|NOTE: These inventories were compiled in the 1930s and 1940s. Be sure to note when any given inventory was completed by returning to the list of inventories. This is NOT current information. PHL|
Besides providing for those who have
violated the laws, the commissioners were given the duty of caring for
persons who, because of poverty or physical or mental defects, became
public charges. Thus, county relief for the indigent, one of the most
pressing problems of the twentieth century, was met in frontier Ohio.
As early as 1805 an act, modeled from the territorial law, was
passed which was similar in all respects to the poor laws of seventeenth
century England. Under
the early enactments the township trustees were authorized to appoint
overseers of the poor. In
1816 the county commissioners were authorized to construct “poor
houses” for the care of the indigent of the county.
As the system developed in succeeding decades the county was
made responsible for those who had become permanently disabled, and for
paupers who could not be satisfactorily cared for except at the county
infirmary, now call the county home.
Since 1913 they have been authorized in any county containing
a city which has an infirmary, to contract with the director of public
safety for the care of the county’s indigent.
The township trustees and officials of municipal corporations were made responsible for providing temporary relief to needy residents of the state, or the county, township, or city. In the event any person became chargeable to a township in which he had not gained legal residence, it was the duty of the overseers, later the township trustees, to remove him to the township where he was legally settled. With slight alterations, the principles of this system continued until the twentieth century.
The administration of public welfare is one of the most complex and one
of the most expensive functions of county government.
The administration of institutional and outdoor relief is
delegated to eight boards and commissions operating independently and
with little regard for efficiency.
The administration of the county home is vested in the county
commissioners and a superintendent appointment from a list of names of
persons eligible under civil service regulations.
Employees are appointed by the superintendent.
|SUPERINTENDENT OF THE COUNTY HOME|
By the provisions of the
legislative act of 1816, the county commissioners were authorized to
build a “poor house,” and to appoint annually seven persons to
constitute a board of directors. This board, a corporate body, was authorized to make such
rules and regulations as were necessary for the management of the
institution, and to appoint a superintendent, who might receive only
persons who had the required order from the township trustees.
He was directed to keep a book listing the name and age of every
person admitted, together with the date of admission.
The board of directors, or a committee of that body, was required
to visit the “poor house” monthly to examine the condition of the
paupers and to make a report on such matters as the food, clothing, and
treatment of the inmates. Moreover,
they were required to inspect the books and accounts of the
superintendent. The board
was required to report annually to the county commissioners the “state
of the institution” with a full and correct account of all their
proceedings, contracts, and disbursements; and the expenses of
establishing and supporting the institution were to be paid on the order
of the county commissioners out of the money in the treasury not
By a legislative act of 1831, the
membership of the board was reduced to three.
This board, like its predecessor, was authorized to appoint a
superintendent. It was his
duty, upon the order of the board, to discharge from the poorhouse any
person who had been admitted because of illness when he had sufficiently
recovered. The directors
were further authorized to remove paupers to their legal place of
residence, and any pauper rejected by the board of directors could be
turned over to the township overseers to be cared for by contracting
with the lowest bidder.
In 1850 the name “county poorhouse” was changed to that of “county infirmary.” Fifteen years later, in 1865, the board of infirmary directors, consisting of three resident electors, was made elective by the voters of the county for a three-year term. The board was still authorized to appoint a superintendent, and was still required to make inspection visits, and to report its findings to the county commissioners.
Although reports had been required of
the infirmary management in previous years, it was not until the decade
of the seventies that the legislature enacted measures looking to really
systematic management of this ancient institution.
Accordingly, in 1872, an act was passed which required each
infirmary director, as well as the superintendent, to give bond
conditioned for the faithful performance of the duties of his office.
Under this act the directors were required to report semiannually
to the county commissioners the condition of the infirmary, the number
of inmates, and such other information as the county commissioners
believed proper. Furthermore,
the board of directors was required to file a full account “of all
moneys received and paid out, together with the vouchers…from whence
received, to whom and for what paid out” with the county
commissioners, who, after examining it, entered the report in the
minutes of their proceedings. This
report, as well as the vouchers, was to be filed in the auditor’s
office, and must be “safely preserved” by that officer.
The county infirmary served also as a
place for the confinement of children, the mentally ill, and persons
afflicted with epilepsy. Although
the state assumed responsibility for the mentally ill in the early years
of the nineteenth century, it was not until 1898 that it was made
unlawful to confine the adult insane and epileptics in the county home.
Previously, in 1884, the legislature had prohibited the housing
in the county infirmary of children who were eligible to the county
children’s home or to some other charitable institution, unless
separated from adults. Exceptions
were made, however, in the case of insane, idiotic, and epileptic
children. The latter
provision is still effective in Ohio.
By an act of May 31, 1911, effective January 1, 1913, the board of infirmary directors was abolished and the powers formerly exercised by this body were transferred to the county commissioners and the infirmary superintendent. The superintendent is still required to keep a record of the inmates, as prescribed by statute, and to report annually to the county commissioners. This report, the acceptance of which is evidence by an entry in the minutes of the commissioners’ journal, is filed with the county auditor and by him preserved. In 1919 the name county infirmary was changed to that of county home.
The county commissioners still make
provision for the establishment and maintenance of the county home,
appoint a superintendent, and make regular inspection visits.
Since December 1, 1932, the superintendent has been appointed
from a list of names of persons eligible under civil service
regulations, and is authorized to appoint a matron and other employees.
Since 1882, the commissioners have been authorized to appoint an
infirmary physician, who, like the superintendent, is required by
statute to report to the county commissioners.
This report, made quarterly, includes such information as the
nature and extent of medical services rendered, to whom, and the
character of the disease treated.
|[Note: In most inventories, there followed material individualized for each specific county. PHL ]|
|Note: Most of these inventories were heavily footnoted. We did not include the footnotes (which were usually references to other documents) here because we felt that this website is for general readers without a strong academic/legal need to see these footnotes. However, they are available upon specific request from researchers who e-mail us.|
|excerpted and transcribed by: Nancy Plain -- Dec 2000|