Tioga County Almshouse
Prior to 1866 the poor of Tioga County were cared for by the various townships and municipalities they resided in throughout the county. On March 12th of that year the county legislature approved the establishment of a county poor farms and almshouse, so 25 acres were purchased from the Caleb Austin farm one and a half miles East of Wellsboro, PA. By 1885 the almshouse property at the time consisted of 180 acres, with 160 being utilized for cultivation. More land purchases increased this total acreage to 315 acres by 1897.
As of 1885 the poor farm property consisted of a two story wood framed farmhouse building which was occupied by the steward and his family. The alsmhouse stood adjoined at a right angle to the old stewards building. Constructed of brick, the building measured 45x60 feet and cost $12,000 to construct. It stood three stories tall, including the above ground basement, and had an attic story. The basement contained the kitchen, washroom, dining room, and two store rooms. The second and third story were primarily dormitories, containing 11 rooms each, with two rooms on the second being set aside as infirmaries, one for each sex. The building was designed to accommodate 45 paupers of each sex, however it was noted in the report that the separation of the sexes in the facility was "entirely inadequate".
The Insane Department of the almshouse consisted of a small one story wooden shed measuring 20x40 feet near the west end of the brick almshouse building. This structure was essentially a shed with two rooms, one utilized as a rudimentary infirmary for sick men, and the other for the insane of the county. The side for the insane was divided into nine smaller rooms. The report called this building "a disgrace to the county and a reproach upon those who have the care and protection of the weak and diseased persons who, of necessity, are obliged to receive aid from public charity" At the time there was no running water on the campus, with all water being brought by bucket from three wells located on the property.
Modernization and Present Use
In 1888, after the report by the Pennsylvania Board of Charities, the county decided that the original 1866 buildings were no longer sufficient and ordered them demolished following construction of a new Almhouse. This new building, which seems to have been completed that same year at a cost of $20,000, was reportedly far more well furnished than the previous structures. The building was two stories tall, with an attic story. This building seems to have been used exclusively for paupers at it makes mention in an 1897 book that the insane were cared for in a separate structure. This building stands today and is used as the offices of the Tioga Human Services Department.
Over time, as with many county poorhouses, the focus of the Tioga County Farm shifted from the indigent and the insane to the elderly and geriatric. The county farm remains in operation today as a home for the old and infirm, know as the Broad Acres Health and Rehabilitation Center. This current facility is housed north of the 1888 almshouse in buildings constructed likely between 1950-1970. Broad Acres today "is a 120 bed center and offers a full continuum of services and care, focused around each individual in today's ever-changing healthcare environment."
The Tioga County Alsmhosue did have a potters field, now known as Broad Acres Farm Cemetery. It is located at 1768 Shumway Hill Road in Wellsboro across the street from the Tioga County Jail on county property. The cemetery was used from at least 1870 until 1936, though possibly earlier and later. While some headstones exist they take up only 10% of the land the the majority of graves are now unmarked.
Images of the Tioga County Almshouse
Main Image Gallery: Tioga County Almshouse