|1857 INVESTIGATION: Albany City and County Poor House
This establishment located at the city of Albany,
embraces four buildings constructed of brick, two stories in height
above the basements, one in size 40 x 70 feet and two others 32 x 90
feet, connected with a farm of 216 acres, yielding an annual revenue
estimated at $6,000.00. The basements of one building are used for
domestic purposes, the others are unoccupied. In the poor house proper
are 10 rooms, warmed by furnaces and stoves, but with very little
ventilation. This building was erected 34 years ago. From six to forty
paupers are placed in a single room.
The number of inmates was 319, 120 males and 299 females. [Note:
while these numbers do not add up correctly, they are exactly as originally
published. Probably the total was meant to be 419. PHL ].
Of these three-fourths are foreign born, and eighty are under six years
of age. The sexes are kept separate, only meeting at their meals, which
are eaten in the same mess-room.
The average number of inmates is 350, and the keeper
reports that the number is declining, and states as causes of such
decline, a reduction in the amount of emigration, and the improved
system adopted by the Commissioners of Emigration in forwarding
emigrants to their destinations. They are supported at an average
monthly cost of ninety cents, exclusive of the products of the
farm. As is common, the paupers who are able are employed on the
farm and about the house. Once during the past year the
supervisors have visited and inspected the house, in a body. It is
supplied with bibles, and the city missionary preaches once or twice
each Sabbath. A teacher is employed in the house during the whole
year, who teaches the common English branches to an average number of
about fifty children. On arriving at proper age they are bound out to
various trades and employments, by the overseer of poor of the
city. The common council of Albany, impose rules and regulations
for the government of the house, and under their direction supplies are
furnished. The fare of the paupers is plain and wholesome.
To attend the paupers, a physician is employed at an annual salary of
$800. He is assisted by two resident medical students, who are boarded
for their services. The physician visits once each day and the
students twice. For bathing, two bath-rooms are furnished in the
insane asylum and two in the fever hospital. During the past year,
have occurred in the house thirty-two births and seventy-one
deaths. The keeper thinks twenty-five of these births were
illegitimate offspring. During the same time the inmates have
suffered from small pox, typhoid fever and dysentery. They have a
good pest or fever house, constructed of brick twenty-four by one
hundred feet and two stories high above the basement. It is heated
by furnaces, and is quite well ventilated by numerous openings into a
hollow wall. It embraces four wards, with capacity for one hundred
beds. There are now in hospital thirty-two sick; only two cases of
fever, the residue chronic cases.
Of the inmates seventy-three are lunatics, thirty-two
males and forty-one females, seventy are paupers, the remaining, three
cases pay from $3.00 to $4.50 per week. There is provided an
insane asylum in connection with the alms house, built of brick, forty
by ninety feet, two stories in height, containing thirty-eight rooms
above and eight in the basement, with convenient halls and yards.
Thirty-nine lunatics have been admitted during the past year. They
are under the care of the house physician, who is required to devote to
them particular attention, and four attendants, two male and two
female. Two are confined in cells or small rooms, which is the
only kind of restraint used. When out of the building they are
confined in commodious yards. Seven during the year have been
dismissed as cured, and two improved. It is judged that two thirds
of the whole number of insane may be safely pronounced improved.
One lunatic escaped on the 5th of January last and froze to death.
Frequent application has been made for admission to the State
institution, and refused.
Four of the paupers are idiots, three males and one
female, two are under sixteen years of age. There is one deaf and
dumb, fourteen years old, and three blind.
No corporal punishment is administered in the house.
One half, at least, of the paupers are reduced to their
present position by reason of intemperate habits.
Transcribed by PHS-Volunteer, Cheramie Breaux in Louisiana
An article in the Times-Union newspaper, by
Elizabeth Benjamin Staff writer, published:
April 19, 2000, titled " Forgotten in life, interrupted in death"
told of the following. Construction workers discovered several dozen graves near the armory behind what is now the David Axelrod Institute of Public Health in
1989. "County records show the site was used as a cemetery for the Albany County Almshouse from as early as 1880 until it moved to Colonie in the 1920s, but historians to date have been unsure of the exact boundaries of the area in which bodies were buried."
Then during Spring of 2000 more bodies were discovered during the site work for the University Heights project -- a campus
complex for a group of local colleges which was expected to include a
bookstore and food court in the old armory as well as a hotel and conference center.
Some of the graves were located beneath the foundation of buildings once used by the Air National Guard
which had been recently demolished. Others were said to lie beneath the parking
lot of the state-owned Axelrod Institute.
Carol Raemsch, a bioarchaeologist with Hartgen Associates was quoted as
saying, "These were poor people who didn't matter much back when there weren't a lot of rules about building. Construction was done right on top of them.''
It was also reported that the poorhouse deaths were allotted one line apiece in a ledger kept at the Albany County Hall of Records.
Apparently there are plans to exhume and relocate those remains. PHL
People Buried at Albany Almshouse
Updated July 2002 (1800+ entries -- alphabetical)
Latest Appeal for Help Protesting the Treatment of
|August 14, 2002
A threatened site in the City of Albany needs
your help! A private developer is currently impacting a portion
of the 19th century Albany County Almshouse cemetery site. The
New York Archaeological Council (NYAC) was informed last month
that the developer was planning to remove several graves
(including those of children) with a backhoe.
The NYAC Board wrote a letter of concern to the Mayor's
office and was informed no work would occur on the site until a
plan for sensitive treatment of the burials was developed.
However, NYAC was informed that backhoes were on site this
Monday. The mayor's office was contacted, and NYAC was faxed a
copy of a Memorandum of Understanding that still called for
excavation by backhoe and by "grave diggers," with no
formal archaeological mitigation planned. The MOU is no
different than the developer's original plan, and was signed
only by the developer and the City Archaeologist.
Several local archaeologists are monitoring the situation and
are trying to put a stop to the project until a more adequate
MOU is formulated.
The developer and the city are both aware of the significance
of this resource as NYAC has written several letters concerning
the situation, and the New York State Museum has excavated
nearly 800 burials on the property immediately adjacent to this
Please help by sending a letter of concern to the mayor's
office stating that the current work should be stopped
immediately and that this segment of the site should not be
treated any differently than the adjacent property, and
therefore should be subject to a full archaeological mitigation.
Please send your letters to Mayor Gerald Jennings, City Hall,
Eagle Street, Albany, New York 12207. If possible, please fax
the letter: (518) 434-5013. If you have any questions please
e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks in advance for
any support you can provide.
Carol A. Raemsch, Ph.D.
Chair, NYAC Human Remains Committee
Another newspaper article,
a letter from the New York Archaeological Council
to Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, and
"visions of television cameras focused on backhoes
tossing the remains of a known cemetery into dump trucks" ...
have again been required to get the city
to do the right thing regarding another portion of the
old almshouse cemetery!
the story from the
Sunday July 28, 2002
But read it soon; they only archive the articles on-line
for one week; after that you will need to pay to read it on-line.
See Notice Above (under RECORDS)
for information about records
deaths and interments.
See previous NEWS
ALERT ! notices
(for more details about the disposition of this cemetery)