the Poorhouse Story

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

This county's section of a legislative investigation into the condition of poor relief in New York State is one of the most comprehensive and enlightening sections in this entire historic report. It actually reviews (within the county) almost every one of the then existent methods of poor relief and gives examples of their costs and failures. There are also expressed here the full range of contemporary opinion (pro-, con-, and indifferent) regarding the establishment of a system of county poor-houses -- which was ultimately accomplished. It is a long report but very well worth reading!

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


This is an old dilapidated two-story structure, in a rectangular form, 90 x 30 feet, on a side enclosing an open space, in the centre of which a fountain of water in ample quantity is constantly playing, and the idea of a bath is foreign to the establishment. The house is attempted to be warmed by stoves, but cannot be made comfortable in cold weather. Connected with the house is a farm of 150 acres, yielding an annual revenue of $1,000. For two years preceding the present the paupers were supported by contract, the contractor receiving the use of the house and farm, and 62 cents for permanent and 65 cents for transient paupers per week, and all moneys receivable from the Commissioners of Emigration, and it was stated, as a little singular, as well as a fact, that the contractor was much more successful in realizing money for supporting emigrant poor than the superintendents of the county have been. The present keeper has been in charge but a few months; he represented that the house was in an exceedingly filthy condition when he entered upon the duties of his office, and that he had already used some forty bushels of lime in whitewashing, and otherwise in order to make the house what it then was.

The house affords sixteen rooms and twelve cells for the use of paupers. The present number of inmates is seventy-six, and as many as eighteen are sometimes placed in one room. Of the whole number three-fourths are males and one-fourth females. Of these three fourths are foreign and one-fourth native born, including eleven children. The keeper is assisted by his wife and the paupers in working the farm and providing for the family.

The sexes are not separated by day, and not entirely at night. There is no provision for religious instruction, nor is the house supplied with Bibles. A school is taught six months in the year for children. The house has been inspected twice during the year by the board of supervisors. The fare of the paupers consists of good, plain, wholesome food. The supplies are purchased by the superintendent, or by his orders. He also, jointly with a committee of the board of supervisors, prescribes rules regulating the diet; he binds out the children, & etc. The average number of inmates is 125. A physician is employed who visits the house twice a week, for which he receives a salary of $100 a year. Within six months there have been two births and five deaths. Thirteen of the inmates are lunatics, of these twelve are paupers--nine males and four females, three have been admitted in the last six months, and during the same time one has escaped that has not been recovered. The lunatics have a pauper attendant to wait upon them, but receive no special medical attention, seven are confined in cells, and one is sometimes whipped, and he is a cripple. None have been cured nor improved.

Five of the paupers are idiots, two male three female. The forms of punishment are whipping, shutting them up in dark cells, ball and chain to the leg. Three-fourths of all the cases that come to this house come consequent upon habits of inebriation.
Transcribed by PHS-Volunteer, Cheramie Breaux in Louisiana
the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story
Click here to see a scan of an original 1817 document:  
Articles of Agreement (which resolved an issue of
which county would be responsible for the support of two
specific individuals when Hamilton County split off from Montgomery County. (Page takes a while to load.)

There is a very interesting old report about the Montgomery County Poorhouse
(which was sent to a state agency)
quoted from Gazetteer and Business Directory of Montgomery County, N.Y. 1869-70
and appearing on the Montgomery County GenWeb site.


the Poorhouse Story

 Residents of the Montgomery County Poor House - 1870 (from the Herkimer/Montgomery Counties GenWeb site)

 Residents of the Montgomery County Poor House - 1860  (from the Herkimer/Montgomery Counties GenWeb site)

 Residents of the Montgomery County Poor House - 1850  (from the Herkimer/Montgomery Counties GenWeb site)

Microfilm Series A1978  Roll Number(s) 84-85  more information
the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story

We are hoping to build this base of information about the poorhouse in MONTGOMERY-TRYON 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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