system, Hart’s Island. As for the dreary company of those who must owe their burial to our city’s grudging charity, so to the pitiable throng here sheltered in the Branch Workhouse, this isindeed the end of things, the last home of failure and despair. On this bleak islet, as far

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from the city’s sympathy as from the hum of her industry, are gathered the wretched remnants swept aside from the human mechanism we call our city. Of this human rubbishthe economist would, no doubt, tell us that we are well rid; that within these worn-outbodies may be hidden souls made in the image of God, is a matter, not of economic, butof Christian, interest.

Today there are about six hundred and fifty men in this branch of the Workhouse,by far the greater number of them old, helpless and homeless. With a few exceptions,they are here because they know no better place to spend the winter, because they haveno other home. By the end of March they will begin to be discharged, so that by the firstof July there will not be more than two hundred left. During the summer they will scatterover the country, to return like homing pigeons, to the city with the first touch of frost.Then, they know the combined interest of the policeman and the magistrate will securefor them a warm and comfortable shelter till the snow flies once more.

But let not the anxious tax-payer fear that the city is wasting his substance inmaintaining open house for the country’s incapables. This is no house of rest for theweary; this is a place of punishment for crime. And so the inmates are not paupers, butcriminals. They are clad in prison stripes, fed with prison food. It is a sad commentary ona city’s wretchedness and poverty that for so many hundreds this mean and scanty diet isan annual Godsend.

The able-bodied portion of the prisoners are housed in a separate building; tothem is entrusted the work of the island—digging the trenches in, the Potter’s Field, loading and unloading the boats, the laundry and the kitchen, etc. In winter there is notenough work to go round; in summer, not enough men for the necessary work. These area decent, well-behaved lot of men, whom it is a thousand pities to see in prison. Theyrepresent just so much wasted time and energy. A little magisterial consideration andadvice, a little “talking to,” after the manner of a Dutch uncle, would have settled thedomestic trouble that brought most of them here, and perhaps have saved a home.

In the main building live the other four or five hundred inmates of theWorkhouse. And the pathetic thing about them is that with a few improvements in theirdiet, and a very little more of the tobacco that is to them far more necessary than food,they would be very fairly comfortable. But, of course, the city does not wish, and cannotafford, to care for the comfort of these unprofitable servants. She gives them enough toeat, of a sort they can hardly eat at all; she gives them almost enough clothing to keepthem warm. But there are between sixty and seventy old men in the Annex who have notyet had any socks this winter. The needless suffering this petty economy entails is adisgrace to this big, rich city

If they become ill, they are sent to the Island Hospital, where a capable physicianbattles bravely but vainly against the diseases rendered hopeless by vicious living and oldage. Again, the loving care of the city for her unfortunates is witnessed here; sick or well,all have the same dietary. One sees toothless old men, trembling with weakness and age,mumbling at their coarse and uninviting food. Poor things, so many of them are doomedto die here, friendless and alone. They are grateful for the smallest kindness; their dim,old eyes lighten with gratitude at the merest inquiry after their health.

At the upper end of the island, live the women, usually about twenty-five of them.They do the laundry work of the other inmates, and in manners and morals rank far lowerthan the men.

In such a brief résumé, it is hard to avoid the impression that mission work amongsuch a people cannot be other than dreary and hopeless. But He who told His followers togo into all the world, and to preach the Gospel to every creature, has mercifully arranged

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for a celestial compensation whenever His command is literally obeyed. For here, amongthe lowly and despised, you will find men and women who have traveled far on the roadto God. And as, among them, you will find every vice except dishonesty, so you will findevery virtue except economic efficiency. As the fellow-prisoners of St. Paul could testify,one may be in jail and yet be in very good company. And the songs of Christian triumphthat, throughout the ages, have resounded from the prisoner and the captive, testify eventoday that stone walls and iron bars can never exclude Him who came to seek and to savethat which was lost.

Mission News April 1907

The Cross for the Potter’s Field

An outcome of the public meeting of the City Mission Society held last January at St.Agnes’ Chapel is a movement that has been started by Mrs. David H. Greer, to erect amonument on the Potter’s Field that will mark in a fitting way the resting place of thecity’s deadand will stand as a symbol of Christian fellowship, showing that the people ofour city wish to keep these unfortunate ones in mind, and believe that they, too, belong tothe Master.

The necessary permission has been secured for the erection of a cross, which will beten feet high, of rough-cut New Hampshire granite with a chiseled edge, and will bearupon its base the inscription, “HE CALLETH HIS OWN BY NAME”.

Those who wish to join Mrs. Greer in this splendid movement may send their

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contributions to her at 7 Gramercy Park. About six hundred dollars is needed.

Mission News May 1907The fund for the cross at the Potter’s Field, which Mrs. Greer was seeking to

raise, was quickly subscribed. It is hoped that the cross will be in place in time for it to bededicated by Bishop Greer on the afternoon of Trinity Sunday. The usual custom is tohave the annual Confirmation at the City Home for the Aged on that day, and many ofour friends go to the service. This year the Confirmation Service will be held earlier inthe afternoon, and the friends who accompany us –an invitation is extended to all–willbe taken by boat directly to Hart’s Island for the service there.

Mission News June 1907

It is greatly regretted that, owing to a delay on the part of the stone-cutters, thecross for the Potter’s Field could not be in place in time to be dedicated on the afternoonof Trinity Sunday, as it had been planned. The dedication will take place some week dayin June, as we cannot now give definite notice of the time, if those who would like to bepresent will send their names and addresses to the Superintendent, the Rev. Mr. Kimber,he will notify them by post. Cordial invitation is extended to all those who are interestedin this good work.

Base of the Cross to be erected on the Potter’s Field

The 1906-1907 annual reports of the Rev. Thomas McCandless:

The Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island 1906-1907

Whoever is stationed as Chaplain at Hart’s Island will recall with keener appreciation and fuller sympathy the perils and hardships of St. Paul on his journeyingsfor the Gospel’s sake. We are spared the beatings with rods and the wild beasts atEphesus, but the perils of shipwreck have at times entered disagreeably into the day’s work. On more than one Sunday morning last winter, as we tugged at the frost-coveredoar, we thought, enviously, that the waters around Melita must have been warmer thanthe frozen spray that coated us before we won our way to the island. Yet it was all worth

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while. Here, among the poor and outcast, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in its simple andcompelling power, appeals as ever to the hearing of the “common people” in all their need and sin.

During the past year the census of the Branch Workhouse has ranged from 400 to700. Of these, excepting the twenty-five or thirty women needed in the island laundry,the greater part are elderly men, who return with sad regularity to serve term after term asvagrants. They usually keep away for the midsummer months, but the first touch of frosthurries them back to what is their only real home. So they are in no sense criminals; theyare, rather, the useless hulks cast up by the sweeping tide of our city’s seething sea.

The younger men, numbering perhaps 100, do the heavier work, such as diggingthe trenches in the Potter’s Field.The new ice-plant, planned to supply the institutions ofthe different islands, requires the labor of many. These men are more active offendersagainst the law, and are being punished for disorderly conduct, drunkenness and non-support.

The most deserving and most hopeful of all the inmates are the eighty to 100 boyswho are segregated in what has been, euphoniously but mistakenly, called the ReformSchool. This is merely part of the Workhouse where the boys are kept. Those notgraduates of the public school are required to attend daily one session of the schoolmaintained on the island by the Department of Education. This is the extent of the“reform.” Today two of these boys came to me and asked my help. They had come toNew York, spent what little money they had, and finally appealed for aid to theDepartment of Public Charities. They were referred to the Municipal Lodging-house,spent two nights there and then, after being taken to a police court, were sentenced to sixmonths apiece as vagrants. This was their story, and it is common enough to be true—anilluminating instance of the spirit and method of municipal “charity.” Just how six months on Hart’s Island will cure such boys of vagrancy would need a charity expert of the index-card school, in whose eyes men are merely “cases,” to explain.

In the hospital lie the twenty to twenty-five sick inmates of the Workhouse, and theten or fifteen boys from the Reformatory. The old men, hopeless Bowery “rounders,” spend here the last days of their sad and forsaken lives. The boy inmates are largelyvictims of skin diseases, contracted—so they say—in our city prisons. Both need betterand more nourishing fare than the ordinary Workhouse diet. So we have tried to provide asupply of cocoa sufficient to allow each patient a cup every day. We get enough jellyfrom the department, and enough white bread, to eke out this extra meal. For even soslight an addition to the usual fare, we need about $5 a month. And the occasionalkindnesses shown us by interested friends, in the way of fruit and flowers, are alwaysmost gratefully received.

To describe the field and its needs is to describe the work of a Chaplain. Broadlyspeaking, it is our aim to be the real friend of every soul on the island—not at all tohumor them in all their requests and complaints, but to meet their real needs. In somecases, a little plain speaking is a true mark of friendship; in others, more tangible help isrequired. It is an everyday request: “My clothes are dirty and torn; if only I could make a better appearance, I’d be sure of work.” And it is cheering to note how many of our mengo out to make a brave and successful fight against the temptations of adversity. Now andthen, like a tonic for low spirits, we meet some former inmate who accepted his term ofimprisonment as a lesson and then went forth to reclaim his manhood.

Rarely, very rarely, is some man found in whose case justice may well be temperedwith mercy. During the past year, by interceding with the magistrates, the release ofabout twenty men was secured. Of course, it is needful to exercise the closest scrutiny

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before undertaking such a mission. That in this we have been sufficiently careful isshown in the fact that no magistrate has ever refused our request and that no prisoner soreleased has ever been recommitted.

Lest such a chaplaincy might seem too secular, too busy with the cares of this world,we have tried to square our Sunday preaching with our week-day practice, and totransfigure love for humanity into love for humanity’s God. Our services are reverentlyfollowed and shared by the inmates who worship with us. Mr. Gethin, our organist,renders invaluable aid in making our singing hearty and devout. On a few holy days, theRev. H. St. George Young has visited us and administered Holy Communion, and onTrinity Sunday it was a privilege to present to Bishop Greer, for Confirmation, a class ofthree men, two women and five boys—the first Confirmation class on Hart’s Island.

Ed. The Confirmation took place at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd onBlackwell’s IslandMay 26, 1907, the Rt. Rev. David Hummell Greer, BishopCoadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of New York presiding. Greer would become the8th Bishop of New York the following year following the death of Bishop Potter.

Five persons were presented by Fr. McCandless from the BranchWorkhouse on Hart’s Island:

Fred P. LynchWilliam Williamson

Lloyd CarterCora BeasleySarah Jones

Five persons were presented by Fr. McCandless from the New York CityReformatory on Hart’s Island

Henry HookeWalter Heitzman

Edward SongJames MartinHerbert Hayes

Eight additional people were presented by Chaplain Beard from the CityHome for the Aged and Infirm on Blackwell’s Island

Benjamin F. SargentHugh H. BoydJohn Fadden

Benjamin S. GompersMaxin BoyerEdward Wells

Martha E. AckermanLouisa Stokes

On the Potter’s Field, during the year ending September 1st, the Burial Service of ourChurch has been read over the bodies of 5,345 unknown or unclaimed dead. We lookforward to the early consecration of a beautiful cross, erected as a memorial to thesenameless thousands through the kindness of Mrs. Greer and several other ladies. It willstand a lasting symbol of the sure and certain Christian hope of a glorious resurrectionfor all the children of Him who “calleth His own by name.”To all the friends whose unceasing kindness has been our inspiration and support,

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particularly to the ladies of the Church Periodical Club, we offer hearty thanks. To theofficials also, for kindness and consideration that will always be a pleasant memory, arecord of gratitude is due. And may the day soon come that sees the fruition of ourdearest ambition—a chapel on Hart’s Island, where erring unfortunates may find the peace that dwells forever in God’s House.

The New York City Reformatory 1906-1907

Nearly a year ago, the Reformatory was visited by an English clergyman who hadbeen sent over by the Bishop of London to inspect our penal and reformatory institutions.After he had been shown about the place and had talked with the officials, we asked hisopinion of our new attempt to deal with misdemeanants. His answer, in that superiorEnglish tone which, somehow, made our defects the more appalling, was:“Well, you see I have just seen Elmira; here you have only chaos.”

It was all in vain to tell him that the Reformatory had only started; that it would oneday evolve into something comparable even with Elmira, and that New York City hadhad no experience in precisely this line of reform. Again he crushed our apologetic withthe obviously true remark that we should have profited by experience along similar lineselsewhere.

That was just judgment; but the year just ended has also shown some basis for ouroptimism. For we have progressed. To begin with, the number of inmates is now on theaverage 300, twice that of a year ago. And instead of the indiscriminate commitment of“boys” of thirty and boys of fifteen, hardened criminals and unfortunate children, we now receive only first offenders. So our standard of admission is a year higher. Again, to earnhis recommendation for parole, a boy must now have 1,200 instead of 900 merit marks, afull month’s extension of the minimum term. That is a step, but only a step, in the right direction, for in neither three nor four months’ time can any permanent reform be affected in a boy’s character.

There are, then, both virtues and faults in this new attempt to deal with a rapidly-growing class of criminals, whose offences demand and deserve some middle ground ofpunishment between the House of Refuge and the Penitentiary. First let us enumerate ourgood points:1. The Reformatory offers another chance to the erring boy. The first misstep is no longerto close against him the door to honesty and usefulness. If he has broken the law throughaccident or thoughtlessness, he is here taught the consequences of apparently trivialbreaches of morals and laws. If he has deliberately chosen the evil rather than the good,he is here enabled to balance the right and the wrong, and to make the right and logicalchoice.2. The length of a boy’s stay in the Reformatory depends largely upon himself. His ownconduct, in his work and study, is the basis of decision as to the length of his term.3. The head of the Reformatory, Mr. Van De Carr, has already impressed himself uponthe minds of the boys as being just and kind in his administration. This estimate, comingfrom the boys themselves, means that in its head the institution contains an element ofpresent and future usefulness.So much for present virtues! There ought to be, and there will be, more than these. Theboys should be given a training in the personal and social decencies that is out of thequestion with the present lack of equipment.

The faults of the institution are apparent to the most superficial inspection. Among

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others, the following seem most to deteriorate the standard of the Reformatory:1. The overcrowding of the boys in buildings that no money or pains could make suitablefor their present use. Under any conditions, the dormitory system is an unmixed evil, butwhere boys are herded like cattle into cots only a few inches apart, physicalcontamination is unavoidable.2. There is no proper system for the after-care of those paroled. The parole officers,Messrs. Bliss and Hogan, do good and faithful work. But it apparently was not the plan,in starting this institution, to provide homes and employment for such boys as has neithermoney nor friends. Hence, now and again, some unfortunate boy remains in theReformatory for a period out of all proportion with his offence, simply because there isno one to promise him employment and a home.3. Another fault that touches very closely upon the work of a chaplain is that the boyshave little or no esprit du corps; there is among them no notion at all that the good ofeach is the good of all. Hence all their thoughts and plans centre in their own release; thattheir behavior after parole may help or hinder those to follow, causes them no concern.Almost none of the friendless boys who are helped by one or another to obtain theirparole ever show any evidence of gratitude. They disappear at once, and make no effortto observe the terms of parole.

Among them, also, it is our aim to be a friend, with no preconceived theories ofusefulness, but giving to each according to his need and our own ability. They all wantthe Chaplain to look up their friends, to write letters for them, to intercede in case theyhave brought upon themselves an additional term of confinement, etc. When a boy isfound who is quite without relatives or friends, we find him a home and vouch for hisgood behavior, and thus secure his release. When a boy is paroled on condition thatsomeone provides his fare to his home, our Ex-Convict Fund is called upon. Yesterdaywe sent a Jewish boy to his parents in Montreal. Most of those so aided have shown alively sense of gratitude by returning the amount we gave them. And in this connection,we take pleasure in testifying to the multitude of boys from Hart’s Island, who has beenrestored to honesty and usefulness through the Chrystie Street Home. Mr. WallaceGillpatrick, the Head of the Home, works with me in this, and it is but justice to say thatwithout his cooperation we could do little for the homeless boy.

In another report, our services, which are attended by all the Protestants, both in theBranch Workhouse and the Reformatory, have been mentioned. The presence of theboys, with their strong, true voices, adds materially to the brightness of the worship.

In the midst of all the crudities and faults of this new work, when progress seemsdoubtful and slow, we gain confidence and strength for the work in a vision of what thisReformatory will be one day. When our great city once realizes that the best is none toogood for the needy, that the strength of the strong is best expended in the service of theweak, then the New York City Reformatory will be so equipped and managed that it willbe a power for righteousness among her erring sons.

Mission News November 1907

The Rev. Thomas McCandless, for the past two years Chaplain at Hart’s Island, has been transferred to Ellis Island to succeed the Rev. Mr. Campbell. He enters upon hisnew duties November 1st.

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Mission News December 1907

From the 76th Annual Report of the New York Protestant Episcopal City MissionSociety by the Superintendent the Rev. Robert B. Kimber:

“More than 5,000 persons have been laid to rest in the city’s burial ground –thePotter’s Field –and over each one interred there the Burial Office of the Church hasbeen read. No longer is their resting-place unmarked, for there now rises from the knoll,plainly seen by the passing ships, a large granite cross, bearing the inscription, “HE CALLETH HIS OWN BY NAME”. This symbol of the resurrection is the pledge to those who lie there of their heritage in the Christian’s hope.”

The Cross of Him who redeemed all mankind, shelters in its shadow the nameless gravesof those unknown on earth but numbered and named in His book of remembrance.

“He telleth the number of the stars and calleth them all by their names”

The Rev. Thomas McCandless made his final entries in the burial register for the CityMission Society from Hart Island as follows:

Oct. 20, 1907 19, unknown persons Cem. Hart’s Island Oct. 27, 1907 168, unknown persons Cem. Hart’s Island Nov. 3, 1907 19, unknown persons Cem. Hart’s Island

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Attachment I

The attached prayer by the Rt. Rev. William Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany, to beused at the dedication of the cross, was sent to Mrs. David H. Greer at her request. Itappears from a notation on the envelope in which it was found that the prayer was neverused.

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Attachment II

Attached is the 1907 contract with the Harrison Granite Company for the fabrication anderecting of the monument at The Potter’s Field on Hart’s Island.

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Part III: Our Field of Labor

The City Mission Society now covered a wider field of labor than ever. The Rev.Robert B. Kimber, superintendent, reported in 1908 that “Our staff for the past year has numbered 22 clergyman, five deaconesses, four lay-readers, and thirty-five lay-workers,besides a dozen others filling minor salaried positions. These have ministered in our largefield of thirty-six different stations, preaching the Word, administering the Sacraments,comforting the sorrowful, burying the dead, housing the homeless, clothing the naked,and mothering the children.”

THE CITY MISSION CLERGY HOUSE, 38 Bleecker Street. (1886.)Superintendents Office; Treasurer’s Office; Clergy House;Egleston Library forMissionaries.

ST. BARNABAS’ HOUSE, 304 and 306 Mulberry Street. (1861.) Temporary homefor women and children. Crèche. Dispensary. Chapel, Daily Morning and EveningPrayer, Sunday-school and Bible-Classes.

GOD’s PROVIDENCE HOUSE, 330 and 332 Broome Street. (1893.) Day Nursery.Day-school and Kindergarten. Industrial School every Friday afternoon. Mothers’ Meetings. Girls’ FriendlySociety. Boys’ Clubs. Cooking School. Girls’ Guild. Branch Penny Provident Fund. Reading Room. Circulating Library. Gymnasium.Services every Sunday evening.

THE HOUSE OF AQUILA 130 Stanton Street. (1833.) A Settlement House for thepeople of the neighborhood. Day Nursery. Kindergarten. Industrial School. KitchenGarden. Cooking School. Girls’ Friendly Society. Boys’ Clubs. Men’sClubs.Gymnasium. Bowling Alleys. The Chapel of St. Priscilla.

SARAH SCHERMERHORN HOUSE, Milford Haven, Milford, Conn. (1904.)Fresh-Air Home for Girls and Women.

CAMP BLEECKER, Milford Haven, Milford, Conn. (1903.) Fresh-Air Camp forBoys.

CITY HOSPITALS.Bellevue, foot E. 26th St. (Chapel of Christ the Consoler.) (1831.)City Hospital, Blackwell’s Island. (1861.)Metropolitan Hospital, Blackwell’s Island. (1861.)Manhattan State Hospital for the Insane, Ward’s Island. (1861.)Children’s Hospital, Randall’s Island. (1861.)Harlem Reception Hospital, Lenox Avenue and 137th StreetGouverneur Hospital, Gouverneur Street, corner FrontFordham Hospital, Southern Boulevard and 182d Street. (1906.)Willard Parker Hospital, foot East 16th Street. (1905.)Scarlet Fever Hospital, foot East 16th Street. (1905.)Riverside Hospital, North Brothers Island. (1903.)

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Kingston Avenue Hospital, Brooklyn. (1905.)Nursery and Child’s Hospital, 51st St. & Lexington Ave. (1861.)Lincoln Hospital, Southern Boulevard and 141st Street. (1861.)Skin and Cancer Hospital, Second Ave. and 19th St. (1904.)New York Home for Convalescents, 433 East 118th Street.

CITY ASYLUMS.New York Infant Asylum, cor. West 61st St. & 10th Ave. (1861.)The Isaac Hopper Home, 110 Second Avenue.Asylum for Children of Feeble Minds, Randall’s Island. (1861.)

ALMS HOUSESCity Home for the Aged and Infirm, Blackwell’s Island. (1861.) The New York City Farm Colony, Staten Island. (1906.)

CITY PRISONS.The Tombs, Centre and Franklin Streets. (1861.)Penitentiary, Blackwell’s Island. (1861.)The County Jail, 70 Ludlow Street.Workhouse, Blackwell’s Island. (1861.)Branch Workhouse, Riker’s Island.Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island. (1897.)Jefferson Market, 125 Sixth Avenue.Essex Market, 69 Essex Street.Yorkville, 153 East 57th StreetHarlem, East 121st Street and Sylvan Place.Fordham, 158th Street and N. 3d Avenue.House of Detention for Witnesses, 203 Mulberry Street

REFORM SCHOOLS.House of Refuge, Randall’s Island.The New York City Reformatory, Hart’s Island. (1906.)

PORT CHAPLAINCY.U. S. Immigrant Station, Ellis Island, N. Y. Harbor. (1907.)

CITY MISSION CHAPELS.Chapel of the Messiah, 206 East 95th Street. (1890.)Church of San Salvatore, 359 and 361 Broome Street (1872.)Chapel of St Priscilla, 130 Stanton Street. (1833.)St. Barnabas’ Chapel, 304 Mulberry Street. (1861.)St. Cyprian’s Chapel, 175 and 177 West 63d Street. (1905.)Chapel of Christ the Consoler, Bellevue Hospital. (1831.)Chapel of the Good Shepherd, Blackwell’s Island. (1861.)Chapel of Grace, Milford Haven, Milford, Conn. (1904.)

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Charles P. Tinker would soon assume the position of Chaplain to the Branch Workhouseand the New York City Reformatory on Hart’s Island. He was also assigned the additional post of Chaplain to Fordham Hospital. Tinker had been a Methodist ministerfor nerely seventeen years, serving lastly at the Cornell Methodist Episcopal Church on76th Street from 1899 –1907. In 1908 he was confirmed in the Episcopal Church byBishop Greer and began the process of becoming a priest of that communion. He wasordained to the priesthood in 1909. His term on Hart Island would begin with somehardship.

The following article appeared in the May 5, 1908 New York Times under the heading“He Dug His Own Grave”. It is a terribly sad tale that speaks to the stresses born by theinmates who spent their days in prison digging the trenches in the Potter’s Field.

“When the body of William J. O’Neil was brought from Hart’s Island to the morgue last night it was learned that the man had committed suicide by throwing himselffrom the third story of the prison. He was despondent because of having to serve time.”

“O’Neil probably dug his own grave. Prisoners at Hart’s Island are employed at digging trenches on the Island, each trench with a capacity for 150 bodies, to be used as aPotter’s Field.”

“This one’s for me, he said to a companion the other day, as he scraped away the dirt in one of the trenches. After services on Sunday he threw himself into the trenchfrom the third tier of cells.”

Chaplain Tinker’s annual report follows.

The Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island 1907-1908

A simple enough word –Workhouse; not so! For more ideas cluster around it thanaround the name of any other institution we know.

The term Workhouse, as used at Hart’s Island, signifies all of the following things: A home for the aged and infirm, the last shelter for worn-out and run-out criminals, anasylum for imbeciles, home for destitute cripples, professional wanderers’ winter quarters, hospital for the self-afflicted, temporary pound for despoiled veterans, retreatfor the cure of the drug habit, inebriate asylum, home for wife-beaters, suicides’ rest and hotel for the constitutionally tired. Many more conditions are represented, but perhapsthis list will suffice. And all of these masquerade under the technical charge of vagrancyor disorderly conduct, for which the Workhouse is the penalty.

But the enumeration of this motley throng should not conceal the fact that a few choicespirits are found here. While the average of both morals and intelligence is extremelylow—many being content to live like brutes—these rare exceptions are well worthy ofthe most careful and painstaking ministry. And there is a remnant of the image of God inall.

The province here of the Chaplain has been as various as the conditions named. Whenan old soldier has been robbed and arrested because he had no visible means of support, itis usually easy to place the man in a Grand Army Home. If it be a Confederate veteranthe task is harder, owing to the poverty of the South and the scarcity of Homes there. Butthe case needs only to be a little widely known and some offer is speedily made. The

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method is usually to advertise the need in some journal near where the man in questionhas lived. Northern associations provide promptly and well for these men, and the subjectusually gives instructions as to the best solution of the matter.

Two months ago a victim of the cocaine habit was discharged after serving a sixmonths’ term. He had requested to be arrested in order to get beyond the reach of thedrug, and had apparently broken the power of his evil habit during a six months’ confinement. Investigation showed that he was from one of the most aristocratic familiesof a large Eastern city, that he had graduated from Harvard University, had entered theMedical School and begun a very brilliant record of scholarship. At length he read thestory of “Sherlock Holmes,” and for sport imitated his drug habit, using a fraction of a grain per day. Bythe time he reached Hart’s Island he was consuming 125 grains per day, which only a giant constitution like his could stand. But he was reduced almost to thestate of an imbecile. A more pitiful specimen of humanity it would be hard to find. Sixmonths were spent with us without the use of any drug; his intellect became normalagain, and at last accounts one of his old college chums—an editor of a metropolitanjournal—had taken him under his personal care, and so far as we know he has not sincefallen. His ambition was to gather his long lost family about him in a happy home.

Among our vagrants there is often found a man who has formerly possessed largeproperties; some who have been highly cultured in art, science and music; some whohave been skilled mechanics; and others who, although indolent because lacking inaggressive qualities, have most amiable dispositions, and do a great deal toward makingthese conditions of living bearable.

Our Workhouse population varies greatly with the seasons. The maximum census isthat of mid-winter, when it runs up to about 800, and in summer it falls below 200. Ofthis number, about one-eighth is young men of the pickpocket class and another one-eighth is addicted to strong drink or has been arrested for domestic disturbances.

We have quite a family of deformed men among them, who, after serving at summerresorts for a mere living wage, return to us year by year because they have nowhere betterto go.

Not more than one-half of all our vagrants are fit to do any work worthy the name.Those who are, make ice, break stone, repair the roads, mend shoes, and work in the messhalls, dormitories and kitchens. The thirty-five women, who are housed at the oppositeend of the island from the men, are received for the use which can be made of them indoing the work of the laundry, and of the several households.

All classes meet voluntarily at the weekly Chapel services, many of them composingour choir.

Our friends will be cheered to know that the foundation for a stone Chapel of ampleproportions and Gothic style has been laid, and that before many months the religiouswork will be rendered much more efficient by virtue of this Churchly structure.

We desire to make acknowledgment to Mr. C. P. Bonnett, of New York, for hisrepeated and generous gifts of graphophone records, and to the Church Periodical Clubfor its invaluable donations.

New York City Reformatory 1907-1908

There is no conviction more certainly fixed in the minds of those set to reformcriminals, and especially incipient criminals known as misdemeanants, than thatReformatories do not in and of themselves reform. This applies not only to our city

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institutions, but also to our State reformatories. Regardless of our industrial plants,methods of punishment—mild or severe—or even the most desirable cottage plan ofdwellings, the fact remains that all these modes of treatment are inadequate apart fromthe grace of God—and that special form of God’s grace, where a man, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, sees himself as God sees him, deeply loathes his criminalqualities and turns from them forever, and gains a happy love of the good for its own sakeas a substitute for the lustful affections which dragged him down to his degradation. Andunless this more than subjective change is wrought in the misdemeanant by the mightypower of God, through no superficial process, with the consequent good conduct of awell-ordered life, we fail to believe that the Reformatory has done its work, or that it hasbegun to do its work, in a permanently effective way. On the other hand, this spiritualconversion may be largely rendered inoperative unless some reformatory methods areadded thereto. Even with all these things presupposed, every case does not resultuniformly well. And there is the greatest need for spiritual and moral culture andindustrial encouragement after the prison term has expired; hence the need for the largestand most intelligent cooperation between all the friends of the offenders and theparticular usefulness of Chaplains in our reformatory institutions.It will be remembered that the City Reformatory on Hart’s Island includes from 100 to

300 young men, the average length of whose term is three months—a term thought to beinadequate, although perhaps preferable to a longer one amid such imperfectsurroundings if better conditions can be provided by our system of parole. But it must notbe supposed that these young men— most of them under twenty—are equally guiltybefore the law or before the moral code. Now and then we have proven that an inmatehad been perfectly innocent of any offence, has kept himself pure while serving an unjustsentence, and upon release has resumed his place in the business world without specialdamage to his character or reputation. But these are extremely rare. Almost all, however,have committed comparatively light offences; while here and there a young culprit willbe found who has escaped Sing Sing only to go there later after fuller evidence has beengathered of his crimes. But we have thus far failed to find one soul among them whoseheart has not responded to genuine and affectionate interest; and some of the mostdiscouraging and apparently hopeless have been seen to turn, and, with full purpose ofheart, to undertake the long fight for a perfect manhood. And they are to-day standingwell where a few months ago they would not have had much, if any, disposition tochange their standards of living. Still, it must be confessed that only a small percentage ofthose coming to the Reformatory leave it reformed, although in time there may be solidforces at work which will reclaim them.

It has seemed vital to the authorities and to us that something more should be done tobreak the spell of degrading conversation in secret moments among the boys. And to thisend we have begun to present a Lyceum Course of carefully selected entertainments andlectures. These attractions occur on the last Saturday afternoon of each month through thewinter season, and some distinguished citizen of New York presides in turn, delivering asuitable, though brief, address. The latest discovery made in the interest of boys going outfrom us is the Harlem Home for Homeless Boys, where we have been able, through thekindness of the Superintendent, Mr. H. C. Eva, to supply a Christian home for orphanedyouths. It is reported that 80 per cent of all boys received have done well in their moraland business career afterward. Those we have sent there are still standing well. One ofour former Chaplains longed and labored for esprit du corps at the Reformatory. Now hiswork is bearing fruit. The tradition has been established, and proof is furnished that thereis concerted action in Bible study, in rebuking profanity and stories of crime among the

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boys themselves, and a pride in the after careers of the graduates. Yet much remains to bedone in this direction.

As time goes on the Chaplains are less and less inclined to exert their influence inobtaining releases for young men whose terms have not yet expired, although theMagistrates and Board of Parole are most deferential toward us when we make theappeal.

No small advance is being made in the co-operation of parents—many of whom havenot been half awake as to their responsibility for their boys. And scarcely a day goes bywithoutsome token of the fruitfulness of the Reformatory’s work. Repeatedly, a graduate calls upon the Chaplain to thank him for the “new start” which he has received, through some word of conversation or sermon. Again and again they have stopped us on theferryboat, on the streets of New York, far uptown or far downtown, on the surface linesand in the subway, and have exclaimed: “We do not look quite like we did at Hart’s, do we? Now our parents are kinder to us, and perhaps we are more faithful to them; we areslicked up a bit and have a job now; it is not all we are working for, but it will do until weearn our promotion.” One of this class of youths (who was sent to us for having too much sport with his employer’s automobile) has become chauffeur again, has saved his money,and with the help of a small mortgage has bought a motor boat, will pay off the mortgagein three months and then will be the sole owner of a small property amounting to $1,500.His lesson on the island seems to have taken complete effect.

An Alumni Association is springing up among these young men—the better element ofthem—and one has volunteered to help furnish a reading room for the youths who are yetto come there.

More than once a week some grateful parent writes from this or some other city ortown, saying: “Command me if I can ever help you in your good work at Hart’s Island.”

Within a month we have been able to return a son to his family in Chicago. The boyhas done well, is now employed by the American Express Company and, as a token ofgratitude, the father has sent a donation to the Fourth of July Entertainment Fund, whenthese boys for a brief moment are encouraged to forget all their troubles.

Business men have already offered to make openings for our graduates, and in one casea farmer in New Jersey has promised to take one of them almost any time we see fit tosend him.But the best of all “after treatment” (next to that of the lad’s own family) is the personal care of some city Rector whose church is near the boy’s home, who will personallybecome responsible for his proper moral and spiritual care and who will use some “big brother” of his Men’s Club as his friendly leader.

The Editor of the Boston Record, during a recent visit to our island, concluded hisobservations by saying: “That is the kind of work which pays.”Let the reader not forget the Building Fund of the Hart’s Island Chapel. And let it not

be forgotten that the Reformatory boys have thus far made every stone and put it in place,and they feel that the Protestant Chapel, which will soon be a thing of great honor andbeauty, is theirs.

In early 1909 the Rev. Charles William Camp joined the staff of the City MissionSociety. Rev. Charles Tinker would move on to work on the mainland at the City Prisons,and Camp began what would be a short tenure on Hart Island. Fr. Camp had been aparish priest since 1873. He served as rector of St. John’s in Kingston from 1875-1885.From 1893-1908 he had acted as Secretary for the Mutual Reserve Life InsuranceCompany. His untimely death in July 1909 led to the appointment of Edward A. Bray, a

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Lay Reader, to the institutions on Hart Island. Bray was a Presbyterian minister who hadjust been accepted as a candidate for Deacon’s and Priest’s Orders in the Episcopal Church. He had done work for the Detroit Presbytery at the McGregor Mission there. Hewould serve on Hart Island until 1915, having been granted a License to Officiate in thisdiocese by Bishop Greer in 1909. His annual reports for the City Mission Society follow.

Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island 1908-1909

The number of men at this institution changes with the seasons. During the summermonths there are from two to three hundred, in winter, from five to six hundred. Thenumber is smaller this year than for several years past. The business uplift of the countryis supposed to account for this, the men more readily finding employment. Idlenessmultiplies and gives keenness to temptation, and, no doubt, is a fruitful source of crime.Then, again, the older and less skillful of the employees are first to be discharged in dulltimes, and many of these, in their destitution and discouragement, give themselves up tothe authorities that they may find food and winter quarters. Many are homeless cripples.Other scores are weighted down with the terrible harvest, the sowing for which was donein former years; these are unable to work, and are eking out an existence, waiting for thePotter’s Field.Many are able-bodied and bright of mind, and are here for the punishmentof their crimes.

We have a hospital and a regular physician. Under his care there are at all timesbetween twenty-five and fifty persons. There are about thirty-five women at the other endof the island who are kept there for work in the laundry.

The Chaplain ministers to this varied company in many ways; he writes a great manyletters for them, does many errands, meets them personally, hears their sad tales, preachesto them every Sunday, and tells them of the Christ who is “able to save to the uttermost.” They are apparently appreciative of the efforts made to help them, and we feel that we arenot laboring in vain.

One man, who has squandered a fortune, and in so doing has wrecked body and mindand sunk to the lowest depths, wrote his aged mother in Boston that he has found a newlife in Christ, and as soon as his term expires he will come home and minister to hercomfort as long as she lives. We received a letter from his mother expressing her joy overwhat has happened. Another, who had become a common drunkard, had lost his positionand was estranged from his family, was released some time ago. Before leaving heassured me that he would endeavor to live a Christian life. I wrote to his former employerasking him to reinstate him, which he did. A few weeks ago a letter came from himsaying, “I am working at my old job, and am living with my family again, and we arevery happy.” We might mention many other such incidents, but these are sufficient toshow that “while there is life, there is hope.” We have secured employment forsome ofthe men and, as far as we know, they are doing well.

The Potter’s Field is here, and more than 161,000 are buried there. Using ourbeautiful service we bury about one hundred each week, most of whom are unknown.

Many thanks to the friends who sent us a box of Bibles! They were in great demand,and we often find the men reading them. We have had requests for many more. Themagazines are eagerly sought, and we are delighted to see a new box of them arrive.

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New York City Reformatory 1908-1909

The work was sadly interrupted this year by the death of the Rev. Mr. Camp, in July. Inthe six months of his chaplaincy he had won the love and esteem of the officers andinmates, and worthily so, for he was a pastor of rare gifts and graces. The remarkableconsecration of his fine abilities, ripe scholarship and broad experience to this peculiarand difficult task was and is an inspiration to all concerned. It has been given to but few,to see so clearly the real conditions and needs of this class of people, arid to apply withsuch dignity and simplicity that only and sufficient cure for it all—the Gospel of JesusChrist. His death was keenly felt, and his work there will not soon be forgotten.

My report must of necessity be brief and imperfect, since I have been there but a fewmonths, a part of this time as substitute.

The number of young men at this institution ranges from one hundred to three hundred,and, under a new rule, they are never committed for less than six months. A system ofnumbers is used to indicate their deportment while there, and no boy is supposed to havegained his freedom until he has eighteen hundred marks to his credit. If well behavedthey receive ten marks per day, and continued good conduct will show three hundred permonth, giving them the required eighteen hundred in six months.

Large cards, giving a list of offences and the penalties, in loss of marks, are hung aboutthe buildings, and no doubt this ever-present warning has a deterrent effect; but the youngmen work in gangs, and are thrown together in the dormitories, and, notwithstanding thefact that they are constantly under the eyes of keepers, it is not strange that theyfrequently transgress, and so lose their marks, thus extending their imprisonment, in somecases to a full year. Recently one young man lost fifteen hundred marks for a seriousoffence, and was obliged to begin over again. Last Sunday one came to tell me that hehad “had a scrap,” and would not be released in time for Christmas, but must remain another month. His “scrap” cost him three hundred marks.

During 1908 there were four hundred and ninety-six young men sentenced to theReformatory. Of these two hundred and seventy-five were Roman Catholics, one hundredand twenty-seven Hebrews, and ninety-four Protestants. Three hundred and sixteen wereborn in the United States; the remaining one hundred and eighty came from nineteendifferent countries, with Russia and Italy in the lead, the former furnishing fifty-sevenand the latter forty-four. The figures for 1909 will not vary much from those of 1908.The Chaplain spends three days per week at Hart’s Island, and a large part of this time

is devoted to the Reformatory. The services each Sunday are well attended, and theworship is apparently hearty. The singing is especially inspiring, and the beautifulservices of our church seem exactly fitted for these occasions. They are thoroughlyenjoyed. During the past few weeks twenty-one of the young men have asked that they bereceived into the Church, declaring their determination to henceforth live a “godly, righteous and sober life.”

I was interested to learn that they had formed a sort of mutual aid society amongthemselves, for the purpose of watching over and advising each other. They had a fewrules with penalties attached. Anyone guilty of blasphemy is fined a piece of bread,which is taken from his evening meal. For other offences they lose the remainder of thebread, or the coffee, or both. They are very much in earnest in all this. It is cheering tosee these boys struggling to put their better selves in control. One bright young man wholeft the institution a few weeks ago, told his parents he wanted to be a clergyman, and

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asked to be sent to college with this in view. The delighted mother wrote asking me toadvise her in the matter.

The Chaplain has secured positions for many of the young men who have left theReformatory. This is not an easy task. Six months at Hart’s Island is not an assuring commendation. We have to just about guarantee the boy, in order to get him the job. Thismay seem a little risky, but so far not one has been untrue to his pledge. We receive manyletters of appreciation from parents and employers, and from the young men themselves.These are our real compensations.

We very much need a church building. At present we worship in a room used throughthe week for the purposes of the institution, and the men do not enter this place forworship with the thoughtfulness and reverence with which they would enter a church.Irreverence is a prevailing fault here, and they sadly need the lessons that such hallowedsurroundings would afford.Here is a fine opportunity for some one to build a memorial church “to the glory of God,” and to the memory of some son or friend who has been taken to the Church that isperfect.

We acknowledge the kindness of the friends who have been sending us the boxes ofbooks and magazines, and wish to assure them that they are doing much good. We coulduse more to advantage. The friends, who sent the good things for Thanksgiving, will alsoplease accept the thanks of all who shared in the feast.

Ed.: The need for a Chapel on Hart Island had been mentioned many times before and theRev. Robert Kimber, Superintendent of the City Mission Society, would mention it againin his annual report dated November 9, 1909.“At Hart’s Island, with its Branch Workhouse and the Reformatory for first offenders, our services are held in any room that may be at our disposal. A small fund is in hand fora church, the site has been approved, the plans drawn, the foundation laid–and we havehad to stop.”

Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island 1909-1910

Our census for 1910 has ranged from 550 to 650 men and about 30 women, some ofwhom have small children with them. One child was born in the prison. Fully 60 per centof the inmates are Roman Catholics, and the balance is about equally divided betweenHebrews and Protestants. The Protestants attend the Sunday services regularly. It ispathetic to see the half-hundred or more of these lame, halt, blind and deaf trudging off tothe church service, often with locked arms, helping each other along under the leadershipof the prison keeper. Almost everything that comes under the head of misfortune isrepresented—one-legged, one-armed, one-eyed, even some with no legs or arms andsome totally blind. Some are positively loathsome because of their wretched lives, andare an awful illustration of that text, “The wages of sin is death.” Most of these poor fellows are homeless and friendless and penniless. They have lost all hope and aspiration.What can be done for them more than to provide board, rough clothing and a place tosleep, and then to bury them at last? The world has said that this is all that can be done.Has the Church any message or relief for them? Is Paul’s Gospel of dynamite sufficientto arouse them and shatter the scales from their eyes? Can they “as brands be plucked from the burning”? Was it of such as these that Jude wrote, “Some save, with fear, snatching them out of the fire”? I believe Amos, the prophet, had such poor wrecks in

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mind when he wrote, “As a shepherd rescueth out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall Israel he rescued.”In the full belief that “He is able to save to the uttermost,”the Chaplain has constantly

assured these outcasts that they are wayward children, and that God loves them and willstheir salvation. And we have not labored in vain. Just recently we were telling one ofthem of the “unsearchable riches of grace,” and assuring him that he might sharein it all,and he tremblingly responded by saying, “It is pretty nice to think He did all this for the likes of me. I would like to love Him back”; and we have good reason to think he is doing so. It was quite another type of man who came a few weeks agoto say, “Christ has found me, and I have found Christ.” This man was one of the shrewdest gamblers and crooks in New York. He knows all about the inside workings of the “under world,” and he assures us that when he leaves prison he will, by the grace of God, devote his life to the rescuingof his associates. We believe that he will be a good and valuable citizen in the days tocome, and that we shall hear good things of him. Such instances, and there are manymore of them, are very cheering, and do much to offset the very much that is depressingand discouraging.

The friends who sent the good things at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas time dida great deal of good. One old fellow said: “Well, they haven’t forgotten us, have they?”The Church Periodical Club has helped us very much. We can use two or three hundredgood magazines per week. We hope the supply will be continued and increased.

During this year, using the beautiful committal services of our Church, we have buried5,483 in the Potter’s Field. This is about one in every ten who died in New York.

We have written hundreds of letters in the interest of the prisoners, found employmentfor many, cared for the homeless ones, clothed some of them, and ministered to theirgood in many other ways as they requested and as we have been able to do.

The officials have been very cordial and have done much to make the task agreeable.Miss Baxter, the new organist, is deeply interested and is very helpful. Including thework at Fordham Hospital, we have made more than ten thousand visits during this year.All this has kept us very busy, but we have enjoyed it and find comfort in the thought thatpossibly some good has been done.

New York City Reformatory 1909-1910

More than five hundred young men, between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five, havebeen committed to the Reformatory during 1910. The number present at any one time isabout two hundred and ten. These young men are sentenced for what are regarded as thelesser crimes. Many are sent away by their parents as being incorrigible. A large numberare accused of petit larceny; for example, one is there for stealing a bottle of milk thatsells for nine cents, and he was a poor little half-starved waif. Others are committed forwhat might be called “boyish capers.” The last Protestant boy that went there, not more than sixteen years old, told me that he was “sent up for six months for putting soap on the track.” He explained that he put soap on the street-car track just for fun. He declared thatit was his first offence, and he thought his treatment pretty severe. If his story is true allright-minded people will sympathize with him.

Some of the inmates are very bad boys; a very small percentage might he classed asvicious. They are sentenced for six months, provided they behave well during that time.

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By misbehavior they may lengthen this term to three years.At present there is no method of classification in use, and all grades of character work

and live together. All those concerned think this is a grave mistake, and we are glad toknow that plans are under way to remedy this difficulty.The Branch Workhouse, with fully three hundred inmates, is also situated at Hart’s

Island at present. The young men of the Reformatory are often brought into close touchwith these older and more hardened criminals, which is anything but helpful to the boys.For instance, the Workhouse men may use tobacco in any form, and as freely as theywish; but if an inmate of the Reformatory is caught using the weed in any fashion heloses 300 marks, which means another month in prison. The older men do not hesitate toslyly hand out a cigarette to the boys, and in this way get them into trouble. This is onlyone of many ways in which the Workhouse demoralizes the Reformatory. Plans arebeing made for fine new buildings for the Reform School. It is expected that they will becompleted in three years, and it is to be hoped that when the new home is finished theWorkhouse will be removed and the entire island be devoted to the Reformatory.

A new industrial building has just been completed, where tailoring; carpentering,plumbing, painting, cement work and electricity are to be taught.

Until within a couple of months there was but one school teacher on the island. Nowthere are three teachers, and, largely through the energy of Mr. Moore, the overseer,much attention is being given to school work. These improvements will mean much tothe young men in the future.

The Chaplain has enjoyed a very busy year, working in many ways for the temporaland eternal good of the young men. We hold two services each Sunday, one at 10:30A.M. and another at 1 P.M. These services are for all prisoners who wish to come. Theattendance has been good. So far as we know every Protestant on the island attends whencirc*mstances will permit. The worship is apparently hearty, and the singing is alwaysinspiring and lusty. The preaching is always in the nature of a heart-to-heart talk. Thevisible results have not been as abundant as we had hoped for, but they have beensufficient to give us encouragement. We have assisted about fifty young men, on theirleaving the Reformatory, by “signing” for them; that is, becoming responsible for thosewho are homeless and friendless, and by providing board and lodgings for many of them;and when necessary getting them clothes, that they may look and feel respectable; and,most difficult of all, finding employment for them. The parents and courts that,seemingly, are so ready to send young men to prison, have not sufficiently considered theburden they are putting upon these young lives—a burden that handicaps them as long asthey live, not because the young men are less fit to face the world and make good, butbecause the business and social world cast them out as evil.

In accepting any favors from the Chaplain the young men promise to be true, and tolive honorable lives, and, to the credit of the young men, it is our joy to say that less thanten per cent have failed to keep their promises.

Once again the Rev. Robert Kimber speaks about Hart Island in this annual report datedNovember 9, 1910 and makes an appeal to churchman everywhere for support of thework done by the City Mission Society. Here is an excerpt from that report.

The city sends its first offenders, under thirty years of age, to the Reformatory onHart’s Island, at the mouth of Long Island Sound. Their offences are largely those ofhomelessness and misdirected energy; they are not criminals at heart. They are thereunder an indeterminate sentence by which they may earn their release in three months, orstay until its expiration at the end of three years. These boys are our greatest care. They

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earn their parole and return to the city to face life under the old conditions, unless we givethem the needed help. Lodgings must be supplied, and proper clothing to enable them tomake a good appearance when seeking for work. These chances for positions must alsobe found for them. They must be watched over and counseled. I would that we had themeans to do more of it, for in such cases as we have helped we have yet to find any abuseof our confidence.

This must be more to you than a report of work done, because if it be the Church’s work, you, as the Church’s representatives, are responsible for its maintenance.

If your hearts are touched—as they must be touched—by the records of the unselfishministry of our clergy and other workers to those who many times have no other friends,you must express such emotion in the form of visible support, by making it your personalresponsibility to see that individuals and parishes assume their proportionate share of thecost of this work to those whom our Blessed Lord said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island 1910-1911

There are about 500 inmates in the Branch Workhouse. Forty of these are women, threeof whom have children with them. There are fifty young men in the Reformatory of theWorkhouse, who are known as the “boys in black” because they wear darkclothes, whilethe young men in the Reformatory of misdemeanants wear light clothes and are known asthe “greys.” The two reform schools are distinct and separate and under different management. Why there are two reform schools seems to be hard to explain.

Of the 400 men in the Workhouse, fully half are aged and infirm. They are notcriminals as a rule, but simply “down and out” and it would be more fitting to send themto the Alms-house than to prison. Many of them are cripples, and are unable to make aliving. Several have lost both legs and many have but one. One has lost both arms andone has a broken neck and partial paralysis of one side. His head is held in place byseveral leather straps. He is not a criminal but a persistent beggar and is sent here to keephim off the street. Scores are homeless and penniless and friendless. Most of these poorold derelicts are the victims of the drink habit. The wives of some of them have sent themhere for non-support. The earnings all go to the saloon. One of such met me and told mehow mean and ungrateful his wife was to send him away. He said he “always used her well—never beat her in his life. All he ever did was to slap her mouth once in a while andyet she handed him this lemon.” The truth is that they have four children whom the wifemust support. They are Irish Roman Catholics and I have informed the priest of theirparish of their difficulties.

One went home a few weeks ago who was sent here for drunkenness. He had lost hisposition. The little home was gone and the family scattered. We supplied him withclothes and assured him that the Church was doing it for him; that God loved him andwould help him. After some persuasion he lifted his hand and took a solemn oath in thepresence of witnesses that he would never touch rum again. His wife wrote me that hehad reached home safely and that they had rented a little home in which they had spentChristmas together. She said that though they had but little it was the happiest Christmasthey ever saw.

I have asked many to take a similar pledge, and so far as I know not one have broken it.The pledge includes private and family prayer and membership in some church withfaithful attendance. This is the only hope for these poor wrecks. Not all will take such a

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pledge, but those who do surely win. Another man, who had been out of prison for abouta year, stopped me in the street last week to tell me that he is getting $18 per weekdriving an express wagon. He assured me that he is keeping his pledge and that he issaving a little money each week.

The attendance at the religious services here is quite good. Only a few of theProtestants fail to come at least some of the time. We have wonderful singing, and theinterest in all the services is encouraging. We need a church badly. We worship in adingy room which during the week is used for purposes of the prison. We keenly feel thedisadvantage of this. Will not someone read the fifth verse of the seventh chapter of St.Luke and be inspired thereby?

The Potters Field is also here, and during the year we have buried between 5,000 and6,000. Ours is the only service held here.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were brightened and made really memorable to theprisoners by the treat furnished by the Society. It was pathetic to watch the old men reachfor the paper of tobacco and the box of candy, and to note how much they were prized.

Notwithstanding the many discouragements, we have enjoyed ministering to theseunfortunates, and we have done our best to help them in many ways.

The New York City Reformatory 1910-1911

The Reformatory is perhaps the most important institution of the Department ofCorrection, and the officials of the department realize this as never before. They areplanning more generously and more wisely each year to meet the need and theopportunity. With a view of making useful citizens of the young men committed here, theauthorities have provided industrial classes for them in several branches—electricity,plumbing, carpentering, tinsmithing, tailoring, shoe-repairing, painting, bricklaying,printing and cement work. The boys are required to attend school daily. Four teachers areemployed for purely scholastic work. Singing lessons are given every evening by one ofthe inmates, military exercises every morning from 7:30 to 8 o’clock. From 6:45 to 8:00P.M. the boys are permitted to use the library. There is a fife and drum corps of abouttwenty, supplemented by cornets. This corps furnishes music for the calisthenics everyevening for fifteen minutes. Most of the above helpful exercises have been introducedduring the past year, largely through the persistent efforts of the Overseer, Mr. Moore.

Five hundred and ninety young men were admitted to the Reformatory during the year.The average number present at any one time was about 295—25 per cent more than lastyear. The average age of these boys is about twenty, and they are nearly all committed forfirst offences. For the first time in their lives they feel the strong grip of the law uponthem, and realize that when self-control and parental counsel fail, the Reformatory isprovided as the stern substitute for both. We have been present when many of them havearrived at the Overseer’s office, where their names are enrolled, their pocketssearched,all their belongings taken from them, and they are given the numbers by which they areto be known while in the Reformatory, and they receive their first lesson in the firmdiscipline of the institution. A few of them face this ordeal with surly frowns, but most ofthem, with moistened eyes, seem to be dazed at the reality of it all. One boy expressed hisview of the situation by saying to his chum: “We are up against it here, Joe. It doesn’t pay.”

The importance of the Reformatory lies in the fact that the inmates are young, and withproper treatment may be restored to right ways of thinking and living. Of course we

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believe that the only real and abiding reformation is accomplished by bringing the youngmen into fellowship with God. The Chaplain has been persistent along this line, and theresults have been gratifying. At Christmas time, while distributing the oranges, candy andother things to the boys, I told them that God had given them these things through HisChurch and that He had given them also His “Unspeakable Gift.” When I asked themwhat acceptable gift they might give to God, several said, “Our hearts,” and when I asked how many would then and there give Him their hearts and surrender their lives to Hisservice, every young man responded by lifting his hand. If serious faces and suffusedeyes are heart expression, no one could doubt their sincerity. So far as I know, not asingle boy who definitely surrendered his life to God’s service has failed to make good. Many letters and messages from those who are again meeting life’s struggles out in theworld tell of good positions held by the boys, who are now faithful workers. A few daysago one stopped the Chaplain on the street to tell him of his success. He pointed withpride to a fine automobile of which he said he had charge, receiving $30 a week. Anotherwent up the state to work on a dairy farm. Lately a letter came from the farmer, in whichhe wrote of the young man’s good character and his satisfactorywork.

Such encouraging reports make the work at the Reformatory more interesting perhapsthan that in any other institution. Certainly these results are worth working for.

(Ed.) The Sacramental Registers of Burial for this City Mission Society show entries in1910 for the Potter’s Field similar to those found in some of theearlier books. Here is onesuch entry for the mass burials on the Island:

July 24, 1910 190 Surname unknown;Cem. Hart’s Island; E. A. Bray

Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island1911-1912

Affairs at the Branch Workhouse have been much the same as last year, except thatthere has been a change of wardens. Warden Kane has been transferred to the RaymondStreet jail in Brooklyn, and Mr. Jones, formerly at the Tombs, and Mr. Walker are now incharge. The new men bring to the task many years of experience in this kind of work, andwe are hoping that the old efficiency will be maintained and even higher standard ofexcellence reached.

The average number of inmates during the year has been 550, of whom about fifty arewomen. These women have quarters in a separate building at the head of the Island, andthey do the laundry work for the institution. There are about one hundred of the youngermen in the Reform School of the Workhouse. This institution is entirely distinct from the“Reformatory of the City of New York,” which is domiciled in near-by buildings. Itwould be difficult to explain why we have two reform schools on the same island, butsuppose there must be some good reason for it.

In the Branch Workhouse proper there, are three hundred or more men of all sorts andconditions; many of them old or crippled and unable to make a living. Some of these arethere at their own request, and they have asked to be sent there because they have nobetter place to go. But few of the number have criminal tendencies, and we hope the timewill come soon when these unfortunate fellows shall receive more humane treatment atthe hands of the city. We are glad to notice an improvement recently in the prisoners’

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rations, corn beef hash and prunes having been added three times a week to the formerfare. The old men inmates are all very fond of tobacco, and beg the Chaplain to bring it tothem, which he would gladly do much more often than he is now able if he had themoney to buy it.

It is pathetic, yet inspiring, too, to see these poor derelicts marching to church. Theyrange in ages from twenty to eighty years—“the lame, the halt and the blind.” They apparently attend services because they want to, as they are not obliged to come, and agreat many of them come to both morning and afternoon services. Many of them whocannot see to read are given glasses by the Chaplain; and in the services they are providedwith Prayer Book and Hymnal. They sing heartily and respond earnestly. Many of themare members of the Church and they seem to greatly enjoy the privilege of worship.

There is a well-equipped hospital in connection with this institution, and a residentphysician.

The Potter’s Field is on the Island, in which nearly two hundred thousand are buried. Using our Committal Service, the Chaplain buries about one hundred each week, andours is the only service conducted there.

In looking over the year’s work in the Workhouse we find comfort in the belief that real good has resulted. It is a difficult task, but a necessary one. The Sunday services andthe week-day ministrations of the Chaplain seem to be the only bits of light that penetratethe gloomy grind of existence for these poor unfortunates.

The New York City Reformatory 1911-1912

This institution has been crowded to its utmost capacity during the entire year. It wasbuilt to accommodate about two hundred and fifty inmates and its census has reached thehigh mark of 350, creating conditions both unsanitary and exceedingly difficult to handle.The startling statement has been made that if there were sufficient room there would soonbe a thousand young men there. This is really alarming. This institution, as a mirror, isreflecting the home, school and church life of the city; and it is discouraging to think thatthere are so many young men and boys of this type. Petit larceny, truancy, night-longrevelry, refusal to work, and incorrigibility are the principal offences for which boys arecommitted, and we are told that all these are rapidly increasing. When we ask the reasonfor the increase we are told that absence from church and Sunday-school, nightlyattendance at the cheap moving picture shows, the lure of low resorts, and the prevailinguse of cocaine and other drugs will account for a large part of it. To these must be addedthe lack of substantial moral training in the homes and in the public schools. The Bibleand the restraints of religion have been set aside and this sickening harvest is the result.

There have been many improvements introduced recently at the Reformatory, and wecan feel that through the various agencies the institution is of real constructive value tothe young men sent there. The Chaplain has found much to encourage him in his workthere. The boys are not there long before they realize the seriousness of the situation theyface, and are quite willing to listen to good counsel. They are eager to attend the religiousservices, and are very hearty in their singing and their responses. The many moistenedeyes tell of the memories that are awakened and the deep regrets that are felt as therealization of the stern facts presses upon them. It is cheering to find so many of themseeking personal interviews with the Chaplain. In our week-day visits to the Island we

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usually meet by appointment from five to fifteen, and hear from them frank confessions,stories which are revelations of pitiable conditions in homes, churches and communities.How much we need a real reawakening of religious life in our homes and churches!These individual talks bring us into close personal touch with the boys, and enable us towork to great advantage.

We hold two services each Sabbath—one in the morning at ten-thirty, and one in theafternoon at one o’clock. The morning service is as formal as it is practicable to make it, but the afternoon service is freer. We sing and pray and, after a brief talk, we invite anyone present to come forward to speak to the Chaplain and make any requests he maydesire.

Possibly the best service we are able to render to these young men is upon their releasefrom the institution. Many of them are homeless and friendless, and they reach New Yorkon the evening boat, often without a cent in their pockets, and with no place to turn to butthe old resorts. We meet many of them, provide a suitable temporary shelter, see that theyhave such clothing as they need for a new start in life and secure positions at work forthem as quickly as possible. We send as many as we can out of the city to work on thefarms; and it is encouraging that, with comparatively few exceptions, those we help inthis way make good. The many letters and other expressions of appreciation which wereceive are among the rich rewards of such service.

If any friend reading this is interested, and desires to share in this work by helping toprovide thus for any one of these friendless ones, such service will be greatly appreciated.

We have been focusing on the missionary work on Hart Island, but the work alsocontinued at the other public institutions as well. Many of the burials in the Potter’s Field were clients of these other institutions and the sacramental registers record, by name,many of those who died in these other institutions; among them the Home for the Agedand Infirm on Blackwell’s Island.

An article from the October 18, 1911 New York Times is well worth citing here; its title,“City’s Aged Poor at New Cathedral”.

Ninety-nine of the city’s poor journeyed yesterday afternoon from the New York Home for the Aged and Infirm on Blackwell’s Island, to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, at the special invitation of Bishop Greer.

After the service consecrating the Cathedral was finished on June 11th last BishopGreer took several of the young clergymen who had been ordained at the service to visitthe city’s poor on Blackwell’s Island.In the little Chapel of the Good Shepherd on theIsland he held another service and told the congregation that the Cathedral belonged tothem as much as to any of the people of New York. [Ed. This June 11th service wasactually a service at which priests and deacons were ordained; the Cathedral hadalready been consecrated on April 19th. Alas, the Times got that fact wrong. This practiceof taking new deacons to Blackwell’s Island on Trinity Sunday following their ordination had been begun by Bishop Potter.]

He is quoted as saying ‘I wish you could all see it…Then he cried, you shall see it. You shall all go over and have a special service there’. It was this service that was held yesterday.

There were 55 men and 44 women, most of them near the end of life, in the party.They were taken from Blackwell’s Island on the city boat Lowell to the foot of 116th

Street, and thence by trolley to 109th and Columbus Avenue, where they were met bythree big stages and the city’s transfer ambulance, which carried the feeblest.

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The Bishop’s sermon showed his strong feeling that the Cathedral is the church of all people. “I wanted you to come here not only to see the Cathedral and hear the sweet strains of music, but I wanted to show you that it is as much your Cathedral as it is theCathedral of any one in the city or diocese.”

The Bishop continued, “I want you to have peace, even in sorrow and privation. The older of you may think life is all behind you, but it is not so my dear friends; the bestof all is before you in the world beyond. If we realize that we cannot fall out of the armsof God it will give us peace and happiness and joy in our lives, and I wish to force thissimple and profound truth in to the hearts of every one of you.”

Chapel of the Good Shepherd, Blackwell’s Island 1912

Continuing now with the annual reports of Edward Bray:

Branch Workhouse 1912-1913

A very large majority of those in the Branch Workhouse are foreigners or of foreignparentage, about fifty of whom are women between the ages of twenty and eighty years.In the reform school there are usually seventy-five young men between twenty andtwenty-five years of age, and the balance of the inmates, of whom there are about fivehundred and fifty, are men above twenty-five years, some as old as eighty-five. Thesepeople are of all classes and conditions—the lame, the halt, the blind, the incompetent,the vagrant, the drunkard, and if there be any other classes of unfortunates they too arerepresented in this motley company. During this year we have had with us three lawyers,one of whom is a graduate of Columbia Law School. For years he was a vestryman in oneof the Protestant Episcopal churches of New York City. A series of unfortunatecirc*mstances led him to seek relief by the use of opiates, which soon unbalanced hismind, shattered his nerves and brought him down to vagrancy and a term in prison. Hefelt his disgrace very keenly. He was a constant attendant at the Sabbath services and wasapparently a devout worshipper. He is out now and is trying earnestly to make an honestliving.

Another interesting case was that of a big fellow, six feet two inches tall, broad-shouldered and lusty, a graduate of one of our great universities, and said to be the bestfootball player on their team. He is the son of a clergyman and by profession is a miningengineer. I was told that when he behaved himself and attended to business he couldmake $25,000 a year as an expert in his profession. He was always at the Sabbath

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services, and often spoke of the kindness of the Church in providing services and otherhelp for the distressed. He promised to live a manly life henceforth and to do what hecould to help others do the same. He is in South America now, apparently doing well.

A man said to be the only one living with a broken neck spent six months here duringthe past year. His head is held in place by leather straps. He was arrested for begging. Heis not a criminal and has no criminal instincts. John Kenny, a blind man, is now with us.Some time ago he asked me if I could get him the Gospel of St. John in Moon Print type.A letter to the New York Bible Society, stating the case, brought two large volumescontaining the precious gospel in raised type. When these were presented to him oneSunday morning at the service, it was pathetic to see him put his arms around them and tohear him say, “And these are mine. I shall enjoy reading them while I am here. Thankyou! Thank you!”

Another man has had both legs cut off close to the hips. He was trying to make a livingselling trinkets, and declares he could get along if the police would not persecute him. Hewants some clothes when he gets out, and when he was asked the size he said, “Any length pants will do, and I will never have to press them, for they will never bag at theknee.”

The work among these poor fellows is interesting, and it is to be hoped, helpful. Therequests for help are innumerable and various. The Chaplain has to be preacher, pastor,adviser, clothier, tobacconist, labor bureau, go-between, errand boy and many more if heresponds to all the calls. Some of these unfortunates are low-lived and beastly, and arevicious and ungrateful, but most of them are very appreciative of what the Church isdoing for them.At the Potter’s Field here, where nearly two hundred thousand are buried, two burial

services are held each week, using our Committal Service. About one hundred andtwenty-five are buried every week, and ours is the only service held here.

New York City Reformatory 1912-1913

The Reformatory was built to accommodate 240 inmates. During the year the censushas reached the high point of 370, and at the present time the institution isaccommodating 325 boys. Of these, 52 are Protestants, about the same number areHebrews, and the remaining 220 are Roman Catholics.

The work with the young men has been especially encouraging and enjoyable this year,and has yielded some inspiring results. So far as I know, every Protestant boy who hasbeen paroled this year is at work and is trying to make good. This is more than I havebeen able to report in any previous year, and is a much better showing than can be madeby the Workhouse. It has been said that 70 per cent of the people who profess Christ werebrought into the Church before they were twenty years of age, 15 per cent between theages of twenty and thirty, 10 per cent between thirty and forty, 4 per cent between fortyand fifty, and only one per cent after fifty years of age. It has likewise been declared that90 per cent of all clergymen were converted before they were twenty years old, and thatthis is also true of 75 per cent of all Sunday school teachers, and 80 per cent of lay churchofficials. The work with the boys and young men at the Reformatory thus assumes anextra importance, and in all the varied work of our City Mission Society we believe thatnone is of greater value than this. These boys constitute a most interesting and responsiveparish. Many of them have had the most unfortunate home training possible. And afterseeing something of these things, we marvel that the boys are as manly and as good as

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they are. They are for the most part kind and thoughtful of one another, as is witnessed byan incident which happened a few days ago. One of the boys was leaving the institution,and his clothes, which were the same ragged outfit he wore at the time he was arrested,were very shabby and disreputable. One of the other boys offered him his suit, saying thathe did not wish to see him go out looking so shabby, and declaring that he could getalong without the suit all right. This is extra biblical, and this same generous spirit isshown when visiting parents and friends of the boys bring them fruit on visiting days.Invariably the boys share their treat with their friends and neighbors, and seem to beproud to play the host.

One boy, who has just passed his seventeenth birthday, has twenty-one burglarycharges against him. At the time he was sentenced to the Reformatory, one of our goodbusiness men was present and spoke kindly to him. The lad never forgot it, and spoke tome about it several times. A month ago this busy business man found time to write to theboy and invite him to come to his office as soon as he was released. He said he had aposition for him, and would he glad to advise with me from time to time. The little fellowis an orphan, and is wonderfully proud of his friend. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then Jehovah will take me up,” and God is doing it through this good friend. What clubs and uniforms, harsh tones and forced obedience utterly failed to do, thesewarm rays of timely friendship will do perfectly. This boy already thinks of his past lifewith horror, and is looking to the days to come with a new conception of life. He willmake good.

The Chaplain will be glad to come in touch with any other person who might beinterested in taking one of these boys into his thought and care, and in helping to savehim to good citizenship and to life eternal.

Branch Workhouse 1913-1914

From four to six hundred inmates in the Branch Workhouse furnish a field of labor thathas its own peculiar difficulties and disappointments—and also encouragements. Most ofthese men are past middle life and are hardened in their habits and in their conceptions oflife. It is hardly necessary to say that their habits are far from the best, and theirconceptions of life are meager.

They are mostly terrible examples of loose early training, or no training at all. Theyhave lived in an atmosphere that is almost pagan. They have kept aloof from Sunday-schools and Churches and all worship. They seem to be as ignorant of Christian teachingsas the Hottentot could be.

In our Sabbath Services the inmates of the Reformatory sit on one side of the room andthose of the Workhouse on the other side. Last Sunday we asked the Workhouse fellowshow many of them had ever read the Bible through, and only one could respond in theaffirmative. Only two or three had ever considered themselves members of a church, andjust a few said they were accustomed to pray. How well this explains their presentcondition!

Work among them is by no means fruitless. A good many have been induced to begin alife of prayer and this soon brings hope and cheer. Some have pledged themselves to stopdrinking rum, and in a few cases they have been true to their pledges. More often, we areafraid, they have failed and many of them have returned again and again to theInstitution. Trying to overcome some particular sin is praiseworthy, but if they succeed in

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this there is so much remaining that is weak and vile to enthrall them that the struggleseems endless and hopeless. The Gospel with its “clean heart and renewed spirit” is the only cure.

We are trying to be faithful in preaching these great truths from week to week.The preaching must be of the most simple and direct type. Real heart to heart talksproduce the best results. Last Sunday one of the women prisoners came to tell me that shewas going out the next day. She said she had attended every service since she entered,and that she had been richly blessed, and was going home determined to live a godly life.Many similar cases give us cheer and hope.

Many of these poor people ask little favors of us. They want glasses, or care for a nightor two, or clothing. We wish our friends would give generously to the “Ex-ConvictFund,” and so enable us to assist them as they go out to face the world again.

The census is about the same as last year, and is from four to six hundred. About fiftyare women.In Potter’s Field we have buried each week about one hundred and twenty-five of the

unknown and unclaimed, making six thousand five hundred during the year. The adultsare buried in trenches that hold fifty each. In the trenches for the children there may beas many as two hundred and fifty in a trench.

The New York City Reformatory 1913-1914

There are at present four hundred and ninety young men in the Reformatory, of whom*only seventy-four are Protestants, one hundred and five are Hebrews, and theremainder—over three hundred—are Roman Catholics. This large census is an increaseof more than one hundred per cent, in five years, and is all out of proportion to theincrease in the population of the city. Whether this is the result of a stricter enforcementof the law, or indicates a downward trend in morals it is hard to say. On one regularweekly visit to the institution we talked, by appointment, with a number of the boys,among whom was a newcomer pitifully wrecked by the use of drugs. This led to aconversation in this connection, and we asked each one how many of his acquaintanceshe knew to be in the habit of using “dope” as they call it. We found that these nine young men could tell of one hundred and ten other young men of their acquaintance whom theyknew to use drugs in some form or other. This is astounding and if it indicates a generalsituation threatens to swamp all insane asylums and penal institutions. CommissionerDavis has been dealing this traffic some body blows, and there is a marked improvementin the institutions of the department. Smuggling “dope” in to inmates has now become a difficult and dangerous undertaking. I have been told that many children acquire the drughabit early, due partly to the fact that their parents give them opiates in infancy to quietthem, and this, when continued, develops the habit. Whether or not this can be consideredas one of the sources of this wide-spread evil, the fact remains that the census of thisinstitution shows the enormous increase already stated, in five years—and that theproportion of the boys coming there who use drugs is distressing.

Petit larceny is the most common charge against the inmates of the Reformatory, andthis is often allied with the use of drugs as the boys think lightly of stealing to get asupply of the desired “dope.” The six months or more spent in the Reformatory is veryhelpful to these poor victims. Total abstinence from its use and a course of treatmentprescribed by the physician, as well as the moral and religious influences brought to bearupon them by the Chaplain, has its effect, and when the boys go out it is usually with a

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new standard for life and a resolution to keep straight and make good.We have enjoyed the Reformatory work this year. It has been mostly with the

Protestant boys, and besides what we can do in the regular Sunday services and in theweekly visits we have been able to do additional service in finding jobs for some of theboys when they leave the institution, providing temporary shelter when they have nohomes to turn to, or getting a good appearance in applying for a job. With very fewexceptions these boys make good after leaving.

A few days ago we lunched in one of the largest of Childs restaurants, and when wewent to pay for it we were warmly greeted by a young man, the cashier, who is faithfullyfilling this position of trust. He is one of our graduates. The same day we went into one ofthe stores of a large drug corporation, and a bright young fellow came to shake hands andto tell us of his position with this firm. He said he had saved five hundred dollars since hegot the position, and this is another of our graduates. Later in the same day, when on ourway home with a friend, we met another of our boys delivering groceries for one of theBroadway stores, and he was very proud to tell us that he had worked for that firm eversince he left the Reformatory. To meet three such cases in one day is an inspiration. Afew of the boys have failed and returned to the old life; one or two have been quitetroublesome. At least ninety per cent are doing well—and to feel that we have had a littlepart in producing such results is no small joy.

The young men are faithful in attending Sunday services while on the Island. Many ofthem are good singers and they enjoy the church music. One of the features of theservices is the soulful congregational singing. The New York Bible Society has suppliedus with the Scriptures in several languages, and many of the inmates who have not readthe Book for years, and some who have never read it, have opened the Bible. This hasbeen very helpful. We need a chapel. Our services are held in a dingy hall that is used forall sorts of purposes during the week. This is a real handicap to us. We have a finelocation selected for a little building, and are anxious to hear of some one who will builda memorial to the memory of some lover of God’s poor, and for the glory of God.

The following photo of the City Reformatory, as taken from the 1913-1914 annual reportabove is captioned as follows:

THE CITY REFORMATORY, HART’S ISLANDHere boys are trained for trades, citizenship and music, its large brass band numbering

nearly one hundred skilled musicians

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There has been frequent mention of the need for a Chapel on Hart Island, butneeds existed elsewhere as well. On Ward’s Island where 5,000 patients could be foundin the Manhattan State Hospital for the Insane, the Rev. Frederic White held services for300 each Sunday in an amusem*nt hall.

The Rev. Charles Tinker, who was now superintendent of the City MissionSociety, along with his board, decided to build a Chapel on Ward’s Island for these patients. The Altar Guild of the City Mission Society raised the necessary funds. FromFr. White’s 1914-1915 annual report we read that the chapel was consecrated by BishopGreer on the Friday following Easter day 1915; its name, the Chapel of Our Saviour. Hewas assisted in the communion service by Bishop Burch and Bishop Courtney. In thechancel, together with the Bishops, were Dean Grosvenor, Canon Nelson, ArchdeaconPott, the Rev. William Thomas Manning, the Rev. Charles Tinker, and a goodly numberof the chaplains of the City Mission.

Fr. White continues, “This year has been remarkable for the number of new buildings erected on the island. A new home for nurses…and two new buildings that will accommodate 500 more patients…are almost completed…I think I have every reason to feel encouraged at the way the work has prospered this past year.”

Chapel of Our Saviour, Ward’s Island

In what would be the last annual report of the Rev. Edward Bray on Hart Island we read:

Branch Workhouse 1914-1915

William T., who has been in and out of the Workhouse at least twice each year since Ihave been chaplain, came back recently for the winter. I asked him why he came backagain and he said, “You see I am crippled and can’t make a living. My father is dead and my mother and sister are cripples and I can’t take care of them and they can’t take care of me, so I have to give myself up or starve.” There are many real criminals in the Workhouse, but a large proportion of the inmates are in some such condition as WilliamT. They are not criminals, and have no liking for those who are. They say their prayersand are trying to live a Christian life. William T. is a member of the church. It is morethan a pity that the State, or the city or the church has failed to provide comfortablequarters for such unfortunates where they will not be obliged to associate with thugs, and

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be numbered with them.The census has been very large this year. All summer long the place has been crowded.

Usually there are fifty per cent less in summer than in winter, but not so this year. Thismay not indicate an increase in crime. The very large number committed on the charge ofvagrancy may rather be the result of enforced idleness. Not long ago we saw sixty-twowomen and forty-one men taken from the boat and marched off in double file to theWorkhouse—one day’s grist. It was evident that a large number of the men were vagrants,—many of them were aged and crippled. They were sent to jail because theywere homeless and penniless. This seems to be a reversal of the adage, “It is not a crimeto be poor”—someone remarked that the city was the criminal in such cases.We have about fifty women at Hart’s Island; eight or ten mothers, each with a little

child; one colored girl dying of consumption—several others are ill. Those who are abledo the laundry work for the Island—most of the women attribute their downfall anddisgrace to rum drinking.

The attendance at church has been really remarkable—practically every Protestantattends the morning service. The singing is inspiring and the interest shown in every partof the service is exceptionally good. Many have professed conversion during the year.We have no reason to doubt their sincerity. The good things sent by the Society forThanksgiving were much appreciated.

Using our committal service, and sometimes a short address, we have buried about sixthousand in Potters’ Field. They are the unknown and the unclaimed of those who die in the city.

It has been a very busy year. We have come in contact with hundreds of pressing andpathetic cases and have tried to be helpful to them all. We hope some real good has beendone.

The New York City Reformatory 1914-1915

Our work with the young men in the Reformatory this year has been along the sameline as in former years, except as it may have been modified by some stirring changes inthe management of the institution. These changes include both men and methods.Overseer Moore was dismissed after a trial by a jury, and his methods of discipline wentwith him. The new Overseer, Mr. Lawes, has ideas of control more in keeping with thepolicy of Commissioner Davis. The new plan puts more emphasis upon the “Honor system” than upon strictness of discipline. The inmates are not to be treated as if all castin the same mould and therefore all to come under the same rigid and unvarying rules,but as individuals with varying needs and susceptibilities.Much attention is to be given to the boy’s record before his committal, and to the

circ*mstances which led to his downfall. While in the Reformatory he is to be putgenerously on his merit with the hope that he may the sooner “come to himself” and real reform be brought to pass.

It is the purpose of the authorities to remove the Reformatory to New Hampton, OrangeCo., N. Y., where a farm of six hundred and ten acres has been purchased and somebuildings erected. The plan is to make this a model industrial school where the boys willbe taught some trade, and that this may be the more thoroughly done it is proposed thatthe term be lengthened from six months to one year.

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A large number of the young men have been taken to the farm, and the others will go inthe spring. This has greatly reduced the attendance at the Sunday services and hasinterfered with many of our plans. Attendance at church is no longer compulsory, but theProtestants, with one exception, attend as before. Good proof that they are not bankruptas to honor.

The parole officers have done much more than in former years in securing employmentfor those who have been released and the Chaplain has been relieved of much of thisparticular work. We have given more attention than ever to the purely spiritual side of thetask, and have seen some very cheering results. The only real reform for any prisoner,young or old, is to definitely accept Christ as Saviour and to live in fellowship with Him.

During the year we have come in touch with more than one thousand young men in theReformatory, and we have endeavored to induce them so to accept Him and so to live.

[Ed. The Reformatory in New Hampton was completed in 1916 and the Hart Islandinstitution is renamed the Reformatory Prison.]

Late in the year 1915 the Rev. William G. Thompson, Assistant Chaplain at BellevueHospital, wouldassume the duties of Chaplain to the Branch Workhouse on Hart’s Island as well. We find no annual report for the work at the Reformatory in that volume.

Branch Workhouse, Hart’s Island 1915-1916

The work on Hart’s Island has been carried on during the past summer underconsiderable difficulties, as not only the administration has changed, but the character ofthe institution itself has been gradually transformed until now it is the Penitentiary. Thischange has brought the men and women from Blackwell’s Island, to live under differentconditions, together with the shops and industries, in a place not fully prepared to receivethem. The machinery of the Law itself has scarcely been properly adjusted to the newconditions.

The Chaplain has had many difficult problems to solve and many times has found hislines crossing those of the Chaplain of the Tombs, who has had many of these men underhis care, in some cases for some time, and again many times. It has been a great help tobe able to consult with and get the advice of Chaplain Watkins.

Warden Schleth was a ready and most valuable helper; we miss him and his heartywelcome and co-operation while we look forward hopefully to the advent of theincoming Warden from Blackwell’s Island.

Mr. George Parker Doherty, who has made such a success of the Bible Class onBlackwell’s Island, has now started a class here with every assurance of even greater success, if that may be possible.

Mr. Edwin Gorham has sent new Prayer Books and Hymnals, and the Bible Societyand West Side Young Men’s Christian Association have provided Bibles for the men. This is a great help in the service as the men and the women use them and follow theservice closely.

Our Organ is a very poor excuse for a musical instrument, but Mrs. Baxter is faithful,patient, and persistent and what is lacking in the organ is more than made up in thevolume of voices. The vim and swing given to the old Church hymns give a realcharacter to the service in the shoe-shop on Sunday mornings.

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What we want, and should have on Hart’s Island, is a Chapel where in fitting surroundings these unfortunate people could go and feel the sacredness of the place as aplace of worship separate and apart from all those things that would remind them of thedaily round of their narrow lives, a place to lift their minds to some idea of spiritualthings and the larger life.

Without doubt a little effort in the right direction will bring this about, and who knowswhat a living power and influence such a building would exert in the lives of these peopleplaced away from their fellow-men upon this Island.

Let us endeavor to do our duty in teaching and preaching Jesus Christ and His Gospel,so that these men and women may realize in Him the Gate of Eternal Life and turn about,to make their lives better, while we pray that they may increase more and more inwisdom and understanding through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Fr. Thompson did continue the practice of praying over the mass burials at the Potter’s Field. His last entry in that regard is dated April 29, 1917 when 117 unknown personswere interred. During this period several ministers, particularly the Rev. A. M.Hildebrand on Staten Island, recorded name specific burials on Hart Island as well.

By 1917 war work had preoccupied many and perhaps, with the increase in militarychaplaincies, an ordained minister was not available for service to the island. In that sameyear Robert H. Law Jr. would be issued a Lay Readers License by Bishop Greer and onMay 27th he recorded his first mass burial on Hart Island (104 unknowns) in the CityMission Society sacramental burial register. Mr. Law was a young lawyer who lived onthe Grand Concourse in the Bronx. He had been assigned the post of Missionary to theBranch Penitentiary on Hart’s Island. We do not know more than that about hisbackground.

From this year forward the City Mission Society no longer published the lengthy annualreports of its missionaries at each years end. The annual report of the Society wascondensed to include only a report of the Superintendent and the financials. We arefortunate however to have the monthly Mission News to draw on for our narrative. TheApril 1919 issue would feature the following piece by Robert H. Law.

The Branch Penitentiary, Hart’s Island April 1919

One day the orders came to move, and a little band of cripples and derelicts started on ajourney up a hill. The journey was away from a gloomy, dark, ancient, out-of-datebuilding in the valley, away from the prison proper, up past Potter’s Field, leaving eventhat in the distance, to a new home upon the hilltop. There, swept by the Sound breezes,shaded by beautiful, old trees, in view of Execution Point and Lighthouse, our halt, lameand blind found their new home. There is a garden to work in, the doors are unlocked,and it resembles a private sanitarium or hospital rather than a jail. Here they find rest withnature. Here they find time to think of other days as they enter the evening hours of life.Whenever our choir sings:

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“I come to Thee at last, O Lord of rest,With wasted years, with heart and mind oppressed;

And now Thy promise is to me so sweet,That I shall find forgiveness at Thy feet.”

I think of these men on the hill. They are always represented at the Chapel Service byabout ten or twelve, who be the weather what it may, make the trip on crutches and withgreat difficulty from their house, a good fifteen minutes walk for a robust man, and afterservice, walk back again, this time up the hill. Why do these sick come to church if it isnot to get closer to God, and there to find the rest and forgiveness of which we sing?

When Mr. Sidney Bingham and I started prison work, I remember the case of the firstman whom we helped. A man of forty made the plea for a chance in life. He told us of hiseleven convictions in twenty-three years, and he said that he felt that he should pull in theropes, start a new life, and make his mother happy before she died. We gave him money,and secured a position for him. We thought that he had made good. Much to my surprise,however, while visiting the Workhouse a short while ago, I found our friend back in jail.Why had he returned? The answer is this: It is not only money and a job that makes aman go straight, although we all know that they are a great help, but it is rooting Goddeep in a man’s heart. It is the bringing of the Master and the man closer together. This then has been my aim in the work on Hart’s Island this year—God rooted deeper in aman’s heart, trust and more trust, faith and greater faith.

I want the men to know that they can win through God alone, and I want them to knowthat, no matter how deep they have fallen into sin, no matter how low they have stoopedin their walks of life, the power of God and His power alone will put them on their feetagain, and make them worth-while citizens of a great country. I am not mincing wordswith the men. I am using straightforward talk, whether it is in the dormitories, during theleisure hours, or in the shops or in the fire-room alongside of the hard working stoker.The motto in our Chapel is “GOD FIRST.” The men must like it, for our services are wellattended, I think better than ever before, and the men enter into the spirit of the servicewith great enthusiasm.

The work of visiting in the hospitals is continued. The men are supplied with thevarious necessities, such as eye glasses, study books, etc. Dictionaries have been placedin almost every dormitory, and Bibles and Testaments can always be had by applying tothe Chaplain.

The men continue to improve and beautify the Chapel with the work of their ownhands, and one of our prisoners worked eagerly at renewing an entire set of strings in ourpiano.Great appreciation is due to Mr. Hadley, the Rev. Mr. D’Anchise and others for their

service at this center between July and January.Our hope and prayer each day is to bring our men closer to God and to usefulness.

In March of 1920 another Lay Reader, Mr. Charles F. Odell, would assume the post.Odell had been a life long Episcopalian within the Diocese of New York and had justbeen admitted as a candidate for Deacon’s and Priest’s Orders. He would be ordained a Deacon on December 23, 1920 and a Priest on December 21, 1922.

The MARCH 1920 issue of THE MISSION NEWS was devoted in its entirety to the“Correctional Institutions of the City.” Featured in the issue was an article by the Hon. James A. Hamilton, Commissioner of Correction, titled, “Reforming the Criminal.” In it we find the following:

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“Within the geographical boundaries of Greater New York, there are eight districtprisons, wherein those charged with crime are held awaiting trial. After conviction theprisoners are then transferred to the Workhouse or Penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island, the Municipal Farm on Riker’s Island, or the Reformatory Prison on Hart Island.” “Hart Island, which lies directly opposite City Island, is splendidly situated. Here many of the important activities of the department are carried on. All of the wearing apparel forthe inmates is manufactured by the prisoners themselves, which served the doublepurpose of lessening the cost of maintenance as well as teaching some useful occupation.At the northern end of the island “on the hill” is the home for the feeble and aged prisoner, who is no longer able“to do a day’s work.” Toward the southern end is a large, airy, bright hospital for those who have not only been convicted of crime but are alsoafflicted with tuberculosis.” “Hart Island also contains “potters’ field,” the pauper burial ground, where more than a quarter of a million of the city’s poor are “sleeping their last sleep,” and where their numbers are being augmented each year by over 6,000 additions.” “At each (of our) institutions there are three chaplains –Catholic, Protestant, andJewish, who by precept and example point the way to a higher life. They are real pastors,encouraging the disenheartened, comforting the sick, and when life is ebbing away,preparing the dying for the “great journey.” The prison chaplain is doing a noble and unostentatious work, meagerly and inadequately recompensed when measured in dollarsand cents, but with keen satisfaction that he has reached down a helping hand to thelowly and inspired them with lofty ideals.”

An article by Charles F. Odell titled “Pictures from the Hart’s Island Reformatory” appeared in the JUNE 1920 MISSION NEWS as follows:

MAC.—A Canadian officer who went overseas Oct. 1st, 1914; he was woundedseveral times and his wife, a base hospital nurse, was killed at Valdecourt, Belgium, andhis brother died in his arms at Vimy Ridge in 1917.My first talk with this man was in the shoe shop on Hart’s Island and later he wrote me

a long letter telling of his deep interest in my talk in the Chapel and expressing a wish tojoin the confirmation class. He is a college graduate, has no friends or relatives in thiscountry and no money. Upon his discharge he asks for someone to guide him and to helphim get a position where he can earn an honest living and go straight. He is mastering theshoemaker’s craft, and plays trombone in the Institution band.

A.—was in my own division and regiment in France, so naturally we are good friends;he was wounded and shell-shocked overseas, and one day I found him in the InstitutionHospital.

I was with him a week ago when he was paroled. On Thursday last upon calling at hishouse, was disappointed to learn that he had not gone to the position which is waiting forhim. Had a good talk with his mother and left word for him to go to work the nextmorning and will call again on Monday to see that he has so done.

H.—A young boy who should never have been sent to the Island; his mother turnedhim over to the Court when she knew he had done wrong. He was one of my altar boys; amost faithful and devout attendant. To keep him from the older men, the Wardenassigned him to the hospital. I was able to have a good talk with him as he was leaving.

The brother of Ex-Pres. Taft was at Yale with me and is Principal of a school in this

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lad’s home town. In response to my letter, Mr. Taft thanked me for letting him know ofthis case and has had his school chaplain look after him.

T.—A Columbia graduate, a professional man and a favorite with all. I enjoyed beingin his company. He worked hard in the hospital and was proud that there had been nodeaths during his sojourn there.

Being told by a keeper that he was low-spirited, I had myself locked in with him asthereby I could have more time for a long talk. After a few days he was as busy as everhelping others. One night, a week or two later, he came to me in a big dormitory and Ifound he was in bad shape. He complained of suffering from asthma and asked me to goto the Superintendent of a well known Rescue Mission in order to be released.

One Sunday when the keeper saw him at service he restored him to his former positionin the hospital, but he had another bad spell and was sent back to the dormitory. A fewnights later came for me and asked if the doctor had told me of his condition. All nightlong poor T. laid unconscious, but did not pass away until the next morning; his wife whohad been sent for arriving too late.

In the next cot lay another man dying. It was a solemn and strange experience to passthe night with these two souls and thinking of what their lives might have been.

T. came from a good family, who gave him interment in Woodlawn Cemetery. At theRescue Mission where I told them of T’s death, all were deeply touched. One friend of his, a backslider, came forward and on his knees, asked God for forgiveness and strengthto lead a Christian life.T’s brother was with me until 11:30 last night and was very thankful that I was able totell of the particulars of his brother’s death.

In the hospital was a kindly old gentleman of 86. He always came with a cheerful smileto shake hands with me. Some said that he had been a Confederate general. He wasreluctant to speak of the past and I do not blame him. He had evidently seen better days.It is too bad his last days could not have been his best days.

The other night a Jew, a college graduate from California, asked if he could attend myservice. My reply was that he would be most welcome and to bring his friends.

With the aid of a real French Countess and others, this man had robbed the country of$150,000. He seemed to believe in not stealing often, but stealing much.

T.—is the head cutter; his work supplies the whole shop. He is a quiet, very industriousman, and he was the first to join the confirmation class and gave me the names of twoothers. The shop foreman says employers would be glad to pay such a skilled cutter $50 aweek.In response to T’s expressed wish for a designing book, after some search I found such

a book, the cost of which would be $10. The publishers have generously donated this andthey would have been gratified, indeed, could they have seen his face when I put it in hishands.

By experience it is found that the best time to visit the men is at night when they are intheir dormitories. Many of them are resting or reading on their cots and there is a goodchance to have personal heart-to-heart talks after the day’s work is over.

The results of these talks cannot be put on paper. It is like the experience of Supt.Hadley of the McAuley Mission, when he was asked how many of his converts stuck. Hereplied he did not know and said the books were kept in heaven.

The 1920 Annual Report for the City Mission Society included the following full pageabout the Potters’ Field.

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The cover of the MAY 1921 MISSION NEWS featured a story aboutConfirmations on Blackwell’s and Hart’s Island.

On an April Sunday Bishop Ferris of Western New York (acting for the Bishop of NewYork), confirmed a class of sixteen at the Hart’s Island Penitentiary, presented by Chaplain Odell, and we want to quote from a letter written by the Bishop last month:“One of my very kind friends was here at the house calling this afternoon, and I was

speaking of the devotion of the Chaplain at Hart’s Island, and telling her of my interesting experience there and the Confirmation. I also spoke of the fact that in thesermon I tried to tell those men something of the life and love of the Good Shepherd. Myfriend at once made the suggestion that she would like to present to the Chapel, to behung over the altar, a copy of a painting of the Good Shepherd, with staff in hand andlamb in His arms. Will you please let me know if such a gift would be acceptable?”

The Bishop was told it would indeed be a welcome addition to the Chapel, with itsmessage to the prisoners of tenderness and reclamation.

This is a hard field, and the Chaplain is doing a fine work for these men. Thanks to

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our “Book Drive,” they have the “ten dictionaries” asked for, and much in the way of helpful and entertaining reading is going over to them from time to time.

The chaplain has recently given out Testaments in Greek, Italian, Spanish, German,Polish, and says “It is touching to see these foreigners grasp the book and eagerly devour the contents in the language they can understand.”

The NOVEMBER 1921 MISSION NEWS contained the following article by theRev. Chaplain Charles F. Odell titled “Snapshots from a Reformatory Prison”:

The demand for tobacco is unending, and many generous friends have helped us, so wewant them to see it is appreciated. The first letter has 99 penciled signatures:

Old Man’s Home

Dear Chaplain:We desire to express to you our gratitude for the many kindnesses shown us, and

especially for the free tobacco you secured and distributed for our use.A working Christianity such as yours demands attention and compels belief, even of

the most skeptical. Your broadmindedness and cheerful intimate talks have cheered theheart of many a downhearted man, and there are many such among us.

Sincerely your friends and well-wishers

Reverend Sir:I have been requested by the inmates on a number of occasions to thank you for your

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kindness in having tobacco sent to them again, and to acknowledge its receipt. The oldmen, especially, are very much pleased with it, and would like to thank you in person ifthey had the opportunity. They realize how precious it is when one is penniless andappreciate it two-fold.

They also wish to thank you for your troubles in getting other favors for them, andassure you they are not wasted.

Respectfully yours, Keeper

On my trip through the dormitories tonight I will have a Greek Testament for a Greek,a German Testament and a religious book for a German, a Beginners’ French for a colored man, a baseball magazine for our pitcher, a religious book in Italian for someItalians, a story magazine for a former trusty who was a cheerful helper, and others.Many of the men want to learn Spanish, hoping in some South American country to“make good.” Sometimes I give those English and a Spanish Testament. In that way theylearn more than the language.

I did not quite know what to do with some Christmas music and three “Musical Reviews.” Gave them to a Hebrew who was studying music in New York and he was perfectly delighted, as he found the picture of his teacher in one of the Reviews. Sincethen he has been attending our Chapel service.

One of the men at the T. B. hospital was very sick. I spoke to him about baptism andits importance when I was on the boat with him on the way to the Metropolitan Hospital.He reached there at 5; at 8.30 one of our chaplains baptized him, and the next morning hedied.

Our organist has had a badly checkered career. His young wife got into trouble andwas sent away for a year, now in Metropolitan Hospital, where our chaplain has givenconsiderable time to her. Both will be out in December, and we trust have learned theirlesson, and will straighten out their young lives — they are only 20 and 23 — and willmake a success through the aid of the Church, which found them in the places of theirremorse and sorrow.

In April 1922 another Confirmation took place on Hart’s Island. The Mission News tells the story thusly:

On Palm Sunday afternoon, April 9th, Chaplain Odell presented 17 prisoners forConfirmation at the Hart’s Island Reformatory by Bishop Shipman(Suffragan Bishop ofNew York). The following gives the impression made on one of the inmates:“It was an ideal day, and through the generous help of Warden Breen and the Roman

priest supplying us with potted plants and cut palms, our ‘Upper Room’ was a truly beautiful setting for ‘the big thing’ in so many of the boys’ lives. Bishop Shipman administered the rite and gave two short talks to the congregation. He had them with himfrom the very start; believe me when he comes the next time he will have a hard job toget into the room! His talks have been the main talk of the place here since. I have heardsome wonderful singing by trained choirs and large congregations but the singing Sundayafternoon was truly inspired. And St. John’s in its grandeur, or St. Thomas’ in its rare beauty, offered no finer picture than did our Room, bathed in a wonderful sunlight as theBishop pronounced Benediction. There was a spontaneity about the whole service thatonly can be had from ‘the within’! It will be remembered by many for a long time; I’ll

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never be able to forget it.”The light of the afternoon sun shone through the large chapel doors directly upon the

flower-decorated altar, showing up the crimson velvet dossal and other rich altarfurnishings, recent gifts of Miss Estelle C. Ogden. We wished very much that the kinddonor could have seen the beauty of all she has done, lighted by the spring sunshine. Thecongregation of between one and two hundred men listened earnestly to the humanlyhelpful talk of the Bishop, and one felt that every word was perfectly understood and theuplift great. The men sang the hymns with great fervor, and one of the inmates rendered asolo, “The Palms,” most beautifully.

Chaplain Odell left the Diocese of New York in Nov. 1923 to do prison work inPittsburgh and the Rev. E. H. Cleveland M. D. assumed the duty of Acting Chaplain forHart Island. Cleveland would serve as Chaplain at three hospitals as well.

The NOVEMBER 1924 MISSION NEWS featured this short story “From the Branch Penitentiary at Hart’s Island”

One friendless man’s problem found ahappy solution in the following manner: AEnglishman of fifty-eight was released from the penitentiary bearing a letter fromChaplain Cleveland.

The Social Service secretary referred him to the City Aid Bureau and on the sameday he obtained work as a kitchen helper in one of the city hospitals.A letter came from him soon afterward, saying, “I am truly the most fortunate and

grateful man in New York. God is surely with me. May He keep me from drink andbad companions.”

In late 1924 the Rev. Horace T. Owen became the resident Chaplain to theReformatory Prison on Hart’s Island. He also acted as the Visitor to Lebanon, Union and Montefiore Hospitals. His station on the Island as summarized in the 1924 annualreport of the Society was “Sunday Service and monthly Holy Communion; the Potter’s Field is here, and committal prayers said. Much reading matter is needed.”

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The NOVEMBER 1925 MISSION NEWS included a picture of Chaplain Owen,along with mention of his Christmas needs on the Island

The 1926 Annual Report of the Episcopal City Mission Society emphasized that thePotter’s Field remained an integral part of their ministry. “At the graves of the unknown dead and for those who die without means for burial, a chaplain from thisSociety reads a burial service at the Potter’s Field.”

Under the heading “The Chaplains at Work” this entry is found in the JANUARY 1928 MISSION NEWS.

Last spring a prominent Englishman sojourning in this country became entangled in alegal difficulty which ended in his commitment to the Branch Penitentiary at Hart’s Island. Because of his intellectual and his professional training the books which he foundin the Hart’s Island library were of little comfort to him. He fell into the habit of stoppingin to see Chaplain Horace T. Owen, who officiates there for this Society.

Chaplain Owen secured the type of books which this man needed and spent muchtime with him in friendly conversation. Spiritual council and good comradeship mingledin their conversation. The Englishman became interested in the services which ChaplainOwen holds at the penitentiary. His depression and sense of humiliation graduallybecame leavened with a new determination to view his troubles philosophically. Recentlyhe was discharged from the penitentiary and has secured a position as head of one of NewYork’s most influential business organizations. On leaving the penitentiary he wrote a letter to Chaplain Owen from which we quote the following:“It is due to my deep sense of appreciation that I should like to tell you something

about the wonderful work you are doing at this institution for the welfare of the inmates.”“It is seldom, if ever, that one comes across such sympathy and understanding as

yours, and, indeed, one has to be an inmate to know and to realize the real value of suchqualities displayed unstintingly in an hour of need. It is a privilege to have you as ourspiritual guide; but it is, indeed, a pleasure to claim you as our friend and philosopher.”“I feel sure I am voicing the sentiments of many of my fellow inmates—good men,

bad men, all kinds of men with whom it has been my lot to be thrown—when I say thatwithout your willing help, your cheerful messages of hope, your genuine interest in ourwell-being and progress, and your spiritual ministration to our needs, life here wouldassuredly be a burden, and the future a grim stone wall.”“My own is only one case. I know of many fellows who have found peace of mind

and comfort for their souls after attending your services and hearing your sermons. If

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Christianity could only be understood and interpreted in this fashion by men outside, bothclergy and laity alike, this world would be a better place in which to live.”

The 1927 annual report of the Society indicated that there were CorrectionalChaplaincies in twelve prisons and reformatories. Another letter is shared byChaplain Owen as well:

From a letter written by a former prisoner at Hart’s Island, to Chaplain HoraceT.Owen, one gains a glimpse of what the Chaplain’s work may mean, not only in theinstitution, but during the difficult weeks after discharge:“I have been working now for more than three weeks. I started as day-porter and when

I had worked four days I was promoted to night-elevator man.”“While looking for work I called upon several of the people to whom you referred me.

The kind lady at the mission gave me an overcoat, which I sorely needed in the coldweather. I had four dollars in cash, so I stopped at the Bleecker Street Mills Hotel.Through the man whose name you gave me I was able to find a room for two dollars anda half a week. He loaned me money for the first week’s rent and for an alarm clock. Iwasglad to be able to return his five dollars last Friday.”“I brought with me from the penitentiary thedictionary, chemistry and double-entrybookkeeping text books. Also some articles from the Atlantic Monthly’s ‘Forum’ and ‘Open Court’ magazines which I made upin book form. It was your influence and thehelp of these books that enabled me to gain a victory over the difficulties of myenvironment.”“Will you please allow me to return the two dollars which I owe you on my dentist

bill? I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the kindness you have shown me andI know God has blessed you for your charitable missionary work.”

The following image of a page from the NOVEMBER 1928 MISSION NEWS ispresented in its entirety.

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In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 104

An April 12, 1929 article in the New York Times reported that “prison welfare work was discussed yesterday by 22 chaplains of New York penal institutions who met for thefirst time for that purpose under the auspices of Commissioner Richard C. Patterson Jr.Taking part in the conference were Chaplains representing the Jewish, Protestant andRoman Catholic faiths.” Issues concerning follow-up, teaching that crime doesn’t pay,and using hardened offenders to teach the young were all discussed.“Among the Roman Catholic Chaplains present were the Rev. William E. Cashin, the

Rev. John J. Hickey, the Rev. Joseph F. Conway, the Rev. George B. Murphy, the Rev.John J. Laherty, the Rev. Demetrious B. Zema, the Rev. George B. Ford, the Rev.William P. Russell and the Rev. F. J. Frey.”“Protestant Chaplains were the Rev. Almon R. Papper, the Rev. Frederick M. Gordon,

the Rev. William H. Hall, the Rev. William B. Eddy, the Rev. Horace T. Owens, the Rev.Thomas Magnan, theRev. Alexander Ross and the Rev. Joseph McGuinness.”“Jewish Chaplains present were Rabbis Harry Lewis, Jacob Tarlau and Joseph


In the 1930 Annual Report of the Episcopal City Mission Society Chaplain Owenshares with us another story from the Reformatory Prison on Hart’s Island:

Convicted and sentenced to Hart’s Island, a young man came to the attention of the Society’s chaplain there, and, as a result, began to think of things up to that time neglected.

Never having had the proper home environment or religious training of any sort, thisvisionary, likeable young chap, had drifted away from the few people who really hadbeen interested in his well-being. It was then that his troubles had begun.

Now, in the Penitentiary, he had time to think. In his thinking, the chaplain wasprivileged to share. After a few visits, the boy began to come to services. Finally, the daycame when he made his Communion. “It had cost him much to reach this point in his life,” the chaplain says, “but the experience had brought him much.”After his release he wrote, “Words cannot express my deep gratitude to you and the

people who support your work, for the ineffable kindness shown not only to myself but toall of us fallen from grace.” And again he wrote of someone whomhe remembered at thePenitentiary, “I sometimes feel that I could reclaim him. I’d like to help somebody.”

On October 25, 1931 the cornerstone of the new Catholic Chapel at the Hart’s Island prison was laid. The New York Times billed it as the “Only separate prison building inthe United States set aside for Catholic services.” More than 1800 persons attended and addresses were made by the Rev. Mgr. LaVelle, Vicar General of the Archdiocese ofNew York, Commissioner Patterson, the Rev. Demetrious Zema, Catholic chaplain; theRev. Horace T. Owen, Protestant chaplain; and Rabbi Julius T. Price, Jewish chaplain.

The finished chapel was dedicated by Cardinal Hayes on May 1, 1932. Again from theNew York Times we read that, “The new chapel, a gothic building of brick and stone,replaces an old frame structure which had stood on the island for the last 41 years andwas rapidly becoming dilapidated by the high winds of Long Island Sound. According toFather Zema, the Hart’s Island prison is the only institution of its kind in the UnitedStates to which is attached a separate chapel for Catholic inmates. Most institutionsfurnish a common hall for all denominations.”

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Now in its 100th year the 1931 annual report of the New York Protestant Episcopal CityMission Society included this full page on the Potter’s Field under the heading “The Church Does Not Forget”.

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The Rev. Horace T. Owen would continue on as Chaplain to the Penitentiary on Hart’s Island throughout the 1930’s. He would retire in 1943. His weekly statistical reportsindicate that services were still held for the mass burials in the Potter’s Field during this period. Unfortunately, probably due to the depression, the monthly issues of The MissionNews were reduced to five pages and no chaplains reports can be found in them. Manyproblems would arise in the City prisons during this period.

From a series of articles in the New York Times we can reconstruct some of the issuesthat surfaced on Hart Island.

June 12, 1933: Hart Island Criticized - Nearly 15% of the prisoners on Hart’s Island are less than 21 years of age. There is much overcrowding. The building which housesthe prisoners is a fire trap.

June 19, 1934: Prison Inmates in Fight –two inmates are in the hospital and three insolitary confinement after a fight broke out on the baseball diamond when 1,000prisoners were exercising.

August 18, 1934: Jail Unrest Stirs Hart’s Island Din–Less than 24 hours after abedlam of protests by 1500 prisoners at Welfare Island had been quelled, a similardisturbance broke out in the reformatory prison on Hart’s Island, where 1,000 prisoners, 600 of whom are narcotics addicts, are confined. The prisoners began shouting anddemanding reductions of their sentences under the Quinn Law, which provides thatprisoners with fixed terms are entitled to ten days off a month for good behavior. Severalwindows were broken. The Commissioner assured prisoners that that their rights wouldbe recognized and protected.

December 11, 1936: More Dormitories Planned –Plans have been prepared forproviding additional housing facilities for prisoners at the reformatory on Hart’s Island.

January 6, 1938: Visitors’ Building Opened– Keys to the newly constructed visitors’ building at the penitentiary on Hart’s Island were turned over to the commissioner by thelocal Works Progress Administrator.

December 22, 1938: Mayor Urging WPA Not to End Jail Aid–Continuation of a WPArehabilitation project for prisoners in the city’s penitentiaries and jails is being sought by Mayor LaGuardia. The rehabilitation program would be damaged to the point ofextinction by termination of the WPA project. WPA workers were assigned to duty atRikers and Harts Island.

April 1, 1939: Grand Jury Scores Prisons of City –A presentment containing sharpcriticism of alleged cramped quarters, unsanitary buildings and inadequate facilities in thecity’s prisons on Rikers and Harts Island was handed up by a Bronx Grand Jury. Thephysical condition of the buildings on Harts Island is “a disgrace to the City of New York” the grand jurors charged.

December 28, 1940: Gets Reformatory Post –Edward Johnson, acting deputy wardenat Rikers Island will succeed Acting Warden Lazarus Levy at Harts Island Reformatory.

January 27, 1942: Harts Island Ends Bread and Water Diet As Punishment for UnrulyPrisoners –Apart from the headline issue here another part of the report made knownthat the unsightly pile of old junk iron and steel at the branch workhouse and penitentiaryof Harts Island, the old reformatory prison, may be sent to smelters and serve a usefulpurpose in armaments. About 300 tons of this metal was piled near the dry cleaningbuilding. The report also indicated that segregated prisoners are to have ample bedclothes in the future.

June 25, 1942: Hart Island Prisoner Escapes –Leo Fitch, with a record of 23 arrestsand 8 convictions, slipped away from a dock gang and either swam or took a small boatto City Island. His parole had recently been refused.

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The Statistical Report of the Rev. Horace T. Owen for the first six months of 1939.Note the number of burials conducted weekly.

The Final Report from the Hart Island Reformatory.

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From an article in the June 12, 1944 New York Times we read that the Island was“taken over by the Navy 14 months ago” to be used as “the scene of an intensive and successful rehabilitation program for recalcitrant sailors.”“Lifting the veil of secrecy that has surrounded the activities on the Island, newspaper

men were taken on a tour of the prison buildings. The old prison buildings have beenremodeled, removing cell blocks and bars. Prisoners work six hours a day, someoperating a 50 acre farm that produces corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and other vegetables insufficient quantities to supply the summer needs of the 1600 prisoners.”“Although the prisoners march to and from their work without guards there are

relatively few attempts to escape. This is due to the difficulties of swimming thetreacherous waters to the shore, and to an efficient boat patrol. But by far the mostcompelling argument against escape is a dozen or more highly trained German Shepherddogs, who patrol the beaches at night with armed guards.”“Flat and marked by comparatively few trees, Harts Island is a mile long by half a

mile wide. Sixty buildings of various heights and sizes sprawl, seemingly without plan,over the Island. A large baseball field has been constructed near the administrationbuilding, with tennis and volley ball courts for the officers.”“Flowers in profusion line the roads and walks, raised in prisoner operated

greenhouses, where 20,000 plants were grown this spring.”“A Catholic Church and a Protestant Church are centrally located among the island’s

buildings, which include prison barracks, mess hall, central heating plant, firehouse withone engine, butcher, commissary, laundry, garbage disposal plant, hospital, officersquarters, dog kennels, visitors’ house, theatre, and ship’s company quarters.”“The task of the medical staff is to rid the prisoners of the many unfounded fears and

inhibitions that underlie many of their offenses against discipline. One of the problemsencountered is fear, fear of leaving family and friends. Navy chaplains Allan B. Rice (aMethodist minister) and J. Buzak (a Catholic priest) play a large part in the rehabilitationprogram. Men are confined on Harts Island for a maximum term of one year.”

On March 31, 1946 we learned that the Navy planned to decommission the detentionbarracks on the island and convert it into a full fledged Navy Prison. However there musthave been a change of plans for on November 1, 1946 the Navy returned Harts Island tothe city Department of Corrections.

An article in the November 24, 1947 New York Times describes the situation thusly:

“A sweeping reorganization of the Dept. of Correction to place it on a “peace officer” basis with a clear-cut chain of command and definite fixing of responsibility atvarious levels was disclosed yesterday. Commissioner Albert Williams was named to hispost soon after the Brooklyn City Prison break late in 1946. His report told of a completerevision of the depts. executive set up as well as the initiation of a repair program for thecity penal institutions and their grounds, including Potters Field on Harts Island.”“Mr. Williams declared the Navy Dept., which used Harts Island, left the grounds and

buildings in a disgraceful condition with not a building fit for human habitation. ThePotters Field cemetery was in pitiful condition with more than 200 tons of junk anddebris piled upon the graves.”“The commissioner announced that substantial progress had been made in repairing

and rehabilitating buildings, grounds and roads.”

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 109

The 1948 annual report for the New York City Mission Society provides thefollowing list of its staff chaplains. One cannot help but notice the name Horace T. Owen.Evidently after retiring in 1943 from Harts Island, Owen had moved his attention to TheTombs prison where he continued to work until 1950. This completed 25 years of servicein the city’s prisons for this humble servant. Notice that no-one appears to have beenassigned specifically to Harts Island in this 1948 list. However the sacramental registerscontinue to record name specific burials on Harts Island by many of these chaplains, thedeceased having been residents under their charge.

Beginning in 1950 the sacramental registers include listings for “mass burials” on Harts Island recorded by the Chaplains at Bellevue Hospital. Bellevue is where the Citymorgue was located and it was also one of the centers for the Pastoral Training ofseminarians conducted by the Episcopal Diocese of New York. These chaplain internslearned the basic functions and operations of corrective institutions and hospitals. Thisenabled them to complement the services of other professionals there so that their ownministrations became a skilled help at the turning-points where they minister.Next you will find scans of a few entries from the Society’s sacramental registers

throughout the 1950’s.

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 110

Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society May / June 1950

Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society March / April 1956

According to the corrections dept. web site, in 1955 the United States Army AirDefense Command declared as operational its Nike missile battery NY-15, the onlymissile site within the New York metro area to be located entirely on two offshoreislands. The missiles launchers were in silos on Hart Island but the ground-basedguidance and control system was based on nearbyDavid’sIsland, part of New Rochelle.The army would hold its final deactivation ceremony in June 1961. In the meantimeburials would continue in the Potter’s Field.

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 111

In the September 22, 1958 New York Times Nan Robertson wrote an article “About New York” concerning the Potter’s Field. It reads like so many more recent articles do;but this one would draw a response from the Rev. William E. Sprenger, director of theProtestant Episcopal City Mission Society.

At the head of Long Island Sound beyond the East River, there is a little-known Island.In late summer, field asters spread a blanket of blue across its treeless northeastern tip. Inwinter, it lies shrouded in fog or swept by icy winds.

Nearly 500,000 are buried there. In life, they were the loneliest of all the millions whocrowd this city. No friends wept for them. Now they lie together in potter’s field.

Last year, 3,822 of the cities forgottenwere taken to potter’s field. Some were old and tired; others had been cut down in their prime. A few were nameless. All were paupers.

No flags and no flowers draped the coffins in which they lay. No tombstones marktheir graves. Their pallbearers were prisoners from the city workhouse at the southern endof Hart Island.Twice a week, every week of the year, New York’s unclaimed dead are taken to the

City Mortuary on East Twenty-Ninth Street.At 9 o’clock one recent morning, while Manhattan workers and housewives poured

out into a dazzling sun, a dark green truck backed into an alleyway beside the mortuary.On its side was an insignificant gold seal: “Department of Hospitals, City of New York.” One by one, plain pine coffins were carried onto the truck. There were thirty-six in all, anunusually small number.

The doors were closed and the truck rolled north: up the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drivethrough flowing traffic; on past homes and parks and construction sites in the East Bronx,all busy with life.

At 9:52 A. M. the truck rumbled onto a dock at City Island. Fishermen lined along thesides turned their heads briefly. A fleet of little boats bobbed in a freshening sea. Thewaiting ferry swallowed the truck and throbbed away from shore.

A mile to the east, across a glittering strip of water, lay Hart Island. Red brickprison buildings clustered under a grove of trees at the southern end. To the north theslope rose smoothly to a single white shaft in potter’s field.

Swaying, the truck ground up a gravel road to the monument. The wind ruffled aknee-thigh plateau of grass and blue flowers. There were no markers, only a huge, rawwound in the earth.

The grave for these homeless had been dug days before. Sixteen men in gray over-allsand caps stood near, leaning on their spades.

Mute and unsmiling, twelve prisoners shifted the heavy burdens from the truck totheir shoulders, and then laid the long pine boxes gently on the grass.

The quiet was broken by the scratch of chisels as identifying numbers were cut deepinto the soft pine. A red-faced guard, moving his lips, checked off each number againsthis sheet.

Then the men in gray wrote the names of the dead for the last time. They wereinscribed on the coffins, in big, black strokes of indelible crayon.

Far overhead in the clean blue sky the gulls wheeled, crying. The scintillating, sunstruck waters of the sound lapped the shore. Far to the southwest, Manhattan’s midtown skyscrapers pierced the sparkling air.

When all was ready, four men lifted the first coffin and shuffled slowly to the massgrave. The gaping trench was 40 feet long and 15 feet wide. Next spring the scar will behealed by grass and flowers.

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 112

The wind rose and the gusts that shivered in from the sound carried the clang of a bellbuoy, tolling its fitful warning.

Two men stood in the trench to receive the coffins, which they piled three high,packed close together, row on row.

There were no rites. When the last pine box had been slipped into place, the prisonersstroked a blanket of earth over all who lay so closely there.

In death they were not alone.

In a letter to the editor of the Times Fr. Sprenger would write the following:

“I believe I may speak for all of the Protestant churches of New York in bringing toyour attention a misconception which may generally be gathered from Miss Robertson’s otherwise noteworthy article –namely, that no religious ceremonies are conducted forthese dead.”“Actually, before burial each Tuesday and Thursday morning at Hart’s Island a

complete funeral service of the Order for the Burial of the Dead from the Book ofCommon Prayer is read at the 29th Street City Mortuary about midnight for those who areknown to have been Protestant. This service is conducted by the Rev. Herbert Bolton, achaplain of the New York Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society at BellevueHospital. A separate service is read for children. Committal services are conducted at thistime, with sand placed upon thecoffins destined for burial.”

Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society April / May 1969

The Rev. William E. Sprenger retired in 1962. The Rev. Herbert C. Bolton wouldretire in 1972. This practice of prayer at the City Morgue continued at least up to thattime. There are no sacramental registers in the diocesan archives that mention “mass burials” and that go beyond the year 1969 however.

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 113

No documentation can be found in the archives of the Episcopal Diocese of New Yorkto indicate that the practice of reading the burial service before each mass burial in thePotter’s Field was continued beyond this point. Certainly a very active chaplaincy program had been established at Bellevue Hospital and continued for the next severaldecades, so it is likely to have been the case.

Meanwhile on Hart Island several changes took place. In 1967 it became a majortreatment center for narcotics addicts. The plan was to have the State pay for theprogram, while the City would manage the institution. The addicts were to be treated aspatients, rather than as criminals, with the island being regarded as a medical, not a penal,institution. The program was run by Phoenix House.An article in the July 24, 1968 New York Times was headed “Near Potter’s Field,

Addicts Seek Path to Life.” An excerpt from that article follows.

Laughter and song exploded from the young men gathered on a smooth lawn underold trees. They were reformed narcotics addicts on Hart Island fighting to rejoinsociety…About a half a mile away, the silence was broken only by the dirge of a bellbuoy, mist hung over unruly weeds that bordered graves without names and machine-made ditches waiting for the coffins of paupers. This was potter’s field.

These extremes of hope and despair are in constant coexistence these days on the 100acre island. “I don’t think about the potter’s field”, said one of the men. “I remember when I was a prisoner on Rikers Island; I used to come here sometimes with the burialdetail. And I’m not the only one here who has buried the dead in potter’s field.”

Prisoners from Rikers who do this work are volunteers and get 10 cents an hour.There are no flowers and no music, and the only service is said at the Bellevue Morgue,not at the grave. The pine coffins are three deep and in two lines.”

Another such article, dated August 14, 1974, and titled “The Last Ride to Harts Island” includes a reference to the fact that “Before being put into the pine coffins, thebodies are photographed, fingerprints taken, and Bellevue’s Protestant and Catholicchaplains hold a common service.”

In 1976 the Phoenix House program was discontinued, a victim of budget battles inAlbany. The property was returned to the corrections department. It was during thisperiod that the city began to explore possible future uses for the island.

A March 19, 1978 New York Times article indicated that back in 1972 a studycommissioned by the city concluded that one of the available options includeddeveloping the island into a residential-resort complex, making it a sort of Monte Carloor Riviera for Long Island Sound. Mr. Ralph Zinn, then the principal planner for theBronx office of the Dept. of City Planning indicated that “its got a magnificent beach on the eastern shore…it could make a luxurious residential area, or if the city ever gets intolegalized gambling, it would make a very good place for casinos.”

Then in 1982 Mayor Koch announced that the city planned to set up a work camp forpeople convicted of “quality of life crimes.” These would be three-card monte dealers,small-time drug dealers, graffiti vandals and turnstile jumpers. The project was opposedby the New York Civil Liberties Union which felt that it was wrong to send these kinds

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 114

of people to prison. To further complicate matters for the mayor the Criminal Courtjudges by and large refused to sentence minor criminals to the work camps. The programwould eventually end, and in 1991 the use of Hart Island for inmate housing was formallyended by the Corrections Department.

Around this time the Coalition for the Homeless, a loose organization of voluntaryagencies, had become the one of the major advocates for the poor in the City. They hadpressed the original lawsuit that required the city to provide shelter to any homelessperson who asked for it. The Rt. Rev. Paul Moore Jr., 14th Bishop of the EpiscopalDiocese of New York, was active in his support of their efforts, as were many of ourEpiscopal clergy and congregations.

In 1986 they would turn their attention to how the indigent were buried by the city. AMay 26, 1986 New York Times article headed “Group Faults City Policy on Burial of Poor Infants” tells the story this way:

Almost half the infants who died in New York City from 1981 to 1984 are buried inPotter’s Field according to a study released yesterday by the Coalition for the Homeless.Forty seven percent of the children under one year of age –3,070 of 6,527 –wereinterred in large trenches each filled with at least a dozen coffins in the field on HartIsland.

The Coalition attributed the number of infants buried in Potter’s Field to the city’s policy of paying no more than $250 in funeral costs for the indigent. “The trenches wherethese children are buried is a macabre metaphor,” said Robert M. Hayes, counsel to the Coalition. “This is another reflection of the abandonment of the poor by the government.”

The study called on the city and state to raise the allotment for funeral expenses to$900 and asked that all major religious denominations expand their assistance to the poorto help them care for their dead. It also asked that Potter’s Field be made accessible to mourners.

Mr. Hayes said that the larger issue raised by the study was the plight of theincreasing number of children born into poverty in New York, and the lack of services forthem and their families.

Health Department statistics indicate that the percentage of infants who have died inthe city and been buried at Potter’s Field has remained relatively stable since the mid 1970’s.

James Whitford, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections said that the island ismaintained by prison inmates and is guarded like any corrections facility. Generally,visits from the public are not permitted. “The graves are not marked, there is nothing to see,” Mr. Whitford said. “This is not a place anybody would want to visit.”

The tale has now gone full circle. Enter ‘Picture the Homeless’ in 1999 and theirformation of a Group of religious leaders called ‘Interfaith Friends of Potter’s Field’:

“All who pass from this life possess a sacred dignity intrinsic to their membershipamong the human family; and all consequently deserve to be reposed in dignity andremembered with honor.”

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and In All Things Charity by Wayne Kempton 115

The following article appeared in the December 2005 New York Post:


“A crime victim who died after nine years in a coma will be buried in a potter’s field unless someone can identify him.”“City cops are seeking the public’s help in a bid to put a name to a man who was

savagely beaten in the Bronx in July 1996. Known only as Henry, he was foundunconscious in Macombs Dam Park near Yankee Stadium. Police rule his death ahomicide but have little to go on. They aren’t even sure if Henry is his real first name.”“The Medical examiners office was planning to bury him on Hart Island this week but

has put that off until after New Year’s in the hope someone will come forward with information about him. He was black, 26 years old, 5 foot 7 and 165 pounds.”“A spokesman for the Medical Examiners office said that if there is some new

information that might help identify him, then we will hold him. We have no time limit.”“The mystery man languished for nearly a decade in Coler Memorial Hospital, a long

term special care facility on Roosevelt Island (once known as Blackwell’s Island). He was transferred to Bellevue Hospital in October and died seven days later.”

Wayne Kempton is the Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Commentsor research inquiries concerning this piece may be addressed to him at 1047 AmsterdamAvenue, New York, New York 10025. He may also be reached at 212-316-7419 or byemail at [emailprotected]

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