POORHOUSE  RULES & REGULATIONS
Orange County NY
1831

Submitted by: Orange County Genealogical Society
Note: Even though the start of this document is rather dry and legalistic, keep reading ...
or scroll down ... to find more personal information about matters which affected the daily lives of inmates, etc.   PHL

RULES, &c.

     Whereas a suitable and commodious house has been erected by the Supervisors of said county for the reception and accommodation of such persons as are entitled to a maintenance: --
     We the Superintendents of the poor of the county aforesaid, do therefore, hereby, pursuant to the Revised Statutes, part first, chap. XX, of the Internal Police of this state, title 1st, "of the relief and support of indigent persons" do believe, that some good and convenient rules, regulations and by-laws be made for the direction, government and support of the poor and house aforesaid.
     Be it therefore ordained and enacted, by the Superintendents of the poor and phoor house of the county of Orange, and sanctioned by a majority of the Judges of the county courts of said county. That

                                                          RULE 1.
     The Superintendents shall meet at said poor house, on the second Monday in every month, and on such other days and times as they or a quorum of them shall find necessary, and visit the apartments, and see that the poor are comfortably supported, and hear all complaints and redress or cause to be redressed all grievances which may happen by the neglect or misconduct of any person or persons in their employment; and at their respective meetings, shall examine into the state of all matters and things relative to the support and employment of said poor, and confer and conclude thereon, and give such orders and directions concerning the same; as to them shall appear good, useful and expedient, and consistent with the designs of the institution; and shall keep minutes of all such proceedings as are of importance, and all matters of account relating to their duties of office.

                                                            RULE 2.
     There shall be a keeper of approved integrity and ability, who shall be chosen and appointed by the superintendents, and removed by them at their pleasure on good cause shown.
     The keeper, under the direction of the superintendents, shall provide a suitable woman to assist him in the good order and management about the house.  And shall provide necessary provisions for the poor under his care, and also purchase raw materials for manufacturing, and sufficient working tools for the employment of such of them as are able to work.  He shall keep a fair and regular list of all the poor, together with their ages, as near as can be ascertained, and the time when received into the house, and from whence; and a list of the children bound out to apprenticeships, with the names of their masters or mistresses, and their trade, occupation or calling and place of residence.--Also fair and regular accounts in writing, of materials, provisions, fire wood, clothing and other necessaries, under his care, for the use of the institution, and all expenses and charges attending the maintenance and support of the poor, and of all monies received by him for the sale of the produce of their labour and otherwise, and shall lay the said lists and account before the superintendents, for their inspection, at every meeting, and the said superintendents shall settle said accounts monthly, at their meetings aforesaid.  The keeper shall keep a wearing apparel book, ruled in columns, and therein keep a correct and distinct account of each and every article of clothing received by the paupers.
     The keeper shall superintend the economy of the house and manage the farm and stock.  He shall employ such of the poor as are able to labour, on the farm and in the Gardens, and see that the rules, regulations, and orders of the superintendents be duly observed.  If any transgress, he shall note their faults in a book, and lay them before the superintendents: and if any are unruly, disorderly or stubbornly perverse, he shall have full power to confine them in some solitary cells or place, and to feed them on bread and water for any time not exceeding three days.
     An account of all persons who are or may have been confined, and of all the causes thereof, shall be laid before the superintendents at their next meeting.  The keeper or some other person approved by the superintendents, shall attend at meal times, and see that the people under his care assemble and mess together, according to the order or class settled by the superintendents.  That they do not immediately begin to eat or to help one another, but that they wait in silence, that the pious and devout among them, may have an opportunity of asking a blessing or returning thanks for the mercies bestowed on them, and that they behave with decency and good manners towards each other.  The keeper shall not suffer the people under his charge to quarrel, dispute or make any unnecessary noise, but each one shall peaceably and quietly attend to the business or place allotted him or her, and shall not not permit them to use any strong liquors, unless it be under the direction of the attending physician.  If any one is suspected of bringing in any strong liquors, or of carrying out any thing belonging to the house, or to any person therein, due enquiry and search shall be made, that the offender or offenders, if found guilty, may be punished.
     The keeper, at the hours of going to bed, which shall be at nine o'clock in the summer and eight in the winter, shall see all fires and lights extinguished, excepting what shall be absolutely necessary, and these shall be left under proper care.  He shall cause the bell to rung every morning, for the people to rise who are able to work, and again at meal times.  Those who are able to work, shall, at the hours appointed by the keeper, be kept at their respective work or employment.

DUTIES OF THE FEMALE ASSISTANT.

     The Female Assistant shall observe that due attention is paid to cleanliness in every respect, and that the nurses and others employed under her direction, are to be faithful in the discharge of their several duties, and behave to the sick and infirm placed under their care, with the greatest degree of humanity and attention.--She shall also see that the different apartments are well ventilated, whenever the weather will permit, and especially those appropriated to the reception of sick and invalid persons.  That the straw in the beds is to be changed at least once in ninety days, during the summer season, & that the beds are preserved clear of vermin.  She shall take care that the victuals be well and seasonably dressed, especially for the sick and helpless, which shall be prepared according to the directions of the attending physician; that the rooms be swept, and the beds made, every day, and that the house be cleaned as often as shall be judged necessary; that the tables, linen, dishes, &c. be kept clean, that the people be kept decent and neat in their apparel.  For this end, she shall see that every person have two shirts or shifts marked with the initial letters of their name, or other marks that shall, be known. These and all spare clothing belonging to every person, she shall take into her custody, and cause them to be washed and mended, and deliver out to each person clean shirts or shifts, and receive from them their foul ones every sabbath morning.
     When any person dies, she shall immediately take care of the clothes belonging to the deceased, cause them to be washed or cleansed, and if necessary mended, and deposit them in the place provided for clothing.  For her assistance there shall be proper persons appointed by the superintendents, for these services.  When any person dies, the nurse attending, shall immediately give notice to the keeper, who shall forthwith order a coffin to be sent, and the dead person being washed and laid out in a decent manner, shall without delay, be placed into the coffin and conveyed to the room appointed for that purpose, and from thence, in a proper time to the place of interment.
                                                       RULE 3.

PERSONS ADMITTED INTO THE HOUSE.

     No person shall be admitted into the said Poor House for their maintenance, unless on an order from, or brought by, a proper officer, duly authorized by law; and all persons upon their admission, shall be examined, whether they are clear and free from foul distempers.  Such as shall not be found clean, and such as have any infectious or foul disorder, shall be put in some particular apartment, until they are cleansed and cured.  All shall be obliged to keep themselves washed and combed, and their clothes neat, and whole, and to change their shirts or shifts once a week.
     All persons admitted, who are capable of working, shall be employed, as well to inure them to labour, as to contribute to their support.
     At the stated hours fixed by the superintendents, all persons who are capable of working, shall repair to their proper apartments or places allotted for them, where they shall work orderly, and at such business, and as many hours as the superintendents shall appoint.
     They shall not curse, swear, strike, abuse, give ill language or be clamorous, but shall behave themselves soberly, decently and courteously towards each other, and respectfully to all, especially their keeper, and that due observance be paid to the sabbath and during divine service.  When any children are received into the house, some suitable woman shall be appointed to take care of them, who is to take care that they be dressed, washed and combed every morning.  At a suitable age they shall be taught to read, &c. at such hours, as shall be appointed by the superintendents, and the rest of their time shall be employed in such work as shall be assigned them.
     When any person is taken sick, he shall be removed to the apartment provided for that purpose, that they may have the benefit of nursing and medical assistance.

EMPLOYMENT OF THE PEOPLE.

     The bell shall be rung or other notice given every morning, to call the family up, and such as are able shall repair to the several places appointed for them, to work, and shall keep diligently at work, from such hours in the morning, to such hours in the evening, as the superintendents shall from time to time direct, excepting so much time as shall be employed in husbandry, gardening &c, except when the weather is too inclement to work out.  They shall, at such times be employed in such other suitable employ, as the keeper shall appoint, and excepting such as shall be judged more profitable to employ at their trades.
     Such women as are capable, shall be employed in spinning, knitting, sewing, &c, at the discretion of the superintendents.

DIET

     The superintendents shall from time to time, and as often as they shall think necessary, agree upon the diet of the house, to be continued till their further orders.  At meal times, all those who are able to attend, shall, upon the ringing of the bell or other notice, meet at the place appointed, and eat together or in classes, as the superintendents shall direct, in an orderly manner, agreeable to rule second.  None shall speak loud or whisper at table on pain of being removed and deprived of that meal.  Such as shall not attend at the appointed time shall loose that meal, unless there be good reasons for their absence.

GOVERNMENT OF THE HOUSE

     All immoralities and disobedience to the government of the house, and other misbehavior, shall be noted in a book by the keeper, and laid before the superintendents, that such rudeness and immorality may be restrained, and peace and good order maintained.
     Whereas some slothful persons may pretend sickness or lameness to excuse themselves from labour, such persons shall be examined by the physician, and if it appear by his report and other concurring circumstances that those persons made false excuses, they shall be punished by confinement in a cell or some other solitary place, and fed on bread and water until they comply, or in some other legal way, as the superintendents shall determine.
     Such as behave themselves soberly and decently, and observe the rules and orders of the house, and faithfully perform the tasks assigned them, shall receive some suitable
reward from the superintendents.
     None shall presume to beg money or any other thing, directly or indirectly from any person who shall come to visit the house, on penalty of imprisonment not exceeding forty eight hours for each offence.
     All who are hired by the superintendents or keeper and receive wages for their services in the house, shall conform to such laws, orders and regulations as shall be agreed on by the superintendents, on pain of being discharged.
     If any persons shall neglect to repair to their proper place to work, or being there shall refuse to work, or shall loiter, be idle or shall not well perform the task of work wet them, or shall waste or spoil any of the materials or tools, or shall deface the walls, or break the windows, or shall disturb the house by clamorous quarrelling, fighting or abusive language, or shall bring any strong liquors into the house without leave, or shall behave disrespectfully to any, or shall be guilty of lying, or in any other respect act immorally, they shall be punished by withholding their regular means, not exceeding one days allowance, or by being confined in a cell, or some solitary place and supported on bread and water, at the discretion of the keeper, not exceeding seventy two hours: unless the board of superintendents order a longer confinement, or proceed against them before a justice of the peace, there to be dealt with according to law.
     The foregoing rules and regulations were agreed to, at a meeting of the board of superintendents, held at the Orange County Poor house, on Monday the seventh of February one thousand eight hundred and thirty one.

WILLIAM SMITH
JESSE WOOD, Jr.
JOHN WILSON
DANIEL CORWIN
GILBERT HOLMES.

SUPERINTENDENTS

     We the undersigned, Judges of the court of Common Pleas for said county, do hereby sanction the foregoing rules and regulations. Dated Feb. 24th 1831.

                                                        JOHN B. BOOTH
                                                                 SAMUEL S. SEWARD
                                                             JOHN HALLOCK, Jr.

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