Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Oneida Poorhouse: Wild and Destitution: Judgy Clerk is my new BFF

OK so in searching through data and data and data I stumbled across (like a dying person in a desert!) the admissions records to the poorhouse in Oneida, NY.  If you remember,  Oneida was ground zero for John Humphrey Noyes' experiment with complex marriage and communal living.

I am only 5 cards into a 100+ file and I can't even keep this to myself.

In the thousands of admission records I've seen, not a single person ever came and went -- and came back and left again -- and then again -- oops and one more time.... --- like this case here -- My best guess is that he was intermittently fighting with a few of his spouses at Oneida and/or suffering bouts of jealousy from the communal/complex marriage experiment.

 OK, there are very few files from the 1850s and 60s as Oneida was growing.

 But the I found files of the people who left Oneida and had nowhere to go but face the mercy of public assistance and what appears to be a judgy clerk.

This file says that the applicant (54 year old female) was a little fast in her young age and is striving to do better.

A little fast.  I can't even.

The next case was a blind woman with a vagabond husband, followed by this case (#4 out of 143) about a 59 year old woman who has probably left the crumbling Oneida community.

 Next to Habits the clerk wrote "Bad"

Cause of dependence? "Nearly blind, cause of debauchery."
(I think the clerk thought she/he wrote "Cause of? Debauchery" )

Remarks: "This woman left her home and followed an awful life and is now reaping her reward."

I think the clerk is shady-diagnosing this woman with a sexually transmitted disease, ya'll,  and it's delicious. There is no mistaking how the clerk  feels about activities at the Oneida commune.

 I'm only on record 4 out of 143...

I should stop. I need to grade. Actually, I need to sleep.

OK, just one more.

Meet Mary Kelly, 42, born in Ireland. Cause of dependence? "Wild and Destitution"    I
Go judgy clerk.  Illuminating and vague. Wild.  What does that even mean?  Does she have bad hair? No manners? Doesn't want to get married to a man?

Under comments: "This woman is a poor nervous creature and when I first knew her she would sware (swear/curse) awful but she is trying to do better. "

Awww. My judgy clerk friend just basically silently said "bless her  heart"  and I can't even figure out how I am going to sleep knowing there are still over 130 files to read.