"CARE OF THE POOR IN ILLINOIS"
Public care of the poor in Illinois began in 1819. In that year, the General Assembly passed a law mandating public care and maintenance of those unable to support themselves and without family support. County overseers of the poor farmed out care of the destitute to private citizens. [Laws of Illinois 1819, p. 127]
In 1839, this system was reauthorized. County commissioners' courts were also authorized to establish county poorhouses, at their own discretion, to replace the farm-out system; to hire keepers of the poor, and to levy a property tax for poorhouse support. [Laws of Illinois 1839, p. 138] This poorhouse authorization was renewed in 1845 and 1861. [Illinois Revised Statutes 1845, p. 402; Laws of Illinois 1861, p. 181]
An 1874 law required all keepers (superintendents) of county poorhouses to keep books of account. [Illinois Revised Statutes 1874, p. 754] The superintendent was required to keep a record showing the name of each person admitted to the county poorhouse; the time of his admission and discharge; the place of his birth; whether his dependence resulted from idiocy, lunacy, intemperance, or other causes, stating the cause; and is required, at the same time each year, to file with the county clerk of his county a copy of the same, together with a statement showing the average number of persons kept in the poorhouse each month during the year. [Illinois Revised Statutes 1874, p. 758]
In 1917, counties were authorized to establish joint poorhouses and poor farms with other counties; and in 1919, the county poorhouses' names were changed to county homes. [Laws of Illinois 1917, p. 638; Laws of Illinois 1919, p. 698] The county home law was renewed in 1935 and 1945. [Laws of Illinois 1935, p. 1055; Laws of Illinois 1945, p. 1139]
In 1949, the Public Assistance Code was passed, making relief of the indigent a function of the new county departments of welfare. County homes were reauthorized only for care of infirm or chronically ill persons; counties were specifically forbidden from placing destitute but physically healthy persons in the county homes. [Laws of Illinois 1949, p. 404] In 1967, the Public Aid code repealed the county home laws and deauthorized the county homes remaining in Illinois. [Laws of Illinois 1967, p. 118]
Woodford County Almshouse Registers Index,1868–1957
Compiled by the Illinois Regional Archives Depository System, Illinois State University