1896 Law
the Poorhouse Story

In 1896 a total revision of the New York State Poor Laws was enacted as Chapter 225 entitled "An act in relation to the poor, constituting chapter 27 of the general laws."
The following is that portion of the text of the law as it applied to Civil War (and other) veterans and their dependents and the manner in which they were to be provided with assistance. Specifically, they were not to be admitted to Poor Houses

ARTICLE V.   Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. 

SECTION:
                         80.Relief to soldiers and their families.
                         81.Post to give notice that it assumes charge.
                         82. Poor or indigent soldiers, et cetera, without families.
                         83.Burial of soldiers, sailors or marines.
                         84.Headstones to be provided.

80.   Relief to soldiers and their families. -- No poor or indigent Soldier, sailor, or marine, who was in the military or naval service of the United States, in the late war of the rebellion or in the last war with Mexico, Nor his family nor the families of any who may be deceased, shall be sent to any almshouse, except with the approval of the commander and quarter- master of the post of the Grand Army of the Republic of the city or town where such persons reside, or the nearest post there to, but they shall be relieved and provided for at their homes in the city or town where they may reside, so far as practicable, provided such soldier, sailor or marine or the families of those deceased, are, and have been, residents of the state for one year; and all public officers having power to grant or allow relief to poor persons shall grant and allow all necessary relief to such soldiers, sailors and marines, and their families, and to the families of such as shall have died, whenever the necessity for such relief is known to exist; and they shall also grant such relief upon the written request of the commander and quartermaster of any post of the Grand Army of the Republic of the city or town, made upon the written recommendation of the relief committee of such post; or if there be no post in a town or city in which it is necessary that such relief should be granted, upon the like request of the commander and quartermaster and recommendation of the relief committee of a Grand Army post located in the nearest town or city, to the town or city, requested to so furnish relief, and such written request and recommendation shall be sufficient authority for the expenditures so made. 

81.   Post to give notice that it assumes charge. -- The commander of any such post which shall undertake to supervise relief of poor veterans or their families, as herein provided, before his acts shall become operative in any town, city or county, shall file with the clerk of such town, city or county, a notice that such post intends to undertake such supervision of relief, which notice shall contain the names of the relief committee, commander, and other officers of the post; and also an undertaking to such city, town or county, with sufficient and satisfactory sureties for the faithful and honest discharge of his duties under this article; such undertaking to be approved by the treasurer of the city or county, or the supervisor of the town, from which such relief is to be received. Such commander shall annually thereafter, during the month of October, file a similar notice with said city or town clerk, with a detailed statement of the amount of relief requested by him during the preceding year, with the names of all persons for whom such relief shall have been requested, together with a brief statement in each case from the relief committee upon whose recommendation the relief was requested.

82.   Poor or indigent soldiers, et cetera, without families. -- Poor or indigent soldiers, sailors or marines provided for in this article, who are not insane, and who have no families or friends with whom they may be domiciled, may be sent to a soldiers' home. Any poor or indigent soldier, sailor or marine provided for in this chapter, or any member of the family of any living or deceased soldier, sailor or marine, who- may be insane, shall, upon recommendation of the commander and relief committee of such post of the Grand Army of the Republic, within the jurisdiction of which the case may occur, be sent to the proper state hospital for the insane.

83.   Burial of soldiers, sailors or marines. -- The board of supervisors in each of the counties shall designate some proper person or authority, other than that designated for the care of poor persons, or the custody of criminals, who shall cause to be interred, the body of any honorably discharged soldier, sailor or marine, who served in the army or navy of the United States during the late war of the rebellions or in the last war with Mexico, who shall hereafter die without leaving means sufficient to defray his funeral expenses, but such expenses shall in no case exceed thirty-five dollars. If the deceased has relatives or friends who desire to conduct the burial, but are unable or unwilling to pay the charges therefor, such sum shall be paid by the county treasurer upon due proof of the claim, and of the death and burial of the soldier, sailor or marine to the person so conducting such burial. Such interment shall not be made in a cemetery or cemetery plot used exclusively for the burial of poor persons deceased.

84.   Headstones to be provided.-- The grave of any such deceased soldier, sailor or marine shall be marked by a headstone containing the name of the deceased, and, if possible, the organization to which he belonged, or in which he served; such headstone shall cost not more than fifteen dollars, and shall be of such design and material as shall be approved by the board of supervisors, and the expense of such burial and headstone as provided for in this article, shall be a charge upon, and shall be paid by the county in which the said soldier, sailor or marine shall have died; and the board of supervisors of such county is hereby authorized and directed to audit the account and pay the expense of such burial in the same manner as other accounts against said county are audited and paid; provided, however, that in case such deceased soldier, sailor or marine shall be at the time of his death an inmate of any State institution, including state hospitals and soldiers' homes, or any institution supported by the state and supported at public expense therein, the expense of such burials and headstones shall be a charge upon the county of his legal residence.

OTHER Laws Return to HISTORY Return to HOME