Washington County Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story
NY_Washington_ArgylePoorhouse.jpg (136668 bytes)

This is a view of the County poor farm near Argyle. Now the area is the site of the Pleasant Valley Infirmary for the elderly who need special care. Only one of the original buildings (a smaller one, not shown here) still stands.

the Poorhouse Story

The notes below have been abstracted from the following reports.
To obtain further information on these reports click on the appropriate button.
(This will open a separate window so simply close to get back to this page.)

the Poorhouse Story

Click here to see the exact text of the section dealing with Washington County  from this 1823 survey of the conditions and methods of poor relief throughout the state which resulted in the passage of the law in 1824 which established a system of county poorhouses in New York.

the Poorhouse Story
1824 LAW (required establishment of poorhouse vs. exempted): Exempt
the Poorhouse Story
1857 INVESTIGATION: Washington County Poor House

   Is located in the town of Argyle, and is constructed of brick, two stories, 100 x 30 feet on the ground; connected with which is a farm of 170 acres, yielding an annual revenue of $1,500.  The location of this house is well suited to promote its designs, and the general appearance of the house, farm and fixtures, indicate system, order and thrift.  The house has no special provision for ventilation; yet the keeper gave evidence that he understood and appreciated the difference between pure and foul air.  Neither is there any provision for bathing.  It is heated by stoves.  Thirty-one rooms are appropriated to the use of the paupers, in which from one to ten are placed in a room.  The number of inmates was 112, fifty males and sixty-two females. Of these fifty-six were foreign and fifty-six native born, including forty children, about twenty of whom had been placed out on trial with farmers and others, preliminary to binding them out.  The separation of the sexes in this house is complete, day and night, except that they meet in the dining hall while eating.

   The house and farm is under the management of one keeper, assisted by his wife and pauper labor.  The superintendent of the poor purchases the supplies for the house, prescribes rules regulating the diet, binds out the children of suitable age, and exercises the power of discharging lunatics when they are dismissed.  The average number of inmates is 124, who are furnished with good plain food at a weekly expense of sixty-seven and a half cents each.

   The house has been once visited by the board of supervisors during the year.  A physician is employed by the year at a salary of $50.  A school is taught in the house eleven months in the year.  Religious exercises are maintained every morning by the keeper.  The house is partially supplied with Bibles.  There have been five births and eleven deaths during the year.  Two are dumb, but can hear; five are blind; one of these four years old.  Of the inmates twenty are lunatics, ten males and ten females, and all paupers.  Two have been received during the year and six have escaped.

   The lunatics have no special attendants and receive no special medical attention.  One is set down as having recovered.  Several are confined in cells.  The methods of restraint are locking in cells, chaining to the floor, and hand-cuffs.  The house admits of a partial classification of the insane.  No application has been made to the State Lunatic Asylum for the admission of lunatics during the year.  Three of the inmates are idiots, two male and one female.  One-half of all who come to this house are brought consequent upon habits of inebriation.

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

NEWSPAPER NOTICE of Poorhouse Opening -- 1827
This takes a while to load -- it is a photo-image of the newspaper clipping.)
the Poorhouse Story

Washington County Poorhouse Records
An Account of Births in County House, 1855-1859. 
An account of The Deaths in the County House, 1855-1858. 
Children Taken from The Poor House, 1855-1860
Personal note:   You can find the PHL's great great grandma here!   
                                                                           (Emma Warner -- 11/1/1856)    PHL

the Poorhouse Story

The inmate records of the Washington County Poorhouse have been transcribed (almost in their entirety) in the following two books.

History & Abstracts of 
Inmate Registration Certificates from the
Washington County (NY) Poorhouse 1875-1900 
by Linda M. Crannell
Publishing From the Poorhouse
      Click Here for:

            NAME INDEX    


                          Washington County NY Poorhouse Accounts
                          Edited by
                          Laura Penny Hulslander 
                          Sleeper Company
                          [Note: this book covered the period from 1827-1870]


Microfilm Series A1978  Roll Number(s) 210-212  more information
NOTE: These same records were filmed in a different series for the Washington County Archives.  They are on County Rolls # 367 & # 368 and may be viewed at the archives in Ft. Edward or purchased from them.
*** It is usually easier to do this than to obtain them from the state archives. ***
the Poorhouse Story




Here is a copy of the certificate from the Washington County Board of Supervisors --
commending Richard for his work and offering support for the book's publication.


The Washington County Poorhouse cemetery (Argyle) page contains a survey which includes the names of those inmates buried with headstones that had names engraved on them as well as those whose stones were only numbered. (Those names which correspond to numbered stones had been previously "lost", and in recent years were considered unknown. We tracked them down for you!) [Photos also!]

the Poorhouse Story

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

HOME             Back to find Other NY Counties

Poorhouse HISTORY CEMETERIES by State RECORDS by State