Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A History of Lyme, Ct., a Town Once Described as Being Nothing But Rocks, Reptiles, and Republicans

George J. Wilhauer, Jr. (ed.) Lyme Miscellany, 1776-1976. Middletown, Ct.: Wesleyan University, 1977.

In 17th century Connecticut, a town was created by petitioning the colony’s legislative branch, the Common Court, to so approve. The town would have a year to have enough residents enter and pay rates for two to seven years, then enabling the residents land ownership. Each family would have to clear from five to six acres. Homes had  specifications of 12 to 16 square feet. The taxes were collected for a ministry, school, highway surveyors, and local officials. Each twon had Selectmen, a Treasurer, and Deputies. If these conditions were not met, the land reverted to the Colony of Connecticut.

The General Court consisted of a Governor who presided over the Upper House, a Deputy Governor who presided in the Governor’s absence, and Assistants who served in the Upper House. Freemen gathered from around the state to elect the Governor and Assistants. They first elected a slate of candidates. From the elected sate, they then elected a Governor, a Deputy Governor, and 12 Assistants from the 20 top vote recipient, A Lower Court was led by a Speaker. Magistrates elected from each town composed the General Court,

Lyme land existed within the town of Saybrook from a 1663 colony grant that expanded Saybrook’s borders across the Connecticut River. Saybrook was formed as a fort community, Most other Connecticut river towns were formed as Bible Commonwealths designed for Puritans. Twenty people were garrisoned at Saybrook Fort in 1670.

A committee in 1666 allowed people to move into Lyme. In 1667 the area was known as Lyme and a paid Deputy was allowed to represent Lyme in the General Court. Lyme though did not sen a Deputy to the General Court untnil 1670. In 1671, Lyme first appears as a separate listing on Colony tax rolls. The Saybrook minister rowed by boat to minister to those in Lyme as Lyme chose not to have its own minister. Thus, the creation of Lyme was the reverse process of the usual settlement process that often revolved around a ministry.

The Connecticut colonial militia had 13 regiments. Lyme was in the Third Regiment with New London and Norwich.

Moses Noyes preached in Lyme in 1666. Lyme petitioned the General Court to create an ecclesiastical society in 1676. An ecclesiastical society allowed male voters to meet and determine what rate to pay a minister and a meetinghouse. Lyme incorporated in 1693. Thus Moses Noyes was not ordained until 1693 and no baptisms or communions were conducted in Lyme from 1666 to 1693. This was unique to Lyme and perhaps indicative of the lack of concern about such religious matters amongst Lyme residents. Lyme records indicate more consideration about land division than religion.

Lyme was valued at 3,500 pounds (then listed as Saybrook’s East Side) in 1648.
Twelve men were listed as proprietors of Lyme The proprietors would turn common land into private land, a matter affirmed by General Court actions in 1685 and reconfirmed in 1704.

Lyme extended its northern and eastern borders by four miles in return for creating new plantations. Two of these four extended northern miles were given to Haddam when it established as a town. New London residents objected to the eastern border expansion. Lyme residents responded with clubs, scythes, and other weapons. The General Court extended Lyme’s eastern border by two miles instead of four.

Lyme settlers initially received large sized farms of about 850 acres per family. These farms were divided and sold. This resulted in Lyme collecting more taxes and affording highways, public fences, civil servants, and militia servicemen.

Lyme may have been unique in granting land to minors held in trust by their fathers.

Lyme home sites were 10 acres each compared to one and a half to three and a half acres in Saybrook. Homesites were built near the meeting houses.

In the early 18th century, Lyme great salt marsh hay. Lyme required a proprietor to move into town with six months (New London required such a move within one year) and grain was required to be cultivated on the land within three years. Otherwise, the land was repossessed.

Lyme’s population was kept down due to Indian/Native American threats. In 1667, there was 50 taxable males in Lyme which means its total population was a few hundred. In 1688, Lyme had 68 taxable males. Of the 68 taxable males, six were listed as non-residents three women were listed, and one was listed as dead. There were about 100 taxable males in Lyme in 1700. These lists did not include those who did not pay taxes, such as children. In 1700, about ten per cent of Connecticut residents owned about half the colony’s land  In Lyme in 1700, the wealthiest ten percent in Lyme owned about one fourth the town’s land.

Taxes in Lyme declined from 63 pounds per taxpayer in 1676 continuously until reaching 33 pounds per taxpayer in 1774. This was due to declining property values, Agriculture declined in profitability during this period.

After 12 years of not mentioning issues while serving as minister in Lyme’s First Congregational Church, Rev. Stephen Johnson began discussion public affairs including criticizing the Stamp Act in newspaper editorials. He preached about the evils of the taxation without representation in the Parliament.

The Revolutionary War sparked from a declining economy, religious revivals, the desire for Westward expansion, and the Stamp Act tax imposed by the British on the colonists.

Matthew Griswold, the wealthiest man in Lyme, moderated the town meetings for 18 years and represented Lyme in the legislature. He was active in the Sons of Liberty, He agreed with Connecticut’s efforts to claim western land expansion which clashed with Pennsylvania’s land claims. He supported the Patriots against the British in the Revolutionary War and served as Deputy Governor during the Revolutionary War and later served as Governor.

The British never occupied Connecticut during the Revolutionary War. The British did much damage in Connecticut by attacking salt works in Greenwich in 1776, making several raids in 1776in New Haven, Norwalk, and Fairfield, attacking Danbury in 1777, and making vicious attacks on Groton and New London in 1783. British privateers attacked Connecticut ships.

Many in the Connecticut Army delayed joining George Washington’s fight in New York until they were paid wages owed from for previous military service.

Lyme’s Tories were mostly absentee landlords. Lyme’s Elisha Beckwith was jailed as a Tory and left Lyme in 1781. While imprisoned, Beckwith wrote two threating letters to Matthew Griswold over Griswold opposing a prisoner of war exchange for Beckwith with the the British. Griswold did not consider Beckwith as a prisoner of war.

Some British solders searched unsuccessfully for Griswold at his home. He hid in a metal box. A second time, Griswold hid behind a neighbor’s linens. A girl, Heta Marvin, claimed she honestly told the British soldiers that Griswold had not passed by her, which was strictly true as he had not passed by while hidden behind her.

Connecticut claimed what was also claimed by Pennsylvania. There was violence between Connecticut settlers and Pennsylvanians in Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania. The Articles of Confederation decided that the land was in Pennsylvania. Yet the decision was made about who owned the land the Connecticut settlers claimed. Governor Griswold and the Connecticut General Assembly urged Pennsylvanians to settle these disagreement by legal means  rather than with violence. Griswold sent Samuel Johnson to Pennsylvania to represent Connecticut. Johnson brought peace by getting Connecticut to cede territorial claims to all but the Wester Reserve south of Lake Erie.

Griswold, along with William Noyes, represented Lyme at Connecticut’s ratification of the national Constitution.

But Most Republicans Believe That Marriage Is Between One Man and One Woman

Daniel Archangel. One Man and One Woman. Livermore Publishing, Inc., 2013.

This fiction book presents how a man charged with bigamy views the charges through his thoughts. It raised very interesting legal questions. It also raises great personal questions as to how one handles life when one is unable to divorce a mentally unbalanced wife in order to marry the woman he loves.

A District Attorney seeking to become Lieutenant Governor prosecutes the case in order to show that is a defender of “family values”. Bigamy has unsuccessfully been challenged on religious grounds and the bigamist agrees he is against someone secretly marrying two people. Is there a defense to bigamy? Will the courts agree to recognize all consenting adult marriages? This book takes readers through the drama of all this in fine fashion with expert legal analysis.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How Roosevelt (Not the Republican One) Helped Save a Noted Author

Lion Feuchtwager, The Devil in France: My Encounter With Him in the Summer of 1940. Los Angeles, Ca. Ferguson Press, 2009.

This memoir relates the experiences of a leading anti-Hitler Jewish author who fled Germain only to be placed in French interment camps in 1940 along with other Germans, including pro-Hitler Germans, just because he was German. The author observes the French government acted quickly and irrationally in imprisoning Germans and Austrians in fear there were Nazi collaborators within those communities. This was little prior planning on how this would be done. This interment also did not consider how much pain and suffering this would cause large numbers of people. Even people who had served in the French military or had sons serving in the French military were detained. In the author’s case, there was no consideration of the fact that he was a published denouncements of Hitler and was Jewish and was not at all likely to be a Nazi collaborator. Those interred were unable to contact others, including their families, in theory to prevent any communications with enemy contacts.

Tensions mounted within the internment cap the author was at as the Nazis approached close to the amp. Moving those interred was not a high priority for the French government. The French were slow to develop a system to determine who should be moved. The author recommended to the French authorities that those interred should decide. Those who wanted to be united with the Nazis would choose to stay and those who wanted to flee the Nazis should be moved. The author was glad when this was eventually essentially what happened. Those who were moved from the camp were moved packed in rail cars so tightly they could only stand for a trip that lasted several days.

The French government fell and a Fascist government took over. The author notes the French detainment policies still did not even make military sense but that the Fascists decided treatment according to ethnic hatred. The author was surprised when he was rescued by suddenly being told to get into a getaway car and to wear a disguise. He did not write the story of his escape from that point on and he feared some people who helped him might face reprisals.

The author’s widow finished the book. She did not provide details about his escape yet noted that a photograph of the author in camp led Americans to realize he had been interred. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt personally asked for efforts to save the author. He was rescued, brought to the home of American Ambassador Hiram Bingham, and traveled with Red Cross identification in a train alongside Nazi officers. He then lived in California.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Someday Republicans Will Have the Super Power of Flying Through Solid Objects

The Museum of Jurassic Technology: Primi Decem Anni Jubilee Catalogue. Los Angeles Trustees of the Society for the Diffusion on Useful Information (no date listed).

This book presents insights into several fascinating topics. These include the mico-miniature art of Hagop Sandaljian, the medical oddities collection of Thomas Dent Mutter, and the singing career and fascinating life of Madelena Delani who had a successful opera career while suffering from severe short term memory loss. Other sections, such as the research into the white bats that supposedly can fly through solid objects including the human hand and psychological memory research that was peer rejected, while interesting, are less useful. It is valuable to know that all these different types of academic endeavors existed and what they presented.

Let's Make Virtual Republicans

Gavin Newsom with Lisa Dickey. Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government. New York: The Penguin Books, 2013.

The authors observe the public actively engages in social networking interactions. The government fails to do this. The government mostly posts information and seldom allows the public to interact with public officials via social networking. Public cynicism emerges as people see political candidates with great web sites and such sites disappear upon election to office.

There are web sites independent from government where people respond to polls and exchange ideas on public issues. Gavin Newson notes he, as San Francisco Mayor, had Internet city budget forums. He believes this helped create a People’s Budget that was less reliant on special interests.

San Francisco interviewed homeless people to find what their needs are. Information needs were then arranged so providers could access and learn what these needs are.

To achieve citizen cyber-involvement, government needs to be transparent (except with personal privacy and safety issues), the data must be easily usable, the public must be able to participate in means familiar to them, public responses need to be able to bypass government inaction and create results, and an entrepreneurial innovative mindset is required

Estonians can pay parking meters, their taxes, parking fines, etc. via their cell phones. There is free Wi-fi in Estonia. By contrast, the US is far behind in offering public services via wireless communications. One cannot text 911 emergency service in the U.S., which can be critical if one cannot speak or must remain silent during a crisis such as a break-in.

The Federal government budget is not very transparent. Line items list millions of dollars which do not indicate precisely how the money is spent is spent. More transparency is required, the authors argue, so that people trust and understand what government is doing. Government data on the Internet must be findable, contain trustworthy data, and that data must be standardized.

Placing data into the cloud will reduce the expenses of Information Technology (IT) maintenance expenses. Further, as San Francisco learned the hard way, too much reliance on IT may allow a few individuals to be the only ones to know how systems operate which allows them to make themselves indispensable and thus hard to control. One person once shut down the entire San Francisco web site because only he knew the passwords and he refused for several days to open the sites.

Government can provide much useful data in unique ways. For instance, Philadelphia lets people find its murals. San Francisco provides information on a wide assortment of topics.

Military veterans can access their health care data. The Veterans Administration decided the data belongs to the patient and not to the health care providers.

Citizenville, similar to the Internet game Farmville, gets people involved in government decisions.

The Internet can be useful in providing feedback on government services.

Voting can be conducted on the Internet Petitions for candidates and ballot questions to get on the ballot can also be signed online. Steps to prevent fraud are required.

There are sites where people may discuss issues. Requiring posters to use their real names reduces flaming.

Using the Internet is a return to the idea that we are a commonwealth of people who interact on decision making. It could be a close return to the town meeting concept of governance.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Back When Good Republican Patronage Ran Intellectual Disability Facilities

J.P. Webster, The Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry: A History of Misery and Medicine. Charleston, S.C.: Histry Press, 2013.

This is an analysis and history of a long standing intellectual disability center. It was made famous for it many tragedies and instances of poor care of those in need. This book provides insights into what went wrong in the past, how people historically have viewed people with intellectual disabilities, and how these views and practices of care have changed.

This book will well serves those interested in historical aspects of care of people with intellectual disabilities and of local and state government and how their interference and lack of support created and increased many of the problems those attempting to provide good care faced. The following are notes more directed for use by public policy researchers.

As of 1830, an almshouse in Philadelphia had about 200 men and women deemed insane intermixed with the destitute, orphans, and people with contagious illnesses. The growth in this population led to creating separate facilities for those with different types of concerns, In 1833, Philadelphia Hospital began taking permanent residents. This hospital had athletic facilities, greenhouses, and a fountain. Within decades, there were several mental health and insane asylums throughout Philadelphia.

A scandal erupted among managers of several intellectual disability facilities in the mid 19th century. Financial discrepancies ere uncovered. Outrage at some practices led to strengthening a law prohibiting the sale of dead bodies.

The Pennsylvania legislature in 1887 created the Bullitt Bill (named after State Sen. William Christian Bullitt, Sr.) which developed a state government system of corrections and charities, including almshouses and serving people with intellectual disabilities. In 1903, the Bullitt Bill was altered by separating charities and corrections.

The management and corruption of Philadelphia administrators  discouraged the state government officials form providing greater funds to local Philadelphia charitable organizations from 1904 to 1938.

Byberry was purchased from farmers disgruntled over rising city taxes. Byberry was turned into a prison farm. Initially, there was space for 40 “mildly insane” prisoners.

Corrupt practices were exposed at Byberry. Record keeping procedures were installed to help combat this corruption.

Byberry was one of the 20th century intellectual facilities built without a patient cemetery. The practice then was a family member had 36 hours to claim a decreased patient’s body. Unclaimed bodies were used for medical dissections.

A City Controller study in the late 1930s uncovered that the patients were being used for administrators’ personal uses.

Suspicions arose after three different accidental deaths happened at Byberry. A lack of staff was blamed for one death where a patient choked from her restraints. Concerns over poor food, fire hazards and overcrowding grew. A lack of staff was observed as there were 15 physicians for 5,400 patients with only 2 physicians for 2,300 female patients. Pharmaceuticals were handled by 1 part-time employee. Alcohol was reportedly sold to patients although it was sometimes prescribed then for some medical conditions.

The Works Progress Administration paid for Byberry improvements during the Depression.

J. David Stern, a newspaper owner, and State Sen. Harry Shapiro called for reforms. Stern printed photographs of Byberry’s conditions. There were patients without clothing. Some patients lived amongst their own bodily wastes, the smell of which was noticeable in nearby buildings. Some patients were transferred, yet they went to facilities operated by people with political connections.

In 1938, Sen. Shapiro held committee hearings which led to observing that Byberry had 5,400 patients which was 300% over capacity. It was reported patients were often beaten and that the beatings were condoned by administrators. The state government sought to take over Byberry. The city resisted. Pennsylvania Welfare Secretary Charles Engard arrived at Byberry with 12 state troopers and 25 health professionals and had Byberry’s Superintendent removed. A court decision gave the state government control over Byberry. Shapiro’s efforts also allowed 13 other hospitals operated by city government be transferred to state government control.

Herbert Woodley was named Byberry’s Superintendent. He had reduced overcrowding elsewhere in a year. After being a Byberry for one month, Woodley declared Byberry “medieval” and “hopeless”. He stated it needed to quickly have new buildings constructed. He implemented more recreation and activities for the patients. Music concerts were held at Byberry.

The Coroner was suspicious of five deaths under the care of one caregiver at Byberry that had been labeled as accidental. It was discovered the caregiver was on parole. All Byberry employees were fingerprinted and underwent a criminal background check. A subsequent beating death and testimony about beatings led to criminal charged and plea bargained guilty pleas. Over 200 employees were removed for mistreating or abusing patients.

Attendants described their work with so many patients, many of whom were violent, as similar to a war zone.

World War II drained Byberry of many of its attendants.

In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was shown photographs of conditions at Byberry. Her first reaction was disbelieve that such horrendous photographs were real. She then worked to improve conditions at Byberry.

Byberry had 6,300 patients in 1962, including 400 convicts placed there by court order.

The Community Mental Health Centers Act became Federal law in 1963. this created smaller treatment centers and moved away from large institutions such as Byberry. In 1964, Pennsylvania passed its Mental Health / Mental Retardation Act that created centers by county and according to population. Philadelphia was divided into 13 units.

Byberry had several hundred senior citizens without intellectual disabilities. They were there as they could not afford nursing homes, had nowhere else to go, and Byberry could not turn them away.

In 1965, Auditor General Grace Sloan claimed Byberry’s Superintendent used security personnel for personal purposes. She also criticized that there were 337 patient escapes including 40% of court ordered patients.

Circa 1966, patients were moved from the deteriorating buildings at Byberry into other Byberry buildings. Governor Raymond Schafer visited the facilities and recommended they be closed. Yet no alternative was offered as to where the patients should be.

A woman was released after spending 47 years at Byberry. She had been admitted for “babbling”. It was discovered her babbling was Ukrainian.

State Reps. Milton Berkes and James Gallagher toured Byberry. They observed noticeable stench. They noted Byberry received $8.20 per patient compared to $21 to $35 per patients that other hospitals received. Gov. Schafer investigated Byberry. Razor wive was installed around the building for violent offenders. One building was condemned. After a female employee was raped, streetlights were installed.

Rep. Frank Salvatore became critical of Byberry’s Superintendent using state time and resources to write book. Salvatore also later criticized the closing of chapels at Byberry.

Byberry began transferring patients out of its facilities. Some patients were discharged to “family members” who turned out to be landlords. Byberry had about 600 patients by the mid-1980s. The infrastructure was badly deteriorated.. Shackled dangerous patients were often set free by other patients.

Governor Robert Casey in 1987 has a Blue Ribbon study look into Byberry. Upon reading their report, Casey decided to close Byberry. Twelve attendants were fired, resigned, or transferred for abusing patients. The patients were all transferred into  state hospitals, nursing homes, and community centers. The last five Byberry patients left the facility of June 21, 1990.

The Byberry buildings contain asbestos It would cost millions of dollars to tear them down or refurbish them. The site was purchased in 2006 with the intentions of becoming senior citizen housing.