In 1896, the New York State Poor Laws were revised and addressed the relocation of needy veterans and their families. With this revision, veterans were exempt from living in a poorhouse, though they may have been previously mandated to do so. The law stated that no man of service would be permitted to reside in a poorhouse but rather “shall be relieved and provided for at their homes in the city or town where they may reside”. Therefore, men in this position would now be given a more dignified living situation.
A New Paltz Times article expressed the support of this motion by the citizens. “Where is the patriotism, where the humane feelings, where the promptings of a better nature that could consent to this dereliction of duty? Is it right? Is it just? Is it honorable that these families should remain there a day longer? By all that is sacred and honorable we emphatically answer, No.” With the economy suffering, many families were barely able to support themselves.
Illustration credit: Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection of the Elting Memorial Library