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County History

Conditions at County Poor House, 1880

In 1880, the Allegany County Superintendent of the Poor, E.D. Barnum, petitioned the Allegany County Board of Supervisors to establish a committee to visit the County Poor House and report on needed repairs. What follows is the Petition, and the report by the committee that visited the Poor House. 

Researched by Stephen Sweet. Transcribed by Joseph Damiano.


 

 Petition of Superintendent of Poor to County House

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To the Honorable, the Board of Supervisors of Allegany County:
Gentleman:- The undersigned , Superintendent of the Poor, would most respectfully call the attention of your Honorable Body to the condition of the County House, and, if thought best, to send a Committee of your Board to examine the same, and report what repairs are needed if any, and the estimated expense thereof , and report at the session of the Board. And your Petitioner will ever pray.
Very Respectfully,
E.D Barnum, Supt.Poor
Belmont, Nov.9th 1880
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Report of the Special Committee Appointed to Visit the County Poor House Upon the Petition of the Superintendent of the Poor.
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To the Board of Supervisors of the county of allegany :-
The undersigned, a Special Committee appointed by this Board to visit the County Poor House and report what repairs were needed, if any, and the estimated expense thereof, having to that end, in conformity with the requirements of the resolution of this Board, visited and examined the said Poor House, beg leave to report: That your Committee have given the subject as thorough an examination as the time at their command would permit, and find the buildings in a dilapidated and dangerous condition, uncomfortable, unsafe, and absolutely unfit for the uses and purposes for which they were originally erected. Aside from the natural decay from the lapse of time, the buildings having been erected in the year 1831, the walls are settled in places to that extent that the windows and door frames are displaced, making large openings for the admission of cold currents of air, and rendering the building cold and comfortless, without the possibility of a remedy without season of the year, except wood stoves, requiring seventeen of them in constant use, making it very unsafe on account of fires, consuming six hundred cords of two foot wood. The buildings having been erected half a century ago are destitute of all the modern improvements and comforts which render such an institution suited to the advancement of the present day. Your committee are in possession of reliable information that, at the last visit to this institution, of members of the State Board of Charities, the question of condemning the buildings as unsuited for the purposes of their construction, was gravely conducted by them. Your Committee further report that the expenditure of any money upon these buildings by way of repairs, would, in their opinion, be an absolute waste of the county funds, that no amount of expenditure would render these old buildings suited to the wants of this county. Your Committee in the exercise of what may not be considered an unwise discretion, deem that they are but discharging a duty, in further stating although not so required to do by the resolution creating the Committee, that the county farm consists of about three hundred and seventy acres of land divided into two pieces of about equal quantity, separated by a distance of nearly two miles;that the land is not adapted to the needs of the county, said farm being unsuitable to the growth of vegetables so essential to the uses of an institution of this kind. The farm is too large to be cultivated by the county with any prospect of deriving any profit therefrom and the soil too unproductive to be useful for any purpose expect for dairying purposes. Your Committee would recommend in the interest of economy and good management, as well as the comfort and welfare of the unfortunates committed to the guardianship of the county, that the county house farm be sold and a smaller farm of about one hundred acres of bottom land located suitably for the purpose be purchased and new buildings erected thereon, more suited to the needs of the county at the present day.
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Report of the Special Committee on County and Farm at Adjourned Session
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Your Committee appointed under the following resolution:
“That a Committee of five be appointed by the Chair to ascertain what can be obtained for County House and Farm; also to obtain prices of several good river farms, and also to obtain plans, specifications and estimates of suitable buildings for County Poor House, and report to the Board of Supervisors at the next annual session ; also power to report progress at the next session of the Board,” would respectfully report:
They have advertised in several of the county papers for customers for County Farms, and prices for several good river farms. They have received applications from a number of parties wishing to sell, but have received no applications from parties wishing to buy said farm. Your Committee have corresponded with Mr.Hoyt, Secretary of State Board of Charities, who would be pleased to meet with said Committee at convenient place in the county some time after the 1st day of January, 1881, to give us his views on plans and specifications for new buildings. All of which is respectfully submitted.
J.P Manchester,
C.N Flenagin,
Chas.Guilford,
S.N Bennett,
WM. R. McEwen
Committee


Report of the Standing Committee on County House and Farm.
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Your Committee to visit the County House and Farm beg leave to report: That on the 9th day of December, 1880, they visited the House and premises, and made a thorough and careful inspection thereof. The House is in a poor state of repair,and ought, within a year or two at fartherest to be reconstructed in a great measure, at least, and put in more commodious and comfortable form. The inmates seem as comfortable as circumstances will permit, and everything about the House and premises denotes that excellent care is taken of them. The barns and out-buildings are in good repair, and in convenient form for the purposes for which they were erected. The stock on the farm is in good condition, and shows every mark of good care. It is only just to say, that the administration of Keeper Wm.Weaver assisted by his wife, and by Henry Green and his wife, is entitled to hearty commendation. Every want of the inmates seems carefully looked after by them, and your Committee take pleasure in speaking of them as faithful and efficient in the discharge of their every duty.
Darius White,
J.H Pendleton,
J.W Foster,
J.Crouch,
L.Prosser,
H.G Shaw,
Stephen Rhoads,
Committee

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