Vermont Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story

Postcard photo of poorhouse at Burlington [Chittenden Co.] VT 


This priceless newspaper clipping is from Rutland County!

Submitted by: c h [
January 5, 1863

Rutland Herald


By reference to the marriage notices in our columns this morning, it will be seen that a rather remarkable marriage is reported to have taken place in Pittsford not long ago; the happy bride and bridegroom being respectively 67 and 54 years of age, and both town paupers. The reason, says our informant,
given by the overseer of the poor for this proceeding is that he was crowded for room and gained the use of an apartment by the operation. Our informant further suggests that as a matter of economy it might be well for other towns to follow this example.


SMITH-MILLINGTON - In Pittsford, October 1, 1862, by M.C. Bogue Esq., assisted by R.R. Drake, Esq., Titus Smith and Mary Millington, both town paupers, the bridegroom being 54 and the bride 67 years of age.


The Good Old Days: They Weren't That Good for the Poor
 (A great article! About being poor in Vermont ... in the old days.)    By Randolph T. Holhut--who now writes for The American Reporter

The VERMONT LIFE magazine Spring 1990 issue has an incredibly wonderful article (with great photographs) on poorhouses in Vermont! 
[Note: So far we have not been able to get any response to our request for permission to quote this article.]

"The following was sent to me in regards to the Royalton Town Farm of Royalton, Vermont [Windsor County]. It was sent to me by John P. Dumville, Historic Sites Operations Chief for the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation."
     Toni Feeney 

 'The Royalton Town Farm is now privately owned as a residence. Many of the large outbuildings survive as does the house. The Town Farm (called the Poor Farm by some) is located off of Route 14 overlooking the valley of the Second Branch of the White River. It is about a mile north of the junction of Routes 107 and 14. The town purchased the farm in 1841 from Jonathan Kenney and continued to operate until the 1940's. There is no cemetery at the Town Farm; burials were in town lots in the "New" North Royalton Cemetery in the 19th century and in the 20th century in Riverview Cemetery."


1897 Newspaper article:   paints an extremely detailed and very poignant picture of the contemporary conditions in the Sheldon  Poorhouse [Franklin County].   

"This article merits reading by anyone who wishes to understand the realities of day-to-day life in many a poorhouse of the times. This is a MUST READ! Even poorhouses in vastly differing places often were constructed and operated in the manner described so meticulously in this article."                   PHL
the Poorhouse Story

"My Dad told me that a house he purchased and renovated in East Burke [Caledonia County] VT was at one time a poor house.  
It was sold due to the taxes that were owed on it. It's a red house.  I forget the road name, but I can describe how to get there:  Go thru East Burke - heading towards the ski area - turn right on the road across from the sign to the mountain, turn right at he first right - it's the second house in on the right."
     Martha Emery 

"I used to live in Pittsford , Vermont. I remember a poor house in Rutland. This was in the '40's and I don't know if it went into the 50's or not.  I was just a little kid. It was a farm house, white and green is what I am recalling, could be wrong. It sat back from Rt 4 on the left hand side going east on 4 towards Mendon. I guess it is Woodstock Avenue. I believe the shopping mall is in there now or close to where it used to be. .. When we used to drive by the [Rutland County] poor farm, my mother would always tell us that was where poor people lived." 
       Fran Stoddard

[Chittenden County]
"Colchester town purchased a farm and it was used as a poor house for a long period of time. The road that the farm was on became known as Poor Farm Road. Just in the last 30 years, a lot of the land on the road has been sold for new housing. Some of the new people living on the road tried to get the name changed (embarrassed to be living on Poor Farm Road, I guess). The town refused to change the name at the time, since it is a historically significant name. To my knowledge the Road is still Poor Farm Road. It is off Route 7 just North of "Sunny Hollow".  It runs west of Route #7 on a SW curve down to Blakely Road. It is a short road, only a couple of miles long. The farmhouse is a lovely large white farmhouse and had (has?) a big beautiful barn across the road. The people in the poor house (ones that were capable of working) were required to help on the farm. They had farm animals and raised vegetables. It not only housed the poor of the town, but also mentally deficient people who were not able (or not wanted) to be cared for by their families. At one time I had heard that it was a bread and breakfast. I wonder if it still is."       
Ruthie Anderson 

"While growing up in the town of Stowe, I lived across the road from what was known as the Town Farm. The house, now privately owned, is a two-story brick building which was built in 1803 as a hotel and tavern. It is located at the junction of Stage Coach Road and Route 100 about two miles north of the village.  [Lamoille County]

As was the practice in many towns before the establishment of homes specifically for the poor, many of those considered paupers  were warned out of town or auctioned off to the highest bidder for their care, at no expense to the town. In 1859 Stowe, Morristown   and       Johnson joined together to purchase a farm where the poor from the three towns could be cared for. This arrangement continued until 1896 when the farm building burned. In 1899 the former brick hotel and tavern was purchased and used as a home for the poor until 1948.*
* Bigelow, W.J.: History of Stowe Vermont (From 1763 to 1934) Second Edition 
Published by Stowe Historical Society 1964
Essex Publishing Co., Inc. Essex Junction, VT

    submitted by Lucy S. Lang          

the Poorhouse Story


Overseer Of the Poor Reports  
[Rutland County, Vermont] 

Submitted by: Patty Pickett 

Town of Wallingford

1859 1861 1862
Town of West Rutland
(includes list of residents, deaths and discharges during the year)
These provide a great chronology of expenses for the poor (both inside the poor farm and those receiving "outdoor relief"). Lot's of history to be read between the lines!                                                                                         PHL


(No information yet.)

the Poorhouse Story

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