Last week was so busy! The last two or three months of each school year are always insanely busy. I think I’ve finally hit that point where I won’t be blogging for a few weeks until all this craziness is over. I’m proud of the fact that this year I’ve been able to hold off the “no blogging” streak for a month to month and a half longer than normal. I’m going to cut myself some slack and not have a schedule for the next three weeks or so. I will blog when I can and I will try to tell a very short story and/or photograph on Sunday rather than provide a schedule. Hopefully in a month or so I’ll be able to tell some of the stories that were put on hold (like John BATES’ final years). For now, I’m going to back off because I think any schedule at this point would be too much.
Today’s short story is about one of the earliest tenants at Jasper County Alms House (the “poor farm”) in Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri. While I was at Joplin researching a couple of weeks ago I spent most of my time looking through a book containing a list of people who stayed there. One of my strongest thoughts when going through this book was how many of the children who came there ever made it back to their families? How did they get separated? What happened when they left there? I had so many questions. I’ve found that there isn’t much information online about a lot of the children that came to the home. For many of them I can’t even find out who their original families were.
The first person on the list was Clarissa YOAS. Clarissa was born 157 years ago. She was 14 years old when she was admitted to the alms house in 1875. She (or whomever brought her there) gave her birth year as 1861 and her birth state as Pennsylvania. She was single. Later in the book there is another entry for Clarissa. It said she was the daughter of Henry YOAS. She died on 30 December 1942 and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Galena, Cherokee County, Kansas. No other family members were admitted with Clarissa. If she was born in Pennsylvania, how did she get to Missouri? She had to come with someone. Why did they leave her at the Alms House? Did she have any family left? Do her descendants know about what happened to her? Does she even have any direct descendants? So many questions! So I did a quick search on Ancestry.com, Google, and Newspapers.com for Clarissa.
The majority of records that Clarissa appeared on were census records. Other than those records, I found her in the alms house record and I found her death certificate. There were no newspaper articles about her that I could find. Clarissa’s surname was spelled a variety of ways (YOAS, YOES, YOSE, and YOOS). Her first name was written as Clarissa, Clarisa, and Clara. Although the alms house record, death certificate, and some of the census records gave her birth year as 1861, at least one census gave her birth year as 1857 and another as 1851. Her birth state never varied- it was always Pennsylvania. Clarissa never married. She remained at the alms house from age 14 to the end of her life at age 81. If she ever had a child, it was not recorded in the alms house record and is not in any record I could locate on Ancestry.com.
In the 1880 census, Clarissa was marked as being “idiotic” which would explain her presence at the alms house and would also explain why she never left. In 1880, the definition of “idiotic” for purposes of the federal census was, “a person the development of whose mental faculties were arrested in infancy or childhood before coming to maturity”. Additional information found on Genealogy.com about this subject says, “a number of known disabilities would have fallen under this category, including Downs Syndrome”. Clarissa was also marked as a pauper on this census. It is interesting to note that in 1880 just across the state line in Lowell, Garden Township, Cherokee County, Kansas (only 5 miles from where Clarissa was buried) is another YOAS family with a son, Francis YOAS, who is listed as “insane”. He was born in Ohio in 1863.
The alms house went through a number of superintendents in the 67 years that Clarissa lived there. The earliest superintendent was Benjamin HAMMER along with his wife, Tennie. In 1900, it was James NALL and his wife, Laura. In 1910, I couldn’t find Clarissa (nor could I find anyone else I expected to find living at the alms house). In 1920 George W. MAXWELL was superintendent. Jud HOWELL and his wife Eva managed the alms house in 1930. The final available census is 1940. It was unclear who was managing the alms house in 1940. In the 1940 census, Clarissa declared she worked 4 hours a week. At the poor farms, every individual worked at a certain job and the job was tailored to what the individual was able to do. One additional thing I noticed in these census records is that people living at the poor farm were called “inmates”.
On 30 December 1942, Clarissa died. Her cause of death was listed as Senility. Her body was held for 13 months- possibly so family could claim her body if there were any family. Her death certificate listed her dad as Henry YOAS but did not list her mother. Clarissa was buried on 31 January 1943 at Oak Hill Cemetery in Galena, Cherokee County, Kansas.
I’ve been unable to figure out who Clarissa’s parents and other family members were. There are several families that I suspect are either parents or are closely related to Clarissa. The family whose son was “insane” is one of the families I feel is closely related to Clarissa. They are buried in a cemetery a few miles away from Clarissa (except for the “insane” son who ended up in an insane asylum and is buried in that asylum’s burial ground in Osawatomie, Kansas). That family is Ernst and Lucy YOAS’ family. They could be Clarissa’s parents but I don’t think so. I think Clarissa’s parents may be Henry and Elizabeth YOAS. Another possibility for her parents are Georg Heinrich and Elizabeth YOAS. I have messaged a person on Ancestry.com who I think may be able to answer some of my questions about Clarissa. If I hear back from her I’ll let you know.
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog