Poorhouse Restrictions

In 1896, the New York State Poor Laws were revised and addressed the relocation of needy veterans and their families. With this revision, veterans were exempt from living in a poorhouse, though they may have been previously mandated to do so. The law stated that no man of service would be permitted to reside in a poorhouse but rather “shall be relieved and provided for at their homes in the city or town where they may reside”. Therefore, men in this position would now be given a more dignified living situation.

A New Paltz Times article expressed the support of this motion by the citizens. “Where is the patriotism, where the humane feelings, where the promptings of a better nature that could consent to this dereliction of duty?  Is it right? Is it just? Is it honorable that these families should remain there a day longer? By all that is sacred and honorable we emphatically answer, No.” With the economy suffering, many families were barely able to support themselves. 

Illustration credit: Havialnd-Heidgerd Historical Collection of the Elting Memorial Library