Members of this extensive group have had a pauper record in Indianapolis since 1840. They have been in the almshouse, the House of Refuge, the Woman's Reformatory, the penitentiaries, and have received continuous aid from the township. The Ishmaels are intermarried with 250 other families of similar habits and tendencies. In the family history are murders, a large number of illegitimacies, and out of the 1092 individuals whose cases have been investigated, 121 are known to have been prostitutes. The members of the family are generally diseased. The children often die young. They live by petty stealing, begging, ash-gathering. In summer they 'gypsy,' or travel in wagons east or west. We hear of them in Illinois about Decatur, and in Ohio about Columbus. In the fall they return. They have been known to live in hollow trees on the river-bottoms, or in empty houses. Strangely enough they are not intemperate. The individuals already traced are over 5000, interwoven by descent and marriage. They under-run society like devil-grass.
"American Charities" (1908)