07 February 2010

Boyd County, Kentucky Poor House 1870

In 2004 Boyd County, Kentucky Monographs I was published and includes an article "Boyd County Poor Folks." This two part article contains the history of the Boyd County Poor House from its inception in early 1870.

Like all historical research new documents have recently surfaced concerning the Poor House. From time to time I will share findings. The following includes some of the first people that were to be residents of the home, which was located on Poor House Road, now Long Branch Road, Boyd County, Kentucky.

I have preserved the spelling of this two page court document but took the liberty of adding periods for easier reading.

"In compliance with this order I have collected the fawling persons and conveyed them to the por hous & placed them in charge of John Higins who was in possession of said home. I collected on the 14 day of Sept 1870 taken Emgine Harlis James Harlis & Clery Harlis in posesian & upon the 15 day taken Sarah Walker and Mary Thomson in charge and delivered them all to the por hous on the same day. I demanded on the 6 day of Sept 1870 Elizabeth Blankinship to go to por hous. She refused to go and famly wold not let her go. I did on the 14 day of Sept 1870 demand Robert Reed. He refused to go and James Smith refused to let him go. Said if the county would not pay him he wold keep him any how. I demanded Bevin Trail Sept 16 1870 & A. Tomson said he was to keep him till next cort of clames so I left him there. & upon 22 day Sept 1870 I imployed Thomas Colinsworth to convey Margret & Elizabeth Colinsworth to por hous which he don and upon the 23 day I demanded Sally Sammons & children to go to por hous. They refused to go. Said she knew nothing about it. She is able to seport her self & children and will do it. So I let her alone. this is all I know of that is on the county that is liable to go to por hous this Sept 26 1870. J. C. Eastham, sheriff of Boyd County, KY. I also demanded Ned Noris Sept 15. He refused to go. J. C. Eastham."

John Higgins was the first appointed superintendent. The court compensated him and he was paid a salary of $1.00 a day. Emmaline Harlis with children James & Clara were residing with Larkin Warner and family when the census was taken in October, 1870. So while the above states that the sheriff delivered them to the poor house, the Harlis family did not remain long.

Ned Norris, 82 years old, a black gentleman born in Virginia [along with Evaline age 77, black; Susan; Polly and Charles L. Mulatto's] was living in Cannonsburg, Boyd County in October, 1870. This appears to be Ned [cited page 30 Boyd County, Kentucky Monographs I ] an emancipated slave of Thomas H. Poage that made application for support to the Boyd County Court in late June 1864 stating that he was a pauper. In 1865 Free Persons of Color were listed on the tax list. Ned Norris along with 3 other Norris surnames appear as being free.


  1. The 1890 Boyd Co. KY Veteran Census showed Henry Boyd, a veteran of the 14th KY, Co. E, as living in the poorhouse, with a pension. He is actually enumerated twice. The first time his residence was listed as Princess P. O., and the second time his residence was given as Bolt's Fork P.O. Is there a cemetery associated with the poorhouse?

  2. Marlitta the Bolts Fork PO makes sense. At one point for a short time "Garner" did have a PO but the area was usually covered by Bolts Fork.

    There is a hillside with some dips in the ground above where the Poor house sat on this road but no markers.

    thanks for the flag about Henry Boyd. If memory serves me right there was also a William Boyd at one point in the 1st home.

    The 2nd home was at Winslow & the county cemetery is on the hill behind its location. There are many unmarked graves and marked graves in that cemetery.

  3. Thanks for the info, Teresa. Reading your article I am getting the impression that the inhabitants of the poorhouse were made to go there, by judge's orders. Wow. I always thought this was more or less a voluntary decision to go to the poorhouse unless someone really couldn't take care of themselves anymore and there was nobody who offered to take them under their wings. It was sad to see Henry Boyd end up in that place.
    He lived in Pct. No. 4, White Sulphur Spring, Boyd Co. KY, 65 years old, coal miner. His wife was Nancy.
    She drew a pension after Henry's death. Henry probably died by 1900 as he is not listed in the census. The pension application does not give the date of death, unfortunately. He is not listed in the Boyd Co. Cemetery Index. I suspect he may have been buried near the poorhouse.

  4. I lived on Long Branch Road from 1967 till 1974. The poorhouse was long gone, repalced by a modern brick. The hillside behind the brick house was the burial place of several people who died at the poorhouse. Tom Compton, long time resident of Long Branch told many stories to us, about the place, when he came to visit my father. I think at one time he owned the property.
    I always thought it should have had a marker or something.