NYHIST-L Archives

September 2001


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Donna Burdick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 25 Sep 2001 12:20:32 -0400
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With all the recent questions about Poor Houses, could someone explain the purpose of a Poor Lot in a town?

I have some information that there was a Poor Lot on Mutton Hill in the Town of Smithfield, Madison County, that was given to the town by Peter Smith, the original landowner, for the benefit of the poor.  When the Town of Fenner was formed in this section in 1823, the lot was sold and the proceeds were used to support schools.  I also have further information that there was a Poor Lot in the Town of Smithfield at a much later date, somewhere near the hamlet of Siloam.

Were crops raised on these lots as a "benefit to the poor"?  Were they administered by the person called the "poor master"?  What was the timespan of Poor Lots - did they exist into the 20th century?  How can you pinpoint the specific location (lot no.) of a Poor Lot?  In other words, how would you search deeds?  I'd appreciate any background/suggestions.  Thanks so much.

Donna D. Burdick
Smithfield Town Historian