1824 New York State Poor House Law

1824 – An Act To Provide For The Establishment Of County Poorhouses.   Chapter 331, Laws of 1824, Passed 27th November 1824.   

“I. Be it enacted by the People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, That it shall be the duty of the board of supervisors of each county in this State (the counties of Genesee, Yates, Greene, Washington, Rensselaer, Queens, Essex, New York, Montgomery, Suffolk, Schoharie, Chautauqua, Cortland, Dutchess, Orange, Allegany, Richmond, Monroe, Sullivan, Cattaraugus, Kings, Putnam, Delaware, Franklin, Oswego, Otsego, Columbia, St. Lawrence, Rockland, Albany, Tompkins, Tioga, Schenectady, Seneca, Madison, Onondaga, Oneida and Ulster, excepted), at their next meeting after the passing of this act, to direct the purchase of one or more tracts of land, not exceeding the quantity of two hundred acres, and thereon build and erect for the accommodation, employment and use of the said county, one or more suitable buildings, to be denominated the poorhouse of the county of _____ and to defray the expense of such purchase and building, raise by tax on estates real and personal, of the freeholders and inhabitants of the same county, a sum not exceeding the sum of seven thousand dollars, by such installments and at such times as may be ordered by the board of supervisors, to be assessed and collected in the same manner as the other county charges are assessed and collected, which money, when collected, shall be paid over by the treasurer of said county to said supervisors, or such persons as they shall for that purpose designate, to be applied to defraying the expenses aforesaid. II. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the supervisors of said county, at their meeting on the first Tuesday of October, annually, to choose and appoint, by plurality of votes, not less than five persons, who shall be denominated superintendents of the poorhouse of the county of who shall, until the first Tuesday of October next thereafter, take upon themselves, and have the exclusive charge, management, direction and superintendence of said poorhouse, and of everything relating to the same: and shall and may, from time to time, with the approbation and consent of a majority of the judges of the county courts of such county, make, ordain and establish such prudential rules, regulations and by-laws, for the well ordering of the same, and the employment, relief, management and government of the persons therein placed, and the officers and servants therein employed, and the correction of the refractory, disobedient and disorderly, by solitary confinement therein, and feeding them on bread and water only, as they shall deem expedient for the good government of the same; and shall and may, from time to time, appoint and employ a suitable person to be keeper of the same house, and necessary servants under him, and the same keeper and servants remove at pleasure, or otherwise, if they shall deem it more advisable; and it shall be lawful for the said superintendents to contract with some suitable person for the support of those persons who are placed in said poor house, who shall give a bond to said superintendents, with sufficient sureties, for the faithful performance of his contract, and who shall and may be authorized to employ the persons so committed to his charge, in like manner as if he was appointed keeper of said poorhouse. III. And be it further enacted, That whenever, after the said poorhouse shall be completed, any poor person in any city or town of the same county shall apply for relief, the said overseer of the poor of such city or town shall make application to a justice of the peace of said county, which said justice and overseer shall enquire into the state and circumstances of the person so applying for relief as aforesaid; and if it shall appear to the said justice and overseer of the poor, that such person is in such indigent circumstances as to require relief, it shall be their duty (unless the sickness of the pauper prevent) instead of ordering relief in the manner directed in and by the twenty-fifth section of the act entitled “An act for the relief and settlement of the poor,” to issue his warrant under his hand, directed to any constable of such city or town, whose duty it shall be to execute the same, thereby requiring said constable forthwith to take such poor person so applying for relief, and remove him or her to said poorhouse, and there deliver him or her to the care of the keeper of the same house, to be relieved and provided for as his or her necessities shall require; and he or she shall be discharged therefrom by order of the superintendents of the same house, or some one of them. And further, That in case the said superintendent, by a resolution to be passed by a majority of the board, shall give permission, and so long and no longer, as such permission shall be continued, it shall and may be lawful for any justice of the peace of said county, whenever a disorderly person, under or within the meaning of the act entitled “An act for apprehending and punishing disorderly persons,” instead of the punishment directed by the same act, by warrant under his hand and seal, to commit such disorderly person or persons to said poorhouse, into the custody of the keeper thereof, there to be kept at hard labor for any time not exceeding six months, unless sooner discharged therefrom by order of such superintendents or a majority of them; in which warrant it shall be sufficient to state and set forth generally, that such person has been duly convicted of being a disorderly person, without more particular specification of the offence. IV. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the overseers of the poor of any town or city in said county, to take up any child under the age of fifteen years, who shall be permitted to beg or solicit charity from door to door, or in any street or highway of such city or town, and carry or send him or her to said poorhouse, there to be kept and employed, and instructed in such useful labor as he or she shall be able to perform, and supported until discharged therefrom by order of said superintendents, whose duty it shall be to discharge such child as soon as he or she shall be able to provide for himself or herself. V. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the keeper of said poorhouse, to require and compel all persons committed to his care or custody in the same by virtue of this act, to perform such work, labor and service, towards defraying the expense of their maintenance and support, as they shall severally be able to perform, or said superintendent shall from time to time direct; and in case any such person shall neglect or refuse to perform the work, labor and service required of him or her, or shall at any time refuse or neglect any rule, regulation or by-law which, shall as aforesaid be made and established by said superintendents, for the well ordering and government of the persons committed or placed in said poorhouse, or shall at any time depart therefrom, until he or she shall be regularly and duly dismissed and discharged therefrom; in each and every such case, it shall and may be lawful for the keeper of the same house, to place and keep each and every such person in solitary confinement in some part of the same house, and feed him, her or them, with bread and water only, until he or she shall submit to perform the same labor, work and service, and obey, conform and observe the rules, regulations and by-laws aforesaid; or for such time as said keeper shall judge proportioned to his or her respective offence or offences: Provided however, That every such person who shall think himself or herself aggrieved by the conduct of such keeper towards them, may and shall be permitted to make his or her complaint to said superintendents, or any one of them, who shall immediately examine into the grounds of such complaint, and make such order and direction in the case as to him or them shall appear fit and proper; which order shall be final and conclusive in the case. VI. And be it further enacted, That the expense of supporting and maintaining such persons as shall or may be sent to or placed in said poorhouse pursuant to the provisions of this act, and all expenses incident to keeping, maintaining and governing said poorhouse, shall be a charge upon said county; and it shall and may be lawful for the supervisors of said county, to cause such sum as shall remain unpaid at the end of each year, and may be necessary to defray the same expenses, to be annually assessed and collected by a tax on the estates, real and personal, of the freeholders and inhabitants of the same county, in the proportion to the number and expenses of paupers the several towns respectively shall have in the said poorhouse; which monies, when collected, shall be paid by the collectors of the several cities and towns in the said county, into the hands of the treasurer of such county, subject to the orders of said superintendents, to be by them applied to the paying and defraying of the same expenses. VII. And be it further enacted, That the said superintendent may, at the expense of said county, from time to time, purchase and procure such raw materials to be wrought and manufactured by the persons in said poorhouse; and shall and may at all times sell and dispose of the produce of the labor of the same persons, in such manner as they shall judge conducive to the interests of said county; and it shall be the duty of the said superintendents annually, at the meeting of the supervisors of said county, on the first Tuesday of October in each year, to account with the board of supervisors of the said county, for all monies by them received and expended as such superintendents, and pay over any such monies remaining in their hands, as such superintendents, unexpended, to the superintendents who shall then be chosen and appointed in their stead. VIII. And be it further enacted, That no person shall be removed as a pauper, out of any city or town, to any other city, town or county, by any order of removal and settlement; but the county where such person shall become sick, infirm and poor, shall support him; and if he be in sufficient health to gain a livelihood, and still become a beggar or vagrant, then he shall be treated as a disorderly person: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall prevent the removal of any pauper from one city or town to any other city or town in the same county. IX. And be it further enacted, That if any person or persons shall hereafter send, carry or transport, or cause to be sent, carried or transported, any pauper or paupers, or other poor and indigent person or persons, from and out of any town in any county of this State, into any town in any other county, with intent to charge such other town or county with the maintenance and support of such pauper or paupers, poor and indigent persons, such offense shall be deemed and adjudged a misdemeanor; and such person or persons so offending, on conviction thereof before any court of competent jurisdiction, be punished, by fine in a sum not exceeding one hundred dollars, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both, in the discretion of said court. X. And be it further enacted, That if any board of supervisors, or a majority of them, in any of those counties heretofore excepted, shall, at any of their annual meetings hereafter, determine that it will be beneficial to their county to erect a county poorhouse, that by filing such determination with the clerk of said county, they shall be at liberty to avail themselves of the provisions of this act.”

SOURCE: An Act To Provide For The Establishment Of County Poorhouses. Documents of The Senate of the State of New York, One Hundred and Twenty Seventh Session, 1904, Vol. XIV. No. 22, Part 4, Annual Report of the State Board of Charities for the Year 1903, In Three Volumes with Statistical Appendix to Volume One bound separately. Volume Three Charity Legislation in New York 1609 to 1900. Transmitted to the Legislature February 1, 1904, Pages 241-245.