Michigan Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story

Caption:  Allegan County Infirmary, Allegan, Mich.


BAY       ST. JOSEPH          KEWEENAW         OCEANA    ANTRIM

TUSCOLA (2photos)    IONIA      JACKSON     

HILLSDALE (Commemorative Plate)      KALAMAZOO    MUSKEGON



VAN BUREN (with historical marker notes)  
(Click on Public Buildings when you get there.)



the Poorhouse Story


Here is the Michigan excerpt from a U.S. Government REPORT 
summarizing various state poor laws in 1904. .
Click on the links above for more information.

the Poorhouse Story



Formerly we posted several articles about the controversy over the future of the old Macomb County Poor Farm. [These have been archived on our website. You can find the index to the articles by clicking on this link.] One carried the title: "Poor farm future uncertain; County has choice: Raze 1868 facility or make it museum."  Sadly they chose the former. The building was razed recently. We understand that a documentary about the old poor farm has been produced and has been showing on local cable TV during the summer of 2001. But we have not been informed whether permanent copies of the video will be archived where the public can have access to them in the future, or whether there is a way in which people interested in that history but who do not live in the viewing area of that television station will be able to see it. For information you may inquire of Donald W. Green, Chairman of the Clinton Township Historical Commission, dwgreen@teleweb.net 
Our thanks to the many, many people who signed our on-line petition to save this historic old building.     PHL


Historical notes about the Ionia County Poor Farm: 
         transcriptions of several old newspaper articles & historical society newsletters
                  telling where the poor farms were located and when built, etc. 
                            the history of locating the records
                            the history of attempts to preserve the cemeteries

Historical notes about the Houghton County Poorhouse 
From: “History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan” 1883, page 252.


"On Monday last we availed ourself of an opportunity to visit - in company with Mr Orrin W. ROBINSON, the superintendent - the county poor-house............. Nearly one hundred acres of land have been cleared, upon which are grown potatoes, hay, oats, corn, vegetables, in abundance (of the about 200 acres of tolerably good timber and farming land).................. The resident overseer of the place, Mr PRIEMER,.................. discharges the duties of his position not only to the satisfaction of his employers but also that of his wards."

copied from:
THE MINING GAZETTE (under various names) of Houghton County, Michigan Copyright © 1998-2001 by Dick and June Ross. This copy contributed for use in the USGenWeb Archives. USGENWEB NOTICE: In keeping with our policy of providing free information on the Internet, data may be freely used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by other organizations. 
........denotes there was more to the article and the article with in is a shortened version.

Historical notes about the Marquette County Poorhouse  
From: “History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan” 1883, page 390.

Historical notes about the Clinton County Poor House and Farm  
From: "History of Shiawassee and Clinton Counties" 1880, D.W. Ensign and Co.

Historical notes about Gratiot County Poor House and Farm  
From "Portrait and Biographical Album, Gratiot County, Mich., containing Portraits & Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizen of the County ... " 
Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1884  

The Calhoun County Genealogical Society has provided us with an illustration and historical notes for The Calhoun County Poor Farm. 

Schoolcraft County Poorhouse -- historical information

Notes regarding the Jackson County Infirmary (County Farm) which relate to the photograph linked above. 

the Poorhouse Story

In Houghton County, Michigan, the poorhouse was located out on the Keweenaw Waterway Road about 10 miles from the city of Houghton, Mich. My parents never had an auto when I was growing up in the 1940's; but I remember a late Sunday evening ride to this area with the courteous neighbors during a lightening/ thunderstorm and had an eerie feeling as I saw the dimly lit building for the first time with some of the "residents" looking back
longingly as we slowly drove past. I can remember in later years my father delivering gifts, courtesy of the local mining company union workers, to youngsters housed there when I believe it was converted to an orphanage.
     Edward Chaput  EddyFitz@aol.com  

"The Isabella County Farm was, in 1959, functioning as "Broomfield Memorial Hospital".
     Don Fuller [donfuller@sensible-net.com ]

"I live a short distance from what used to be the Isabella County Poor Farm. Here are the photos.  I am told that there is a cemetery associated with the property, although I have not verified this as yet. I believe the Poor Farm ceased operations sometime in the 1960s."
W. K. "Bill" Gorman   wkg@gte.net 

[Note: To see another fascinating photograph by Bill ... which appears almost like an impressionistic painting ... click here. It will take a while to load--but it's worth it!]

"I remember a poor house in Calhoun County , Michigan I think it was at Marshall. We called it the County Farm. My mother was a minister and when I was a little girl I remember, she used to go there and have meetings and take things for the people, I don't know if there are any records available or not , but I would think so."
     Harriet E Rossman Peavey  Email: innov8or@trinton.net 

"I looked at your picture [of the Jackson County Infirmary] and it sure looks like the place I remember many years ago.  I am John Kehring and I lived with Sheridan and Edna Hadley, my great-aunt and -uncle.  Their farm was at the corner of County Farm Road and Dearing Road.  I lived there from about 1938 through 1950.  We always thought of the County Farm as a poorhouse.  My Uncle Sheridan hired one of the residents of the County Farm to help us dig a septic tank.  I remember that he would walk to our house every morning and go back in the evening.  He would eat lunch with us.  He also had no hands, only stumps.  But he got on well and was a working fool.
        Hope this helps a little."
                                John Kehring   JFKYuma@aol.com 

Here is a newspaper article about a fire at the Jackson County House in 1886. 

"My husband's great uncle and aunt, Jim and Frankie Clark ran a poorhouse in Monroe County for a number of years. They had Clydesdale horses that used to keep the inmates employed. My husband remembers visiting it once when he was very young and being scared to death. Just in the last year we've passed the old buildings, but I couldn't tell you the street names, just that it's near Petersburg."  
     Cathy Barger    crmab2@juno.com 


the Poorhouse Story

ELOISE--The Poorhouse That Became an Asylum
by Mary Bailey / The Detroit News
[Wayne County]

The Will Carleton Poorhouse (good photo)
by Erin Simmons and Stacy Sodergren, 8th grade
[Hillsdale County]

the Poorhouse Story


LIST of Poorhouse Holdings at the MICHIGAN STATE ARCHIVES (by county)  


 1900 Census for the Allegan County Poor Farm in Allegan Village in Allegan Township

 1910 Census for the Allegan County Infirmary  in Allegan Village in Allegan Township

 1900 Census for the Charlevoix County Poor House in South Arm Township  

 1920 Census for the Grand Traverse County Poor House in Garfield Township

1850 Census for the Hillsdale County Poor House in Fayette Township  

1870 Census for the Hillsdale County Poor House 

1880 Census for the Hillsdale County Poor House 

1880 Census for the Houghton County Poor House

1910 Census for the Houghton County Poor House

1920 Census for the Houghton County Poor House  

1930 Census for the Houghton County Poor House  

1870 Census for the  Keweenaw County Poor House in Grant Township

1880 Census for the Kalamazoo County Poor Farm in Comstock Township

Index to (Kent County) Maple Grove (County Poor Farm) "Record Book", 1895-1913 

1920 Census for the Missaukee County Poor Farm in Lake City 

1880 Census for the Sanilac County Poor House  

These lists appear on an excellent website about this poorhouse which was part of an 
institutional complex known as Eloise Hospital.    See   Tales of Eloise
1860 Census for the Wayne County Poor House
1870 Census
for the Wayne County Poor House
1900 Census for the Wayne County Poor House
1930 Census (males only) for Eloise Hospital Wayne County 

List of BIRTHS at the Gratiot County Poor Farm -- 1887-1909  

"The Calhoun County Poorhouse Register covers a period from September 10, 1850 through October 1, 1870.  It was recently found in a building in Marshall, MI which was being vacated and turned over to the community historian.  He gave the Calhoun County Genealogical Society permission to copy it.  We will make every effort to soon have it on our website at http://www.rootsweb.com/~micalhou/ccgs.htm.  When it is available on our website I will notify you." 

Carlene DeMaso, Vice President
Calhoun County Genealogical Society

The State Archives at the MI State Library in Lansing, MI has all of the original books (names of inmates, dates, minutes for meetings regarding poorhouse matters, receipts, etc.) for the Bay County Poor Farm. My great-uncle, James Purtell, was the administrator for 30 years, and in searching for information about him, I have looked through these Poor Farm books."
     Patti Hacht   PHacht@peoplepc.com

"My information is that most of the Allegan County Poorhouse records were destroyed when the building was demolished. I have been told that some were salvaged, but that salvage had been discouraged when these records were dumped. I would love to learn more about any Allegan Co. records that might still exist."  
     Betty Snow


the Poorhouse Story

List of Burials at the Ionia County Poor Farm -- 1908 - 1934  
         (Scroll to the bottom of a long article containing transcriptions of many newspaper articles.)

List of DEATHS at the Gratiot County Poor Farm -- 1886-1914 

Hastings County Farm Cemetery   -- Barry County (Hastings Township)  

Kalamazoo County Poor Farm (Rest Home) Cemetery- Section 23, off E. Michigan Avenue (NE map ref # 15) is cited on the Kalamazoo GenWeb cemetery site.

List of burials for the Shiawassee County, Michigan Poor Farm 

   Photographs of the Shiawassee Poor Farm Cemetery   


"I wanted to let you know about a cemetery in Presque Isle, MI, that part of my grandmother's family is buried in.  It is the Belknap Cemetery, on Klee Rd.  It is very tiny--about 35 bodies.  They have no lot cards, as the plots were provided by the township to those who couldn't afford plots.  My great grandparents and 2 of their children are buried there, as are a few distant relatives.  Joyce Schwiesow (pronounced "shwee-zow") is the Belknap Township Clerk (517/766-8167).  She kindly provided me with some information on my family members buried there."
     Susan Grove [susantg@xnet.com

Kent County Farm Cemetery  -- Paris Township  (Updated March 2002) 
                                     & background information 

Lenawee County Poorhouse Cemetery-- Madison Township

Livingston County Poor Farm aka County Farm Cemetery

Old County Farm Cemetery -- Newaygo County 

St. Joseph County Infirmary Cemetery

the Poorhouse Story

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

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