Thursday, October 23, 2008
Frederick County Poor Farm, Frederick County, Virginia
2008 has proven to be a year of hard economic times. Record housing foreclosures, skyrocketing gas prices and plummeting drops in the Stock Market, have caused some to compare this era to that of the Great Depression.
There are many who have fallen on hard times. Families who have lost their dreams of home ownership, former millionaires who have seen their interest melt into nothing and everyday people living day to day just trying to make ends meet sometimes having to skip meals or other needs just to put gas in their cars in order to get to work are commonplace.
Homeless shelters and government programs are inundated with people in need of help.
But thank God for blessings. Unlike the times of the Great Depression, the Government is stepping in to help in the form of Corporate and Housing Market Bailouts, Special Loans, Stimulus Packages, and other programs all in the effort to keep the country afloat and from falling into the an economic abyss that resembles that of the past.
Hence, comes the topic of this blog. A fellow researcher ran across a census report that contained the names of individuals that was housed in a "Poor Farm." She was astonished as I to find the names of several families listed. We recalled how as children, how our parents used to say things like, "You better turn off those lights or be more financially aware or you are going to land us in the "Poor House or the Poor Farm." Neither of us actually realized that it was an actual place. I thought my mother was just being "melodramatic."
I researched it and found that a poorhouse or workhouse was a government-run facility for the support and housing of dependent or needy persons, typically run by a local government entity such as a county or municipality.
During the Victorian era, poverty was viewed as a dishonourable state caused by a lack of the moral virtue of industriousness or laziness.
A Poorhouse often resembled a reformatory and house children, either with families or alone, or a penal labour regime to give the poor work at manual labour and subject them to physical punishment.
The term is commonly applied to such a facility that houses the destitute elderly; institutions of this nature were widespread in the United States prior to the adoption of the Social Security program in the 1930s. Facilities housing indigents who are not elderly are typically referred to as homeless shelters, or simply "shelters," in current usage.
Often the poorhouse was situated on the grounds of a poor farm on which able-bodied residents were required to work; such farms were common in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries; it could even be part of the same economic complex as a prison farm and other penal or charitable public institutions.
Poor farms were county or town-run residences where paupers (mainly elderly and disabled people) were supported at public expense. They were common in the United States beginning in the middle of the 19th century and declined in use after the Social Security Act took effect in 1935 with most disappearing completely by about 1950.
Most were working farms that produced at least some of the produce, grain, and livestock they consumed. Residents were expected to provide labor to the extent that their health would allow, both in the fields and in providing housekeeping and care for other residents. Rules were strict and accommodations minimal.
I guess they would be today's equivalent of a homeless shelter.
Below is an extract from a 1900 Census that show residents of a "Poor Farm" in Falls County, Texas.
Household Members: Age/Race/Marital status
Baze Chism 49 / Black /Widow
Rachel Edwards 75/Black /Widow
Mary Hayword 30/ Black /Widow
Sarrah Jones 28/Black/Widow
Mathew Williams 50/Black/Single
Norah May 46/Black/Single
Lizzie Duglas 35/ Black/Widow
West Duglas 6 months/Black/Single
Mary Phone 35/White/Single
Lizzie Lee 52/White/Single
Lu Williams 25/White/Widow
Orlee Williams 11months/white/Single
John Popeb 67 White/widow
This farm appears to have been run by a gentleman with the surname Nettles and his wife. No other vital information was given about them. The residents were comprised of both whites and blacks many of whom were widowed with children.
This really puts things in prospective for me. Even in the hard ecomonic times of 2008, we should still be grateful for government programs such as social security widow's and children survival benefits, general welfare, health programs, food programs and the like.
I am still both astonished and saddened to know that the "Poor House" or "Poor Farm," was not just a figure of speech that our parents used to make us exercise more financial consciousness in order to save them money.
Today, I attended the funeral services of my cousin, Tyree Green. The last time I spoke with him in depth, he told me that he was working on getting his health right. Well, I learned today that he was not only working on his outer self but his inner spirit and relationship with God. I was very happy to know that he had recently re-committed himself and had a relationship with God.
I was sad to hear the news of his passing but elated to hear of the "Good News" that he has a chance at eternal life since the scriptures tell us that:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
Hallelujah and praise the Lord that he called upon the name of the Lord!
PLEASE ALERT EVERYONE YOU KNOW ESPECIALLY YOUTHS THAT MIGHT NOT BE AWARE, THAT CAMPAIGN CLOTHING, BUTTONS, PINS, HATS, ETC ARE NOT ALLOWED AT THE POLLS.
THEY ARE BANNED BY LAW WITHIN 40 FEET OF THE POLLING PLACES SINCE THEY ARE CONSIDERED BY LAW TO BE CAMPAIGNING AND YOU WILL BE TURNED AWAY AT THE POLLS AND NOT ALLOWED TO VOTE.
PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE. IT IS AN IMPORTANT ELECTION YEAR AND WHETHER YOU ARE REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT, WE NEED ALL THE VOTES TO COUNT!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This week was filled with mixed emotions for me. On Monday, October 13, 2008, my nephew, Private J.K.B. was deployed to Iraq. My heart was heavy but at the same time I felt proud because of his obvious dedication and invaluable contribution to this country.
Part of my sadness was due to the realization that the little boy that was once the "apple of my eye" has suddenly become a man.
I talked with my nephew a couple of days before he was to embark on his mission and related to him just how proud I was of him. I also reminded him that he joins the ranks of the many ancestors and other relatives who have served this country. He was surprised to know that we have had ancestors and/or relatvies who have fought for this country since the Revolutionary War but it is true. Heres is just a few:
Joshua Braveboy - American Revolution (Revolutionary War)
Great-GG Grandpa Henry Johnson - Civil War
G-Uncle Johnnie Johnson- World War I
Uncle Huey Lee-World War II 8 Mar 1943
Jewel and Herbert Burney-Korean War
Clyde Lee-Vietnam War
D.Burney and T. Carter-Desert Storm
Again, these are just a few. There were so many others. I plan to do a special tribute in another blog to salute ALL those who served this country so valiantly.
I encouraged my nephew to keep his faith and to be prayerful and to remember that he is not going alone, that God will be there every step of the way.
You would have to know my nephew and the journey he took to get where he is today. Even as a tot, you could see that God created someone very SPECIAL. He is one of the most spiritually beautiful people you would ever want to know. He is a man full of
eloquence, grace and honor. He is the type of person that finds friends where ever he goes.
I know that God will accompany him on his journey and ensure his safe arrival back home to his family that loves him.
Please keep him in your prayers
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
For those of you who have not already gone to see it, Spike Lee's "Miracle at St.Anna" is a must see. It is based on the screenplay and novel written by James McBride.
The movie is set in Italy in 1944 and highlights the contributions and sacrifices of Colored Troops during World War II. It demonstrates the bravery of these colored men who put their very lives on the line to defend the United States even though racism still thrived even in the military.
The cast was awesome. They did a wonderful job of connecting with the characters, era, the mood of the 1940's and the war. The cast included Derek Luke, Aubrey Stamps, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller and Matteo Sciabordi.
According to military records, there were an estimated 922,965 blacks who served in various capacities during World War II.
These men should be forever remembered for their valiant service and contribution.
Again, for a glimpse into that time in history, I encourage you to go see, "Miracle at St. Anna."