Allegany County Poor House

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Allegany County Poor House
Established 1823
Opened 1924 (Second Location)
Closed 1965
Current Status Closed
Building Style Single Building
Location Angelica, NY
Alternate Names
  • Allegany County Home


In the 1820s, the committee on the poorhouse suggested that there be no distinction between the county and town poor. Allegany county appointed superintendents to the poor who were instructed to buy a farm and to build buildings to house the poor. Mssrs. Van Nostrand, Huff, Lockhart, Gordon and Merrick were apponited to make the nominations for superintendents. These were elected supervisors of the Poor: S. S. Haight (Angelica), Lorenzo Dana (Friendship), Andrew C. Hull (Birdsall), Stephen Major (Almond) and William P. Wilcox (Nunda). A stone building was erected on an 180 acre farm about two miles east of the county courthouse. In 1860, J.H. French noted that it housed an average of 57, inmates, but that the building did not have any means of ventilation. At that time the farm was yielding about $1,000/year.

1923 Fire[edit]

A little before midnight on March 15, 1923 fire was discovered in the boiler room in the basement of the administration building, above which were the inmates’ dining rooms and kitchen, and the second floor above, the employees’ sleeping quarters. Connected to this by a 50-foot passageway was the women’s dormitory with seven bedridden patients and 14 other inmates plus two babies, one about one year old, and one, three months old. The fourteen women and two babies were removed from the burning building by the concerted efforts of the employees and Mr. and Mrs. Hall, but the seven bedridden patients were not so lucky. Lost to the fire were Miss Sylvia Gibbs, of Granger, 80, Mrs. Addie Olmstead of Belmont, 73, Mrs. Marietta Foster of Wellsville, 75, Miss Christina Grastorf of Wellsville, 52, and Mrs. Hannah Webster of Belfast, 96. One heavy woman, Miss Francis Cooke of Wellsville, sister of Mrs. C. Braunschweiger and Mrs. Fred Dornow of Scio, jumped from the upstairs window and was severely injured. Because she was a large woman, Mrs. Hall was unable to lift her to carry her away from the heat of the burning building and had to roll her over and over.

In a very short time all three buildings were burned to the ground. The only things saved by any inmate, employee, or Hall and his family were the nightclothes they were wearing. They all agreed however that, had it not been for Everett Stafford, an employee who was visiting with Miss Ethel Jennings, the inmate’s cook, who discovered the fire in the boiler room, they too, would probably have been burned to death.

Volunteer fire companies came from Angelica, having made the three mile-run from the town with their hose carts and truck, only to find that their services proved of little value. The pipe through which part of the Alms House water supply came was from a deep well but the pump and heavy pressure air tanks were located in the basement near the boilers and shortly after the firemen arrived, they were out of commission. Through their efforts however, the fire was kept from the stables and the other buildings. At the time of the fire there were 56 inmates, of whom seven were burned to death. Two employees were also lost in the fire. Since the last general inspection there had been 20 admissions, 49 discharges, and 14 deaths, including those burned. All but two of the eleven inmates remained in good health.

The men’s building, the only dwelling to escape destruction, was immediately equipped for the emergency and has since the fire housed some of the staff and inmates. Plans for fireproof structures to replace those that were destroyed, were drawn, and were approved by the State Board of Charities. The work preliminary to the laying of the foundations has been started. The farm buildings escaped damage, and farm work continued without check. One barn had been re-shingled, and another was to be. The dairy herd received a final tuberculin test, as the survivors were free from infection at the time.


The first cemetery is approximately 200 yards east of the barely standing ruins of the County Home buildings behind the only house on the east side. No names appear on the small headstones-only numbers. This cemetery and the County Home ruins are located on County Road #2, approximately 3 miles east of the Village limits. The other cemetery is considerably smaller, only about 20 or so small stones resembling vertical marble 2X4's. They are in the extreme back right corner of the main cemetery for Angelica named "Until The Day Dawn." This large cemetery is located on East Main St. in Angelica and very easy to find.