St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Finding the Poor, Ill and Insane in Early Allegheny County

Finding documentation or information on some ancestors can be quite a task if the ancestor happened to have been admitted as an inmate to an early institution for the poor, ill, insane or neglected.  The Commonwealth of PA does not readily allow for any information on the inmates to be released easily.  For some researchers, this may be just the lead for which they are searching.

My genealogy buddy, Lynn B, and I have been fascinated by the early poor houses and institutions used in early Allegheny and Washington Counties, PA, after some recent comments on the Allegheny Co Rootsweb Mail List.  So, we set out to find the census for these places which frequently changed names and locations over the years.  Additionally, we are locating old newspaper articles and placing them online as well for researchers to peruse.

The tidbits I have gleaned from this research include identifying which institutions just changed names and which ones changed locations.  Common to them all is the appalling circumstances these poor and ill of our past lived in.  It can be heartbreaking to read the articles.

Comments from readers have included that Marshalsea, which was later renamed the Pittsburgh City Home Hospital at Mayview, was for the people from the city of Pittsburgh while Woodville was for the county poor and ill.

Other comments have included the correction of spelling of some names found in their census, while another researcher sent the death notice for one of their own who had spent time at an Allegheny Co. institution.

Woodville Hospital had alternate names as well in its history.  Included are:

Allegheny County Almshouse
Allegheny Hospital for the Insane
Allegheny County Home for the Poor
Woodville State Hospital

The House of Refuge which was incorporated by the Commonwealth of PA in 1850 was originally in Pittsburgh.  It moved to the new site in Washington Co, Morganza, in 1876.  Whether your research takes you to the early House of Refuge or the later Morganza, it should be remembered this institution was for the confinement and reformation of delinquent youth.

As we find more articles, we are placing them online for other researchers.  Another 20 articles were uploaded today, bringing our total to 53 for the Poor House and 33 for Morganza.

If interested in reading these articles or looking for your beloved, go to the Pittsburgh Old Newspaper Project.

Ahh, genealogy.  We appreciate the comments and knowing others may find some tidbit to assist them in their quest for the family history.

©2013 AS Eldredge

1 comment:

Grant Davis said...

You never know where you are going to find an ancestor, or more information on him/her. This year I received "An Early Christmas Gift" and got to share it with this community of bloggers (I've been a member for about four months). Happy New Year"