Philadelphia -- Blockley Almshouse
NOTE: Over time, there were several
poorhouses in this county. The reader is cautioned to
take care not to confuse them. (Since I don't live in the area,
it is impossible for me to determine which were where and when!
ANNALS of PHILADELPHIA and PENNSYLVANIA
Written 1830 - 1850
on-line in the USGENWEB
76. POOR - HOUSES
"The original Poor-house for the city was located
down town, on a green meadow, extending from Spruce to
Pine streets, and from Third to Fourth streets. Its
front was to the east, and nearest to Third street. Its
great gate was on Spruce street, and its entrance by
Third street was by a stile ! The house was such a
structure as to height and general appearance as that of
the Friends' Almshouse in Walnut street; it had a piazza
all round. It contained the sick and insane as well as
the poor. There were also some parts of the necessary
buildings formed near the corner of Union and Fourth
streets, on the site now occupied as the premises of
Doctor Physick, from which cause, I find, in 1758 it was
called "the Alms-house down Fourth street",
and "the Alms-house square", &c. The
present Alms-house out Spruce street, begun in 1760, was
first occupied in the year 1767. The square of nearly
four hundred feet square, on which the buildings stand,
cost then but 800 Pounds. Who can tell its rise of value
since ! It was then, however, quite a place in the
country, and near the woods, and having a fine orchard
on the square on its northern front."
PHILADELPHIA NEWSPAPER (Jan 11, 1882) report
of Investigation Into Corruption at Poorhouse --- a scan which takes time
"THE MEMORY LINGERS
on March 21, 2001, Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
PENN UNEARTHS CEMETERY
a construction crew struck human bones on a parking garage site
at the University of Pennsylvania, they immediately shut down
the backhoe and sent for campus police.
But what they found wasn't the grisly
aftermath of some modern murder. They had dug into a
19th-century burial ground that may give archaeologists clues
about the humble people of that day.
Whoever they were, these people were
decently - but perhaps anonymously - buried."
NOTE: The rest of this on-line article
is available only for a fee on their archives.
"Gopsill's Philadelphia, PA
General & Business Directory for 1885. Philadelphia: James
Gopsill's Sons, 1885. 2057 page(s). page 1176: McSorley, ...
Catharine housekeeper h Blockley Almshouse"
found on-line at http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/pa/philadelphia/misc/citydir/McSorley1880-1910.txt
OF THE PHILADELPHIA CITY ARCHIVES
Almshouse/Philadelphia General Hospital
Minutes of the Guardians of the Poor, Alms House Managers,
and committees of each; admission, discharge, census, and
housekeeping records of the Blockley Almshouse, later
reconstituted as the Philadelphia General Hospital
NOTE: This will provide access to a
very extensive collection of records throughout the history of
the poorhouse (and later hospital). The records are very well
described in the finding aid on this website. PHL
|The listing of
the staff and all the inmates of the
Philadelphia Almshouse in Blockley Township
for the 1850 Census
can be found in Ancestry.com's
"Images Online" -- We cannot provide a link
because this is a subscription service. However we
can describe where to find the listing. Many
public libraries subscribe to the service. So,
even if you cannot afford to subscribe at home, you may
be able to access this data in your local community.
There are apparently 142 images
in this section. The Almshouse starts with image
94 which contains the first part of the staff list.
That staff list continues on image 95 where the list of
inmates begins. Those pages with the rest of the
inmates continue through image 141. (By the way,
the listing for the Almshouse is immediately preceded by
"The Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insain
[sic]" which ends with image 93.
"In March ... workers building a
parking garage for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia came upon
about a dozen 19th-century graves, thought to be the remains of
indigents who lived in the Blockley Almshouse, a
poorhouse that operated from 1834 to 1895. The University of
Pennsylvania hired Crist to excavate the graves, and the
university and the hospital are splitting the costs of reburial,
a Penn spokeswoman said."
from an article entitled "What
to do about the historic remains that lie beneath?"
on the on-line edition of The
Philadelphia Enquirer 2/24/2002
NOTE: A careful search of the records
mentioned above should be helpful in reconstructing a list of
those buried at the almshouse/hospital. PHL
|We are hoping to build this
base of information about the poorhouse in PHILADELPHIA county
through the helpful participation of readers. All are requested
to submit items of interest by sending e-mail
to The Poorhouse Lady.