Portraits of Midleton People in New York Poorhouses, 1875-1915

The topic of Midleton people who emigrated away from the town and parish is one we have returned to a number of times. Many of those who left succeeded in improving their lot in life, uncovering opportunities that were unavailable to them at home. However, such was not the case for everyone. Many Midleton people faced times of struggle at some point after their departure. For some it would prove only a temporary setback, but for others it represented a permanent reduction in fortunes. In order to capture vignettes of some of these people’s lives, we have been looking at the records of residents in New York Poor Houses and Alms Houses, the State that likely took more 19th century Midleton emigrants than any other location on the planet. Below you will find details on almost 50 Midleton natives for whom hardship lay in store after their departure from Ireland. 

Underground lodgings for the poor of New York around 1869. Many people who ultimately ended up in Poor Houses would have been familiar with such scenes (Library of Congress)

Underground lodgings for the poor of New York around 1869. Many Midleton people who ultimately ended up in Poor Houses would have been familiar with such scenes (Library of Congress)

The topic of Irish dependents in New York Poor Houses has previously been examined on another site (see here). From 1875, these institutions were required to record details about those in their care, filling out forms that provide information on things such as age, marital status, emigration date, literacy, employment and cause of dependency. They also offered an opinion on whether or not individuals might escape dependency in the future. These records have been used to compile the brief biographical portraits you see below.

What is immediately apparent when reviewing the records is how easy it was to become dependent in 19th century New York. An inability to be able to earn a living was highly likely to leave individuals reliant on charity. Many of those below– such as men like Michael Humphrey– had suffered injuries which prevented them from working. Others, like Margaret Barry, were suffering from degenerative conditions such as the onset of blindness, which was a common physical reason for admission to Poor Houses.

The records not only tell us of hardship but also allow us to look at the trades of those admitted, and in many cases those of their fathers in Midleton. Many are typical of the working classes– laborers like John Colbert and John Hyde, or domestics like Mary Buckley and Mary Murphy. Some were tradesmen, like carpenter Patrick Brown, or worked as seamstresses, like Eliza Mead[e]. But there are also those who you might think less likely to find themselves in such straightened circumstances, such as John D. O’Brien, an engineer. Aside from trades, we can also gain an insight into differing literacy levels, which ranged from those who were able to read and write, like Michael Pomfrey, to people who could only read, like Hannah Mahony, or were completely illiterate, like Mary Collins.

As noted above, the onset of old age was a major factor leading to the dependence of many working-class people. Even where elderly individuals had adult children, those children often had families of their own or were too poor to be able to help with their parent’s support, resulting in their reliance on institutions. The reality for some– like William Ronan– was that they simply did not know where their children were. We often associate emigration with youth, but that was not always the case in the 19th century. Necessity often forced older people to uproot themselves from the place they had lived all their lives to cross the Atlantic. Thus we meet people like Ann Corcoran, who emigrated aged 50; Eliza Maher who left Midleton at 53; and Mary Welsh who left Cork forever at 60. Mary Keefe, who was 65-years-old, had only been in New York for a year and three months when she found herself in the Poor House.

The institutions were careful to note whether those in their care were of intemperate character, and went so far as to explore if that had been the case with their parents. In most instances where intemperance was recorded, it refers to alcohol abuse. The morality of the time also played a role on admittance. A number of young Midleton women were forced to seek aid in the Poor Houses for having children out of wedlock. It is in this context that we encounter the sad stories of 24-year-old Mary Ahearn, 23-year-old Mary Buckley and 26-year-old Mary Hayes. In their cases they had their children with them in the Poor Houses, and they were far from alone. It was not uncommon to have entire families admitted; for example all of Hannah Daley’s three children were in the Alms House with her.

It is important to recognise that going to the Poor House did not mean the end of the road for everyone. Some, like William Anderson, were there because of sickness or short-term/seasonal employment difficulties, and were expected to leave soon. But prospects of escape reduced for the elderly, the permanently disabled or the gravely ill. The record of Daniel Keller stated bluntly that the 30 year-old “will die here.” Each of these portraits has its own story to tell, and it is often a sad one. They serve to remind us that many thousands of Midleton people through history lived out their lives not in East Cork, but formed part of Irish emigrant communities around the globe, just as they continue to do today. You can explore each of the individuals researched in more detail below, where they arranged in alphabetical order by surname.

The New York Alms House Buildings on Blackwell’s Island (New York Public Library Record ID 706081)

The New York Alms House Buildings on Blackwell’s Island, where a number of the Midleton emigrants discussed below found themselves (New York Public Library Record ID 706081)

Mary Ahearn, Midleton. Admitted to Westchester County Poor House on 3rd March 1892. 

Mary was a 24-year-old single woman when she was admitted. She had arrived in New York from Ireland four years previously. Both her parents were from Midleton, where her father had been a laborer. Mary was a domestic, and could read and write. The cause of her dependence was that she was pregnant. It was felt that she may recover from her dependency.

William Anderson, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 13th December 1880.

William was a 37-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland ten years previously and was a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been from Midleton, and William, like his father, was a laborer. He was able to read and write. William was admitted due to chills and a fever, but was able to carry out light work. He was expected to leave the institution soon.

James Barry, Midleton. Admitted to Seneca County Poor House on 8th January 1891.

James was a 51-year-old single man on his admission. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 24 years previously, and was now naturalized. He worked as a laborer, as had his father- both his parents were also Midleton natives. He had a common school education. The cause of his dependence was “intemperance.” He was deemed capable of light work, but not to a great extent, and it was noted that he “should take care of himself and probably will soon.”

Margaret Barry, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 25th August 1875.

Margaret was a 30-year-old single woman when she was admitted. She had arrived in New York 22 years previously from Ireland. Both her parents had also been born in Midleton; her father had worked as a tailor. Margaret herself worked as a domestic, and was unable to read or write. The cause of her dependence was near blindness. Unable to perform work of any kind, it was determined that she would remain permanently dependent.

Patrick Barry, Midleton. Admitted to Wayne County Poor House on 11th December 1884.

Patrick was a 50-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived into Canada from Ireland 37 years before, and had been in New York for 20 years. He was a naturalized citizen and worked as a laborer; his father had been a carpenter. He had four children still living. The reason for his dependence was that he had injured one of his eyes, but he was able to carry out light work. It was expected that he would recover.

Patrick Barry, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 14th January 1887.

Patrick was a 71-year-old married man when he was admitted. He was a naturalized citizen of the United States, having emigrated 44 years previously, landing in New York. Both his parents were also from Midleton; his father had been a tailor. Patrick himself worked as a stevedore. He had one brother and one sister, both of whom still lived in Ireland. Patrick also had a son of his own in New York. The cause of his dependence was given as homelessness and destitution. He was deemed able to carry out light labor, but it was deemed doubtful that he would ever recover from his dependency.

Michael Barry, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 7th January 1889.

Michael was a 43-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 20 years previously and was a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been born in Midleton, where his father had been a laborer. Michael himself was a shoemaker; he was able to read and could “write a little.” Of his siblings, one brother was dead and one was still in Ireland, while he had four sisters in Ireland and one in New York. Michael also had three sons of his own. He had spent time in an institution before, in Mount Loretto on Staten Island. The reason for his dependency was given as paralysis, homelessness and destitution. He was deemed incapable of pursuing any labor, and it was thought doubtful he would ever recover from his dependency.

Patrick Brown, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 1st April 1886.

Patrick was a 70-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 30 years previously, and was now naturalized. Both his parents had been from Midleton, where Patrick’s father had been a laborer. Patrick was himself a carpenter, and was able to read and write. He had three children still living. The reason for Patrick’s dependence was old age and infirmity. Two year prior to his admission he had spent time with the Little Sisters of the Poor, but was discharged from there because of his “disobedience of orders.” It was thought probable that he would remain dependent.

Mary Buckley, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 16th November 1885.

Mary was a 23-year-old single woman when she was admitted. She had landed in New York three years before. Both her parents were also from Midleton, where her father had been a father. Mary worked as a domestic. She had one child, who was with her in the Alms House; the child was the reason for her admission, which was given as “bastardy.” She was able to carry out chamber work while in the Alms House. She had previously spent time in Kings County Hospital, and it was noted that “this young woman has stated particulars of her case to the Commissioners.” It was felt that she may recover from her dependence.

Margaret Carroll, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 10th April 1882.

Margaret was a 50-year-old single woman when she was admitted. She had arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia from Ireland some 33 years before. Her parents, who were both described as having been “intemperate”, had been from Carrigtohill. Her father had worked as a laborer- Margaret was a peddler. The cause of her dependence was given as an old fracture of the left arm, being nearly blind in the left eye, and “disorderly conduct.” Her habits were also described as intemperate. She had previously relied on charity twice and been admitted to Bellevue Hospital once. Her future was deemed “doubtful.”

Charles M. Carter, Midleton. Admitted to St. Lawrence County Poor House on 10th January 1878.

Charles was a 65-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had landed in Boston 31 years before, and was now naturalized. His father had been a farmer in Ireland. Charles was able to read, but apparently not to write. No further information was provided.

John Coleburt (Colbert), Midleton. Admitted to Chemung County Poor House on 5th November 1879.

John was a 63-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York 20 years before, and was naturalized. He was a laborer like his father before him, and like his father was also described as intemperate. The cause of his dependence was having no work. He had received three weeks of Out-Door Relief. It was felt he had a good chance of recovery- as he was a state charge he was going to be sent to the state Alms House.

Mary Collins, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 24th September 1895.

Mary was a 60-year-old widow when she was admitted. She had landed in New York 43 years previously. Her father had been a laborer in Ireland, Mary worked as domestic in New York. Mary had no education, and had two children still living. No reason was given for her dependence; her daughter’s address was given as 128 Cherry St.

John Connell, Midleton. Admitted to Orange County Poor House on 2nd December 1886.

John was a 47-year-old married man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York 25 years before from Ireland, and was a naturalized citizen. John worked as a laborer, as his father had before him. The reason for his dependence was given as destitution; he had been in the Poor House the previous winter for the same reason. He was deemed to be unable to undertake any labour, but it was though probable that he would be able to leave again once the spring had arrived.

John Conners, Midleton. Admitted to Orange County Poor House on 7th October 1879.

John was a 41-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York 26 years before and was now naturalized. He had a common school education, and like his father worked as a laborer. The cause of his dependence was his inability to get work. It was determined that he would recover.

Ann Corcoran, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 24th July 1883.

Ann was 70-years-old on her admission. She was married, and had arrived in New York 20 years before from Ireland. Both Ann’s parents had been born in Midleton, where her father had been a farmer. Ann was able to read but not to write. She had no children but did have a brother in Boston. The cause of her dependence was homelessness, destitution, and bruising to her face caused by a fall. She had already been in an institution three times previously, and she was deemed as having little prospect of recovering from her dependence.

Hannah Daley, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 29th December 1885.

Hannah was a 37-year-old married woman when she was admitted. She had arrived in New York 7 1/2 years previously. Her parents had both been from Midleton, where her father was a farmer. Hannah could read and write, and was a housewife. She had three children, all of whom were with her in the Alms House. The cause of her dependence was destitution due to her husband being out of work. It was thought that she may recover.

Jeremiah Daly, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 15th December 1880.

Jeremiah was a 32-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York 11 years previously. Both his parents were from Midleton; like his father, Jeremiah was a laborer. He was able to read and write. The cause of his dependency was rheumatism, and he was able to undertake light work. It was expected that he would soon be able to leave.

Cath Donnovan, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 25th September 1877.

Cath was 26-years-old when she was admitted. She was married, and had arrived in New York 13 years previously from Ireland. Her father had been a laborer, Cath herself was a servant. She could read, but not write. Cath had two children, one of whom was in the hospital and the other who was with her in the Alms House. She was dependent because her husband had deserted the family. She had previously spent four weeks in hospital in 1877. Cath was able to contribute towards her own support in the Alms House through nursing, and it was deemed probable that she would recover from her dependency.

John Donovan, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 22nd September 1884.

John was a 64-year-old widower when admitted. He had been in the United States for 30 years. Both his parents had been from Midleton, and John, like his father, was a laborer. He could read and write and had two living children. The reason for his dependency was old age and infirmity- he had spent time in Kings County Hospital four years previously. His prospects for leaving were classed as “doubtful.”

Michael Fitzgerald, Midleton. Admitted to Westchester County Poor House on 17th November 1896.

Michael was a 43-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 17 years before and was naturalized. He was able to read, and worked as a Rock Man. His father had been a laborer. His mother was still alive, and he had three brothers. The cause of his dependence was sickness, and at the time he was not able to work. It was thought that he may recover from his dependence.

William Foley, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 26th December 1883.

William was 60-years-old when he was admitted. He was a widower, who had arrived in New York 16 years previously and was now naturalized. Both his parents had been born in Midleton, where his father had worked as a laborer. WIlliam was a shoemaker, and was able to read and write. He had sisters who lived in New York, and one son, William, who was 24-years-old and was then at sea. The cause of his dependence was homelessness, destitution and having no work. He was able to pursue shoemaking while in the Almshouse, and it was thought likely that he would recover from his dependence.

Mary Hayes, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 20th April 1877.

Mary was a 26-year-old single woman when she was admitted. She had arrived in New York from Ireland 12 years previously. Bother her parents were from Midleton, and her father had worked as a blacksmith. Mary was a servant who was able to read and write. She had one child living, who was with her in the Alms House. The cause of her dependence was given as “bastardy”, and during her time there she was able to work at nursing. She had previously spent three months in hospital in 1877, and it was felt that she would recover from her dependency.

James Herin, Midleton. Admitted to Putnam County Poor House on 5th February 1885.

James was a 70-year-old married man when admitted. He had landed in New York 50 years previously, and was a naturalized citizen. His father had also been from Midleton, and like James had been a laborer. He had no education, and also like his father, James was described as intemperate. He had seven children still living. The cause of his dependency was old age and lack of employment, and he was unable to do much work. It was felt he would probably not recover, and the following was added: “This man was brought here from Phillips town is quite feeble has worked in the west point foundry for nearly fifty years the probability is that he will remain a county charge as long as he lives.”

Michael Humphrey, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 11th December 1877.

Michael was a 38-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 25 years previously, and was now naturalized. Both his parents had been born in Midleton, and his father had worked as a blacksmith. Michael was also a blacksmith, and was able to read and write. The cause of his dependence was a sore leg, and at the time he was unable to work. It was felt that he would likely recover.

John Hyde, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 2nd January 1885.

John was a 56-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 35 years before, and was a naturalized citizen. His parents were both from Midleton, where his father had been a farmer. John was a laborer, and was described as intemperate. He had no education and had three living children. The reason for his dependence was given as intemperance. He was able to work, and it was felt that he may be able to recover.

Mary C Keefe, Midleton. Admitted to Saratoga County Poor House on 26th November 1889.

Mary was a 65-year-old widow when admitted. She had only been in the United States for a year and three months. Although she was born in Midleton, her parents were from Co. Waterford (her mother from Newtown). Her father had been a steward. Mary had no education, and was engaged in housework. She had two children living. The reason for her dependence was destitution. She was unable to do any work, and had previously received a few days of relief. No opinion was offered on her prospects for recovery.

Daniel Keller, Midleton. Admitted to Greene County Poor House on 10th August 1915.

Daniel was a 30-year-old single man when admitted. He had been born on Christmas Day 1884. Daniel had arrived in New York 8 years before, but was not naturalized. Both his parents were from Midleton, and he had a common school education. He worked as a laborer. The cause of his dependence was sickness. He had previously been to hospital and was a county charge. With respect to his probable destiny, it was noted that he “will die here.”

Ellen Kelley, Midleton. Admitted to Saratoga County Poor House on 25th January 1887.

Ellen was a 70-year-old widow when she was admitted. She had arrived in Quebec from Ireland 55 years before, and had made her way straight to New York. Her parents were both from Cork, and her father was from Midleton. He had worked as a shoemaker. Ellen had carried out housework, and she had no education. The reasons given for her dependence was destitution. It was thought probable that she would remain dependent.

Daniel Leahey, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 18th January 1883.

Daniel was a 50-year-old married man on his admission. He emigrated to New York 30 years previously. Both his parents and been from Midleton, where his father was a peddler. Daniel was a tanner, and was able to read and write. He had two sons still living. The reason for Daniel’s dependency was destitution, and a fracture of the hip which left him lame. He was able to carry out light labour. Daniel had previously spent time in Bellevue Hospital- it was felt that he would likely recover from his dependence.

Michael Leahy, Midleton. Admitted to Westchester County Poor House on 11th September 1894.

Michael was a 53-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had emigrated to New York 27 years before, and was now naturalized. He was a laborer like his father before him, and was able to read and write. The cause of his dependency was sickness, and at that time he was unable to work. He had spent some time in an institution before, and it was felt that he “may recover.”

George Lee, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 2nd December 1880.

George was a 38-year-old single man when admitted. He had emigrated to New York 6 years before, and was naturalized. Both his parents had been from Midleton, where his father had been a boot and shoe maker. George was a laborer, and was able to read and write. The cause of his dependence was “fever and ague” and George was able to undertake light work. He had previously spent 10 days in hospital. It was expected that he would recover from his dependency and be able to leave the Alms House soon.

James Lenden, Midleton. Admitted to Yates County Poor House on 2nd November 1885.

James was a 45-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had been in the United States for 20 years, and was a naturalized citizen. Both his parents were from Midleton, where James had received a common school education. His father had been a laborer, as was James. He had two brothers. The cause of James’s dependence was intemperance. He was able to work, but his outlook was bleak, as it was anticipated that he would remain dependent.

Eliza Maher, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 16th July 1883.

Eliza was a 70-year-old widow when she was admitted. She had emigrated to New York 17 years before. Both her parents had been born in Midleton, where her father had been a steward. Eliza had no occupation and no education and did not have any living children. The cause of her dependence was destitution, and four years prior to her 1883 admission she had relied on the charity of the Little Sisters of the Poor. She was given no chance of recovering her independence, with it deemed probable she would remain dependent.

Hannah Mahony, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 28th June 1876.

Hannah was a 60-year-old widow on admission. She had emigrated to New York from Ireland 43 years previously. Both her parents were from Midleton, where her father had been a Master Hostler. Hannah was a servant, and was able to read but could not write. The cause of her dependence was old age and rheumatism. Hannah was able to carry out needle work. She had been in and out of the Alms House for 8 years, and in and out of hospital over the same period. It was anticipated that she would remain dependent.

Charles McCarthy, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 18th August 1894.

Charles was 51-years-old when he was admitted. He was married, and had emigrated to New York 47 years before. Now a naturalized citizen, both his parents had also been born in Midleton. His father had been a farmer, Charles himself worked as a peddler. He had at least one child, but was now dependent as a result of blindness. He had previously received $37 from the City, and had spent time in Bellevue and Presbyterian Hospitals. The probability of him ever escaping from dependency was described as “hopeless.”

Michael McCarthy, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 6th January 1899.

Michael was a 59-year-old widower on admission. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 33 years previously, and was now a naturalized citizen. Michael followed his father’s profession of tailoring, and he was able to read and write. He had two brothers living in the United States and one sister in Ireland. He also had two sons still living, both of whom worked as laborers and lived at 371 Broome St; James, who was single, and Charles, who was married. The cause of his dependence was destitution. He was able to carry out ordinary work, and had spent time in hospital the previous November. It was thought that he would probably recover.

Eliza Mead, Midleton. Admitted to Kingston City Alms House on 22nd November 1886.

Eliza was a single woman of about 46 when she was admitted. She had been in the United States some 28 years. Her parents had both been from Midleton, where her father was a farmer. Eliza was a seamstress who could read but not write. The reason for her dependence was that she had no home. She was able to carry out sewing work, but despite that it was deemed likely that she would probably remain dependent.

Mary Murphy, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 3rd November 1887.

Mary was a 60-year-old widow on her admission. She had landed in New York from Ireland 35 years previously. Both her parents were from Midleton, where her father had been a farmer. Mary had no education and worked as a domestic. Her brothers (who lived in the U.S.) and sisters (who lived in Ireland) were all dead. The cause of her dependence was debility, homelessness and destitution. She was unable to work, and had spent time in Bellevue Hospital. It was deemed likely she would remain permanently dependent.

John Murray, Midleton. Admitted to Westchester Alms House on 8th November 1890.

John was a 60-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in the United States 30 years before. His parents were also from Midleton; John, like his father before him was a laborer. The cause of his dependence was that he had been a vagrant for the previous 6 months. He was capable of light work, but it was thought he would likely not recover from his dependency.

Richard Nugent, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 31st October 1878.

Richard was a 69-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had come to New York 50 years before, and was a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been born in Midleton, where his father had been a laborer. Richard had no education, and worked as a carman. The reason for his admission was given as heart disease and destitution. unable to work, his potential for escaping dependency in the future was described as “doubtful.”

John D. O’Brien, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 4th December 1894.

John was a 42-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had emigrated to New York 25 years previously, and was now a naturalized citizen. His parents had been from Cork, where his father had been a laborer. John had a school education and had risen to become an engineer. He had three brothers and three sisters. The cause of his dependence was paralysis and destitution. He had previously spent time in Randall’s Island Hospital and it was thought that he may recover.

Michael Pomfrey, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 28th January 1881.

Michael was a 42-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had landed in New York 20 years before and was now a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been from Midleton, where his father had been a horse shoer, the same trade that Michael followed. Michael was able to read and write. The cause of his dependence was a sore leg, as a result of which he was unable to work. He had previously spent three weeks in hospital, and he expected to leave the Alms House as soon as his leg was well.

William Ronan, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 13th December 1881.

William was a 59-year-old married man when he was admitted. He had emigrated from Ireland 16 years previously. Both his parents had been from Midleton, where his father had been a fisherman. William, who could read and write, worked as a laborer. His brothers and sisters were still in Ireland. He had four living children but did not know where they were. The reasons for his dependence were paralysis of the right side and destitution. He was unable to work, and had spent time more than four months and 9 days in various homes and in Bellevue Hospital. His future was deemed doubtful.

John Shanahan, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 19th April 1895.

John was a 65-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 45 years before, and was now a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been from Midleton, where his father had been a shoemaker. John, who could read and write, followed in the same trade as his father. He had one daughter living, who was in the Home of the Good Shepherd. Te reason for John’s dependence was destitution. He was able for only light work, but his future prospects were deemed favourable.

Thomas Sullivan, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 14th November 1887.

Thomas was a 43-year-old married man on admission. He arrived in New York 20 years previously and was a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been from Midleton, and Thomas, like his father before him, was a laborer. He had two sons a daughter, who were apparently living in Pennsylvania. The reason for his admission was homelessness, destitution and partial blindness. He was unable to work, and had previously spent time in Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. It was thought that he would recover from his dependence.

Mary Welsh, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 1st May 1888.

Mary was a 90-year-old widow when she was admitted. She had emigrated from Ireland 30 years before. Her parents had both been from Midleton, where her father had been a farmer. Mary had no education, and worked as a housekeeper. The cause of her dependence was debility, homelessness and destitution. She could do no work, and had previously been in a Charity Hospital, from where she had been taken to the Alms House. It was considered likely she would remain permanently dependent.

These are far from the only people with Midleton connections who ended up in these institutions; indeed it is likely only a small sample. Others who are known but for whom records were not accessible include Daniel Cunningham, who was around 49 years-old when he was admitted in 1897, and Maggie Ford, who was 38 when she was admitted in 1897. Many more people with a parent from Midleton ultimately found themselves reliant on charity.

Inmates of the Poor House on Randall’s Island, East River, New York, forming in line for dinner, 1875 (New York Public Library Record ID 692408)

Inmates of the Poor House on Randall’s Island, East River, New York, forming in line for dinner, 1875 (New York Public Library Record ID 692408)

References

New York. State Bord of Charities. Census of Inmates in Almshouses and Poorhouses, 1835-1921. series A1978. Microfilm 225 rolls. New York State Archives, Albany, New York. Accessed via ancestry.com

NYPL Digital Gallery Record ID 692408

NYPL Digital Gallery Record ID 706081

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Categories: Nineteenth Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Portraits of Midleton People in New York Poorhouses, 1875-1915

  1. Brilliant, Damian! So many people disappeared when they emigrated to the US that some of them may turn up in these records. The Land of the Free wasn’t always the Land of Milk and Honey for all immigrants there.

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