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The Poorhouse Story  
2/23/2004  ooops! again! 

24th issue)

You know, the past three months have gone by soooo  fast!  I don't know if that means I'm getting old -- or I have had waaay too many things to do -- or both.  (But since both apply,  I guess it doesn't matter.)  Still, this newsletter deadline sort of snuck ( snook?  sneaked? ) up on me. 

I know, I know. This newsletter is late.  But there have been distraction!  (No excuses, just distractions.) One such 
distraction is one with which some of you will have no sympathy. Or, at any rate, you certainly won't understand why 
we would celebrate it. It's SNOW!  You folks have my sympathy.  Too much of a good thing is never any fun; but we ... here in Austin, Texas ... haven't seen any snow for 18 years!  (No, I don't have room to house "snowbirds" ... aka: winter visitors from The North.  And .. No, I don't want to trade places with you. But you wouldn't want to be here in September when we are really sick of relentless, burning, hot sunshine.) You can click on the photo above to see more.

And the Kite Festival.  That's one good thing that has been going on here for 74 years. It is truly wonderful! Click on the kite logo (upper right) for more info ... in case you want to visit next year!

Now ... I said I had no excuses for being late with the newsletter, but I do have an explanation.  However, that requires a little reflection. (See below.)  This newsletter is not only a little late, it's also a little thin ... with not as much new material as usual.  We'll try to catch up during the next couple of months.





You know how some things are just not really meant 
to be "spectator" sports?  (At least .. I don't think so.)  
Good things:  like eating and ... uhm ... well, sex ... and 
stuff like that.  There are some bad things that also are 
not meant to be merely observed.  Poverty is one of those.  

My interest in poorhouses has sort of morphed over 
the past couple of years into a strong concern with what 
historically put people into poorhouses.  And what could, 
not inconceivably, 
put us there again. 

[Note: you can read about that issue now -- if you haven't
already -- in our last editorial commentary.]  

That article pointed out the fact that the "social safety net" 
that put an end to poorhouses about 3/4 of a century ago 
has become dangerously shredded in recent years.

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Here's a rare sighting: Your PHL cleaning !
(not at home -- which is always a mess! --
but cleaning up the church after a Freeze Night.

The kind of poverty that once put people in poorhouses is now putting them on the streets.  In many parts of the country, homelessness is so in-our-faces that it has become something we cannot avoid observing.  In my town ... which almost never has the sort of snow that sends modern day "paupers" heading south to keep from freezing to death in the winter ... we see it a lot!

"Wintering in the poorhouse" ... a phenomenon commonly observed during the 19th century ... has evolved into a practice of migrating south for the winter.  But, even here, it does become dangerously cold at least several times in any given winter.  And then the risk of people dying in the streets becomes real.

I have spent a lot of time during the past 10 weeks participating in a program called the FREEZE NIGHT project.  That has been quite an eye-opener!  I have been working on a photo story about the experience ... and I decided to share that with you this month.  Please take time to read (and look at)  the commentary below.

I offer it as my "excuse" for having lately been less active on The POORHOUSE STORY (the website) -- because I have been more active on this chapter of the contemporary "poorhouse story."  My hope is that you will see in it an opportunity for you to become involved wherever you live.  

In our quest to know our ancestors better ... sometimes we need to take time out to make sure 
our descendants don't repeat the poorhouse history.


   Commentary  # 6 
                                        -- TODAY'S VERSION!
         A story of FREEZE NIGHTS in the South
      NOTE: This is a photo article -- with lots of graphics -- which means the pages take a longer time to load.

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Table of STATISTICS and NEW ITEMS ADDED to The PHS Website

-- since last newsletter's stats (ended 12/20/2003) --
75,432  ( 829 per day
-- Total (as of 03/20/2004) since 5/8/2000 --

MEET THE PRESS  "The case of the missing potter's field probably won't be solved until the ground thaws.

Dane County officials have spent the past two months trying to determine where about 100 graves are located near Badger Prairie Health Care Center on Verona ..."

Wisconsin State Journal

No answer yet to grave site mystery
TWO  Mysteries!

Solving one has not helped much to solve the other.

Discovering where the missing gravestone markers went (into someone's landscaping!) has settled one question. But locating the graves which are now unmarked is proving difficult.

So Dane County, Wisconsin, is now utilizing the the same sort of high tech search devices as those described in our last newsletter to find the graves in this location.. 

We wonder how many times this sad sign of disrespect for the poor will have to repeat itself in other communities.


11:33 PM 12/25/03
Lesley Rogers Barrett County reporter

(no longer archived)

"Some 500 Markers At Potter's Field Disappeared A Half Century Ago, And About 70 Of Them Have Turned Up.

The slim white stones that once marked grave sites of Dane County's poor are now part of a decorative patio edge, flower bed border and steppingstones at a Verona home."

Wisconsin State Journal

Mystery Of Missing Gravestones Solved

Sunday, November 23, 2003
Lesley Rogers Barrett County reporter

archived here


(based on readers submissions)


(We didn’t create them; 
we just show them!)

If you enter our website somewhere besides the homepage, you may not yet have seen this sad sign. It is real!  This is another way we are losing those wonderful old poorhouse buildings.  

If you click on the sign you will be taken to the page where the current (private) owners explain the current situation and show some beautiful photos.

Kirk & Lisa have made a valiant attempt to preserve the poorhouse, but they now need to sell it.

Click picture to see what we have previously 

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This is what happens to history when not enough people care! 

"Tomorrow I am going to sneak through the fence and take a few stones/bricks for preservation from the grinder.......the rest will ground into powder for re-use.  Now that it is coming down, people often stop their cars on the highway and approach me when I'm filming to say how tragic this is.  Too bad hardly anyone cared before this started.  One elderly gentleman who is a carpenter told me that the type of wood used in the attic/roof area is some type of pine that is no longer made and is so valuable.  We stood there and watched it crunched and snapped into splinters..... "


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Photo taken March 1, 2004

Photo taken at the end of 2002
(built approximately 1850)

Sandra Everson has sadly kept a photo-journal of this demolition process. Here she shares it with us.


In our last newsletter we told you about two wonderful albums of photos of this building before the demolition began

See  Jamie Novak's  album  
See Dan Dockery's album

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 Sandra Everson, 
Medical Records

If you love architectural detail -- take time to open the albums above!



  • alert the community 

  • save the records  (and do lookups on her own time!)

  • preserve the history of the building 
    with photographs ... if all else fails  

HONORED STATES previous Illinois/Kansas/Ohio/Pennsylvania/Tennessee/Texas




previous Belgium / Canada / England / France / The Netherlands / Sweden


Picture Postcards/Photos/Illustrations    
   PA Clarion
    WI Dane County (Tons!)
Notes from Readers / Local/Historical Notes
   IL Coles (Many items!)
  MO Calloway
  PA Wayne
    WA King

Historical Documents     

Historical Memorabilia   
Poorhouse Records
Cemetery Lists (or notes)
  TN Henderson
  WV Mercer
Poorhouse Resident lists from CENSUS
new material or off-site links to the web)
  1800 ME Kennebec
  1880 MO Gentry
  1860 IN Greene
  1870 IN Union
  1900 PA Lackawanna
  1880 PA Wayne
Recommended  BOOKS


previous Delaware/Illinois/Michigan/Minnesota/Ohio/Oregon
New York/Pennsylvania
Thanks for your continued support.
Linda Crannell                                                        
(aka=The Poorhouse Lady)

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(Note: Some of our most enthusiastic supporters came up with the idea of giving their friends
gift subscriptions to the Poorhouse Story Newsletter!  E-mail to let us know if you would like to do the same.)