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

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


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 (

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

Comments are closed.

  • New provider joins Scenic Bluffs staff

    20 hours ago

    Scenic Bluffs Community Health Centers recently welcomed a new provider to the Cashton health center.

    KVR Spring Fling program to focus on monarch butterflies

    20 hours ago

    A national strategy to monitor monarch butterflies will be topic of a talk during this year’s Spring Fling, which is set for Saturday, April 29, at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve in La Farge.

    Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday

    20 hours ago

    Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29, in Vernon County.

    Firefighters respond to blaze at Valley Pride Pack

    April 23rd, 2017

    Disaster was averted early Saturday morning after a firefighters put out a blaze that had started near a 3,000-pound ammonia tank at Valley Pride Pack in Norwalk.

    Police seek information on criminal damage in Ontario

    April 20th, 2017

    A black Suburban plowed through the gates of the Ontario wastewater treatment plant during the mid-afternoon of Saturday, April 8, and the Ontario Police Department is seeking tips on the matter.

  • Brookwood spring concert set for Monday

    April 20th, 2017

    The Brookwood Junior/Senior High School bands and choirs will perform in their spring concert Monday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m., in the high school gymnasium.

    South Ridge News for April 13

    April 20th, 2017

    TV ads appeal to people who don’t get to shop much, and my husband Bob has been eyeing a new belt on RFD-TV.

    Monroe County special-waste cleanup set for Saturday at landfill

    April 20th, 2017

    Monroe County will host its special-waste cleanup from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at the Monroe County Landfill, 20448 Junco Road, Norwalk.

    New Sousa Band to perform May 10

    April 20th, 2017

    More than 100 years ago, audiences around the world would flock to see the Sousa Band, led by “the March King” John Philip Sousa.  

    Wisconsin inmates report despair, little counseling in solitary confinement that can stretch on for years

    April 17th, 2017

    Waupun Correctional Institution inmate Cesar DeLeon said he has punched the wall until his fist is bloody to give himself “a sense of reality” during 15 years in prison in which he has rotated in and out of solitary confinement.

  • Local Weather

  • What’s Happening

    Found percussion sounds

    Using trash cans, the Brookwood High School percussion ensemble stunned the concert crowd Monday with its performance of “Lids.”

    Nelson leads Brookwood to four event titles at Cashton

    The Brookwood girls track and field team leaned on the two-time defending Scenic Bluffs Conference Most Valuable Athlete, Allyson Nelson, to claim second place at Saturday’s Cashton Invite.

    Panthers boys edge Necedah 2–1

    The Royall Panthers opted not to play at home Thursday because of wet grounds at Panther Park, venturing to Necedah to take on the Cardinals.

  • Noticias

  • Archives