Queens  County Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story

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the Poorhouse Story
ANNUAL REPORT of the STATE BOARD of CHARITIES                                         p 1028-1030
A TABLE showing the number of Paupers supported at the public expense in the county of  QUEENS during the twelve months preceding April 21, 1823, with other particulars, derived from public documents and reports furnished the Secretary of State. [Note: *** indicates "No Return (submitted)" ]
  Total number of paupers
supported during the
whole of the last year.
Total number relieved
during a part of the last year.
Total expenses of supporting and relieving paupers (including fees and expenses of officers, removals and appeals) for the last year.

Dolls.    Cts.

Expenses and cost of officers and appeals during same period.


Dolls.   Cts.

Number of paupers removed during the last year.
Flushing ***                
Hempstead 15 27 26 16 24 921.00 123.67 13
Jamaica 18 0 6 12 3 817.00 76.00 18
Newtown ***                
North Hempstead 56 0 28 28 33 1,757.24 89.54  
Oysterbay 0 22 6 16 6 1,800.00 Not stated  
    In the town of Hempstead there is fund of $566.92, for the support of the poor, and in the town of Jamaica a like fund of $1,700.
   The subject of the gradual increase of the poor expenses in several towns in this county, has claimed and received the serious and candid consideration of many of our discreet and observing citizens; and different plans have been proposed and adopted from time to time, which have tended to lessen the burthens of the public, and improve the comfortable support of the poor.  Three of the towns, viz, Oystebay, Hempstead and North Hempstead, have for a few years past adopted the plan of employing the lowest bidder, to defray the whole expenses of every sort, for the support of the poor at a sum certain; the overseers always reserving to themselves the power to annul any agreement, when the contractor shall neglect or refuse to provide comfortable and reasonable support for the paupers.  And the town of Oysterbay, has for the last two years, been able to defray the whole amount of expenses of the poor,  from the monies arising from the sale of the grass on their marsh islands, authorised by the act of 1822.  And it is probable that the proceeds of such sales, will always be adequate to meet those expenses, except what may be necessary to defray the contingent charges of the county, and it is reasonable to infer, that Hempstead (which has a much greater quantity of marsh islands, and other commons, than Oysterbay) will shortly adopt the same measure. [Letter from the county clerk.]


    Previous to the last year, the poor of this town have been put to board, where the same could be procured for the least price, which placed them generally with their connexions, where they, in most cases, lived at ease and exempt from labor.  This practice evidently tended to promote the growth of pauperism operating as an inducement for the idle and dissipated, to apply for relief, more especially in the inclement seasons of the year.  Being thus placed beyond the reach of necessity to exert themselves in labor and unrestrained in the enjoyment of their personal liberty they became in fact pensioners on a small scale.  The accumulation of paupers under this arrangement, plainly shews that restraint rather than the idea of degredation causes this portion of our population to loathe the thought of becoming tenants within the walls of a poorhouse.  Our poor were put to board on contract the last year, and are again, the present year, with the privilege, to the person contracting for them, to get from them all the labor they were able to perform.  This at once furloughed all but the aged, infirm and children, and of course materially lessened our expenses.  Our laws on the subject of pauperism appear to provide for the three leading objects intended to be attained by our government; and in my judgment, leave as little room for litigation (judging from our section of the state; as we could promise ourselves from any new legislative act on the subject, viz. injunction on the inhabitants of the respective towns to provide for the means of supporting their poor: Uniformity in establishing settlements--and directing the manner of making removals.  As to the first, it was reasonable to suppose that our officers could make as judicious application of the means provided for the support of paupers, especially when we consider them as acting under the immediate direction and control of our primary assemblies, as could possibly be prescribed by any general law on this subject.  The second as to settlements, might perhaps be improved for the relief of the city of New York,  That city seems as the great receptacle for emigrants from every part of the civilized world, a considerable portion of whom arriving literally penniless, become a prey to want immediately, or soon after landing.  Judicious legislation on this point, would undoubtedly be fair and proper to place the city and county on something like an equal footing.  [Letter from the supervisor's clerk.]


   A great saving of expense is made by contracting for the support of the poor.  [Letter from the supervisor.]


   After seven years of age, the poor children are bound out, and are no longer chargeable to the town.  There is no poor-house nor house of industry, in this town.  Sealed proposals are received, and the lowest contractor takes the poor, &c.  [Letter from the supervisor of North Hempstead.]


   From 1817 to 1821, the paupers were supported under the inspection of the justices and overseers in a regular poor-house and house of industry.  The annual expense was about $2,000.  From 1821 to 1823, the paupers have been hired out by the overseers to an individual; the expense from 1821 to 1822, was $1,800, from 1822 to 1823, was $1,099.  As the expenses in the different towns have been very considerable to ascertain the lawful residence of paupers, appeals, transporting, &c. it is my opinion decidedly, that every person residing twelve months in any town within the state, previous to his or her being a town charge, shall be the lawful residence, and the said town ought to be bound by law to support the same.  There are no permament funds belonging to this town.  There is a quantity of beach and marshes in the town, and by an act of the legislature passed in 1822, authorising the town to lease the same, provided there is a majority of voters to that effect, at their annual town meeting, and the equal half of the amount collected to be applied to the support of the poor.  For the last two years there has been a majority for leasing said marshes; the amount arising therefrom for the support of the poor, is about $400 per annum.  [Letter from the supervisor of Oysterbay.]

the Poorhouse Story
1824 LAW (required establishment of poorhouse vs. exempted): exempted
the Poorhouse Story


This is located in the town of Oyster Bay, Queens County. It is designed only for the accommodation of the poor of the towns of Oyster Bay and North Hempstead. The property is held by trustees under the will of Mr. Samuel Jones, by whom it was devised to these towns. There is also in their hands a fund, the revenue of which is devoted toward its support. The remaining expenses are furnished by the two towns.

The buildings are of wood, old, irregular in form and size. Attached is a farm of sixty-three acres. There are no basements. In the building are ten rooms or wards, warmed by stoves and not at all ventilated. Six paupers are placed together in small rooms and about twenty in larger ones. The present number of inmates was forty,
nineteen males and twenty-one females. Of these two are foreign and thirty-eight native born. Twelve are under sixteen years of age. They are under the care of a single keeper. The sexes are kept separate. The average number of inmates is 127. The keeper was unable to state the cost of their support. The abler paupers are made to work on the farm and about the house. It is supplied with Bibles, but no other religious instruction is provided. The supplies are purchased as needed by the keeper. In the house are four idiots, one male and three females. There are three blind. A physician is employed by the year. During that period five births and sixteen deaths have occurred. There is no pest house. Lunatics are not admitted to the house, but are said to be boarded out in private families, under direction of the superintendent of the poor. More than five-sevenths of the paupers reach their present position through intemperance.

This house is very badly constructed and the air in the rooms is close and unhealthy. There is no school taught in the house, nor are the children sent to the district school although one is located near this house.

Transcribed by PHS-Volunteer, Cheramie Breaux in Louisiana
the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story

Finding Home "Over the Hill" 
by Rhoda Amon
Staff Writer

The wonderful article above tells the story of the almshouses  -- Jones Institute, the Hempstead Town poor farm, and the Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank -- (in the counties of Queens and Nassau and Suffolk

the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story


Miscellaneous Queens County Poor House Records:  1847-ca.1860 

Records include:
     annual reports, 1854-1858
     lists of emigrant paupers, 1852
     lists of individuals in the poorhouse, 1855-1857
     statistics and tabulations, 1851-1859
     printed chart on "causes of pauperism of the persons relieved or supported," 1847
     Hofstra University
     Long Island Studies Institute
     West Campus Library
     Hempstead, N.Y. 11549.

Microfilm Series A1978  Roll Number(s) 
168-170  more information
the Poorhouse Story

the Poorhouse Story

We are hoping to build this base of information about the poorhouse in QUEENS county through the helpful participation of readers. All are requested to submit items of interest by sending e-mail to The Poorhouse Lady.

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