NJGenWeb ~ Morris County, New Jersey

Boonton Poor House
Morris Co. Up

The Morris County Library has a book, "Old Boonton and The Jersey City Reservoir" by Arline Fowler Dempsey that is a collection newspaper articles of the history of Old Boonton including the Poor House. The County Librarian said that the County may have the records of those that were interred in the cemetery. Unfortunately the book does not list them.

A Grave Problem.

What is to be done with the 200 bodies at the County Farm.

The Morris County Board of Freeholders has a problem on its hands which may be difficult of solution. There is a cemetery on the old almshouse property in which are upwards of two hundred graves. The bodies in these must be re-interred. Whether the purchaser of the property will be obliged to remove the bodies or the county authorities be compelled to do this work seems to be puzzling the Board. Evidently the Almshouse Committee has overlooked this important matter. At any rate it has not been discussed at any of the Freeholder meetings.

Some members are of the opinion that the new owners of the property will have to properly re-inter the bodies while others believe that the county is responsible for the care of the pauper dead even after burial. If the later be true the limited funds of the Board will be taxed still further as the removal of 200 bodies would be a matter of considerable expense.

All the graves are properly marked as to names and dates of death and the little cemetery is enclosed by a suitable fence. Its location is on a hill about a mile from the farm house. Steward Giles E. Miller has always kept up the appearance of the place and visitors have remarked upon the condition of the little yard wherein rests the remains of the county poor. From time to time bodies have been removed by relatives or friends to other places for re-interment. Last year eighteen bodies were buried in the plot which has been a place of interment for nearly forty years.--Chronicle. 11-30-1899

The Morris County Children's Home Plan Is Told to Jr. Women
Historical Review

The early history of the Morris County Children's Home, which centers around Boonton and vicinity, was presented by the speaker. The program started in a humble way and was a simple one. Before 1880, the dependent children were placed in the old Alms House, now the island in the Jersey City Reservoir at Boonton. ...

article published 2-10-1939 name of newspaper not given

From the History of Morris County 1739~1882 published  by W.W. Munsell, 1882 we find information about the care of the poor beginning on page 287.

We have no means of ascertaining exactly how the poor were cared for from the beginning of the settlement here up to the time when Pequannock township was formed, in 1740, and a record was started, in 1741. It is probable that the method of relief was similar to that found in use in 1745, and for eighty years subsequent which was to farm them out by selling them annually to the lowest bidder, who would agree to keep them for definite sum and sustain all expense save the doctor's bill. The record of the first town meeting in Pequannock, in 1741, shows that two persons, Abraham Vanduyne and Henry Mandeville, were elected overseers of the poor. There is no record of any amount voted for the relief of the poor in that year or for several succeeding years; but there is some record of the making up of the accounts of the overseers of the poor at the end of the year. ...

Initially the poor were individually sold to the lowest bidder, but in 1812, by vote, it was decided that the poor would be sold "all together" to the lowest bidder. It appears that this method of selling all of the poor to one person did not prove satisfactory. The next year the town voted that the poor should be sold separately to the lowest bidder.

By 1823, after the continuation of the selling of the poor for many years, the town took steps to secure a better method of dealing with the poor. A proposal for the purchase of a farm was advertised in the county paper, the Palladium of Liberty. In 1824 the town purchased a farm of about 163 acres that had been part of the estate of William Alger that was located in the Rockaway Valley for $2,400. Upon acquisition of the property the practice of "farming out" or "selling the poor" ended in Pequannock township.

In 1837 the board of county freeholders resolved to purchase a farm to be used as a county poor house. 240 acres in Hanover township at Old Boonton [now under the Jersey City Reservoir] was purchased and the total cost of lands, buildings, fixtures, farming stock and utensils was about $17,000.  April, 1838 saw the sale of the poor house farm of Pequannock township.

1860 Census - Boonton Poor House - Morris County, NJ

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