The Poorhouse Story  
18th issue)

If the only prayer you would say in your whole life is "Thank you," that would suffice.
Meister Eckhart
13th-century Christian mystic


Since my last newsletter closed with my departure for vacation,  I  guess I should open this one with a vacation report.
(No, you don't need to sit through my slides!  Instead I will give you links to some of the places we visited. Gotcha!)
And we are not getting any kickbacks for these recommendations; we just like to share. 

[Note: You can always scroll down past all the fru-fru  -- and go directly  to the nitty-gritties -- like recent additions, etc.] 

Here's where we stayed on Glen Lake (near Lake George) in upstate NY.  Glorious!  The
lake is beautiful, the accommodations were simple, clean and something we could afford!
Note: The fact that we arrived the day after
Labor Day meant lower rates and smaller crowds.
Lowell National Historical Park
The history of America's Industrial Revolution is commemorated in Lowell, Massachusetts. The Boott Cotton Mills Museum with its operating weave room of 88 power looms, "mill girl" boardinghouses, the Suffolk Mill Turbine Exhibit and guided tours tell the story of the transition from farm to factory, chronicle immigrant and labor history and trace industrial technology. The park includes textile mills, worker housing, 5.6 miles of canals, and 19th-century commercial buildings.
       You have got to visit this place!
It's a fascinating magical time tunnel.

    We spent one full day -- and needed another.
    Be sure to take the on-line tour.

                   Fort Ticonderoga
                National Historic Landmark            
        Revolutionary War Reenactment

Each year on the weekend following Labor Day, Fort Ticonderoga focuses its attention on the American Revolution. Over 400 re-enactors come together at the Revolutionary War encampment to highlight Fort Ticonderoga's pivotal role in the early war years.



            Grandma Moses Gallery

Features the work of 
Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961), who became known to the world as Grandma Moses, one of America's most noted folk artists.

andrewphcemetery.jpg (72264 bytes)

OK, OK ... 
   I give up:

Uhmmm, just two personal snapshots ... couldn't resist!


This is my son, Andrew, mugging for the camera outside the only remaining original building on the grounds of the Washington County Poorhouse in Argyle in upstate New York. And visiting the grave of the adopted brother of my great great grandmother Emma.  Charles is buried in the cemetery at that poorhouse where she was an inmate and later "bound out" (indentured) as a child.

This is where it all started for the PHL!
(including The POORHOUSE STORY website)

He was very gracious about my dragging him 2000 miles to see it  for himself for the first time.  

Andy, "Thanks!"

andrewwaving.jpg (43893 bytes)

... and with my dose of Grandma Moses reminding me that we are never "too old" to start anything new (yesss!)
we came back to the twenty-first century.  I had a totally wonderful time in New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Now I am even more behind on getting The POORHOUSE STORY work done; but you knew I didn't need a vacation to find myself in that situation. 

Happy Thanksgiving!


For some reason ... I can't seem to get this section going right now.  
(Guess I am solidly in a doing rather than reflecting mood.)
So...I'll give you two things to reflect on for yourselves: 

Two things you can be thankful you are not doing for the holidays!

Cooking Plum Pudding for 100!
(as a British Workhouse Cook)

Entering the Poorhouse! ( with your young family )
on the day after Christmas 1851


LETTER from Descendent 
& transcript of poorhouse record entry


Table of STATISTICS and NEW ITEMS ADDED to The PHS Website

E-mail Subscribers to Monthly Newsletter
as of  08/29/2002 -- 822
as of  11/26/2002 --  787
We have had to purge 41 people because of inability to deliver due to spam filtering.                             
NOTICE: Because many people (and many ISPs) are now using spam filters, we are having difficulty delivering our newsletter announcements to many of you who have subscribed.  Approximately 15% of our newsletter announcements turn out to be undeliverable.  For that reason, we have begun to post on our homepage a box with the issue number and date of the most recently posted newsletter.  If you have not been receiving our notices ... you may simply need to check the homepage frequently to see if a new issue has been published.  Our apologies for this inconvenience.   PHL

-- since last newsletter's stats (ended
8/24/2002) -- 68,908   (757 /day)
-- Total (as of 11/23/2002) since 5/8/2000 -- 479,996  [Looks like we will hit the half million mark soon!]

Poorhouse History was the topic ... 
                                   on the radio again!

November 14th, host Lee Fielding on "North Jersey's Talking" WGHT (1500) highlighted poorhouse history in an attempt to help the community better understand what the poorhouse really represented. The program airs from Pompton Lakes, Passaic County, New Jersey. At issue was the controversy in Hudson County about how to deal with an abandoned cemetery in which were buried some 3500+ people from the local poorhouse, a mental hospital, and a jail. 

Jeanne Summerton Spangler (who grew up in a NJ poorhouse where her parents -- and before them, her grandparents -- were the Superintendent & Matron) was interviewed. Also interviewed were Patrick Andriani, whose immigrant grandfather was buried in the graveyard; and Bill T Hastings, who is circulating a petition and has created a clearinghouse website about the issue and is also a descendant of someone interred there.

The program could be heard only live (in "real time") on the internet. [This station does not yet archive programs online for later listening.] But we sent out a special notice to those of you on the e-mail list to receive this newsletter.

Besides, it was early, verrrry early. Especially for those of us who live in Texas and are not morning people!  <yawn>

The Salem News
Salem, Mass
Wednesday, September 11, 2002

carried the article 
mentioned below

for which we hope to gain permission to copy soon

Poorhouse document donated to 
Peabody Essex Museum

by Tom Dalton
Staff writer

This was an interview with PHL and William La Moy, librarian,
during the visit to make the donation.  (See Newsletter 17 )

(based on readers submissions)

Last resort for the poor: The Almshouse, 1843- 1900  

By James M Whalen

from "The New Brunswick Reader" 
(a Saturday insert to the Telegraph-Journal, Saint John) 
September 14, 2002
copied with permission

This is a wonderfully comprehensive article about the history of the Saint John County  poorhouse. But it will be of value also to those interested in the history of poor relief throughout Canada.  PHL

We've gone international!

Check out our page for


(We didn’t create them; 
we just show them!)

The Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD) on-line has microfilmed many important poorhouse records, and they have also listed on their website many other records which they have in their holdings. But the most exciting news is that they have provided an on-line searchable name index to several of the Almshouse Registers!!!  

This time they have outdone themselves!

IRAD has recently added an on-line searchable name index for Morgan County Poor Farm records  But this time they have abstracted and transcribed many details from each of these records.  Also included are wonderful graphics and much information 
about what is included in the various kinds 
of poor farm records kept in Illinois.  

Don't miss this!

Here is a fascinating and rather extensive article about the history of the Dallas County Iowa poor farm. It is an eight page PDF file entitled "Historic Interpretation of Institutional Management." While it focuses in great detail on Dallas County, it also includes statistics and some historical information about the 20th century fate of poor farms in other Iowa counties.  [This was apparently part of a project of students and faculty at Iowa State University who have been studying and using data from the General Land Office. We are uncertain about the date of publication. ]

Hudson County NJ

A controversy over the highway department's plan to run a highway exit through an old cemetery (which was used for the old poorhouse, a mental hospital, and a jail) -- relocating
those 3500+ remains to a mass grave
-- has resulted in a court decision requiring a month long delay to study alternatives.  Two descendents have protested and a petition is being circulated in print and on-line.  For more information, click on the link to NEWS ALERTS.

  Dutchess County NY

Ginny Buechele is working hard as an advocate for retaining the history of the poorhouse and for the preservation of it's cemetery and records. She is documenting the effort on her
website. But we recently got her latest updates. They include: (1) a resolution which the county executive and legislators recently passed; (2) an offer by Professor Brian G. McAdoo of the Vassar College Department of Geology & Geography to volunteer the services of  his 2003 Fall Semester Advanced Geophysics class to conduct a geophysical survey at the Potter’s Field Site similar in scope to the project they recently performed in Ulster County to research that poorhouse cemetery; (3) confirmation of the probability that the poorhouse records are in the custody of a private historical repository; and (4) the creation of a list of  volunteers who may be needed to assist with future clean-up efforts for the cemetery. 
For more information please click on the link to NEWS ALERTS and scroll down a little.
HONORED STATES previous Illinois/Kansas/Ohio/Pennsylvania/Tennessee
 Picture Postcards/Photos/Illustrations
  IA Harrison
     IL Kane / McDonough / Warren
     NY Fulton / Ulster
   WI Portage
Notes from Readers / Local/Historical Notes
  IA Jackson / Jones / Mitchell / Polk / Tama
Note: added excerpt of poor law summary 1904 report
  IL Morgan
  NC Note: added excerpt of poor law summary 1904 report
  NJ Essex / Sussex / Union
  VA Norfolk / Princess Anne

Historical Documents     

 MA   Essex  (Salem records returned to Peabody-Essex Museum)
Historical Memorabilia   None added recently
Poorhouse Records
See Featured Article section above
for information about searchable name index
IL Morgan
Cemetery Lists (or notes)
Note of Thanks:  She's done it again!   

Our thanks to Brenda Fleming for having updated the Cemetery Pages -- 
which had not been touched since a year ago when this "retired" teacher 
last took time out from her tutoring to help us get caught up.  

Here's Brenda smiling about turning in her "teacher" keys.  
Little did she know how much we had waiting for her to do for all of us!

(Note: You can view her project by returning to the homepage and clicking the Cemetery link.)

Brenda.jpg (36115 bytes)

 obituary of first inmate of the Warren County Poorhouse in Illinois

Monmouth Atlas -- June 31, 1887
Henry Hopper
, aged 86 years, died of old age at the County House last night at 9 o'clock.  Mr. Hopper was the first inmate of this house, being placed there as soon as it was built, about 27 years ago.  When forty years old he was injured about the head by a saw mill and after that time his mind was never quite right. He became silly and was made an inmate of the poor house.  Mr. Hopper was one of the early settlers, coming to this section about 1834.  Before his misfortune overtook him he was an industrious and hard working man, well liked by his neighbors.  He has no relatives in this city and it is doubtful if he had any anywhere else.  It is said he has a brother but nobody knows where he is.
IL Warren
   See the information above and on NEWS ALERTS page -- includes 3500+ burial list NJ Hudson
Poorhouse Resident lists from CENSUS
new material or off-site links to the web)
  1895 IA Wapello
   1850 KY Madison
      1900 TX Dallas
The Poorhouse in Literature

More Than A Roof:
The Development of Minnesota Poor Farms
and Homes for the Aged

By Ethel McClure

Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul  1968

(currently out of print; but available from many sources 
through InterLibrary Loan program)


previous Delaware/Illinois/Michigan/Minnesota/Ohio/Oregon
New York/Pennsylvania
  new Illinois ... again.
They outdid themselves this time!  (See Article Above)
Thanks for your continued support.
Linda Crannell                                                        
(aka=The Poorhouse Lady)

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