Program on Monroe County Almshouse and Asylum slated for Feb. 9

Postcard of the Monroe County Almshouse and Asylum, postmarked ‘1914’

By JARROD ROLL

Monroe County Local History Room director

Researcher Scot Simpson will present a public program, “All But Forgotten Institutions: A Glimpse into the History of the Monroe County Poor Farm and Asylum,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Monroe County Local History Room.

Simpson will share his experience with indexing the old records of Monroe County’s Almshouse and Asylum and how he discovered more than just names and dates: He discovered forgotten people and compelling stories. 

 Simpson’s project involved taking information from three volumes of records to produce a poor house/asylum index to add to other indices available to researchers through the Local History Room website (www.monroecountyhistory.org).

As Simpson began transcribing the poor-farm register, his first surprise was how many of the inmates were foreign-born. A large number were from Germany and Scandinavia, arriving during the great European migration of the late 19th century. In census records, many of these future poor-farm residents had been listed as being employed as laborers, or more specifically, farm laborers.

Another surprise was the amount of turnover in the poor-farm population. In any given year, an average of 25–30 inmates were more or less in permanent residence, with often just as many (and sometimes more) being admitted and discharged during any given year. Several inmates were readmitted a half-dozen or more times over the course of the years recorded in the register.

Beginning in the depths of the Great Depression (1931–1934) the comings and goings of inmates were listed on loose-leaf notepaper inserted in the register. And of course, the number of poor-farm residents was very large during that period. The asylum population averaged 75–80 inmates and did not have very much turnover.

Simpson also found the causes of admission interesting. The language used in describing people and their conditions would never be tolerated today, making this project a fascinating look into a bygone era. It was no surprise that many inmates’ cause of admission was “old age.” What was surprising was how many of these people were later discharged.

The Monroe County Local History Room is at 200 Main St. in Sparta. A $1 admission donation would be appreciated. For more information, visit www.Facebook.com/mclhr.

Comments are closed.

  • Under Trump, Wisconsin dairies struggle to keep immigrant workers

    March 23rd, 2017
    by

    Twenty-six-year-old Rosa Jiménez and her husband, Manuel, 36, used to do the grocery shopping together. They would take the kids and make a day of it. But, lately, Manuel goes alone.


    Viroqua Democrats to host event with political science professor Joe Heim

    March 23rd, 2017
    by

    Joe Heim, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political science/public-administration emeritus professor and area political commentator, will be the keynote speaker at a Vernon County Democratic Party event in Viroqua on Sunday, April 2.


    Arndt awarded Herb Kohl Foundation Excellence Scholarship

    March 21st, 2017
    by

    Brookwood High School senior Addison Arndt is among the 207 students statewide who have received $5,000 Herb Kohl Foundation Excellence Scholarships this year.


    Kendall woman, grandson hurt in two-car crash

    March 18th, 2017
    by

    A Kendall woman and her 3-year-old grandson were injured Saturday when an Ontario man’s pickup truck hit their vehicle on Highway 33.


    Norwalk Lioness Club member awarded

    March 16th, 2017
    by

    Loretta Ewelt of the Norwalk Lioness Club recently received the Knight of Sight Fellowship Award for her dedication to helping bring sight to many people in Wisconsin.


  • Kickapoo Teen Drop-In slated for Sunday

    March 16th, 2017
    by

    The Kickapoo Teen Drop-In group will hold its monthly meeting from 3–6 p.m. Sunday, March 19, at the Ontario Public Library.


    Presentation for those who have experienced trauma set for March 30

    March 14th, 2017
    by

    Author and mental health nurse-practitioner Deborah Grassman will give a free presentation called “Soul Injury Awareness” from 6–8 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at Veterans Hall (building 455 at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center).


    Candidates for Vernon County judge to take part in forum March 23

    March 7th, 2017
    by

    The two candidates for Vernon County Circuit Court Judge, Tim Gaskell and Darcy Rood, will answer audience questions in a candidate forum from 7–8 p.m. Thursday, March 23, at the Viroqua Elementary School Cafetorium, 115 Education Ave., Viroqua.


    Vernon County immunization clinic set for March 16

    March 7th, 2017
    by

    The Vernon County Health Department will conduct an immunization clinic from 9–11:30 a.m. and from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, March 16, at the health department, 318 Fairlane Drive (Cty. Hwy. BB), Viroqua.


    Vernon County to offer WIC benefit renewals in March

    March 2nd, 2017
    by

    The Vernon County Health Department will offer Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program benefit renewals at the following locations in March.


  • Local Weather

  • What’s Happening

    Embracing STEM

    Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton Elementary School students worked on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) projects on Friday.

    N-O-W names artists of the month

    The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District has named its February artists of the month.

    Elmwood School, 1950s

    Elmwood School (town of Glendale) students and teacher in the 1950s (left to right, front to back): Roger Leis, Esther Leis, Joe McCracken, Bob Leis, Charles Rochowsky, Charles McCracken, Joan Manske, Delbert Bloor, and May Dwyer.

  • Archives