Alms House - Macoupin County Illinois
©2009 Gloria Frazier

Alms House
Macoupin County IL

compiled by Gloria Frazier

Carolynn Bettis researched the old newspapers and found that the Old Folks Home north of Carlinville on Route 4 was built in 1912, closed July 1976 and demolished in July 7, 1983.
Click for article.

Ron Robinson wrote, "My grandfather was living there when he passed away in 1962."

"Josephine Remling, age 93, advised today that she was working at the Nursing Home when the residents were relocated.  Stated it was very confusing, sad and depressing for the employees and residents.

In the 1960's, laws were implemented regulating Nursing Home, Hospital, etc., and Macoupin County Old Folks Home was in a dilemna as many others.  No elevators, multiple floors, not handicap accessible, lack of ventilation, inadequate heating. no AC, food facility preps, etc."

Carolynn found an article dated July 11, 1974 about the new Macoupin County Nursing Home. Click for article.
She wrote:

"University Manor was the new Macoupin County Nursing Home constructed and occupied in March, 1976, located on the very NW point of the Blackburn College Campus. Blackburn University was the previous name of the college; thus, the County named the new County Nursing Home facility, "University Manor". Today, it is privately owned and is known as "Heritage Manor", and it is located in the SE area of the Plaza Shopping Center."

In reading the reports below, they mention that there were two other buildings previous to and in the place of  the last brick building north of Carlinville.

M Trover wrote, "At one time, there was a Poor Farm out where the Sulphur Springs Cemetery (Nilwood Township) is. It was there awhile but the one north of Carlinville was soon built."

Hi, Gloria,
I am a person with interest in poor houses/poor farm/almshouses, having researched and written about the one in Henderson County, Illinois a while back.  These days I live in Chatham and was searching for some info online, came upon the Macoupin Co. website with information about the former Carlinville poor farm.  Just thought I'd provide you with another snippet of information for your page.  I just love those old Board of Public Charities reports for the snapshot in time they can provide.
--Carolyn Cooper, Chatham
Most of the poor farms of this era suffered similarly to what Carlinville was experiencing in this passage from: 
"Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities of the State of Illinois.  (1879). Fifth Biennial Report.  Page 244. Weber, Magie & Co.: Springfield, IL"
Report includes inspection results  by the commission circa 1878. (I noticed that in later years the inspectors found significant improvement over this report.):
"Macoupin—One hundred and twenty acres, a mile ann a half north of Carlinville; cost fifty-five hundred dollars; farm of medium quality and poorly stocked.  The almshouse has been built at three different times, and the front presents a singular appearance, in consequence of the line being part of brick and part of wood painted white.  The internal plan is not good, but admits of separation of the sexes; they dine in a common room, which is not large enough; the number of rooms in the entire house is forty-seven, of which the keeper occupies six.  The furniture is scanty, the house-keeping fair, the inmates apparently well cared for, in general; the female side of the house is the most comfortable.  There were thirty-eight paupers when inspected, of whom nine were insane.  The insane department is in the basement of the north wing; it contains six cells, four by eight feet each, with brick partitions, cross-barred iron doors, locked by padlocks and wooden bars across the windows, nailed on the inside of the lower half of the sash; the cells are arranged in a double block; back to back, with a corridor, three feet wide, on three sides; they are heated by a stove in the hall, and in winter the patients must suffer from cold; no bedsteads but loose straw, without ticks, on the floor; ventilation has been attemped by grated openings in the wall, but there is no current of air; no privy seats except one in the yard, not protected from the weather and with no vault—the hogs act as scavenggers.  This department is simply disgraceful; the insane are treated as if they were animals and not men.  There are two yards for the two sexes, separated by a high board fence.  The out-buildings are inferior and insufficient.  The keeper's salary is five hundred dollars.  The amount of out-door relief is large."
Extracted from the report:
Report located at Library of University of Michigan
1880 Charity Report - 6th Biennial report - Nov 1880, page 249
Macoupin.—Macoupin county is under township organization, but all pauper expenses are paid by the county. We regret to be under the necessity of repeating the criticism upon the condition and management of the county almshouse in our last report, in which we said that "the insane department is simply disgraceful; the insane are treated as if they were animals, and not men." The description of the department then given by us fully bears out the truth of this assertion. There has been no change for the better. The number of inmates, when inspected, was twenty-two, of whom six were insane; three of them were in seclusion, in brick cells with iron grated doors. The almshouse keeper receives a salary of five hundred and fifty dollars, and the county physician one hundred and fifty dollars. The physician visits the almshouse' and the jail, and furnishes medicines at his own cost. The cost of the alms- house for the last fiscal year was twenty-one hundred dollars, and the amount expended for outdoor relief about fourteen hundred. An almshouse register has been kept since January, 1866, and the, accounts and reports required of the overseers are regularly filed with the county clerk. We express the earnest hope that the condition of this almshouse will receive early attention at the hands of the county board.

Biennial report of the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities of ...
 By Illinois Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities

i 2. The Auditor of Public Accounts Is hereby authorized and required to draw his warrant upon the State Treasurer for the amount herein appropriated upon presentation of proper vouchers certified to by the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities and approved by the Governor.

Annual Report Almshouse Inspection by Illinois
Board of Charities.
State Of Illinois
Office Of The Board Of State Commissioners Of Public
"How do they 'xpect a feller is goin' to git well, when
they put 'im where a well feller'd git sick."
—Jim Fenton in J. O. Holland's "Sevenoakt."
Springfield, Ill., April 22, 1907.

page 51
Macoupin—There is no provision for the care and treatment of the insane, but there are iron cells into which they are locked at night. These cells are in two rows in the middle of a large room. They are dark and have no opening but the door. They have practically no ventilation.

page 78
Biennial report of the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities of ...
 By Illinois Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities

Provision for
Majority have no children.

Children In 40 alms- house*.

Tabular statement

When the Board of Charities inspected conditions surrounding the insane in almshouses, outside of Cook county, maintained by Illinois county governments it also noted the children, the epileptics and the consumptives kept in these institutions.


The aim of the State that no children shall be cared for in the almshouse, in the sense of making that their home and growing up under the influence of such associations, is being faithfully supported in the great majority of the counties. Of the 98 counties for which these facts are reported, 58 have no children in their almshouses. namely:

Adams, Alexander, Bond, Brown, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, DuPage, Edgar, Edwards, Effingham, Ford, Fulton, Oallatln, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Iroquois, Jackson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Kankakee, Lake, Lee, Macon, Macoupln, Marshall, Mason, Mas- sac, McHenry, Menard. Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Perry, Piatt, Pulaskl, Putnam, Randolph, Sangamon, Stephenson, Union, Vermilion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Whlteside, Wlnnebago, Woodford.

page 86
Biennial report of the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities of ...
 By Illinois Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities

Fifty-five of the 97 counties returned for the inquiry regarding epileptics had cases of inmates subject to attacks of epilepsy. Of these 55, twenty had one case each, namely: Alexander, Bureau, Carroll, Cass, Christian, Greene, Hamilton, Kane, Lake, Macoupin, Madison, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Perry, Putnam, Saline, Shelby, Stephenson and Washington. Seventeen others had two each, namely: Adams, Champaign, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Jasper, Kankakee, Lee, Livingston, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Richland, Rock Island, White, Will and Williamson. Nine had three each, being Douglas, Hancock, Iroquois, Marion, Marshall, McHenry, Peoria, Tazewell and Union. LaSalle, Logan, Ogle, Pike and Vermilion had four each; Knox and Sangamon five, and St. Clair nine.

Seventeen of the epileptics are also classed as feebleminded ; two idiotic, one blind and one insane. A considerable number of these unfortunate epileptic and of the feebleminded beings owe their existence to criminal conditions in the lack of separation of the sexes where feeble-minded and insane women of child-bearing age are the subjects of public care in Illinois.

The most distressing case of epilepsy is reported from McLean county; a young man of intelligent appearance, courteous and industrious up to the time he was seized with this affliction. He is reported to have had 5,000 convulsions during the year, and nearly 450 in one day. His writhings in these attacks, during which he is kept strapped to the bed to prevent harm to himself as much as possible, are sufficient to make the bed jump from the floor and propel it about the room, unless held by attendants. He has pleaded with the superintendent to leave some means of self-destruction where he can lay his hands on it. His father developed epilepsy after reaching maturity and died in the Kankakee asylum.

One woman epileptic in the Stephenson almshouse has lost her mind entirely from the effects of the malady. At the time of the inspection her face was black ard blue, her nose terribly swollen and her dress matted with blood from the effects of falling in her attacks.

In none of the almshouses is there suitable means for the care of such cases.

page 111
This almshouse is located at Carlinvllle. The Insane are locked In cells at night. These cells are made of sheet Iron and are arranged In two rows of five cells each, placed in the center of a large room. Each cell Is l!x" feet and has no other opening than the door. They are dark and very poorly ventilated. There are 20 such cells In addition to eight cells of a more modern form. An old frame building Is used by the male inmates as a loafing place In the day time.
The bonded Indebtedness Is $240,000.00. all registered. There Is no flouting debt
Date of inspection, Dec. 26. 1906.

Short extraction from the following report:

July 1, 1908 – Dec 31, 1909

Twenty-first Fractional Biennial Report
Being Statistical Record of the Public Charity Service for the Period
July 1, 1908 to December 31, 1909, and Embracing Final
Recommendations of the Board.

Illinois State Journal Co., State Printers

Complete Set Deposited
In Littauer Center
Harvard University
APRIL 1941

Appointed by His Excellency, Governor Deneen.]
DE. EMIL G. HIRSCH, Chicago.
DE. JOHN T. McANALLY, Carbondale.


Executive Officer and Secretary,
WILLIAM C. GRAVES, Springfield.

Assistant Secretary,
HARRY S. MOORE, Carrollton.

PERRY JAYNE, Springfield.

State Agent,

Page 165
Compiled by the Department of Visitation of the Board of Administration

Macoupin County.

Old Peoples' and Orphans' Home of the Church of the Brethren of the Southern District of Illinois, Girard. M. Smeltzer, superintendent; no age limit; no fixed compensation.

page 321
The Sunshine Society Is established for the purpose of ministering to the poor and sick. Mrs. William Otwell is president.

The Home of the German Baptist Brethern for the Aged is located at Girard.

Extracted from the report:
Harvard College Library
Second Annual Report of the State Charities Commission
Page 484
J. O'Neil, Superintendent. Carlinville.

The Macoupin county farm is provided with a large, attractive, two-story brick building, situated on an elevation which affords excellent drainage.

There is a good basement, which is used for wash room, kitchen and dining rooms. Dark oil cloth is used on the tables; the eating rooms are

The building extends north and south. The bed rooms are clean, but bare. Several beds are placed in most of the rooms, which are heated by

There are several iron cells, originally for insane, at the northern end of the building. Most of the cells are being torn down and converted into
rooms. A few cells will be left. Four insane at present in the county farm are locked in these cells at night. One idiot, who would run away, is locked
in one of the iron cages.

There are almost no rockers at the farm. The men's sitting room is furnished with old benches and nothing more.

A little repairing would make this house very habitable. The ventilation is excellent; windows are opened during the day and inmates are not allowed
in their rooms. At about 8:00 o'clock in the afternoon, the heat is turned on. Paint is badly needed; the old dark paint on the walls and the worn
paint on the floors make the rooms gloomy.

There is a two-story frame building, very old and tumbledown, which is now used for men until more room is made in the main building. The
rooms are heated by stoves. They are bare and delapidated.

There were thirty-two inmates at the time of insi)ection. Five of them were insane, two feeble-minded, four cripilled, and sixteen old.

The inmates receive only two meals a day. They do their own cooking.

Both the superintendent and his wife are good managers; their discipline is excellent. It is by rule of the county board that they feed but two meals
a day."

Library of Princeton University
Institution Quarterly
Vol. IV. Springfield, Illinois, March 31, 1913. No. 1
pages 260-261


Macoupin County has twenty-six supervisors, who act as overseers of the poor In their respective towns.

Names of poor persons relieved, including indigent soldiers, are published in the newspapers.
A county physician receives $150 per year for attendance upon county farm and jail.

Orders for poor relief are written by the supervisors on regular forms upon which the merchant or grocer presents his claim. Claims are frequently allowed only in part.

The county clerk does not make a yearly statement of amount expended for relief of poor. The claims for poor relief are classified in the record of board proceedings, but are not totaled.

No rent is allowed to poor families.

The board fixes no limit to the amount of relief which a supervisor may allow a family.
Blind are not regularly pensioned. At present one blind man is receiving a pension from the county.

The Alms House was located where in 2009 the county highway building stands on Route 4 north of Carlinville (about 1/2 mile north of Carlinville on the east side of the route).

The building has had other names, Poor Farm, Old Folks Home.

I don't know the dates but it started out as a farm for poor people.

I remember when it was an old folks home, my mother would visit someone there. I was young and seems like I went in once remembering the big hallway to a young girl.

When the poor died in Macoupin County they were buried in the Paupers Cemetery located east of the county fairgrounds.

Carlinville Township page

History index page

Macoupin County ILGenWeb Main Page

County Coordinator Kathleen Mirabella
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