North Carolina Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story
POORHOUSE HISTORY by state


Headquarters of the Superintendent of the Poor 

 Entitled "Headquarters of Vincent Collyer, at New Berne, N.C.---Distributing Captured Clothing to the Needy" -- this is an illustration from 'The Soldier in Our Civil War' published in about 1880.
[Note: Here the Superintendent of the Poor was functioning much as did those called "Overseers of the Poor" in other locations. For more information about this role see our HISTORY page.   PHL ]

OTHER POORHOUSE PICTURES

ANSON      CABARRUS     UNION  

the Poorhouse Story

HISTORY:

The following is an excerpt from a U.S. Government REPORT 
summarizing various state poor laws in 1904
Click on the link above for more information.

the Poorhouse Story
LOCAL NOTES:

 

Some North Carolina Poorhouse Locations

The following information was found on a webpage which had the heading: SOUTHERN CHARITIES PROJECT, UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK:North Carolina Societies.   
http://www.warwick.ac.uk/SouthernCharitiesProject/NCsocieties.shtml 

Note: The University of Warwick is in England! 
The navigation on that page does not provide much information about how to find the sources of the data. We have extracted just that information which identifies county poorhouses, their locations, and some very brief notes about their history. While the list is fairly extensive, it is NOT comprehensive. There were poorhouses in other counties also.     PHL
Beaufort County Poorhouse (Washington)
Founded in 1817

Burke County Poorhouse (Morgantown)
In existence in 1848

Caswell County Poorhouse (Yanceyville)
In existence in 1848

Craven County Poorhouse (Newbern)
In existence in 1848

Davidson County Poorhouse (Lexington)
In existence in 1848

Edgecombe County Poorhouse (Tarboro)
In existence in 1848

Guilford County Poorhouse (Greensboro)
In existence in 1848

Iredell County Poorhouse (Statesville)
In existence in 1848

Lenoir County Poorhouse
In existence in 1848

Mecklenburg County Poorhouse (Charlotte)
In existence in 1848

Moore County Poorhouse (Carthage)
Opened in 1800

New Hanover County Poorhouse (Wilmington)
Founded in 1811, closed in 1853.

Orange County Poorhouse (Hillsborough)
In existence in 1848

Rockingham County Poorhouse (Wentworth)
In existence in 1848

Rutherford County Poorhouse (Rutherfordton)
In existence in 1848

Surry County Poorhouse (Rockford)
In existence in 1848

Wayne County Poorhouse (Goldsboro)
In existence in 1848

Buncombe County Poorhouse (Asheville)
Closed and land sold off in 1846

Cabarrus County Poorhouse (Concord)
Opened in 1853

Cleveland County Poorhouse (Shelby)
In existence in 1848

Cumberland County Poorhouse (Fayetteville)
In existence in 1848

Duplin County Poorhouse (Warsaw)
Founded in 1839

Granville County Poorhouse
In existence in 1848

Halifax County Poorhouse (Halifax)
In existence in 1848

Johnston County Poorhouse
Founded in 1850

Lincoln County Poorhouse (Lincolnton)
In existence in 1848

Montgomery County Poorhouse (Laurenceville)
In existence in 1848

Nash County Poorhouse
In existence in 1848

Northampton County Poorhouse (Jackson)
Opened in 1823

Richmond County Poorhouse
Founded in 1852

Rowan County Poorhouse (Salisbury)
In existence in 1848

Stokes County Poorhouse (Germantown)
In existence in 1848, rebuilt in 1854

Warren County Poorhouse
Founded in 1838

 

Caldwell County Notes

Note: All of the following quotes are from an on-line article by Bill Kincaid, Caldwell County Public Information. (It is tempting to quote even more; but ... just go read the article!)
"There were always plenty of paupers. Some were able to stay at home or with family, and received a couple dollars of month in support. Those who couldn't stay at home were consigned to the county poor house.
   In November 1870, the board announced that it would meet at the poor house on Dec. 6 "for the purpose of renting to the highest bidder for two years the lands belonging to said poor house and for the purpose of letting out the paupers of the county for the same length of time to the lowest bidders."
   A report of the meeting shows one women was "bid off" by a man "at the sum of $4 per month" and a man was "bid off" by another "at the sum of $2 per month."
   Remember, though, that money was scarce; the state was still desolate from Civil War; there was no formal welfare program; and Social Security had not been thought about.
   Health care was nothing to brag about either, and people commonly were identified as "crazy" or "lunatics.'' In July 1874, the commissioners determined that a man "who has been reported to this board as having an unsound mind" should be sent to the poor house "until further orders."

Above quote from http://www.co.caldwell.nc.us/conews/news/former.htm 

"By today's standards, life seems cruel and harsh in those days. A sort of apprenticeship, in which children not even in their teen-age years were "bound" to an individual until they were 21, sometimes handled the problem of orphans and illegitimate children. In return, the adult usually was obligated to teach the child to read and write and to provide him with a horse and
bridle and a suit of clothes when he was grown."

Above quote from http://www.co.caldwell.nc.us/conews/news/former.htm 

 

the Poorhouse Story
NOTES FROM READERS:
An excerpt  from the Journal of Tom Simmons, age 90, of Rural Hall, Forsyth County, NC. 
containing his memories of the Forsyth County Poor House.

the Poorhouse Story

MISCELLANEOUS:
by  Works Progress Administration (WPA) project -- 1939 Interview of an ex-slave who was an inmate of the (Yadkin) County Home in Yadkinville.  
[ To locate interview interview, jot down the following keyword or phrase (using any quotation marks given) and click here to get instructions .]  Keyword: "Ole An' Broke"

by Works Progress Administration (WPA) project -- 1939 Interview of a couple in which the wife had previously lived in the Cherokee County Home prior to her marriage. 
[ To locate interview interview, jot down the following keyword or phrase (using any quotation marks given) and click here to get instructions .]  Keyword: "Ex-WPA Workers"

the Poorhouse Story

RECORDS:

 

Click Here to see ...  
NORTH CAROLINA STATE ARCHIVES

                 
POORHOUSE (& POOR RELIEF)  HOLDINGS 

 

Residents of the County Poor House 1870 Census Alamance Co., Graham Twsp  

Residents of the County Poor House 1880 Census Alamance Co., Graham Twsp  

Minutes of the GUILFORD Co. Warden Court, 1840: An Abstract 

by Judy Millikan
Originally published in The Guilford Genealogist, Vol. 26, No. 3, Summer 1999, Issue No. 86

We are grateful to Amy Rupard, the Journal Editor, for her consent to publish this on our website.

 

HYDE County, N.C. -- MINUTES OF THE WARDENS OF THE POOR  (1837 - 1868)
website by Kay M Sheppard  genie12@bellsouth.net  Co-Host Hyde Co., NC GenWeb Page
Kay has done a wonderful job here: extracting and transcribing and indexing!  
She has also included an explanation of how the poor relief system in North Carolina worked.
Our thanks for the work -- and for letting us link to it!   PHL

 

Nash County, North Carolina Minutes of Wardens of the Poor 1844 - 1869  
 by Timothy W. Rackley, 1997, 
Full Name Index, Female Name Index, 8 X 11, soft cover, stapled, taped, 65 pp. 

     

Residents of the Person County Poor House 1850, p. 474 of 1850 census

Residents of the Person County Poor House -- 1870 

Residents of the Polk County Poor House -- 1870 

Residents of the Surry County Poor House -- 1850

Julie Hampton Ganis has published a website with a page containing:
UNION COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA PAUPERS & POORHOUSE LEDGER  
(Miscellaneous & Incomplete Pages 1867-1871)
With supplemental data from the 1870 & 1880 Union Co, NC Federal Census.

 

the Poorhouse Story
CEMETERIES:

 Cemetery list for the cemetery of the Catawba County poorhouse.  

 Cemetery list for Old County Home Cemetery   in Madison County
(from the GenWeb Madison County NC Digital Library)
"
Please be aware that those in the Madison Co Home cemetery are from all walks of life-some were CH residents, others buried there before it was CH property. Used to be a church/then private home cemetery as well. All are buried together."

"Pineview [Rocky Mount, Nash County] is split into sections ... and it has a paupers' field near the office on Pineview Street." ... "There are no headstones or markers in paupers' field. It is for burials where no one will accept financial responsibility for the deceased." Said Linda Moore, city cemetery supervisor, "There have probably been no than five burials a year for the past five years [as of 1997] in the paupers' field."  
      http://www.ci.rocky-mount.nc.us/parks&rec/cemeteries.html 

"A poorhouse was built in Nash County in 1823 on Sapony Creek, called "Wardens of the Poor." It was closed down in 1923. Records of the poorhouse accounts are preserved on microfilm. The 2-acre cemetery for the poorhouse is still there, the graves marked by rocks."  
     http://www.ci.rocky-mount.nc.us/parks&rec/cemeteries.html 


the Poorhouse Story

We are hoping to build this base of information about poorhouses in NORTH CAROLINA 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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