New Jersey Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story

Caption:  Alms House, Elizabeth, N.J.  [Union County]


More New Jersey Poorhouse Pictures

Salem County      Passaic County 

the Poorhouse Story



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

Morris County -- Boonton Poor House -- historical notes    

the Poorhouse Story


"My great grandparents ran the poor house that was in Millburn/Short Hills, [Essex County] New Jersey for a number of years.

The Poor Farm was located on what is now White Oak Ridge Road in Short Hills, Essex County, New Jersey.  The fire station now stands on the front portion of that property which was quite large at that time.  In the 1910-1920 range George W. Trowbridge (1868-1940) and his wife Rachel (Sandford) Trowbridge (1875-1945) farmed the land and tended the cows.  They also ran a milk delivery wagon into local towns.  Their children often helped with many of those chores.  By about 1923 Philip Ayres Ross (1890-1965) and his wife Helen Trowbridge Ross (1900-1986) had taken on the poor farm and ran it for a ten year contract with the town according to one of their sons.  The family moved from the Poor Farm approx. in 1933.  A that point Earl James (1905-1995) and Mary James (1898-1982) took over the operation of the farm.  How long they ran the Poor Farm I do not know.

It had a very large house which sat way back from the road, at least two large barns.  I do not have information about how it operated earlier and such. But I do know it existed.  I'm sure if I keep digging I can find a picture or two.  Will let you know when we do."     
          David Wilson   at 

(See also David's historical notes below.)

the Poorhouse Story

The Atlantic County Almshouse is mentioned in a booklet entitled "Sightseeing Tour of Atlantic City, Ventnor City, Margate City, Longport, Ocean City, Somers Point, Linwood, Pleasantville, Northfield, West Atlantic City." This text was a lecture originated by "Pat" McGeary. This was during the 1950's. 

"Camden County, NJ  had an almshouse as far back as the mid to late 18th century when it was part of Gloucester County, NJ. This was used by both counties after Camden separated from Gloucester in 1844. Camden County built its own in 1864, enlarged it 13 years later and again in 1881. A separate hospital ward was built after which the Camden County Almshouse was said to be the most complete in NJ. There was also an Insane Asylum and a farm and residences for the superintendents of each facility.

The complex, located on Asyla Road in lower Gloucester Township, Camden County, was known as Lakeland until the early 1990's when that name was dropped for the county Health Services Complex. Some of the original hospital buildings remain and there is a potters field on the grounds with largely unmarked graves. Whether they contain almshouse residents or unlucky hospital patients, I could not say and do not know where records, if any exist, might be located. However, early Freeholder Minutes of the period do record the names of the superintendents at these facilities and the budgets adopted for them. These Minutes, unpublished and in long hand, are stored in the County Courthouse.

I do not know if there was an apprentice system for the young inmates of the Almshouse."

An old published map of Essex County makes reference to an Ivy Hill Alms House. If anyone has further information about this institution, it would be very much appreciated.
Thanks,  PHL  

The great grandson of the Superintendent of the Millburn Township Poor Farm in Essex County has provided us with an abstract of historical notes about that institution.   
(See also his Notes From Readers comments above.)

The Morris County GenWeb site contains a page with excerpts from newspaper articles exploring the history of poor relief prior to the establishment of a poorhouse in 1837, the issue of what to do with the old almshouse cemetery in 1899, and the  establishment of a separate children's home. 

We have just published a scan of a "broadside" (poster) of an 1840 report of the Poor-House Establishment of the Township of Hillsborough, Somerset County, New Jersey. 
(Note: This page takes a while to load because it is a scanned page image.)

"There was an Almshouse/ Poorhouse located at Branchville, Frankford township, Sussex county. 
It was right next to the current Sussex County Main Library which is at 125 Morris Turnpike. There is also a cemetery connected with it across the street.

"My grandfather and grandmother (Edwaed McGrath) and subsequently my father and mother ( Walter Summerton) were superintendent and matron of the Elizabeth Almshouse [in Union County]  until 1960 when they retired.  The almshouse was closed shortly after that.  The original picture that you show on the website was added to and expanded.  

It  was located on the Newark NJ city line in the county of Union at what is now Newark International Airport.  The original complex consisted of a main building for inmates and superintendent and his family, two barns, a corncrib and a chicken house.  It had extensive acreage which we farmed, and a pasture for cows.  There were also two horses and a wagon and buggy.  These were gradually phased out to be replaced by tractors and a station wagon.  In 1946 the buildings were torn down to make way for an expanded 
US Rte #1 and an expanded Newark International Airport which now covers the entire original area.  At that time the inmates were moved to what was originally the Elizabeth Isolation Hospital for Scarlet Fever and Diphtheria and the name changed to The Eaton Memorial Home until it closed about 1960.  My five siblings and I were brought up in the poorhouse and, in fact,  three of them were born there -- which fortunately did not stigmatize them!  At one time there were as many as 70 to 80 inmates but at the time of closing only about 20 to 30.  There was a potter's field at Eaton Memorial when the buildings were finally torn down to make way for a Holiday Inn but the city made sure there were no remains.  If anyone has any information to add I would be happy to hear."      
     Jeanne Summerton Spangler 

     "On the subject of poorhouses in Warren County, it should be noted that the records for the Mansfield Poor House are kept at the Warren County Historical Society, in file drawers in an attic area. They're not in any particular order, so a researcher should have a date range in mind before searching them and might also want to make an appointment beforehand as searching may take longer than the scheduled two hours when the library is open to the public. I searched records covering 1875-1878 but don't know the full extent of the records they have.
     I don't know if Warren County had more than this one poorhouse during those years. Later, I believe, Warren Haven in Oxford was where indigents were supported...someone can confirm this, I'm sure.
     I was led to the poorhouse records originally by requesting a death certificate from Trenton. They sent me a photocopy of a whole page of deaths recorded at the poor house.
     Anyone who would like to discuss the Mansfield Poor House further, can write me."

the Poorhouse Story


                   -- October 29, 1822 through April 28, 1846

List of Residents of the Atlantic  County Poorhouse from the 1850 Census

List of Residents of the Newark City Almshouse from the 1880 Census  

In the 1870 Federal Census on Roll 855 for Camden County on page 83, in Washington Twp, PO Williamstown there is an Alms House listed with 114 residents.

List of Residents of the Middlesex County (Woodbridge Township) Poorhouse from the 1860 Census 

List of Residents of the Middlesex County (Woodbridge Township) Poorhouse from the 1880 Census 

The Morris County GenWeb site contains Abstracts from Poor Records 1769-1779 from Pequanock Town Book I 

List of Residents of the Morris County (Boonton) Poor Farm from the 1850 Census 

List of Residents of the Morris County (Boonton) Poor Farm from the 1860 Census 

List of Residents of the Morris County (Boonton) Poor Farm from the 1870 Census 

List of Residents of the Warren County Poorhouse from the 1850 Census


the Poorhouse Story
     Remember the horrendous problems encountered in HUDSON County when the highway department 
     stumbled across thousands of burials from an old multi-use former poorhouse cemetery? No?
     (Well,  scroll down the page to see the earlier stories.)  Now, Bill Hastings has updated us.
     His website contains the list of all the names on this memorial, etc.   posted 10/13/2004

Click on these pictures to enlarge them.
(These are copied from Bill's website.)

NJ_HUDSON_MemorialFULL.jpg (71652 bytes)

NJ_HUDSON_Memorial_inscription.jpg (158201 bytes)

This beautiful memorial (with individual names inscribed) is being dedicated in a ceremony to mark the re-interment of these remains in a beautiful cemetery.  "The monument service will be held on October 24, 2004 2:00pm at the Maple Grove Park Cemetery 535 Hudson Street, Hackensack, New Jersey. Photos of the monument as well as the cemetery in general are available at "  Bill Hastings



But Wait! ... The story is not finished. 

Talk about irony!

That pauper cemetery in Hudson County NJ -- remember?  Well, their attempts to do the right thing were further thwarted when they totally unexpectedly stumbled across unmarked graves -- not again! -- at the location where they were ready to place remains transferred from the old poorhouse cemetery. 

"A startling find at cemetery halts reburial" 
Thursday, August 7, 2003

April 11, 2003    
The online publication featured an article from the North Jersey News to which we have received permission to link below.
Relics unearthed from forgotten graves under turnpike
The article tells a very poignant story ... including the following encouraging note:
"Disinterment is expected to be done by the end of summer, and by late fall the bodies will be reburied in the Hoboken Cemetery in North Bergen, with a memorial listing the names of the dead. The turnpike will also pay for upkeep and landscaping at the cemetery."
 Sadly, we recently had to report the following on our NEWS ALERTS page. 
News January 17, 2003   
Today Judge Thomas Olivieri made his decision today to grant  the Turnpike Authority the right to disinter the remains of those found in the section of cemetery lying within the Secaucus Interchange Project, to be re-interred at the Hoboken Cemetery in North Bergen, New Jersey.  
To view the BURIAL LIST and other information please visit this website.
November 11, 2002

To Whom it May Concern;

I am the descendant of a person interred at the Hudson County Burial Grounds located in Secaucus, New Jersey. The New Jersey Turnpike Authority wants to move all 3,500 remains into a common grave. I do not believe the public has been notified of this topic enough. I have started a petition [see above  PHL ] to help show support of the public being against this matter. Our online petition as well as our paper petition has been circulating for just two days now and has been getting tremendous response. I have sent a letter to the judge in charge of this case and await his reply. I want the right to speak to the judge about this case in court. I want the public to be well informed of this matter. 
I want your help in spreading the news of this situation.

Bill T Hastings

Related RADIO COVERAGE about Poorhouse History

Poorhouse History was the topic ... on the radio again!

 program:                   "North Jersey's Talking"
 host:                               Lee Fielding
CALL LETTERS:                       WGHT 
FREQUENCY:                           1500

Date:                 Thursday, November 14th 2002
Time:                 8:00 - 9:00 AM (EST)

At issue was the local controversy about how to deal with the abandoned cemetery mentioned above in which were buried some 3500+ people from the local poorhouse, a mental hospital, and a jail. However, the radio station wished to help the community better understand what the poorhouse really represented.

Morris County -- Boonton Poor House -- cemetery notes  
the Poorhouse Story

We are hoping to build this base of information about poorhouses in NEW JERSEY 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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