HYDE COUNTY, N.C.
MINUTES OF THE WARDENS OF THE POOR
(1837 - 1868)


Entitled "Headquarters of Vincent Collyer, at New Berne, N.C.---Distributing Captured Clothing to the Needy" -- this is an illustration from 'The Soldier in Our Civil War' published in about 1880.

Care of the poor, infirm, aged, mentally or physically handicapped, and other unfortunates was the responsibility of the county warden of the poor from 1777 until 1917.  The wardens (occasionally called overseers) inherited their function and name from the church wardens and vestries of colonial times.  They determined what persons were entitled to relief, received and disbursed the monies, and supervised operation of institutions for the poor and homeless.  From 1777 to 1868 each county had seven wardens.  They were elected until 1846 and appointed by the county courts until 1868; thereafter, the county commissioners then became ex officio wardens, retaining those duties until creation of boards of public welfare in 1917

Persons receiving assistance were called paupers or pensioners.  Some were housed in county homes, poor houses, or on poor farms; those who remained in their own homes were called the "outside" or "out-of-doors" poor.  Inmates of poor houses were expected to make themselves useful if possible--their labor could be let out to the highest bidder or commanded by the keeper of the house.  Paupers might have been ill-fed, ill-housed, and ill-used often, but they were expected to remain in their own counties, not to travel about seeking a more comfortable poor house or a less severe master in counties they had never supported by taxes.  Wardens could arrange, however, to send paupers to the care of relatives in other counties or states.  Much assistance was rendered by private citizens, some of whom received subsides or reimbursement from the public treasury.

Most of the work of wardens of the poor is noted in the minutes of their meeting, which show (in addition to the usual date, place, and names of those present), disbursements to named individuals with amounts and reasons, funds received, appointments of keepers of poor houses and attending physicians, acquisition of food and clothing, orders for construction or repair of buildings, and similar items.  They may mention, for example, payments to a parent for care of a blind child or to a child for a decrepit parent, or whole families of paupers may be named.  Deaths of paupers are sometimes mentioned, as well as the births of illegitimate children.  Aid might be given in cash or in provisions of food, clothing, medical assistance, or payment of burial expenses.
(Above information from North Carolina Research - Genealogy and Local History; Chapter 24; pg. 283)

This abstraction was taken from microfilm roll C.053.90007 entitled Hyde County Minutes, Wardens of the Poor 1837-1868.  While the minutes do not give us exact dates of death they do give us an approximate death date for some people.  I've highlighted in yellow the parts of the minutes that have some genealogical value and highlighted every surname in red so they would be easier to find.  I did each webpage in 25 page increments and made a full-name index for each of the 25 pages.  Some people are listed more than once on a page so be sure to look carefully for the names that you're interested in.  Initially the Wardens of the Poor met quarterly but as years passed they met semi-annually and then finally only once a year.  In 1837 & 1838 the Poor House records were more complete, i.e., they gave names of persons making the coffins and also gave the names of the persons for whom the coffins were made.  In later years the wardens got lax about putting this extra information into the minutes so genealogical information is harder to come by but at least you'll be able to see what persons lived in a particular time frame.  The records after April 1, 1861 up to May 13, 1867 are missing, probably because the Civil War was being fought at that time.  Apparently though the poorhouse continued in existence because there is one entry in May 1868 wherein they paid Wm. M. Credle $191.75 "for furnishing the poor of Hyde County from 1861 to 1865".

 

PAGE NUMBERS

YEARS ENCOMPASSED

Pgs. 1-25

1837 - 1840
Pgs. 26-50 1841 - 1844
Pgs. 51-75 1844 (cont.) - 1847
Pgs. 76-100 1847 (cont.) - 1851
Pgs. 101-125 1851 (cont.) - 1853
Pgs. 126-150 1853 (cont.) - 1855
Pgs. 151 - 175 1855 (cont.) - 1856
Pgs. 176 - 200 1857 - 1858
Pgs. 201-225 1858 (cont.) - April 1861
Pgs. 226-273
[pgs. 240-271 missing]
April 1861 (cont.) - 1868
[1862 - 1866 missing]

An excellent site to visit about poorhouses by individual states can be found at The Poorhouse Story.

2003

 

Go to Poor House Minutes (pgs. 1-25)

Hyde Co. Homepage