1864 Washington County Poor House

“The Washington county poor house is a three story brick building, with nine feet ceilings, the rooms being seven by eight and eight by ten, lighted by windows two feet square. The whole number of inmates is (120) one hundred and twenty, of which thirty-six are insane. Several were admitted previous to 1840. Three are past seventy years of age. Thirteen are males, twenty-three are females; twenty-five are of native birth; ten have been treated in an asylum: twelve are capable of doing some labor. Those who do not labor have no light occupation or amusement, except going into the yard when circumstances admit of it. One is constantly restrained by hand-cuffs. The building is supplied with water, and has one bath tub; the insane are required to bathe occasionally.

The bedsteads are of wood; the bedding, straw and feathers. Two sleep on straw without bedstead or bedding. Those who are able eat at a common table, others have their food distributed to them. No attention is paid to the uniformity of heat in the winter, though it is designed to keep the rooms comfortable. Two are often confined in a single cell. The attendants employed to care for the insane are paupers. The county receives recent cases. The building is designed to accommodate fifty. They receive no medical treatment with reference to an ultimate cure. Cleanliness, comfortable clothing and sufficient food, are the three virtues of the institution. It aims at nothing more.”

SOURCE: Documents of the Assembly Of The State Of New York, Eighty-Eighth Session, 1865, Volume 6, Nos. 199 to 112 Inclusive, Albany: C. Wendell, Legislative Printer, 1865, Page 221.

New York State County Poor Houses.


2 thoughts on “1864 Washington County Poor House

  1. I had two ancestors who were residents of this poor house. One died there as the result of her clothes catching fire and the other lived one year or less there. They were adult siblings. I would love to find old records for the place, and images. If you know where they have any, please let me know. Thank you for such a great informative site.


    • I would first contact the county, city or town historian. Most counties have a website that lists emails and phone numbers of important contacts. You could also try contacting your county clerk or local library. Let me know if you find out anything. Good Luck! -Lin


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