The Poor House


Out of the Dust

By Bob Betz

(Wampsville, NY – April 2011) An important part of the county’s operation was its care of the poor and disabled. The following is the first of a series about or pertaining to the Poor House and its functions.

On Feb. 9, 1821, the New York State Legislature passed an act pertaining to the poor of the state. This required individual counties to have a permanent place under their control for maintaining the poor and disabled. The following was enacted by Madison County.

At the annual meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Madison on Monday the 12th day of November 1827 the following resolutions were passed in relation to a poor house in said county viz;

“Resolved that a county Poor House be erected, or purchased, as may be deemed most advisable and that not less that fifty nor more than one hundred acres of land be purchased for the use of said establishment.”

“Resolved that a fund not exceeding $3000.- be raised for the above object.”

“Resolved that Eliphalet S. Jackson of Cazenovia, Ellis Morse of Eaton, Erastus Cleveland of Madison, Nehemiah Huntington of Smithfield and Pardon Barnard of Lenox be a committee to carry into effect the resolutions of this Board in relation to a County Poor House with full power to draw upon the treasury for any sum not exceeding three thousand – and also that they be appointed Superintendents of said Poor House agreeably to the provisions of the law in such case made and provided.”

A.H.Sloan, Clerk of the

Board of Supervisors

Of Madison County

The result of this resolution was the establishment of the Poor House on River Road (then Water Street) just south of Eaton. At various times, it was referred to as the Alms House, Insane Asylum and other names, but to the employees, it was always called “The Home.”

In the annual official reports it is “The County Poor House.” The name “Poor House” does not adequately describe it since it also held insane, disabled and orphans.

Bob Betz is an independent amateur historian who has volunteered for the past two years in Madison County Archives in the Clerk’s Office. While working there three days a week, Betz has recaptured stories of Madison County’s past ‘out of the dust.’ His columns are taken directly from the county’s historic documents and written in the vernacular of the era.

2 comments to The Poor House

  • Kristy

    Hello…my g-g grandfather died in the Madison Co. Poor House. Can you tell me if there are records somewhere for this establishment? I’d like to know why he was there. The record I found in Albany from when he was committed there doesn’t tell me much…

  • Jerry Sayles

    Looking for confirmation of Benjamin Grover who is listed in 1905 census as an inmate of Eaton Alms House-entered from Cazenovia in 1904 – looking for family geneology. Think he passed away while there (maybe 23 Jun 1905) – anything would help, but as much as you could give us would be greatly appreciated.

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