Infirmaries and Poorhouses

The new Allen County Almshouse, a WPA project built in 1937. Photo ca. 1937 from the Goodman-Paxton Photographic Collection at University of Kentucky.

Special Note: We will be updating as much information that we can find on each individual infirmary and poorhouse. Check back frequently for updates.

In 1910 there were more than 84 thousand paupers that were enumerated in poorhouses in the United States; this was a marked increase of 3 percent compared to 1904. In Kentucky, the number of enumerated people in poorhouses in 1910 were 1,522; 871 being male and 651 being female. Of that population, 1,044 were native born, 167 were foreign born, 27 have unknown nativity, and 284 were “colored.” Irish and Swiss immigrants had a much high ratio of pauperism in 1910 than any other nationality. According to the occupations of individuals admitted into poorhouses, unskilled laborers made up the highest number. Skilled trades also held a relatively considerable number as well. Women frequently were domestic servants prior to admission. A relatively large number of about two filths reported being unable to do any work of any kind. A statistically significant number of paupers during the year 1910 were consider physically or mentally defective though the number of insane and feeble-minded almshouses was on the decline in 1910. Three fourths of discharges were done so as self-supporting. Approximately 17,000 paupers died in poorhouses during 1910 a rate of 207.7 paupers per 1,000. The most common cause of death at that time was tuberculosis of the lungs.

In earlier days, poorhouses were sometimes used as temporary shelters for vagrants as well as a place of detention for petty criminals. This was often due to poorhouses being the only public agency available to offer relief, even to those who were insane, feeble-minded, or epilpetic. Some communities combined poorhouses with free hospitals or infirmaries that catered to the poor.

List of Kentucky Infirmaries and Poorhouses

  • Adair County Poorhouse – Columbia, Kentucky
  • Allen County Poorhouse – Scottsville, Kentucky
  • Anderson County Poorhouse – Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
  • Ballard County Poor Farm – Wickliffe, Kentucky
  • Barren County Almshouse – Glasgow, Kentucky
  • Bath County Poorhouse – Owingsville, Kentucky
  • Boone County Infirmary – Burlington, Kentucky
  • Bourbon County Almshouse – Paris, Kentucky
  • Boyd County Infirmary – Ashland, Kentucky
  • Boyle County Almshouse – Perryville, Kentucky
  • Bracken County Infirmary – Augusta, Kentucky
  • Breckinridge County Poor Farm – Hardinsburg, Kentucky
  • Bullitt county Farm for the Poor – Bardstown Junction, Kentucky
  • Butler County Poorhouse – Morgantown, Kentucky
  • Caldwell County Poorhouse – Princeton, Kentucky
  • Calloway County Poorhouse – Murray, Kentucky
  • Campbell County Infirmary – Cold Spring, Kentucky
  • Carlisle County Almshouse – Bardwell, Kentucky
  • Carroll County Poorhouse – Carrollton, Kentucky
  • Carter County Infirmary – Grayson, Kentucky
  • Casey County Poorhouse – Liberty, Kentucky
  • Christian County Poorhouse, Hopkinsville, Kentucky
  • Clark County Farm – Winchester, Kentucky
  • Clay County Poorhouse – Big Creek, Kentucky
  • Clinton County Poorhouse – Albany, Kentucky
  • Crittenden County Almshouse – Marion, Kentucky
  • Cumberland County Poorhouse and Farm – Burkesville, Kentucky
  • Daviess County Almshouse – Marion, Kentucky
  • Edmonson County Poorhouse – Brownsville, Kentucky
  • Estill County Poorhouse – Irvine, Kentucky
  • Fayette County Infirmary – East Hickman, Kentucky
  • Fleming County Poorhouse – Plummers Landing, Kentucky
  • Floyd County Poorhouse – Prestonburg, Kentucky
  • Franklin County Almshouse – Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Fulton County Poor Farm – Hickman, Kentucky
  • Gallatin County Farm – Sparta, Kentucky
  • Grant County Infirmary – Williamstown, Kentucky
  • Graves County Almshouse – Mayfield, Kentucky
  • Grayson County Almshouse – Litchfield, Kentucky
  • Green County Almshouse – Rollingburg, Kentucky
  • Greenup County Almshouse – Wurtland, Kentucky
  • Hancock County Poorhouse Farm – Hawesville, Kentucky
  • Hardin County Farm – Elizabethtown, Kentucky
  • Harrison County Infirmary – Cynthiana, Kentucky
  • Hart County Poor Farm – Munfordville, Kentucky
  • Henderson County Sanitarium – Corydon, Kentucky
  • Henry County Almshouse – Drennon Springs, Kentucky
  • Hickman County Poorhouse – Clinton, Kentucky
  • Hopkins County Poorhouse – Madisonville, Kentucky
  • Jefferson County Poorhouse – Jeffersontown, Kentucky
  • Jessamine County Infirmary – Nicholasville, Kentucky
  • Kenton County Infirmary – Covington, Kentucky
  • Knox County Poorhouse – Barbourville, Kentucky
  • Larue County Poorhouse – Hodgenville, Kentucky
  • Lawrence County Infirmary – Louisa, Kentucky
  • Lee County Almshouse – Filmore, Kentucky
  • Lewis County Infirmary – Vanceburg, Kentucky
  • Lincoln County Almshouse – Crab Orchard, Kentucky
  • Livingston County Poorhouse – Smithland, Kentucky
  • Logan County Farm – Russellville, Kentucky
  • Louisville Home for Aged and Infirm – Shively, Kentucky
  • Lyon County Almshouse – Eddyville, Kentucky
  • McCracken County Poorhouse – Paducah, Kentucky
  • McLean County Poorhouse – Faith, Kentucky
  • Madison County Infirmary – Union City, Kentucky
  • Magoffin County Poorhouse – Salyersville, Kentucky
  • Marion County Poorhouse – Raywick, Kentucky
  • Marshall County Poorhouse – Benton, Kentucky
  • Mason County Infirmary – Maysville, Kentucky
  • Maysville City Infirmary – Maysville, Kentucky
  • Meade County Poorhouse – Ekron, Kentucky
  • Menifee County Poorhouse – Frenchburg
  • Mercer County Almshouse – Harrodsburg, Kentucky
  • Metcalfe County Poorhouse – Goodluck, Kentucky
  • Morgan County Poorhouse – Index, Kentucky
  • Nelson County Poorhouse – New Haven, Kentucky
  • Nicholas County Almshouse – Carlisle, Kentucky
  • Ohio County Almshouse – Hartford, Kentucky
  • Oldham County Poor Farm – La Grange, Kentucky
  • Owen County Infirmary – Hallam, Kentucky
  • Pendleton County Infirmary – Falmouth, Kentucky
  • Pike County Poorhouse – Pikeville, Kentucky
  • Powell County Almshouse – Clay City, Kentucky
  • Pulaski County Infirmary – Somerset, Kentucky
  • Robertson County Infirmary – Mount Olive, Kentucky
  • Russell County Poorhouse – Jamestown, Kentucky
  • Scott County Infirmary – Delaplain, Kentucky
  • Shelby County Poorhouse – Shelbyville, Kentucky
  • Simpson County Poorhouse – Franklin, Kentucky
  • Spencer County Poorhouse – Taylorsville, Kentucky
  • Taylor County Poorhouse – Saloma, Kentucky
  • Todd County Poorhouse – Elkton, Kentucky
  • Trigg County Pauper House – Cadiz, Kentucky
  • Trimble County Poorhouse – Bedford, Kentucky
  • Union County Almshouse – Morganfield, Kentucky
  • Warren County Almshouse – Woodburn, Kentucky
  • Washington County Poorhouse – McIntyre, Kentucky
  • Wayne County Poorhouse – Betsey, Kentucky
  • Webster County Poorhouse – Dixon, Kentucky
  • Woodford County Poorhouse – Versailles, Kentucky

Kentucky Poor Laws

Contributed by Phil Tkacz & Shawn Logan |

⁘ Works Cited ⁘

  1. The Lexington Leader, 9 December 1949
  2. The Lexington Leader, 12 December 1952
  1. Hill, Joseph Adna, Meriam, Lewis, and Goldenweiser, Emanuel Alexandrovich. Paupers in Almshouses. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1910
  2. Bliss, Edwin Munsell and Hill, Joseph Adna. Summary of State Laws Relating to the Dependent Classes. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1913.

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