The History of Caroline County, Maryland, From Its Beginning, 1920, pp. 120-122


CAROLINE COUNTY ALMS HOUSES

        For fourteen years after Caroline’s organization we find the Court records filled with such items as these:

Ordered by the court that Nancy P---- be allowed in next year’s levy at the rate of 6 shillings for her support.

Ordered that there be levied in the next levy the sum of £20 to James J---- for burying Rebecca S----, finding coffin, sheet etc.

Ordered by the court that 64 Lbs. of tobacco a month be paid to Mary B---- for support of Levi T---- now 3 years old, orphan son of Sarah T---- now deceased.

        In spite of large sums thus granted for this use the poor in the county were not properly cared for.  To remedy this, in November 1788 the General Assembly passed a law requiring that there be an alms and work house built at the general expense of the county.  The justices were to assess and levy the sum of £300 current money in each year from 1789 to 1790 to meet this expense.  An annual levy was to be made for the running expense of the institution.
        William Whitely, Joseph Douglass, Thomas Hardcastle, Joshua Wallace and Henry Downes were appointed trustees to purchase land and erect thereon suitable buildings for the institution.  The land selected consisted of six acres of a tract of land known as Lloyd’s Regulation about one-half mile from Denton on the road which led to Potter’s Landing (Williston).  It was purchased from John Cooper and Michael Lucas for £18 current money.  Of the original buildings we know little except that the main one was a splendidly built brick house surrounded by numerous smaller ones of frame.  While the buildings were being erected, the trustees were authorized to rent a house near the county seat for the reception of the poor and such vagrants as should be committed to their charge.
        The trustees were responsible for the good government of the alms and work houses.  The poor were kept in the alms house and such as were able were compelled to work, while the work house lodged the vagrants, beggars, vagabonds and disorderly people of the county.  They, too, were compelled to work and in case of misbehavior were at one time subjected to ten lashes of the whip.  Later, however, this punishment was changed to an extension of time in the institution.
        An overseer was appointed with a salary of £75 annually beside food, fuel, and house room for himself and family.  He kept a record of all persons committed to his care, all expenses for their support, and such monies as he received from their labor.  He was also responsible for the general management of the place in the absence of the trustees.
        When a man or woman was committed to either house he was forced to wear upon the shoulder of the right sleeve of his top garment a badge bearing the Roman letters P.C. cut into red or blue cloth.  There was a punishment for refusal to wear the badge and a fine for the overseer allowing anyone to omit it.
        It was found necessary to make provision for out-pensioners.  These were people who could be cared for more conveniently in private homes than in a public institution.  An allowance of not more than $30 annually was to be paid each of them and at no time was the number of out-pensioners to exceed ten.  Such orphans as were committed to the poor house were, upon opportunity, bound out to tradesmen or mechanics who promised to feed, clothe, and lodge them as well as instruct them in their trade.
        In 1823 there was a general feeling in the county that there was not land enough at the Alms-house farm and that a larger tract, properly tilled, would be more satisfactory.  Accordingly, the old property was sold at public auction for $505 to Mr. James Dukes and remodeled by him for private use.  The brick building, which is in excellent condition, is still owned by the heirs of the original purchaser.  The land purchased for the new farm contained 325 acres, known as the George Garey Farm, the price paid being $2197.581/2.  Since that time some of the wooded land has been cleared, the timber sold and additional land purchased.


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