copied with permission
Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Woman has records for some poorhouse graves

Ledgers copied of deaths from 1934 to 1955

By Anthony Farmer
Poughkeepsie Journal

Part of the mystery over who is buried in several hundred graves at the site of the former Dutchess County poorhouse near Millbrook has been solved.

Stanfordville resident Sue Blouse said she has records she copied a decade ago showing who was buried in the numbered graves between 1934 and 1955.

The cemetery at the rear of the 100-acre property in the Town of Washington, which also houses the former county infirmary, is now overgrown with trees and brush. Small, ceramic markers, numerals carved into the top of each, are the only sign of the graves among the leaves and branches.

Blouse had come across the ledger while doing research on the poorhouse for a college paper in the early 1990s. Though she didn't need it for her report, she photocopied the 38 pages that show people who died at the poorhouse or were buried at the cemetery there after 1934.

''I thought there are going to be people that may want to look for their families someday,'' Blouse said. ''I was just fascinated by this document.''

Ledger location a mystery

The status of ledgers that show who is buried in each of the numbered graves has been clouded since the county closed the infirmary five years ago.

County officials say documents related to the property were given to the Dutchess County Historical Society.

The historical society says it has a box of items from the county, but hasn't gone through them because they are public records.

Blouse said she was surprised to see a story in the Poughkeepsie Journal last week reporting on the status of the cemetery and the mystery surrounding the records. Her copies have been stored in a paper bag in her closet for several years now.

Ginny Buechele, a Town of Poughkeepsie resident and genealogist, has led efforts to save the old cemetery and has searched for the records to help people researching their family history.

Buechele said she hopes to post Blouse's records on her Web site, which chronicles some of the history of the poorhouse and its residents.

''I just feel each one of these people has a story to tell,'' Buechele said. ''When you tell the story of who the person was, you help remove the stigma from the poorhouse.''

Blouse said the documents list the person's birth date, name, grave number, burial date and place of death, among other information. The grave numbers in the book run from 639 to 748.

''It's just so sad,'' Blouse said. ''These people were just on their own and nobody really cared about them.''