PGCGS Prince George's County
Genealogical Society
 
 

Review of
Records of the Almshouse
of
Prince George's County, Maryland

by
Rob Roy Ratliff

Records of the Almshouse of Prince George's County, Maryland. (Westminister, MD: Willow Bend Books, 2003.) Paperback, 151 pages.

Talk about "hot off the press!" This book, compiled by our own Publication Committee, is being published this month. It was reviewed in unbound pages. As with the prison book reviewed in the last issue, the names on these pages go beyond what one might expect. County commissioners, justices of the peace, trustees, sheriffs, undertakers, merchants, officials of the almshouse, doctors, relatives of residents and others appear. Names of many prominent county families are found here.

For example, W. B. Beall, age 64, was "received July 13th 1927" from Public Welfare of DC and his nephews J. Ninian Beall and Frank M. Beall and their DC addresses were listed (p. 1). A "William Beall left May 25, 1931 on own accord" (p. 13), and "William Beall died June 1934 at Casualty Hospital [which became Capitol Hill Hospital in DC], buried by his people" (p. 17). Is this the same individual? Most of the Bealls appear as Trustees in the 1866-1884 period, as do Clagett, Magruder and Pumphrey surnames.

This book includes partial records of the Almshouse at Forestville which was built in 1772 and closed in 1965. White and colored inmates are identified and individuals who were disabled or lacked someone to care for them as well as those destitute were admitted. Commitments, deaths and burials are recorded from 1927-1942; official commitment papers of an earlier time, 1890-1930; burial permits 1909-1940. Census records from 1850-1930 are included. The Almshouse on D'Arcy Road has been replaced by a county government building. A lone headstone remains inscribed "Leonard C. Duncan - Died June 30,1931." For decades he was thought to be the only person buried there. Using the records shown in this book, the compilers searched death certificates at the Maryland State Archives and confirmed an additional 114 burials. Due to gaps in the records, the total is thought to be much greater.


Our researchers found lots of spelling and handwriting variations. One surname was written nine different ways and it was impossible to tell whether the name began with an I, J or S. Other sources were consulted and the surname as spelled in a newspaper obituary was adopted for consistency. So readers must exercise care in consulting these records. The index of names will lead you to a page where each name is printed in bold type which facilitates locating it.

Partial records of the Almshouse are held by the Prince George's Historical Society. We made photocopies of them (now in our library) and our Archivist Karen Duffy Miles did the transcription. She and Mary Wanty Frazer did additional research; K. Diane Stultz, indexing and, with Pricia B. "Pat" Paulkovich, the proofreading. Hats off to this team led by Publication Committee chair Diane Stultz. We can be proud of their work and this contribution to county records.