Monday, March 27, 2017

More on the Old Madison County Home, winter and Welfare Reform

Workers starting the rebuilding of "The Home!.

This week as usual has been cold for the most part.  Winter does not read its still winter.  The snow is still on the I thought I would continue with the story of the old "Madison County Home.

The building of the news Almshouse almost coincided with the new wave of welfare reform that swept New York State after the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as the new Governor.  Roosevelt, elected in 1928, set to work immediately modernizing the poor laws and the rules governing public assistance in New York State.

The Superintendent of the Poor at this point in Madison County (since January 1, 1927) was Freeman MacIntyre.   The new governor signed the new Public Welfare Act into place.

The new Welfare Act came into law in April of 1929, modernizing the Madison County poor laws, which had been put into place in 1821.  This “Act” placed all the monies at the charge of the new Commissioner of Public Welfare.  Freeman McIntyre’s title had changed.

This new Welfare Act removed the terms “pauper, alms house and superintendent of the poor”.  The term Alms House that had been used for over one hundred years, was to officially become County Home.  (It is interesting to note that in Madison County documents it continued to be off and on referred to as the “Almshouse.”

Those interested in historic markers can go to the Town of Eaton Office Building and see the beautiful plaque that was removed from the Gerrit Smith Infirmary before it was sold; this bronze plaque clearly reads “Almshouse.”

From a 1931 clipping we find that the County Home and Freeman MacIntyre was placed in a number 1 classification for administration.  These times were the times of great poverty and depression in the United States, and the County Home contained over 95 occupants.  The highest number for the year was 112.  From July of the year before, there were 67 admissions and 61 discharges in addition to many “transients” that received food and shelter.

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