Monroe County Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story

Caption:  Monroe County Alms House    Rochester  N.Y.


The notes below have been abstracted from the following reports.
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the Poorhouse Story
ANNUAL REPORT of the STATE BOARD of CHARITIES                                         p 1003-1004
A TABLE showing the number of Paupers supported at the public expense in the county of MONROE, during the twelve months preceding April 21, 1823, with other particulars, derived from public documents and reports furnished the Secretary of State.    [*** indicated No return (submitted)]
TOWNS Total number of paupers
supported during the
whole of the last year.
Total number relieved
during a part of the last year.
Total expenses of supporting and relieving paupers (including fees and expenses of officers, removals and appeals) for the last year.

Dolls.    Cts.

Expenses and cost of officers and appeals during same period.


Dolls.   Cts.

Number of paupers removed during the last year.
Brighton 4 14 7 11 7 293.53 Not stated. 1
Clarkson 0 Not stated.       52.80 20  
Chili ***                
Gates ***                
Greece ***                
Henrietta 3 5 4 4 4 132.50 4.44  
Mendon ***                
Ogden ***                
Parma 2 4 3 3 4 100.00 30.00  
Penfield ***                
Perrington ***                
Pittsford ***                
Riga 2 6 3 5 6 172.31 50.15 5
Rush 0 1 1 0 0 21.00 5.00 1
Sweden 0 2 1 1 1 59.32 40.75  
Wheatland 1 1 1 1 0 64.40 15.50 1
   Sums of money raised by tax, in the county of Monroe, for the support of the poor, in the years  1821, 1822, 1823.

          In the year 1821,          $   935.33
                           1822,            2,039.72
                           1823,            2,334.99

                 Total,                     $5,310.04

     In the town of Clarkson, there is on hand a fund of $200 for the support of the poor, and in the town of Wheatland a like fund of $92.97.


   There is no poor house nor house of industry in this town or in the county.  The principal part of the expenditures of the town, go to the relief of foreign paupers, and poor people having residence in other parts of the state.  [Letter from the supervisor of Brighton.]


   There is no poor house nor house of industry in the county.  I feel confident, however, that something of the kind, under proper regulations and discipline, and by allowing towns to send their poor to be there supported, at the expense of the town sending them, would be attended with good effects, not only as a preventive of pauperism, but as being by far more economical in point of expense.  Previous to the year 1821, justices, overseers and constables were paid out of the poor monies for services in relation to the poor.  This induced them, when any money came to their hands, to retain it and pay what they could by their services.  The remainder, if any, was paid to the overseers on the first Tuesday of March, and they were ready to hear complaints and make expense, choosing to pay in services rather than in money.  Since the year 1821, the overseers alone, have been paid out of the poor monies, and this has been a beneficial regulation.  If distillers were obliged to take licenses they would assist in the support of the poor, and while distilleries are a fruitful source of pauperism, they contribute little or nothing to the poor fund.  [Letter from the supervisor of Sweden.]


   I would remark upon three obnoxious features in our present poor-laws.  1.  The useless expense and litigation occasioned by the removal of paupers.  2.  The tedious, troublesome, and even disgusting formality, of requiring poor-masters to apply to justices of the peace for orders, before they can relieve the wants of the poor.  And 3. The inhospitable, requirements imposed on house holders, to report to the poor-masters, all strangers that may happen to sojourn with the, (to the end that they may be warned out of town,) or become liable to a fine and chargeable with their support, should it be required.  All of which experience has taught us, are serious evils producing heavy bills of unnecessary expense for towns, and much embarrassment to the poor.  [Letter from the supervisor of Wheatland.]

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


These buildings located near Rochester are of large size, four stories in height, and three in number; two are of brick, one of wood, connected with a farm of one hundred and thirty-four acres yielding an annual revenue of $3,500.00.  There are two basements, occupied for cells for the insane, and for sitting and sleeping rooms.  The buildings have no ventilation and are heated principally by stoves.  The number of inmates was two hundred and eighty, the sexes being equally divided; of these but forty are native born.  Seventy-five are children under sixteen years of age.  There is a complete separation of the sexes.  They are under one keeper who employs but a single assistant, who in turn is also assisted by the able paupers.  On an average, seven or eight paupers are placed in one room, though sometimes as many as one hundred are placed in a single apartment.  The average number of inmates is three hundred and sixty, supported at a weekly cost of sixty-eight cents.  The males who are able are employed on the farm and the women in domestic affairs.  The house has been visited once during the year by the supervisors, and the superintendents of poor visit the house each week.  The house is supplied with Bibles and there is preaching each sabbath conducted by the students of Rochester University.  Sabbath school instruction is also furnished by them.  A common school is in session at the house during the whole year.  The superintendents, through the keeper, furnish supplies and prescribe rules, regulating the diet, they also bind out the children at suitable ages.  The fare of the paupers consists of meat, bread, and vegetables; plain but nutritious food.  The keeper himself is a physician and furnishes the medical attendance required by the paupers.  During the year there has been twenty-three births and forty-six deaths.  There is here both a fever and a pest house apart from the main buildings.  Among the paupers are five blind and two deaf and dumb persons.  There are furnished no facilities for bathing, an omission of a very important sanitary measure.  During last spring the measles were prevalent in the house.

Of the inmates twenty-eight are lunatics; thirteen males and fifteen females; all are paupers.  Forty-two lunatics have been admitted during the year, and about that number are received each year.  Ten women and eight men are confined in cells.  During the past year six have been materially improved.  As a means of restraint handcuffs are sometimes used.  Their attendance consists in a general oversight from the keeper, assisted by two paupers, one male and a female.  The construction of the house is not such as to allow classification of the insane and hence recourse to cell confinement is had, where its effects are decidedly injurious.  Lunatics at this house, with its present facilities can by no means receive proper treatment.  They are discharged by town overseers, by superintendents of the poor, and by the magistrate or person committing them to the house.  There are now awaiting, two lunatics for reception in the State Asylum, where admission is now denied.

Eight of the paupers are idiots; four male and four female.  The present keeper, Dr. James, has occupied his position for six years, and gives the opinion founded on observation as keeper and medical attendant, during that time, that fifteen-sixteenths of the paupers are brought here by intemperance.  For so large an establishment, with so imperfect and faulty accommodations, it seems well-conducted.

the Poorhouse Story

"My Great Grandparents were keepers of the Poorhouse in Churchville, N.Y., Monroe Co. til around 1887. Not sure how long they were there. They then moved to Clarendon, N.Y., Orleans Co. Does anybody have any info on this Poorhouse?" 
     Norma Joy 

the Poorhouse Story


In J. H. French's (1860) Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York State
the following  is stated:
" In [the] immediate vicinity [of West Brighton] are the co. workhouse, poorhouse, and insane hospital, the Mount Hope Rural Cemetery, the Monroe co. almshouses, an extensive glue factory, and several other manufactories."
Note: I find myself confused by that wording because he seems to be stating that there is a county workhouse and other Monroe County almshouses ... plural!  If anyone can provide us with further information about such facilities, it would be greatly appreciated. PHL


Rochester appears to have had a very active charitable community!
The following organizations & institutions were located in the on-line French's excerpts on the Monroe County GenWeb site where you can find further information. It is possible that French was referring to some of these in the quote cited above.   
The Female Charitable Society
The Home of the Friendless
The House for Idle and Vagrant Children
The Western House of Refuge for Juvenile Delinquents
These were not poorhouses and apparently only the House of Refuge was a tax-supported (state) facility; but this may be what French was referring to as "other Monroe County almshouses."  PHL


the Poorhouse Story

Microfilm Series A1978  Roll Number(s) 75-84  more information
the Poorhouse Story

Poorhouse Cemetery in Rochester is described on the Monroe County GenWeb site.
the Poorhouse Story

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