|ANNUAL REPORT of the SECRETARY OF STATE p 1005-1009|
|A TABLE showing the number of Paupers supported at the public expense in the county of MONTGOMERY, [including Hamilton county, which is not organized,] during the twelve months preceding April 21, 1823, with other particulars, derived from public documents and reports furnished the Secretary of State.|
|[Note: during this period of time, a person's "settlement" (or legal residence, as we would call it now) was considered to be in a local community ... usually the town where s/he was born. Poor relief was also a local responsibility; so if someone became indigent while living elsewhere, there was a great deal of expense involved in litigation and ultimately the transporting of the person to the place of their legal residence. (However, sometime the unethical practice of just carry the person out of town and "dumping" them ... often nowhere near where they had previously lived or knew anyone ... was practiced.) This was very inhumane in many cases. See example below. PHL ]|
| Sums of money raised by tax, in the county of Montgomery,
for the support of the poor, in the years 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821,
In the year
In the town of Lake Pleasant, there is on hand a fund of $50 for the support of the poor.
In the year 1820, a resolution was passed by the board of supervisors, directing their clerk to have published, in each town in the county, a notice, that they would at their next meeting take into consideration the propriety of building a house of industry in the county, agreeable to the act of the 3d of March, 1820. But at their next meting, there were but five towns voted for the measure, when it was of course abandoned, and has not since been brought before the board; but the general opinion of the supervisors, at this day, is in favor of the measure. There has been paid about the sum of $400 yearly, for the transportation of paupers, and the sum of 300, and some years about $00, for the support of foreign or transient paupers. Much might be said on this subject, but a reference to the monies raised in each town, since the year 1817, for the support of the poor, the sums paid yearly for the transportation of paupers, and also for the support of foreign paupers; there can be but one opinion on this subject, that after the expenses of the two first years, and the expense of the establishment, which I think would not exceed $4,000; the whole of the monies now raised by the several towns, for the support of the poor of their respective towns, might be saved, and the establishment would support itself, with the addition of the excise monies, which I think in this county, is about $1,500. I can add nothing more on this subject, and if I have thrown any new light on this subject, shall be much gratified, for our paupers are the greatest burthen we have, and will have, unless means are taken to alter the mode of supporting them, or in some manner, making those who are able, contribute to their own support and partially to the support of others. [Letter from the supervisor's clerk.]
We have no poor-house, properly so called, but we advertise for proposals, and allow one month to receive them. The lowest bidder takes the poor, if in all respects qualified to take care of them. They are all in one room, and taken care of by the family. Seven are thus provided for, and three children, were taken care of in the town of Knox, at one place for $35, and the seven were taken care of for $270 last year. This year we have adopted the same plan. Six persons are at one place, for $230 -- the three children are taken care of in Knox for $35 -- two old persons, have been taken by their relations this spring, for $55, rather than go with the rest of the poor -- they are very troublesome, and the contractor would not keep them, for the average sum he kept the rest. In answer to your eighth question, I observe, that the town of Florida, are satisfied, that they cannot do better than by the present mode of keeping the poor. If a poor-house is to be built, they must go to the expense of building. Now the contractor looks out for his own convenience in keeping them -- if we help to build a county poor-house, we will have to do it at an expense. [Letter from the supervisor of Florida.]
The poor may, with propriety, be divided into three classes, the aged, the sick, lame and blind, and the infant: These are the proper objects for the care of our law, and the only ones that perhaps, strictly speaking, should receive its bounty. To these there may be added, a fourth class, composed of the idle, vicious and intemperate; and this class I fear, on examination, will be found to receive more of public and private charity, than all the other three combined. The support of the poor, is in all countries a burthen, and the object of the legislature, is to make that burthen as little felt by the industrious citizen as possible. There are three modes in practice of supporting paupers. 1. By selling them at public auction, to the lowest bidder. 2. By hiring one individual to keep all the poor belonging to a town. 3. Establishing a poor-house or house of industry for the county. Of these modes, I am decidedly of opinion, the last is much to be preferred. First, on account of its cheapness: The support of the poor in this town varies from 50 cents, to $2, per week; and the average amount may be stated at 90 cents; this is treble the amount that it would cost in a house of industry. Second -- Many of the poor in the house of industry, can nearly support themselves by their labor. Third -- The aged and decrepit, and the children, the care of whom forms an important item of expense, can be watched and attended to by those who are more healthy and capable. Fourth -- It will lessen the number of paupers at least one half, and destroy the trade of street-beggars. There are many persons who now receive sums from the overseers of the poor, whose pride, and the pride of whose connexions, would not permit them to go to a poor-house. And the idle vagabond, when he finds that work her must, at least would certainly prefer working for himself. The only objection to this mode is, the expense of transporting them to the house of industry, (which ought always to be as near the centre of the county as convenient) and this would be but trifling, compared with the saving effected. The county of Montgomery, raised for the support of the poor, exclusive of excise money, for the year 1817, $5,225 -- for 1818, $5,530 -- for 1819, $4,990 -- for 1829, $5,000 -- for 1821, $3.610 -- for 1822, $4,175, and for 1823, $3,900, amounting in the whole to the sum of $32,430. Add to these sums the excise money, which in this town, amounts to $300 a year, and of the amount of which, in the other towns, I cannot now exactly inform you, but it may probably amount to $1,200, making $1,500 a year, which, for the space of six years, amounts to $9,000; making in the whole the sum of $41,430, raised for the last six years, in this internal county, for the support of the poor. The expense of purchasing a site, and erecting a house of industry in the county, (or purchasing a house already erected, and making the necessary additions which would be the cheapest mode) would be about $5,000. This sum divided by $5,456,582, the amount of taxable property in the county, would amount to the trifling tax of 9 1/16 cents, on one hundred dollars, which sum I apprehend, would be more than saved in two years, by adopting this plan.
The second plan above alluded to, of having one man, for a stipulated sum to support all the poor of a town, is, in miniature, the same as the above, and of course, must be more expensive. But this plan has been found to be more economical than the first one, of selling the poor; and has, in those towns which have entered into it, lessened the expense more, than fifty per cent. The poor themselves, would be better clothed and dieted, in a poor-house than they now are, inasmuch as those, who purchase, are themselves generally poor and unable to afford to keep them well.
The great cause of pauperism, in this happy country is intemperance. The house of industry may be made an engine to prevent, in some measure the extension of this degrading vice, by giving authority to the magistrate, to send any person, on view, found intoxicated, or in the habit of intoxication, for a certain period, to labor in the house of industry. Another source of pauperism, which will for years to come, increase upon our cities and villages, arises from the free, coloured people. This class of people are mostly deficient in the necessary foresight, prudence and industry, to support themselves, and will eventually become chargeable to their respective towns. To this class the house of industry will afford a necessary refuge, and they will there be enabled to support themselves, and perhaps aid in the support of others. [Letter from the supervisor of Johnstown.]
In removing a pregnant woman,
from Salisbury to Oppenheim, she was upset in a sleigh; this brought on a
premature birth, and shortly after her arrival the child died. [Letter
from the supervisor of Oppenheim.]
The poor have all been kept in one house by a farmer, on a contract of three hundred and fifty dollars per annum, for victuals and clothing, which will perceive is much less than it cost, to have them kept separately. The town of Amsterdam must have expended, last year, in suits of appeal, about $70, which were decided against the town. We raised by tax in this town, for the support of the poor, in 1817, $700 -- 1818, $900 -- 1819, $700 -- 1820, $650 -- 1821, $400 -- and in 1822, $200, making $3,550, by tax in six years, and during the same period, we raised by excise $1,126.50, making an aggregate of $4,676.50. -- We have only a temporary poor-house, as a farmer keeps them by contract, from year to year, and at a less expense than they could be kept separately, which you will perceive by a diminution of the taxes. There is another class of poor, to wit, transient or foreign paupers, which have either to be removed by a constable or supported at the expense of the county, and which forms a very important item in our taxes; the average expense of our county charges, is about $6,000, and I think that very near half that sum, is expended on foreign paupers, by removing, nursing, and medical assistance, and the expense of the justices examining and adjudicating, and as the money expended in removing paupers, does not benefit the pauper, but at the same time, increases the county expenses, it would be more humane to have them provided for in the county where they become unable to support themselves, and not carried from constable to constable like felons. But, the question arises how shall this be done; shall the legislature pass a law, to have a poor-house established in each county in this state. My opinion is, that under proper regulations, it would be the best and cheapest method of supporting the poor, if a general law is passed to that effect. We may experience some difficulties in carry it into operation, but, a little experience will show where it is defective, so that the same can be amended. I think, that if the money raised from the excise, in the several towns in this county, were constituted a fund towards defraying the expenses of a poor-house, and the sum that we have to raise, for support or removal of transient poor, would be fully adequate to meet the expenses of a county poor-house, after the site and building were provided; if the removing system is abandoned a quere may arise, will not the influx of poor, from other states be greater? In answer to that, I state, that if we can support paupers cheaper than remove them, then on the principles of economy, as well as humanity, let us support them when they become indigent amongst us. According to the existing laws, a person's residence is where they were born, or paid taxes. How can we tell whether this or that particular town, has been benefited by such a person's living there, and paying taxes; and if this town or county, maintain a pauper that was born or paid taxes in another town or county, that town or county may maintain a person that was born or paid taxes in this county. [Letter from the supervisor of Amsterdam.]