The Poorhouse Story  
11/16/2003  ooops!

(23rd issue)

May your holidays be joyous and your new year blessed!       PHL




Personally, I would rather train a screaming child or a snarling, vicious dog than train a new computer.  
And that's the truth.  I'm not kidding.  

I am, however, now (as I write ... and you, hopefully, get to read) having to train a new computer.  And the operating system is new to me. And all of the programs are in versions that are also new to me. And when you buy your software pre-installed (because some of us, who shall remain nameless, never seem to be able to successfully install new software ... never mind even considering downloading a program update) on your new Dell computer -- you can't call Microsoft for tech support. (Does Dell tell you that when you are discussing what to put on your new computer?  Nooooo.)  And is Dell's tech support very knowledgeable about MS software nitty-gritties ?  Not!

OK. Enough venting.  Now for the apologies ... and the excuses!

You may have noticed that nothing new has been published to The POORHOUSE STORY website for several weeks. You (some of you) may have noticed that the project(s) we were working on together have not been posted and you have not heard for me for several weeks.  You may have noticed that I have not responded to your e-mail for several weeks.

If you lived in my real world ... as opposed to the virtual world of The Poorhouse Lady ... you may not have had any doubt at all that I had totally lost my mind!  I had!  (I think I have it back; but I certainly don't have control of any computer yet.)

You guessed it: the old laptop computer crashed big time.  The child who spilled a HUGE Coke right on top of it still lives. (But it was a close call!)  And a company called "Mr. Notebook" (here in Austin TX) deserves huge kudos.  They did manage to save the computer ... but even more important, they saved the DATA!  (That's a euphemism for everything I ever wrote for the website or anything else ... like IRS!) [Yes, I had made a backup, but that's another story. Man, this is all waaay too technical for this old brain.]

Mr. Notebook patiently (if a little tactlessly) explained that a nearly four year old laptop is 105 years old in human years.
They warned me that if it ever seized up and flat-lined again, no amount of CPR (that's Computer & Program Resuscitation) would do any good.  They strongly advised me to get a new computer ... and transfer my data onto it.  Easy for them to say!

Well, to make a long story short (too late for that?) ... that's pretty much done.  Now I just have to learn to ride this high tech animal.  Sheesh!  The very steep learning curve is throwing me.

Sooo...this newsletter is late.  And it doesn't include as many new projects as usual.
But the good news is -- The POORHOUSE STORY still lives!  

Please give me about another week to catch up with things.  If you have not heard from me by then about something we had pending ... or if you've received no response to something you have previously sent me ... please let me know.


and a New Year full of JOY & PEACE. 

THANKS for your patience and understanding!



Speaking (usually to myself, and sometimes in whispers) of getting older -- do you, like me, sometimes find yourself appalled to hear come out of your own mouth words that you have heretofore only considered to be sayings spouted by grumpy elders -- also sometimes referred to  as geezers?  Well, I admit it.  I now and then hear myself uttering such sentiments.  

Here are two of them that genealogy and local history buffs are prone to lament:  

          (1) This younger generation just doesn't have any respect for history or traditions. Sigh.
          (2)  The march of  "progress" is trampling over our landmarks and obliterating our local history! 

Well, I just have to say ... it ain't so!  At least not with a special group of students and their instructor from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie NY.  

For the second time (more about the first time below) Brian G. McAdoo, Assistant Professor in the Geology Department]at Vassar College has enrolled his students in a project to investigate an old poorhouse cemetery.  This cemetery is in Dutchess County, NY.  

                   Professor McAdoo's description of the project for his students was as follows:

We will be conducting geophysical surveys of the burial site.  We will look for subtle variations in the surface and shallow subsurface physical properties that might help us define the gravesites using variations in the electrical resistivity and magnetic properties of the soil and ground penetrating radar (GPR).  After collecting the data, we will do simple modeling to determine the nature of these variations (How deep is the anomaly? Is it likely metal or stone?).  The data will be assembled in a Geographic Information System (GIS) database, and the results will be presented to the public at the end of the semester.

The equally critical element of this project is the archival research.  The Historical Research team will check the admissions and death records of the Poorhouse to gain a better understanding of the stories behind the occupants.  How many people were there at any given time?  How long were they there?  When did they come (associated with influxes of immigrants, manumission, etc.)?  

              These people have stories, and it is your job to discover them.

But the most humorous (and absolutely serious!) part of his course description was this:


If any of the following bother you ... 
               please do not take this class unless you are willing to give it a go!

Exploring graveyards, Poison Ivy, Bugs, Tetanus, West Nile, Dirt.
Math/Physics, Computers, Public Speaking.
Not having clear answers.
Trying new things.


 Sheesh!  Amazingly ... to their credit ... and our good fortune ... the students signed up anyway! 
Those who wound up working on this year's Dutchess County poorhouse cemetery  project are:


This Year -- working at Dutchess County Poorhouse Cemetery

Andrew Ulrich


Nathan Brown

Justin Minder

Jessica Till

Monica Rico

 And these brave souls were probably forewarned!   Because this is not the first group to do this!
A previous class worked on the Ulster County poorhouse cemetery.  Those students were:

Previously -- working at Ulster County Poorhouse Cemetery

Jeffrey Barr Timothy Furey Emily Harris Holly Hilburn
Ramon Lopez Nora McDermott-Tabori Elizabeth Pierson Jennifer Salwen
Krystal Tribbett Courtney Mesereau Dana Wasserman






NY_Dutchess_cesium_vapor_magnetometer.JPG (122938 bytes)

NY_Dutchess_GroundPenetratingRadar.JPG (97484 bytes)

NY_Dutchess_ResistivityMeter.JPG (127401 bytes)

NY_Dutchess_TotalStation.jpg (78842 bytes)


November 28, 2003

Soil helps find forgotten graves

By Brian McAdoo
For the Poughkeepsie Journal


And see Featured Projects below.


   Commentary  # 5
       What Keeps Us From the Poorhouse: The Social Safety "Net"

Table of STATISTICS and NEW ITEMS ADDED to The PHS Website

-- since last newsletter's stats (ended 09/13/2003) --
77,063  (786 per day
-- Total (as of 012/20/2003) since 5/8/2000 --


A local Wisconsin television station 
recently featured a story about the history 
and the scheduled demolition
of the old Dane County Poorhouse.


The priest sends the leper away. 
Artist: Gustave Doré.
From: Illustrert Bibelleksikon,
 bd. 6, 1987.

Click on link below to see to see video
"Asylum" on Verona Road Being Torn Down 

To read the poignant story of the care of lepers who were sent to this poorhouse, click on the link to the right.>>>

To read about the problem of leprosy in Norway (from which many immigrated to Wisconsin)
click on the picture above.     

     And ... in the process of preparing 
     to sell the Dane County poorhouse 
     property, they discovered ... 
Yes, We Had A `leper Colony'
                                                         Wisconsin State Journal 

                                                                               Sunday, October 26, 2003
                                                                                   George Hesselberg
.... and  Ye Olde Time Press March 9, 1893

If you think today's journalism sensationalizes things ...
you must not remember the purple prose of the 1800s.

Be warned -- This is rather gruesome!  >>>>>>

No less that six (6), (count 'em: six!) headlines.

However, these are the conditions which Dorothea Dix 
campaigned against with such moral outrage.


Forty Crazed People
Burned to Death.


Strafford County, New Hampshire



Ginny has been a thorough researcher of poorhouse records, a tireless advocate for the preservation of poorhouse history, and the impetus for the Vassar College project at the Dutchess County poorhouse that was described above in our Reflections.

She has chronicled these efforts on her website.

It will be well worth your time to check out some of the things she has highlighted there.  Here are some examples.

  • the story of  the only traditional headstone --
    for Lewis Brown Hubbell -- relative of  Edwin Powell Hubble, of Hubble Space Telescope 

  • the story of an elderly black man who was a Civil War veteran who had walked many miles to find a regiment that would accept him but who lived his final years and died in the poorhouse

  • Brier Hill Burials Identified for Grave #'s 607-748

  • More Brier Hill Burials Identified
    Grave Number/Location Unknown



           If we had a 


                          HERO of the YEAR
          (Hmmmm.  Maybe we should start such a tradition?)

This year it would have to go to ...


Dutchess County NY


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

HYDE County, N.C. -- MINUTES OF THE WARDENS OF THE POOR  (1837 - 1868)
Kay M. Sheppard  has done a wonderful job here: extracting and transcribing and indexing!  She has also included an explanation of how the poor relief system in North Carolina worked.


Letter from transcriber >>>>>
Lorine McGinnis Schulze []
Hello everyone,

New York City was a very busy port for ships. One of the difficult things about searching for ancestors arriving there is that the ships passenger lists aren't indexed from 1847 to 1896.

However I've been working on a project to transcribe the Alms House Admission Foreigners & Nativity Records ( New York City, NY) Bond Registers 1855-1858.

Alms House Admission Foreigner
& Nativity Records with Ships Names 

New York City, etc.

This wonderful work makes great reading even if you are
not searching for any particular person.  Read her letter
to see some very typical (and very moving) notes about
some of the kinds of folks whom our Statue of Liberty 
welcomes to our shores for another chance at a better life.





We'll be watching to see with relief how this community implements its plans to finally "do the right thing."

Mystery Of Missing Gravestones Solved

Some 500 Markers At Potter's Field 
Disappeared A Half Century Ago, 
And About 70 Of Them 
Have Turned Up.

Wisconsin State Journal :: LOCAL/WISCONSIN :: D1

Sunday, November 23, 2003
Lesley Rogers Barrett County reporter


Here's more about the
old poorhouse in 
Dane County Wisconsin 

This is just another of many examples
of the disrespect in which the lives 
of those
who died in poorhouses
were held.

Even though simple numbered stones 
were placed to mark these graves,
the cemetery was later totally ignored 
and the stones removed to use as
paving stones for a walkway
at a private residence!

HONORED STATES previous Illinois/Kansas/Ohio/Pennsylvania/Tennessee/Texas
INTERNATIONAL PAGE     previous Belgium / Canada / England / France / The Netherlands / Sweden 
 Picture Postcards/Photos/Illustrations    
  NH Strafford
   WI Dane There are two wonderful albums of shots of the interior of the Dane County poorhouse building. They are almost catalogues of  "still life" studies which hint at the mystery of life in this building in the past.

See  Jamie Novak's  album  
See Dan Dockery's album 

WISC_Dane_porch.jpg (119463 bytes)

Notes from Readers / Local/Historical Notes
   IL Coles
    NH Strafford

Historical Documents     

Historical Memorabilia   
Poorhouse Records
  GA Jackson
  NC Hyde
  NH Strafford
  NY New York City ship arrivals sent to almshouse
Cemetery Lists (or notes)
  IL Coles
  NH Strafford
  WI Dane / LaCrosse
Poorhouse Resident lists from CENSUS
new material or off-site links to the web)
    1910 GA Laurens
Recommended  BOOKS

                       click to enlarge >>

 ENGLISH_ALMSHOUSE_Book.jpg (148075 bytes)

The English Almshouse 
by Walter H. Godfrey
Faber and Faber, Ltd. (London) 

Published in 1955 -- I got my used copy  through eBay --
this book reviews almshouse architecture.  But since it has truly been noted that "form follows function" we can learn much from these building designs about how these institutions functioned.  It's a great read with great photos!

previous Delaware/Illinois/Michigan/Minnesota/Ohio/Oregon
New York/Pennsylvania
Thanks for your continued support.
Linda Crannell                                                        
(aka=The Poorhouse Lady)

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(Note: Some of our most enthusiastic supporters came up with the idea of giving their friends
gift subscriptions to the Poorhouse Story Newsletter!  E-mail to let us know if you would like to do the same.)