Delaware County Poorhouse
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POORHOUSE HISTORY by county

The notes below have been abstracted from the following reports.
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YATES REPORT      1824 LAW      1857 REPORT EXPLANATION
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YATES REPORT: 

Click here to see the exact text of the section dealing with DELAWARE County from this 1823 survey of the conditions and methods of poor relief throughout the state which resulted in the passage of the law in 1824 which established a system of county poorhouses in New York.

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1824 LAW (required establishment of poorhouse vs. exempted): exempt
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1857 INVESTIGATION:

This is a two-story house of wood, very old and dilapidated, thirty by forty feet. Beside this is an asylum twenty-five by thirty feet. Attached is a farm of one hundred and seventy-five acres yielding a revenue of $250.00. The basements are used only for the storage of produce. In the house are twelve rooms heated by stoves and furnaces, destitute of ventilation and with extremely low ceilings. The number of inmates was fifty-eight; twenty-five males and thirty-three females; of these two-thirds are native and one-third foreign born; eleven are under sixteen years of age. The sexes are kept separate. They are under one keeper assisted by his wife. From two to twelve paupers are placed in a single room. The average number of inmates is sixty-five; supported at an average weekly cost of one dollar. The able males are employed on the farm and the women about the house. Once during the year past the supervisors have visited the house. It is supplied with Bibles, and there are occasional religious services; the children are sent to the district school. The superintendent procures supplies for the house, and prescribes rules and regulations concerning government and system of diet. He also binds out the children and exercises the power of discharging lunatics. A physician is employed by the year, who visits the house when called. There are no arrangements for bathing and no water for the house except what is drawn from the river. They have a well, which is now (August 16,) dry. During the year have occurred seven deaths.

Of the inmates, thirteen are lunatics; three males, ten females, all except one are paupers. For the reception of lunatics is erected another and separate building, in size twenty-five by thirty feet. In this are fourteen cells, close and without means of light or ventilation, except by a small diamond hole in the door. The inmates sleep on straw changed once a week. Two are confined in these cells the whole time and all at night. They have no special medical or other attendance. Sometimes they are restrained by handcuffs. The keeper reports two as improved and three cured during the year; but the committee fail to discover how improvement or cures can be effected with the facilites here offered. Eight of the paupers are idiots; five males, three females. There is one deaf and dumb.

Transcribed by PHS-Volunteer, Cheramie Breaux in Louisiana
the Poorhouse Story
PERSONAL NOTES FROM READERS:

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LOCAL NOTES:

 

"THE INSANE POOR OF DELAWARE COUNTY

from The Bloomville Mirror Feb. 21, 1865 

"... The sufferings of these unfortunates from whom the air and light of heaven is shut out, would form a dark chapter of human misery could it be written."
Note: Fortunately that chapter was written ... by Dorothy Dix who successfully campaigned for reform of these conditions throughout the country.  PHL

 

 

from online edition of Delaware County portion of    
Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York State 
by J. H. French, LL.D. - 1860
"The poorhouse is an old, two story wood building, situated upon a farm of 175 acres about 2 mi. S. of Delhi Village. The average number of inmates is 65, supported at a cost of $1.00 per week each. The farm yields an income of $250."

 

During my November 2001 "Going to the Poorhouse" Speaking tour around NYS ... we discovered in several counties that, while there might have been no mention of the history of the county (or town) poorhouse(s) in the county history books, one could usually be reconstructed from the reports of the Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors.
Lo & Behold! As I was catching up on poorhouse items on the internet ... I found that the Delaware County GenWeb site has actually transcribed this publication for their county from 1832 through 1845 ... and it is searchable! So I searched using the word "poor" and did indeed find many items which gave a sketchy history of that institution during that time period. It seems that there was a good deal of upset about the costs of the Delaware County Poorhouse. There were a few motions (which did not carry) to do away with that system and return the care of the poor to the various towns. There was also a rather impassioned effort to have the children in the poorhouse removed by "binding out" to families in the community. It concluded with a very detailed report to the supervisors from the Superintendents of the Poor for the year 1845.  But...go read for yourself. Just use the search engine provided at ...

PROCEEDINGS OF 
THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS  
OF THE COUNTY OF DELAWARE
(1832-1845)

Note: The page is very large and takes a while to load ...
but it is well worth the wait.  PHL

the Poorhouse Story

RECORDS:

                                                                 

But Look Here ! On another page by Linda Ogborn --

" There are over 4000 on this list from public records of the 
Pauper's in the "Poor House" in Delaware County."

Linda Ogborn, September 6, 1998

This lady should get a trophy! What a huge work!  PHL


Poorhouse INMATE REGISTRATION CERTIFICATES
Microfilm Series A1978  Roll Number(s) 24-25
  more information
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CEMETERY:

The Delaware County Times (Delhi newspaper) in the September 11, 1984 issue printed a list of known graves in the Delaware County Potter's Field (1885-1956) -- 378 names.  (See below)

"Many of the inhabitants of the poorhouse in Delhi  were buried on the grounds with only a plaque denoting this fact.  It sits near the driveway.  As you may or may not know, this property is now owned by Delhi SUNY  -  majority of it used as golf course. The piece of the property that contains the remains, to my knowledge, is not trampled or used in any way.  It is, however, well cared for.  
As I read the plaque,  I inferred that there had not ever been individual markers" 
     Harriett Schultz   PSCHULTZ30@msn.com 

 

And now look here!  Another page by Linda Ogborn --

The County's Potters' Field 

Some Historical Notes 
and the list of known graves



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We are hoping to build this base of information about the poorhouse in DELAWARE 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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