News Alerts
the Poorhouse Story


     Remember the horrendous problems encountered in New Jersey when the highway department 
     stumbled across thousands of burials from an old multi-use former poorhouse cemetery? No?
     (Well, click here to go down the page to the earlier stories.)  Now, Bill Hastings has updated us.
     His website contains the list of all the names on this memorial, etc.  posted 10/13/2004

Click on these pictures to enlarge them.
(These are copied from Bill's website.)

NJ_HUDSON_MemorialFULL.jpg (71652 bytes)

NJ_HUDSON_Memorial_inscription.jpg (158201 bytes)

This beautiful memorial (with individual names inscribed) is being dedicated in a ceremony to mark the re-interment of these remains in a beautiful cemetery.  "The monument service will be held on October 24, 2004 2:00pm at the Maple Grove Park Cemetery 535 Hudson Street, Hackensack, New Jersey. Photos of the monument as well as the cemetery in general are available at "  Bill Hastings


It's not often that we get to announce such very GOOD NEWS!

Last fall (2003) Cattaraugus County NY voted funding to preserve
their "Stone House" -- the only remaining building from the campus 
of their former county poorhouse. It will be repaired and used as 
the new home of their County Museum.  What a great idea!
You may read the history of the building and also see a great photograph by 
clicking on this link to the county website page which also contains links to the 
newspaper articles covering this preservation effort.   
                                                                                  posted 10/13/2004

"The Stone House will be opening soon to the public. It will house the Cattaraugus County Historical Museum, along with a Cattaraugus County Health Department branch. Not exactly sure what date it will open, but I believe it's around October 13th. [2004] If you have any further questions, you can call Evelyn Penman (Cattaraugus County Historian) at 938-9111, ext. 2240."  

Gary Cappelletti
Cattaraugus County Web Technician


MIXED NEWS from Dane County, Wisconsin   

(Our Huge Thanks to Sandra Everson!)

Bad News for the building       
Good News for the records      
"Tomorrow I am going to sneak through the fence and take a few stones/bricks for preservation from the grinder.......the rest will ground into powder for re-use.  Now that it is coming down, people often stop their cars on the highway and approach me when I'm filming to say how tragic this is.  Too bad hardly anyone cared before this started.  One elderly gentleman who is a carpenter told me that the type of wood used in the attic/roof area is some type of pine that is no longer made and is so valuable.  We stood there and watched it crunched and snapped into splinters..... "

  WISC_DANE_Demo_fullView_Mar1st.jpg (232195 bytes) WISC_DANE_BLDG_full_front.jpg (204810 bytes)
Photo taken March 1, 2004

Photo taken at the end of 2002
(built approximately 1840)

Sandra Everson has sadly kept a photo-journal of this demolition process. Here she shares it with us.



In our last newsletter we told you about two wonderful albums of photos of this building before the demolition began

See  Jamie Novak's  album  
See Dan Dockery's album

Sandra Everson
Medical Records


  • alert the community 

  • save the records 
    (and do lookups on her own time!)

  • preserve the history of the building 
    with photographs ... if all else fails  


But Wait! ... The story is not finished.       

See most recent update above.

Talk about irony! That pauper cemetery in Hudson County NJ -- remember?  Well, their attempts to do the right thing were further thwarted when they totally unexpectedly stumbled across unmarked graves -- not again! -- at the location where they were ready to place remains transferred from the old poorhouse cemetery. 
"A startling find at cemetery halts reburial" 
Thursday, August 7, 2003

The story continues.  and

April 11, 2003    The online publication featured an article from
                     the North Jersey News to which we have received permission to link below.

Relics unearthed from forgotten graves under turnpike

The article tells a very poignant story ... including the following encouraging note:
"Disinterment is expected to be done by the end of summer, and by late fall the bodies will be reburied in the Hoboken Cemetery in North Bergen, with a memorial listing the names of the dead. The turnpike will also pay for upkeep and landscaping at the cemetery."
We were WAITING TO SEE ---
Whether another community would find a way to "do the right thing."

... Well, they did not!  

New Jersey -- Hudson County Area

News January 17, 2003
Today Judge Thomas Olivieri made his decision today to grant  the Turnpike Authority the right to disinter the remains of those found in the section of cemetery lying within the Secaucus Interchange Project, to be re-interred at the Hoboken Cemetery in North Bergen, New Jersey.  

To view the BURIAL LIST and other information please visit this website.
(Be sure to scroll down a bit to see all that is there.)


MORE    "Waiting to See"  

Better Late than Never... in Dutchess County NY    

Ginny Buechele is working hard as an advocate for retaining the history of the Dutchess County poorhouse and for the preservation of it's cemetery and records. She is documenting the effort on her website. But we recently got an update from her indicating that Hamilton W. Meserve, Dutchess County Legislator, and chairman of the public works committee is now ... finally! ... (as of 2/11/2003) reviewing Dr. McAdoo's proposal.

You may recall that, in a letter dated 11/8/20002, Professor Brian G. McAdoo of the Vassar College Department of Geology & Geography  offered the services of  his 2003 Fall Semester Advanced Geophysics class to conduct a geophysical survey at the Potter’s Field Site similar in scope to the project they recently performed in Ulster County to research that poorhouse cemetery.

For more information, visit our page for Dutchess County.



                    SOME GOOD NEWS!     

WAUKESHA County Wisconsin --  
Northview Cemetery Park (formerly Pauper's Cemetery)

This community has done something really admirable by creating beautiful memorials with the names of those known to be buried there inscribed on the memorial stones! 
(with photos of the stones)                         click to enlarge >>>>

WISC_WAUKESHA_MemorialStone.jpg (107049 bytes)

"and a little child shall lead them"

... or sometimes a teenager! ..
like the outstanding young man
who initiated this project  >>>

Ben James

PA_COLUMBIA_MemStone.jpg (50160 bytes)

COLUMBIA County Pennsylvania ... thanks to the efforts of Eagle Scout Ben James ... has cleared and dedicated their old poorhouse cemetery and erected this memorial where the names of most of the interred are sadly not yet known. But there is an ongoing project to research the identity of these people.  
You can read about it at this wonderful website.  
Kudos to the "Kids"!                                  

and now ...  

in The Albany City/County POORHOUSE CEMETERY ???  

Latest Appeal for Help Protesting the Treatment of this Cemetery  

August 14, 2002

A threatened site in the City of Albany needs your help! A private developer is currently impacting a portion of the 19th century Albany County Almshouse cemetery site. The New York Archaeological Council (NYAC) was informed last month that the developer was planning to remove several graves (including those of children) with a backhoe.

The NYAC Board wrote a letter of concern to the Mayor's office and was informed no work would occur on the site until a plan for sensitive treatment of the burials was developed. However, NYAC was informed that backhoes were on site this Monday. The mayor's office was contacted, and NYAC was faxed a copy of a Memorandum of Understanding that still called for excavation by backhoe and by "grave diggers," with no formal archaeological mitigation planned. The MOU is no different than the developer's original plan, and was signed only by the developer and the City Archaeologist.

Several local archaeologists are monitoring the situation and are trying to put a stop to the project until a more adequate MOU is formulated.

The developer and the city are both aware of the significance of this resource as NYAC has written several letters concerning the situation, and the New York State Museum has excavated nearly 800 burials on the property immediately adjacent to this parcel.

Please help by sending a letter of concern to the mayor's office stating that the current work should be stopped immediately and that this segment of the site should not be treated any differently than the adjacent property, and therefore should be subject to a full archaeological mitigation.

Please send your letters to Mayor Gerald Jennings, City Hall, Eagle Street, Albany, New York 12207. If possible, please fax the letter: (518) 434-5013. If you have any questions please e-mail me at: Thanks in advance for any support you can provide.

Carol A. Raemsch, Ph.D.

Chair, NYAC Human Remains Committee



Recently there has been more discussion of what should be done with the remains
of those buried in the old poorhouse cemetery. The land is being commercially
developed.  Below you will see the item we posted two years ago.  Since that time, 
developers and officials insist, despite a "public notice" published in the newspaper 
(which apparently resulted in only one descendent responding) and some other 
media coverage, there has been little or no public interest in what is done with those
remains.  However, none of that media ever provided the actual NAMES of those
buried at this current construction site.  We are providing that list on-line in the
hope that these "paupers" will not remain anonymous to the public.

This interment list will be published in its entirety over the next couple of weeks.

Click Here  to see the 1st portion of the list --  1880-1892

Note: The disposition of these remains is not being dealt with for the cemetery as a 
whole. As each new parcel is sold, a whole new process of review is apparently 
begun for that parcel only. The construction project described in the articles of 2000
(and in the May 8, 2001 article)is being done one way; while the newer (smaller) 
project may be dealt with differently.  PHL
If you wish to express your concern about this cemetery, here are some contacts:

Honorable Mayor Gerald D. Jennings
City Hall
Albany, New York 12207
(518) 434-5100   Fax at (518) 838-5012 or 434-5013
email via: 

Ms. Helen Desfosses, President of the Albany Common Council
(518) 458-2166

Read the required PUBLIC NOTICE and our commentary.  

Note: The most recent Times-Union newspaper articles we could find on this
were by Staff Writer, Cathy Woodruff at 

Several newspaper articles about this matter have appeared in The Times-Union

April 19, 2000
 April    8, 2001 
July 28, 2002  
These articles are no longer available online.  
We are attempting to obtain permission to copy them.  PHL

Scroll toward the bottom of this News Alerts page to review the earlier notice
and the summary of the earlier (2000) newspaper article.


Portsmouth Asylum

Kudos to Corporate America ?

You Bet ! 

This wonderful project ( a work-in-progress) has been created by the employees of Raytheon Company in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. 

The PORTSMOUTH ASYLUM link will take you to the beginning of this story on an excellent website which is very responsive to the planning, physical work on the location, and on-going historical research  they are doing. For that reason, the website is constantly changing.We recommend that if this project captures your interest ... you should bookmark it so you can return often to see what new developments are being shared. The long list of links to the right (on the page to which our link will take you) will lead you to many historical documents of interest to not only RI researchers but all students of poorhouse history.
Some of those include:

The  1832 Act -- Establishing the Asylum

The 1838 --  "Rules & Regulations"

The 1851 Statewide Investigative Report
(documenting abuses & making recommendations for needed laws)

Excerpts from Local Records
(i.e. inventories, production reports, etc.)

plus ...

Many tidbits of information which will make  day-to-day life in the poorhouse seem real!




Published on March 21, 2001, Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
-- for previous treatment of this cemetery
-- waiting to see what response this community makes

"When a construction crew struck human bones on a parking garage site at the University of Pennsylvania, they immediately shut down the backhoe and sent for campus police.

But what they found wasn't the grisly aftermath of some modern murder. They had dug into a 19th-century burial ground that may give archaeologists clues about the humble people of that day.

Whoever they were, these people were decently - but perhaps anonymously - buried."

NOTE: The rest of this on-line article is available only for a fee on their archives.   PHL


Here is a wonderful Photo Album of the DeKalb County [Illinois] Cemetery 

This is a very exemplary way to pay tribute 
to those who are buried in Potter's Fields or Poorhouse Cemeteries.
This community has gone the extra mile and researched the names of those
who had no names recorded on their gravestones -- and included that
on the plaque at the entrance.


Recent DISCOVERY OF REMAINS from the POOR FARM CEMETERY in Meade County SD      (for what was allowed to be done in the past)
                                  (for what they seem to be well on the way to
                                                  doing to make amends now)  posted Feb. 2002

The remains of seven people who were buried in the cemetery of the old Meade County poor farm have recently (December 2001 through February 2002) been uncovered during digging for the construction of a new home in Sturgis, according to recent newspaper reports. The articles state that county officials are just now finding records of the old poor farm. Apparently the State Office of History’s Archaeological Research Office is helping to locate other unmarked graves on the site and identify the gender, approximate age and ethnic origin of the remains. A 1902 plat indicates approximately 300 graves near the poor farm. In the absence of any burial records, officials are reviewing county commission minutes for more information.   

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH -- February 11, 2002, Monday
"Paupers' Cemetery Rises from Neglect"  
   posted Feb. 2002

"Remains of some who lived at the old St. Clair County Poor Farm are buried at the cemetery, which is now getting better care.

Simple concrete posts, hundreds of them in all, mark the anonymous graves of poorhouse dwellers, boxcar-jumping drifters and others whose misfortune it was to die penniless in St. Clair County around the turn of the last century.

This so-called Paupers' Cemetery is tucked behind two modest, single-story houses on Old Caseyville Road in Swansea, and for years has languished in obscurity along with the people buried in it. Few know it exists. Those who do can't get to it without marching through private property.

But the St. Clair County Board's green space committee is trying to change all that. Its members are trying to buy property near the cemetery with an eye toward creating a proper entrance, with a driveway and a sign."    ---     Click on the link above to read the rest of the story.                

Please visit this wonderful website for the:

Old ALMSHOUSE Cemetery   ( for ... making amends for the past )

It contains photographs and the sad and fascinating history of the cemetery as recorded on the stone memorial in the current memorial garden and the inscription on the (May 27, 1994) dedication plaque.                                                                                                                                          posted Sept 2001


AN UPDATE on the MACOMB County Michigan Poor Farm

This one gets mixed reviews:  

  for not saving the historic old building ...    for finding a new way to preserve the history
                                                                    and honor the people who who lived and worked there

Formerly we posted several articles about the controversy over the future of the old Macomb County Poor Farm. [These have been archived on our website. You can find the index to the articles by clicking on this link.] One carried the title: "Poor farm future uncertain; County has choice: Raze 1868 facility or make it museum."  Sadly they chose the former. The building was razed recently. We understand that a documentary about the old poor farm has been produced and has been showing on local cable TV during the summer of 2001. But we have not been informed whether permanent copies of the video will be archived where the public can have access to them in the future, or whether there is a way in which people interested in that history but who do not live in the viewing area of that television station will be able to see it. For information you may inquire of Donald W. Green, Chairman of the Clinton Township Historical Commission, 


Belated Congratulations to Abner 'Junior' and Sarah Graham  !!!!           
The Wythe County Poorhouse Farm is now historical institution
Jun 25 2000 12:00AM  By LINDA SPIKER - Staff 
"The nomination was forwarded to the National Park Service and on June 8, the Grahams received a letter of congratulations, informing them that the Wythe County Poorhouse Farm had been entered on the National Register. This entry was listed by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service on May 26."                                                                                                         posted 5/18/2001

Wythe County [Virginia] Poorhouse Farm Website -- with many many articles documenting the history of this project.                                                                   

LOCAL GOVERNMENT GRANT AWARD!                                                                     
Susan Stessin-Cohn, an adjunct professor at SUNY New Paltz, NY, has received a grant to continue the study of the history of those buried at the Ulster County Poorhouse (NY). For more information see the notices (with links) on our ULSTER County page.           posted 5/07/2001


We are very grateful to Timothy T. Orwig  for sharing information about his master's thesis:


This involves the following poorhouses:
Haverhill  in ESSEX County.
Cambridge  in MIDDLESEX County.
Milton in NORFOLK County.

See the abstract and table of contents.



Maybe ...    (posted 4/12/2001)   
Much publicity and public response has recently been generated about the MILWAUKEE County Poorhouse Cemetery.  

Evelyn Olivares   wrote a protest letter about the threatened treatment of the Paupers Field cemetery. She sent it to many people -- including Richard W. Eastman (who writes an online column called Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter.) He published her letter on 4/1/2001 and then published her follow-up report on 4/11/2001. This public attention was also aroused by Marcia Ann Kuehl who forwarded the details to "every list (she) is on" ... and that's a lot of lists! 

We are very much pleased to see this growing  public concern about the history of those who lived in poorhouses!     PHL

Click  for a review of previously posted news alerts about this issue.                          
There is also more information on our
WISCONSIN state page.


Preservation Effort Succeeds!     
County (Minnesota) Poor Farm Cemetery to be Converted into a Heritage Park!  Click here for previously posted
information.                                                                                                                                                posted January 2001

In an attempt to document a group of Kansans that has gone largely unnoticed,    
Kansas State Historical Society is beginning an effort to borrow and microfilm records of KS County Poor Farms, particularly the inmate registers. 
We are hoping to gather a list of KS counties that still have records of their poor farms.
 If your KS county had a poor farm and any records of the inmates still exist, please contact:

Mary Douglass, CGRS, 259 N. Kansas Ave., Salina, KS 67401-8515 
or e-mail: 

 Thank you for your help!

posted  11/07/2000 


An article in the Times-Union newspaper, by Elizabeth Benjamin Staff writer,  published: Wednesday, April 19, 2000, titled "Forgotten in life, interrupted in death" told of the following. Construction workers discovered several dozen graves near the armory behind what is now the David Axelrod Institute of Public Health in 1989. "County records show the site was used as a cemetery for the Albany County Almshouse from as early as 1880 until it moved to Colonie in the 1920s, but historians to date have been unsure of the exact boundaries of the area in which bodies were buried." 

Then during Spring of 2000 more bodies were discovered during the site work for the University Heights project -- a campus complex for a group of local colleges which was expected to  include a bookstore and food court in the old armory as well as a hotel and conference center.

Some of the graves were located beneath the foundation of buildings once used by the Air National Guard which had been recently demolished. Others were said to lie beneath the parking lot of the state-owned Axelrod Institute. 

Carol Raemsch, a bioarchaeologist with Hartgen Associates was quoted as saying,  "These were poor people who didn't matter much back when there weren't a lot of rules about building. Construction was done right on top of them.''

It was also reported that the poorhouse deaths were allotted one line apiece in a ledger kept at the Albany County Hall of Records. Apparently there are plans to exhume and relocate those remains.

posted  4/19/2000 (and revised 3/7/2002)

NEWBURGH (Orange County/NY) POORHOUSE CEMETERY CLEAN UP    Read about it  

                                                                                                                                                                           posted  6/10/2000

10/27/2000  Star Ledger Newspaper article re: Court ordered cleanup of Potter's Field Cemetery in Newark NJ 
Use the Gentlest Means Possible
Please e-mail us if you read or hear of any other Poorhouse buildings, cemeteries, records, etc. which may be in danger of being lost or where efforts are being made to save them!
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