Suffolk County Almshouse Potter's Field
Potter's Field is part of what was once the Suffolk County Almshouse on Yaphank
Avenue in Yaphank. The Almshouse was a lovely building with graveled walks, floor to
ceiling windows and steam heat. It housed Suffolk County's homeless population.
the street from the Almshouse was the Children's Home, where orphans aged two to sixteen lived. William Jones Weeks, the first Superintendent of the Almshouse, set-up the numbering system used for the stones at Potter's Field to record
and register deaths at the Almshouse and the Children's Home.
Burial at Potter's Field was a solemn affair. Graves
were dug by hand. A procession followed a horse drawn hearse carrying the plain pine
coffin to the field.
Residents of the Almshouse, who were able, were required to do farm work for eight
hours a day except on Sunday. Suffolk County provided the farm implements, seed, and
manure for the workers. The harvested crops were used to feed the residents. Meals at the
Almshouse were hearty and consisted of beef, pork, plenty of vegetables, bread and
butter. It was a state ofthe art institution for the time.
In 1929, a Welfare Reform Law was passed. The terms almshouse and poorhouse were
no longer used. The Suffolk County Almshouse was renamed the Suffolk County Home.
Now the home included those who were aged and infirmed along with the homeless.
In 1937, a new brick Suffolk County Home was built further down Yaphank Avenue.
After 1938, residents were no longer required to work, but many chose to do so until
1940. In 1994, the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility was opened and the old brick
building became Suffolk County Offices.
Through the years, Suffolk County has always taken good care of the needy. The Suffolk
County Home has always been a proud part of Yaphank's heritage.