The first non-county run poor house was located on the farm of Matthew Wright, on the Southeast 1/4 of Section 34 town of Waukesha. This was sometime prior to 1857 when individual townships provided for the care of their own poor and insane.
Poor Farm and Asylum
From History of Waukesha County 1880
(the first county system) The photo to the right is the First County Poorhouse, Town of Vernon Building. It was used as the County Home until 1904. Picture was dated 1880.
The first paupers which Waukesha County was called upon to provide for were cared for under contract, by the week, by Findlay McNaughton, at his log house in Vernon. During some years, the number of paupers was not great. They received excellent care and treatment under this plan, and the expense to the county was merely nominal until the numbers began to grow considerably larger.
Finally, his old house becoming too small, Mr. McNaughton abandoned it and erected a commodious wooden building, suitable for both a residence and poor-house on the northwest quarter of Section 2, town of Vernon which structure is a portion of the present poor-farm buildings-where he continued to be poor-keeper.
On the 6th of December, 1866, Mr. McNaughton sold his farm, consisting of 165 acres, with all its buildings to the county for $9,000.00. In 1874, a new building of brick, three stories in height, was erected in which were placed grated and barred cells for the insane.
The poor farm how has ample accommodations for its paupers and cares for the insane fully as well as could be expected, it being well understood that the keeper has not the facilities always provided for caring for the inmates of regular insane hospitals; nor can these unfortunates have the skilled medical treatment which is so necessary in such cases. After the county system was adopted-that is, paying the expenses of supporting paupers by general taxation, the first person taken was an unknown child left at the "Exchange Hotel" in Waukesha and recorded as "no. 1, December 1, 1857." From that time until December 31, 1858, the record of inmates shows that 72 different paupers were received in that time, and 40 remained to end of the year. During the next year, 81 different persons were cared for; and from that time to 1880 the record shows an average of about 70 different persons cared for per year. This would be equal to keeping 1, 610 paupers one year. There are now 48 inmates at the poor-farm, 20 of whom are insane or idiotic, and several of the former are "incurable" and never leave their cells. Their unfortunate condition entails a large amount of care and labor upon the keeper.
The farm is a good one and is in an excellent condition of cultivation, producing almost everything required for the keeper, the inmates and their attendants. A little flour and the usual plain groceries are generally all the farm does not produce except fresh meet during the warm weather, which the inmates have once or twice a week, to better insure good health. Sheep and swine are raised on the farm, generally sufficient to supply all wants. sometimes the young pigs are sold on foot and pork bought with the proceeds. There are eleven cows on the farm at this time, and from the keeper's large family of paupers is supplied with milk and butter. The diet of the paupers consists of bread, butter, vegetables, slat meat, tea, coffee and milk; of such food as this they have an abundance.
A large share of the work about the building is performed by the female inmates, and all the male paupers who are able to labor at all are required to work according to their strengthe, on the farm. This is better for them and better for the county.
Findlay McNaughton, the first Superintendent of the poor farm, held the position until the appointment of George C. Pratt, in 1872; Mr. Pratt was Superintendent about three years. Since the expiration of his term in January, 1875, J.T. Morris has held that position.
The county poor-house had its origin in a poor-house for the town of Waukesha, begun on the farm of Matthew Wright. George C. Pratt, then Chairman of the town, had this primitive institution nominally in charge.
For the year 1879, the cost of maintaining the poor farm and house, including the Superintendent's salary, was about $92 a week, or a little over $4,500 per annum. During the year 1857, the last one before adopting the county system, the county paid $6,500 for the support of her paupers.
Waukesha County Asylum for Insane was Voted in 1902
Source: Waukesha Freeman
At a special session of the county board on March 18, 1902, a resolution was read stating that authority had been obtained from the state board of control of Wisconsin for the acquisition of grounds for, and the construction of a county asylum in Waukesha county for the chronic insane, and the acquisition of such grounds and building had been determined upon and to meet the same it was necessary to issue bonds to the amount of $100,000. This resolution was approved and countersigned by Matthew Howitt, chairman of the county board. The building committee composed of M. HOwitt, David Hunter, J.J. Gibbs, E.W. Delancy, J.M. More, in making their report to the county board state that the bonds were awarded to the Waukesha National Bank. They concluded their report by saying that "When completed, Waukesha county could justly pride herself in having one of the finest and most complete buildings in the state." Matt Howitt was appointed building superintendent.
After careful consideration of plans and specifications of the asylum building from several firms, the committee decided to accept the plans of Van Ryne and De Gelleke, of Milwaukee, Wis.
On May 12, 1902, bids were opened for construction of the building. The contract was awarded to Dwinnell and Laughlin. Michael Gleason to do the mason work.
A 453 foot well was dug about this time and it was reported the water was exceptionally fine and within 30 feet of the surface.
$30,000 Addition in 1902
On November 26, 1902, an additional $30,000.00 in bonds were issued when it was found that the original $100,000.00 bond issued would not cover the expenses.
The trustees of the Waukesha County Asylum farm were elected by the county board on December 5, 1902. M.L. Davis was elected for a term of 3 years. George Westover for a term of 2 years and John Brehm for a term of one year. At the first meeting of the board of trustees January 8, 1903, John Brehm was elected president and George F. Westover, Secretary.
On September 1, 1903, a resolution was presented to the county board by Supervisor A.W. Jones stating that the county insane asylum building, having been accepted by the county board, the same was hereby turned over to the board of trustees. On September 2, 1903, the first report of the board of trustees was presented to the county board, signed by John Brehm and M.L. Davis.
In a recommendation to the county board by Matt Howitt, chairman of the county board, recommended that the inmates of the old county farm be transferred to the new county asylum farm as soon as possible and that the old farm be sold. On April 27, 1903 the president of the board of of trustees recorded in the minutes that the chairman of the board of supervisors and the county clerk had aided the board of trustees in making a sale of the old farm to D.D. Mulligan.
On July 22, 1903, the report of the Waukesha County Home Building committee was read. After considering plans and specifications by Van Ryne and De Gelleke the committee was instructed by the county board to let the contract for the home at a cost not to exceed $22,000.00. The building committee was Morgan Jones, chairman, William Doolan, A.W. Jones, G.D. Powell, J.B. Wittaker, and S.R. Clark, secretary. The Waukesha county home was completed April 10, 1904.
In a report of the trustees of the Waukesha county asylum farm to the county board they said that three days prior to November 1, 1903, the county poor were removed from the poor farm in the town of Vernon and placed in the asylum building which had just been completed. Here they remained until April 12, 1904, when they were taken to the new building erected for their care on the grounds near the county asylum.
Over 100 patients
Three days after the poor were removed, by permission of the board of control, the superintendent and matron began receiving the county's insane into the new asylum. 62 were received in April, 27 in May and 15 in June; so that June 30 the date of the superintendent's report to the state board of control, 104 patients had been received, of whom 2 had died and one was paroled, leaving a total of 101 patients in the asylum at that date. Waukesha county asylum now has a population of 225 patients and over 700 patients have been registered in since that time.
The first purchase of land for the present Waukesha county farm was made and the title properly recorded March 24, 1902. The property was purchased from the Henry Pennebecker family. Since that time three adjoining farms have been added: namely, the Taylor, Hall and Miller farms. AT the present time the farm contains 700 acres.
The first superintendent and matron of the Waukesha county asylum farm were William Dodmead and wife, who took over their duties March 12, 1903, and continued until February 1, 1904, when George F. Carroll was elected superintendent and Miss Kate Carroll, matron. The Carrolls continued their duties until Mr. Geo. Carroll's death on October 17, 1919. Mr. William Carroll was elected to fill the office of superintendent and his wife was appointed assistant matron. Mr. Carroll died very suddenly on January 17, 1920. On January 29, 1920, Mr. and Mrs. L.A. Peters were elected to the offices of superintendent and matron. Superintendent and Mrs. Peters assumed their duties February 5, 1920; positions they still hold.
Waukesha County Asylum for the Chronic Insane and County Home Annual Report 1909 Inmates June 30, 1908 to June 30, 1909 AGER, Fred 21 Weeks 2 Days City of Waukesha BEEBE, Melvin 52 Weeks 1 Days City of Waukesha BERTRAM, Peter 50 Weeks 0 Days Town of Vernon BLOCK, August 52 Weeks 1 Days Town of Summit BLOCKSOM, Henry 52 Weeks 1 Days County of Waukesha BLOTT, Richard 38 Weeks 5 Days Town of New Berlin BONER, Everett 23 Weeks 5 days Village of Menomonee BOWMAN, Albert 52 Weeks 1 Days Village of Menomonee BOWMAN, Edward 28 Weeks 3 Days Village of Menomonee BRIGHT, John 50 Weeks 5 Days Town of New Berlin BURKE, Jacob 10 Weeks 2 Days Town of Waukesha BURNS, Charles 20 Weeks 0 Days Town of Oconomowoc CARNEY, Patrick 23 Weeks 6 Days County of Waukesha CARPENTER, Mr. 18 Weeks 0 Days County of Waukesha COLEMAN, Martin 26 Weeks 0 Days Town of Oconomowoc DEVEREAUX, Robert 20 Weeks 6 Days City of Waukesha DONOVAN, John 10 Weeks 2 Days County of Waukesha DOWNEY, James 20 Weeks 1 Days City of Waukesha DUNK, Frank 17 Weeks 5 Days Town of Pewaukee FELTON, Henry 1 Weeks 0 Days Town of New Berlin FORGER, Carrie 52 Weeks 1 Days Town of Oconomowoc GRANT, Walter 4 Weeks 3 Days City of Waukesha GRIFFITH, Babe 1 Weeks 2 Days County of Waukesha GRIFFITH, Mr. 1 Weeks 2 Days County of Waukesha GRIFFITH, Mrs. 1 Weeks 2 Days County of Waukesha HACKER, Henry 4 Weeks 0 Days Village of Menomonee HARVEY, Dan 28 Weeks 4 Days County of Waukesha HENDEN, A. 52 Weeks 1 Days Town of New Berlin HENKEY, August 8 Weeks 1 Days Village of Pewaukee HENRY, Bradley 52 Weeks 1 Days Village of Eagle HERZOG, Edward 28 Weeks 2 Days County of Waukesha JEWETT, George 52 Weeks 1 Days City of Waukesha JUNG, Mary 44 Weeks 2 Days City of Waukesha KEPKE, John 4 Weeks 5 Days County of Waukesha KNAAK, August 28 Weeks 0 Days County of Waukesha KRAUS, Lawrence 21 Weeks 6 Days County of Waukesha KRINER, Abraham 18 Weeks 3 Days City of Waukesha LYNCH, Thomas 52 Weeks 1 Days Town of Muskego LYONS, Alexander 18 Weeks 2 Days County of Waukesha MADUSKIE, Frank 41 Weeks 2 Days Town of Pewaukee MADUSKIE, Peter 52 Weeks 1 Days Town of Pewaukee McBRIDE, John 52 Weeks 1 Days Town of Menomonee McGIBBON, Walter 13 Weeks 4 Days County of Waukesha McMANN, John 8 Weeks 0 Days County of Waukesha McMINNERMAN, Barney 1 Weeks 6 Days Village of Menomonee MITCHELL, William 18 Weeks 6 Days Town of Oconomowoc NOLAN, Thomas 18 Weeks 1 Days Town of Delafield OWENS, John 39 Weeks 3 Days Town of Genesee PARSONS, John 52 Weeks 1 Days Town of Genesee PLATE, John 52 Weeks 1 Days County of Waukesha PLOTZ, Charles 11 Weeks 2 Days City of Waukesha PRIMROSE, Morris 42 Weeks 2 Days Town of New Berlin REID, Jennie 52 Weeks 1 Days Town of Ottawa REYNOLDS, Mabel 26 Weeks 0 Days City of Waukesha RICHARDSON, L.L. 41 Weeks 0 Days Town of Genesee RIECHEL, Mrs. Emil 17 Weeks 3 Days Village of Menomonee ROBERTS, Thomas 8 Weeks 0 Days County of Waukesha RODGERS, Albert 6 Weeks 1 Days County of Waukesha ROETS, John 16 Weeks 5 Days County of Waukesha ROLL, Herman 34 Weeks 5 Days Town of Oconomowoc RUSSELL, Thomas 13 Weeks 6 Days City of Waukesha SCHUSTRIDGE, Michael 0 Weeks 5 Days City of Waukesha SCHUTT, Carl 1 Weeks 3 Days County of Waukesha SEVERENCE, Jacob 9 Weeks 0 Days County of Waukesha SHULTZ, Henry 17 Weeks 1 Days County of Waukesha STEFFIN, Charles 18 Weeks 0 Days County of Waukesha STEWART, Alvin 39 Weeks 5 Days County of Waukesha SWEEDEN, Mrs. 5 Weeks 0 Days Town of Genesee THAYER, Mrs. 28 Weeks 2 Days City of Waukesha TILLIE, Mrs. Augusta 52 Weeks 1 Days City of Waukesha TRABERT, William 52 Weeks 1 Days Town of Mukwonago TROPP, John 52 Weeks 1 Days County of Waukesha TYNUS, John 32 Weeks 0 Days County of Waukesha VANDENBERG, W.J. 14 Weeks 5 Days County of Waukesha WACKHOLZ, Mrs. 52 Weeks 1 Days City of Waukesha WARTS, Orlando 52 Weeks 1 Days County of Waukesha WEAVER, Mrs. 31 Weeks 5 Days Town of Lisbon WEBER, Mr. 52 Weeks 1 Days Town of Waukesha WILLIAMS, George 12 Weeks 0 Days Town of Pewaukee WOOD, Charles 11 Weeks 0 Days County of Waukesha
Waukesha County Poor House Cemetery
Town of Vernon
The cemetery was located in the in the Northwest 1/4 of Section 2, Vernon Township. It was to the northwest of the main buildings in a wooded area. The buildings were to the south of Townline Road, on the west side of Big Bend Road.
Burials between 1858-1880 do not appear to be given markers.
Sometime between September 1904 and June 1905, 75 burials were exhumed and moved to the new Waukesha County Home and Hospital Cemetery in Section 28, Pewaukee Township. These 75 reburials were burials between 1881-1903, numbered 1 to 75 in the official cemetery book. When the bodies were removed, the holes were not completely filled in and the location of many of the graves are still visible. The earlier burials 1858-1880 were not moved to Pewaukee. The site of the cemetery is now private property.
Town of Pewaukee
This cemetery is inactive. The last known burial was 1951. The cemetery was sometimes used by the Coroner's office to bury unknown or unclaimed bodies. The cemetery apparently has two sections. The reburials from the Vernon cemetery appear to be in the northwest corner of the cemetery.
The Register of Deeds death records sometimes refer to these burials as Waukesha County Poor Farm Cemetery, Waukesha County Home Cemetery, Waukesha County Insane Asylum Cemetery. Today the cemetery is known as the Northview Home Cemetery.
All records from both cemeteries have been moved to the Waukesha County Historical Society and
The following records are available:
M-844 County Records, Deaths at Waukesha County Poor House 1858-1880
Waukesha County Home, Register December 19, 1857-December 30, 1880
M-841 County Records, Waukesha County Asylum for the Chronic Insane and County Home.
Cemetery records: 1881-1923, 1942, 1951
Plus other items are available at the museum.
Go to Cemetery Listing