Poorhouses' were tax-supported residential institutions to which paupers and the indigent were required to go if they could not support themselves. They were started as a method of providing a less expensive (to the taxpayers) alternative to what we would now days call "welfare" - what was called "outdoor relief" in those days. Many of the paupers and indigents at these 'Poor Houses also worked on the attached 'Poor Farm' area and worked for their pay at manual labor jobs such as carpentry, farm work, and upkeep of the Poor House in general.
Today, Cedarbrook Nursing Home in Allentown, PA at 350 S. Cedar Brook Road occupies the location of where the historic Lehigh County Poor-House once stood.
Cheque as payment for hauling bricks.
On back, written "Rec Pay't July 3/48 Charles Mertz"
The three directors signing were Jesse Grim (Allentown), Michael D. Eberhard (Allentown), and John Blank (Upper Saucon)
3" x 6 ⅞"
The Board of Poor Directors met in Allentown on March 28, 1845, for organization, and at their second meeting, April 7th, received reports from the different districts in regard to the number of paupers in them. Allentown reported 44; Upper Macungie,17; Lower Macungie, 11; Upper Saucon, 11; Salisbury, 3; South Whitehall, 6; North Whitehall, 15; Weissenberg, 1; Lowhill, 5; Hanover, 7; and Upper Milford, 25; making a total of 145, with three townships—Lynn, Heidelberg, and Northampton—not heard from.
Thomas Faust was chosen as steward, and his wife, Anna Faust, as matron, April 9, 1845.
On May 1, 1845, proposals were received for erecting a building, and contracts awarded ...The main building us put up in the summer of 1845, at a cost of $4893, and $1044.70 were expended in furnishing it in a proper style. This building was ready for occupancy in December, and upon the 29th of that month twenty-four paupers from the various districts of the county were admitted. In January, 1846, all of the poor who were being maintained in the several districts were removed to the institution.
In 1847 a hospital building was erected...https://books.google.ca/books?id=pSBEAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA48&lpg=PA48&dq=eberhard++lehigh+County+Pennsylvania+Poorhouse+1848&source=bl&ots=v4Df3t04N-&sig=ACfU3U0ZEkLLuT-aQvzc8lhBnQIrgcN2Kg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjilLOWsp3oAhWFWM0KHTIgDMcQ6AEwAHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=eberhard%20%20lehigh%20County%20Pennsylvania%20Poorhouse%201848&f=false