In the town of Boonville there is on hand a fund of $890, for the support of the poor; and in the town of Trenton a like fund of $879.


   I have long thought, that the present system of poor-laws, is a very serious evil as encouraging idleness and depravity.  There are but four paupers in this town, who are real objects of charity; the others might maintain themselves if they would labor.  Last spring I informed the magistrates, that I would maintain and pay one shilling a day to a pauper for picking up stones in my mowing ground.  He wrought two days, and on the third day, during my absence, he took to his bed and shammed sickness.  On my return I could find no symptoms of disease.  This man could earn a good living.  There is another on the town, one of the most athletic men in it.  He draws one dollar a week, although he might earn half the sum every day.  These are both foreigners and good subjects for the stepping mill.  There is a whole family on the town, consisting of five or six, every individual of whom might earn a living, except at certain periods, when a daughter belonging to it is engaged in increasing our population.  Among the pernicious effects of the present system, is that of, in a manner, dissolving the sweet and tender ties of relationship.  The parent abandons his child to the public, and the child, when at manhood, refuses to support his aged parent.  It also destroys that attachment and gratitude that would otherwise subsist between the wealthy and the indigent.  I hope that our excellent plan of common schools, will ultimately improve the morality of our people; but if the present system of poor-laws is continued, it will counteract the good effects of the former.  The industrious and prudent will be deprived of their honest earnings, to support the lazy and improvident.  In a country where labor is paid for in a ratio double to that of any other, where all the necessaries of life are so abundant and cheap, that two hours labor will suffice to procure a support for the twenty-four, among christians with whom charity is a primary duty, there can be no danger of a meritorious individual being allowed to suffer, &c. [Letter from the supervisor of Deerfield.]


   You will perceive, that the sum for supporting many of the paupers in this town, is inconsiderable.  The reason is, that the person bidding them off has the right to obtain from them all the labor they can reasonably perform.  This town, for several years past has made some experiments in the mode and manner of supporting the poor.  From the former mode of getting them kept here and there, a poor-house was established, which was found to be more expensive than the former mode.  Our last resort has been to put them up to the lowest bidder, &c., taking care they should not go into improper hands, and this course has produced a real saving to the town.  I will only add from 26 years experience, that there is more fault in the justices and overseers of the poor, than in the law itself.  [Letter from the supervisor of Paris.]


   The supervisor of Augusta concurs in opinion that the establishment of a poor-house,  would not be as cheap as the present mode of putting the poor to the lowest bidder, &c. [Letter from the supervisor.]


   The transient poor (those persons not having gained a settlement within the state,) which are made chargeable upon the counties in which they may fall, and want relief, the support of which has become very burdensome upon some of the counties; in this county, the amount has been for several past, from three to five thousand dollars a year, and those charges are mostly from towns which derive a revenue from excise, to an amount from 300 to 500 dollars annually.-- In the towns where the greatest sums are received from that source, the most of the charges for expenditures for the relief of transient paupers arise, and in many of them, they have large amounts loaned on interest, after supporting their own town poor, which throws a very unequal burden on those towns which receive nothing from duties on excise, and have to support their town poor by a direct tax.  In such towns, there seldom arises any such charges against the county.  From having been a member of the board of supervisors of this county, for several years, I am fully convinced that if the law required the ...(illegible)... towns to support all poor, whether resident or transient, the expenses would be far less and more just; at least I am fully convinced, that the law ought to be so altered, or that all sums arising from licenses, should be paid into the county treasury, that the town might be equally benefited, as well as burthened, by the expenses arising in the towns where such public revenue is collected.  One pauper, a foreigner, was here supported the whole year at two dollars per week. [Letter from the supervisor of Steuben.]


   At least one half of the expenses in this town, on account of the poor, have for several years past, been caused by the use of ardent spirits.  [Letter from the supervisor and other officers of Whitestown.]

Return to ONEIDA COUNTY          HOME