Agnes Plumb (1852-1934) was the daughter of William (1813-1895) and Ruth Plumb (1817-) and also grew up in Haysville with her siblings: Rosetta (1842-), Hannah (1844-), Sarah (1846-), William Jr. (1848-1922), Rosabela (1853-), and Ruth (1855-). Her father, William, worked as an Inn Keeper and only William Jr. and three of the girls were attending school in 1861.
Joseph married Agnes Plumb on January 25, 1871 and Agnes moved in with Joseph’s family that year.
Joseph and Agnes had four children together: Ruth (1871-1907), Alexander (1873-) , John (1877-), and Lindsay Lloyd (1893-). Their fourth son, Lindsay, was born in the same year that Joseph and Agnes accepted their positions as Keeper and Matron of the Poorhouse in 1893.
Prior to his appointment as Keeper, Joseph was the Reeve of New Hamburg from 1889-1893. He was also working as a book keeper for the municipality.
Joseph and Agnes were appointed the positions of Keeper and Matron of the House on September 1, 1893.
1st. Sept. 3
Jos. A. Laird Esqr.
Dear Sir/ –
I have the honor to inform you that under the provisions of By-Law NO.433 of the Corporation of the County of Waterloo, passed by the County Council, at its late Session, you are appointed KEEPER of the House of Industry & Refuge, to hold Office from this date during the pleasure of Council, at an annual salary of $400. and Board and Lodging in said House at the expense of the said Corporation.
Israel D. Bowman
Sept. 1st. 3.
Mrs. Agnes Laird,
I have the honor to inform you that under the provisions of By-Law NO. 433 of the Corporation of the County of Waterloo, passed at the last session of the County Council, you are appointed to the Office of MATRON of the House of Industry & Refuge, to hold Office from this date during the pleasure of the Council, at an Annual Salary of $200, and Board & Lodging in said House at the expense of the said Corporation.
Israel D. Bowman
Joseph and Agnes were appoint as managers after Peter and Alvina Itter were asked to resign upon the investigation of a number of testimonies alleging that they physically and mentally abused some of the inmates. One of the outcomes of the trial from the 1893 Scandal was to have more support for the inmates during the night when they are locked in their apartments without surveillance. The new managers first task was to appoint a trustworthy inmate as the Night Watchman. It was stated in the Meeting Minutes of the Standing Committee in 1893 that there would be a night-watchman appointed and paid for his services, but there is no note in the archives of who that was and how much he was paid.
In 1894, Joseph was paid $600.00 as his annual salary while Agnes was being paid $200.00.
In 1895, Agnes petitioned the Standing Committee to buy flannel and wool blankets for the inmates.
House of Indy & Refuge
Berlin Aug 31st 1895
The Standing Committee met this day[…]
- Moved by Mr. Eden and seconded by Mr. Robson That Messrs Erb and Laird (the Keeper) look after the buying of Flannel and also blankets and [sundry] other articles – also to open Blanket Tenders when received –
Carried –[…]Court House
Berlin Octr 3rd 1895[…]Ordered that the Tender of R. McCulloch be accepted Provided they are all wool and without shoddy – sample to be sent to Poor House – if not satisfactory then to accept Central Prison Tender – either for union or all wool as Mrs Laird the Matron may elect –
The Committee then adjourned sine die.
Joseph Laird died while working at the Poorhouse on December 8, 1897. His death record stated that he died of Progressive Muscular Distrophy. He was buried in the Riverside Cemetery in New Hamburg.
After Joseph’s death, Agnes left the Poorhouse and moved into a small house with her children, Ruth and Lindsay. Ruth died a few years later in 1907. Agnes and Lindsay moved to Toronto where Lindsay began working as a bank clerk. Agnes died in 1934 of coronary thrombosis. She was also buried in Riverside Cemetery in New Hamburg. It is unclear what happened to her other children.
For the story of the next Keeper and Matron of the House of Industry and Refuge, please visit George and Anna Eliza Martin’s Page.