TIMELINE

Note: This timeline has been constructed using the material listed below.
We have used bold-face, brackets, and yellow highlighting
to help make the material more easy to keep in order.

This information was generously submitted by Linda C. Koehler   lckoehlr@optonline.net 
Here is a brief summary which we hope will help you keep these institutions clear:
     1. There was a city almshouse in Poughkeepsie
     2. This almshouse became a county almshouse (for both city and county paupers)
     3. In 1863 the city and county separated their poor relief programs.
            -- The county built a new county poorhouse in Oak Summit/Millbrook in 1863.
            --  The City of Poughkeepsie kept the old property and replaced the old building
                 with a new City Almshouse in 1868-69.
From James Smith’s “History of Dutchess County” (1882), pp.120-121
1741 -- The first county poor relief act  was passed.

???    -- A poorhouse was established in Poughkeepsie "opposite the present [1881}
city alms-house".  

NOTE:  See reference to an early city poorhouse in 
Poughkeepsie mentioned in the 1824 Yates Report.

 

NOTE: Apparently this City Almshouse later became the County Poorhouse
and for a while both city and county paupers were housed here.  
From Edmund Platt’s “History of Poughkeepsie” (1905), p.190

The old county alms house, it may be added, was in its early days a noteworthy institution. Dorothea Lynde Dix, in the report published in 1844, of her famous visits to the alms houses of the State, said: 

     “The Dutchess County House at Poughkeepsie is a model of neatness,    order and good discipline. The household arrangements are excellent; the kitchens and cellars complete in every part. I have seen nothing in the State so good as these. Every apartment in the almshouse was exceptionally clean, well furnished and neatly arranged. Such of the insane as were highly excited were in clean, decent rooms.” 

This was high praise, doubtless merited at the time, but probably the condition of affairs was very different when the buildings had become old. It was so with the various Poughkeepsie jails. Each one was pronounced a model of excellence when new, but condemned as unfit for human beings at the end of its career. The county house must have been pretty seriously crowded at times, for an item in the “Eagle” of 1851 says there were between four and five hundred inmates. These included of course the pauper insane, but it is hardly possible that there were proper accommodations for so large a number.”

NOTE: It must also have been this older building ... the one described below
as having been sold in 1863 ... about which the 1857 investigation report
was written. That is posted back on the Dutchess County page.  PHL

1856 -- An act was passed allowing the Supervisors to contract for the support and
maintenance of the poor and to sell the poorhouse buildings and lands and divide the
proceeds between the city of Poughkeepsie and the several towns in the county

April 7, 1863  -- "David S. Tallman, John Ferris and Albert Emons were commissioned
to sell
the old poor-house property, which consisted of 104.22 acres of land and buildings,
located opposite the present [1881] city alms-house in Poughkeepsie, and purchase other
farming lands not less than 50 nor more than 75 acres, and not less than eight nor more
than fifteen miles from Hudson River, upon which to keep the county poor; and they were
authorized to erect upon the lands so purchased suitable buildings for their accommodation,
the entire cost of land and buildings not to exceed $20,000."

May 9, 1863 -- "They sold the old poor-house farm and buildings at auction for $19,605.55,
and agreed with the purchasers to pay seven per cent. on that amount for their use until
April 1, 1864."

May 28, 1863 -- "They received a deed for 74 acres, 1 rood and 29 perches of land in
the town of Washington from Daniel H. Lyon, for which they paid $6,182.24, and contracted
with him for the purchase of an additional 29 acres, 3 roods and 29 perches adjoining it at
$55 per acre, subject to the approval of the Supervisors. The latter purchase was legalized
and confirmed by the Legislature in 1864. (Section I, chap.286.)"

"The commissioners also contracted with Orlando J. Rust to erect a building 130 feet long,
32 feet wide, two stories high, with basement, to be built with wood and filled in with brick -
the timber to be in the main, white oak and chestnut – and roofed with slate, and completed
by April 1, 1864."

"The separate maintenance of the poor of the county and the city of Poughkeepsie was
authorized by the Legislature in 1863, and Dec. 9th of that year, the Supervisors directed the
commissioners to pay to the Alms-House Commissioners of the City of Poughkeepsie
$3,172.60, that being its share of the proceeds of the sale of the poor-house property."

The building erected for the poor in [as a county poorhouse in Oak Summit/Millbrook in the town of Washington] 1863, cost $14,380, including boiler and heater, 
but was illy adapted to the purposes for which it was intended, imperfectly ventilated, 
destitute of conveniences for bathing, and did not admit of a proper separation of the sexes." 

1864 -- "A lunatic asylum was built at a cost of $5,944.34. It is a plain two-story wooden
building, 24 by 36 feet containing eighteen cells - nine on each floor – with grated doors and
barred windows."

1865  -- "A house for the keeper was erected at a cost of $5,764.92, and in the same year
repairs and other buildings cost $3,877.63. The entire cost of the poor-house property previous
to 1881, exclusive of ordinary running expenses, amounted to over $45,000."

“ ‘The evils resulting from the want of adaptation becoming more evident year by year, the
County Visiting Committee of the State Board of Charities reported its condition to the
Board of Supervisors in 1876, and again in 1877, afterwards addressing an open letter to
the citizens of the county.’ A committee of Supervisors was appointed, and in the spring of
1879, many repairs were made. But the building was still in an unsatisfactory condition, and
on the recommendation of the committee a further appropriation of $1,000 was made.

"This sum proved inadequate to accomplish all that was needed and contemplated, but
sufficed to perfect a desired object – a complete division of the house and grounds in two
departments – which was economically accomplished, more by a skillful re-arrangement and
utilization of material on the ground, than by the erection of new buildings. Various other
changes and improvements were made, involving the changing of the front of the house from
the west to the north; but they were not all that could be desired."

1880 -- "The Superintendent, David S. Tallman, entered upon the duties of his office
Jan. 1, 1880, at which time the number of inmates was 160. Nov. 1, 1880, this number was
reduced to 101, against 106 the same time the previous year. The average number of paupers
in 1880 was 114, a reduction of 22 as compared with the previous year. The average cost of
support per week was $2.24. The total amount of receipts, including appropriation,
($12,000,) was $13,771; the total amount of disbursements, $13,420.28. April 1, 1880,
the books showed one hundred and forty-two resident paupers, of whom ninety-five were men,
(twenty-seven Americans,) forty white women, (twenty-three Americans,) six colored men,
and six colored women, twenty-three foreign women, sixty-two of foreign birth, five blind,
eleven insane, four aliens, and one mute of fifteen years, removed September 1st, to the
institution at Rome. The majority were old and feeble, and the remainder of the class usually
found in poor-houses, indolent, weak-minded, victims of unfortunate circumstances.
Religious services are held semi-monthly in the dining-room, which is in the basement of the
building; and for such as choose, a way is provided to attend the Catholic Church."

"Children at two years of age are placed in the Orphan House at Poughkeepsie,
or Colored Orphan Asylum in Brooklyn."

"The institution is deficient in its provisions for the sick. Medical attendance is secured
twice a week, but no rooms have been set apart for their especial care and comfort."

"The house work is done by the women, and most of the farm work by the men. The
building is heated by steam, and water is conveyed to the wash-house, where it is obtained
by the inmates for use. In December, 1880, the Supervisors appropriated $15,00 to
complete the repairs in progress on the building, and the Superintendent was authorized
to purchase earthen bowls and plates to replace the tinware then in use, also chairs for the
dining-room in place of benches, and to put enameled covers on the dining tables,*”

----
footnote * Twelfth and Fourteenth “Annual Reports of the State Board of Charities”, of which 
body Sarah M. Carpenter, of Poughkeepsie, is Commissioner for the Second Judicial District; 
“Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of Duchess County”, for 1880, and other documents.

 
From Edmund Platt’s “History of Poughkeepsie” (1905), p.190

During the [Civil] war a feeling of antagonism between the city and the county resulted in a 
proposition before the Board of Supervisors to remove the county poor house to the interior of 
the county. The Common Council on January 19th, 1863, appointed the Mayor and Alderman 
Coffin a committee to confer with the Supervisors about this, and it was decided to separate the 
city from the rest of the county
in the matter of support of the poor.

Accordingly April 29th the Legislature passed an act providing for the change and naming James 
Emott, James H. Dudley, James Bowne, Joseph F. Barnard, Matthew Vassar, Jr., and Jacob B. Jewett “Commissioners of the Alms House of the City of Poughkeepsie,” with all the requisite authority.

All excise moneys and all fines from the Recorder’s court were to be appropriated for the support of the city poor under control of this board. In the division of property with the county the city purchased the old county house grounds and in 1868-69 the present [1905] main 
[Poughkeepsie City] Alms House building was erected.

Linda C. Koehler's Additional Notes

In the 1850 census for Poughkeepsie, the “County Poor Home” is enumerated on pp. 142-144 
(those page numbers covers 6 pages), Dwelling # 1318, Family #1743 Joseph B. Hall & family, 
keeper of the poor house, and (same dwelling) “Family” #1744 is a listing of all the inmates. 
For most of the listing, they have “no occupation” and the final column includes the description 
“Pauper” [the majority], “Insane” (6), and “Blind” (1). There are 244 names listed in this census.

When the new County Alms House opened, in October 1864, the first superintendent was Edgar Vanderburgh.

The County Poor House and the Superintendent’s House both appear on the 1867 Beers 
“Atlas of New York and Vicinity”. 

From Roy Ahlquist’s “A Postal History: Town of Washington” (1995)
Oak Summit, NY : “Oak Summit  is located about one-half mile south of South Millbrook. Summit road passes through it. Oak Summit is rural farmland today. In 1870 the Dutchess & Columbia railroad was completed. The first stop in the Town of Washington was at Coffins Summit, named for Robert G. Coffin, one of the individuals instrumental in having the railroad constructed.” 

DiArpino’s history of the town of Washington relates the story that the name of the railroad stop was changed because of the reluctance of the conductor to call out “Coffin’s Station” as they came up to the stop. 

A short distance north of the depot there was a store, and north of the store, but on the other side of Summit Road was the county poor house. Robert G. Coffin established Coffins Summit Post Office, and a report he submitted to Washington dated March 31, 1890 verifies a name change - “Oak Summit late Coffins Summit”. The post office was discontinued in 1918.

In the 1870 census, the “County Alms House” is enumerated in the town of Washington 
(p.306, Dwelling #521, Family #531). Clifford Buck’s index to the 1865 New York State 
census of the town of Washington also shows that the county poorhouse was enumerated 
in that census

A modern road map (no date - 1970s?) shows County House Road connecting Oak Summit Road and Rt. 343, just east and parallel to County Rt. 82 for the short distance it extends. The locality Oak Summit on the map is on Oak Summit Rd. southeast of the intersection with County House Road.

 

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