Columbia County Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story

Caption: Columbia County Alms House, Ghent, N.Y.

the Poorhouse Story

The notes below have been abstracted from the following reports.
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the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story
1824 LAW (required establishment of poorhouse vs. exempted):
the Poorhouse Story

This establishment consists of a number of wooden buildings of various sizes and forms, all two stories in height; connected is a farm of 204 acres, yielding a revenue of $1,400. The basements are occupied as kitchens, & etc, & etc. In the buildings are eighteen rooms, or wards, occupied by the paupers and warmed by stoves, but not at all ventilated; the ceilings are seven feet high. The number of inmates was 187; 112 males and 75 females. Of these one-third are of foreign birth and thirty-four under sixteen years of age. The sexes are kept separate; they are under a single keeper who has charge of the house. The average number of inmates is 208, supported at a weekly cost of $1.00. The more able paupers labor on the farm and about the house. Once the supervisors have visited the house during the past year. It is supplied with Bibles, and religious services are attended twice each month. For the instruction of the young a school is taught in the house during the whole year, and the boys are kept entirely separate and apart from the older paupers. The superintendents of the poor procure supplies, regulate the government of the house, bind out the children on their arrival at proper age, and exercise the power of discharging lunatics. The fare of the paupers consists of meat, bread and vegetables, of good quality. Tea and butter are also furnished daily. A physician is employed by the year. No facilities are afforded for bathing. During the year have occurred in the house twelve births and fifteen deaths. No contagious disease has prevailed. A fever or pest house is connected with the establishment. Of the inmates thirty-five are lunatics, fifteen males and twenty females; all are paupers, save two, who each pay one dollar a week; eight have been admitted within the year. Their only attendance is from the same paupers.

Four are confined in cells, one of whom has been so confined three years. They are also restrained by mitts and by the ball and chain. The keeper says he sometimes whips the lunatics, but that "he believes it does no good". Five of the inmates are idiots, two males and three females. Three-fourths of the paupers are brought here by intemperance.

During the year two lunatics have escaped from the house, and no search was instituted for their recovery. The children here are kept clean, and well clothed, and are in all respects well cared for. The house is very badly constructed, but is kept clean, and the inmates well fed. The cells, of which there are twenty-four, are clean, and beds are provided in them whenever the lunatics will allow them to remain.

Transcribed by PHS-Volunteer, Cheramie Breaux in Louisiana
the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story

Microfilm Series A1978  Roll Number(s) 21-23  more information
the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story

We are hoping to build this base of information about the poorhouse in COLUMBIA county through the helpful participation of readers. All are requested to submit items of interest by sending e-mail 
to The Poorhouse Lady.

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