Monday, November 9, 2015

Housing for the Poor

I stumbled upon this document and thought how interesting it could be to have a historical character either a member of the 'poorhouse' or an overseer at the said establishment. I'm going to post some tidbits but the link for this is Executive Documents, Minnesota ©1895

Some Tidbits:

Dodge County Poorhouse was visited Jan. 31, 1804. The number of paupers is small. The total number in 1892 was eight and in 1803 ten; the average was in 1892 3.7 and in 1893 4.4. The house Is not very convenient, But it answers for the small number. It was reasonably well kept.

The Freeborn county poorhouse was visited July 31, 1894, with John C. Ross, chairman of the board of county commissioners. There were five paupers, three men, one woman and a feeble-minded girl nine years old, for whom application had been made for admission to the School for Feeble-minded. The largest number of paupers at one time during the past year was seven.
The overseer receives $300 per year and found. He provides a team, and the county pays all hired help. The county has seven cows and nine hogs.
The house appeared reasonably clean. The beds were supplied with clean sheets and pillows. The bedding was all clean, but there were some bed bugs.
A pauper reported that the food was good and abundant and "no cause for complaint." The paupers appeared clean and well cared for. There are no provisions for bathing. The matron said, "they do not bathe very often; I do not know how often."
Chairman Ross said that the poorhouse was a preventative of pauperism because It led people to make extraordinary efforts in order to keep them out of the poorhouse.

Hennepin County Poorhouse was visited April 11, 1894. There were sixty-seven paupers—fifty-nine men and eight women. The largest number at one time during the winter was sixty-nine. M. H. litis became superintendent Feb. 1, 1893.
The laundry, bakery, etc.. are located in the basement. This is a nuisance and they should be removed. Ex. Docs. Vol. in—84
Several years ago a portion of the county farm was sold, leaving only forty acres; but the county has foreclosed Its mortgage on ninety acres more, which will probably revert.
The house was found in good order. The beds and bedding were clean, the beds had been treated with Paris green to destroy vermin, which is very effective, but rather suggestive, ttoT: to say picturesque.
The bill of fare was reported as follows: Breakfast, bread, sometimes butter, coffee, potatoes, sometimes meat or hash, sometimes griddle cakes; dinner, fresh meat, bread, vegetables, soup about twice a week, cabbage, beans, carrots, etc., tea, pie or puclding once or twice a week, sometimes doughnuts; supper, bread, tea, syrup, sometimes mush and milk or fried potatoes. Milk on draught at all meals for all who like it. Excellent white bread is furnished with rye bread and occasionally corn bread. Codfish or other fish Is provided on Fridays. Sugar is put into tea or coffee before serving.
The inmates appeared comfortable and well clad. Their clothing was clean and the whole administration was satisfactory.

Nicollet County Foorhouse was visited May 3, 1894. There were ten paupers, eight men and two women. The largest number at one time during the past year was thirteen.
The buildings have been newly painted. A tubular WfcU. 273 feet deep, had been sunk and a tank-house built, costing about $480. The farm is well stocked with high grade short horns. The overseer makes butter, which he sells at eighteen cents per pound the year round.
The overseer receives $400 per year and furnishes a hired girl. The county furnishes outside help. The overseer furnishes horses and wagon. The county pays all other bills. The farm contains 231 acres, of which eighty acres are under cultivation.
The beds were supplied with clean bedding and appeared to be free from vermin, but the bed-rooms were littered up with the clothing and other effects of the paupers, resulting in an untidy appearance and an accumulation of dust and dirt.
The women's room was neat and clean. The rooms had been neatly kalsomined. This house is inconvenient and poorly adapted to its purpose. The furniture is primitive in character and in bad repair. The floors are badly worn and most of them need renewal.
The overseer reported the following bill of fare: Breakfast, bread and butter, coffee, with sugar and milk, potatoes, meat (salt), sometimes oat meal, milk on draught; dinner, about the same as breakfast, with pudding or pie three or four times a week, beans occasionally, sometimes other vegetables; supper, nearly the same, sometimes meat, eggs quite often, sauce usually, tea seldom. "They won't drink it"

Winona County Poorhouse was visited June 27, 1894. There were twenty paupers, eleven men, six women and three children, aged fourteen months, eighteen months and twenty months, respectively.
The beds and bedding were clean. The floors and woodwork were moderately clean. The overseer's wife, with one woman, does all of the sewing, cooking and housework for the overseer's residence and the almshouse, except what can be done by the pauper women, whose help is not valuable. A pauper reported the following bill of fare: Breakfast, bread and butter, coffee, with sugar and milk, potatoes; dinner, fresh meat, potatoes, bread and butter, vegetables in season, occasionally pie or pudding, soup three of fou" timse a week: supper, bread and butter, tea, sauce. The fcod was reported well cooked and abundant.
A new wing twenty-eight by thirty-one feet has been added to the overseer's residence, with a good kitchen, laundry and pantry, greatly increasing the convenience of the house. In the second story are two good bed-rooms with closets. The plastering in the poorhouse has been repaired, but the soft wood floors are a nuisance.
This house is a disgrace to Winona county. The dining-room and two of the bed-rooms are in a damp basement. There is no suitable provision for ventilation and insufficient provision for separation of the sexes. There is no provision for bathing paupers. No officer sleeps in the building and the paupers are not locked in. Scandals have repeatedly occurred. There is no suitable provison for sick or infirm paupers. The house is a complete liretrap and in case of fire there would probably be a loss of life. Winona County needs a new poorhouse.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, Lynn. I should do some research into poorhouses in my county. I would love to learn more. Thanks for the inspiration.