Lyon  County,  Kansas

Poor  Farm  

Didn't Get The Poor Farm --- The following incident happened on election day.  The conversation was overheard by a gentleman who reports it to us.  On the ticket was the name of Dr. J. W. Trueworthy for coroner, and following it happened to be the line, "For a poor farm."  Two voters had a batch of tickets and were discussing their merits.  Says one of them:

"Who is this Trueworthy, that is running "for the poor farm'?"

The other replied, "Why, he is the man that was burned out by the prairie fire, (the Dr. lives in the city) and I understand, he needs the 'poor farm' very badly."

"All right," says the other, "We will go for him," and off the two went and deposited their tickets, "J. W. Trueworthy, for poor farm."

It is needless to add that the Dr. was elected coroner, but the 'poor farm' was scooped.  He don't get it.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ November 10, 1871 ~ Page 3)


It is staated, upon what appears to be good authority, that there are a number of farms in this township that are not yet offered to the county for the poor farm.
(Emopria Week News ~ Friday ~ January 31, 1873 ~ Page 3)

The bids offered for a "poor farm" were re-examined and board resolved itself into a committee to examine certain farms for the purpose of making a selection.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ February 14, 1873 ~ Page 3)

The commissioners started out Wednesday to examine the different farms offered as a poor farm for the county.  To examine all that have been offered they will go to all parts of the county.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ February 21, 1873 ~ Page 3)

The Poor Farm --- The Commissioners, after thorough investigation of the whole matter, located the poor farm half a mile west of this city, on an 80 acre tract of land purchased of Col. P. B. Plumb.  The land was purchased through the agency of the real estatem firm of Holmes & Co., of this city.  The price paid for the land was $42.50 per acre.  It is considered a very excellent site for the institution, and the land was procured at a bargain.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ March 21, 1873 ~ Page 3)

That was very sensible in our county board to give up that little 80 acre lot for a poor farm.  I think they had better buy another ten thousand acres the next time, so we may have a poor farm large enough to accommodate our paupers when the bond proposition has been carried.  We have a man living up here who wants ten thousand dollars of bonds to buy a farm with, and if he don't get them he will leave the county via Burlington or the mouth of Rock creek or some where else.  Shall we vote him the bonds or just let him rip?
PHRANK  April 3d, 1873
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ April 4, 1873 ~ Page 3) 

I hope to see the organization of clubs steadily progress until every portion of Lyon county is represented.  If we have not the education and eloquence of our city brothers we have the hard sense to represent our interests practically and effectually.  Farmers do not let anything prevent your turnout out to the "Board of Trade" meeting called at this place on the 14th.  Let us give the speakers our undivided attention, and then vote according to the dictates of our own conscience and good judgement.

Since writing the above we held another meeting at the Dunkard school house, on the south side of Cottonwood, and after some plain, practical and hard sense remarks on the question prominent under discussion, the secretary was ordered to request the County Commissioners to advertise for another "poor farm," not to exceed $75,500, in farm and fixtures, as that would be the small surplus left should the county be sold, at its present assessed valuation, to pay its bonded indebtedness.   J. E. L.    April 7
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ April 18, 1873 ~ Page 1)

The bids offering land for a "poor farm" were opened, and after a thorough examination the S 1/2 of the S W 1/4 of sec. 16, tp. 19, range 11, was purchased.  Price  $1,600.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ April 25, 1873 ~ Page 3)


County Clerk's Office
Emporia, June 2d, 1873

Proposals will be received at this office until 12 m. Thursday, June 12, 1873, for breaking 40 acres of prairie on "poor farm", one mile from Emporia.  Cash down on fulfilment of contract.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ June 6, 1873 ~ Page 2)

Bids for breaking prairie on poor farm were opened, and the contract awarded to R. P. Snow, at $2.90 per acre.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ June 20, 1873 ~ Page 3)


Sealed proposals will be received at this office until 12 m., July 30, 1873, for the erection of a dwelling house on the poor farm of Lyon county.  All work to be done in accordance with plans and specifications on file in this office.  Separate bids will be recognized for carpenter work, painting, brick, and stone work (to include excavation) and plastering.  It is desirable, however, that each bid include the whole work.  The right is reserved to reject any and all bids.  By order of Commissioners.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ July 25, 1873 ~ Page 2)


By the undersigned, at the poor farm, Lyon county, a white bull, with red spots and stubb horns, almost 3 years old, which the owner can have by calling and paying damages.

September 29, 1876
(Emporia Ledger ~ Thursday ~ October 5, 1876 ~ Page 2)


For Superintending Poor Farm

Sealed Proposals will be received at the office of the County Clerk of Lyon county until noon of the 23d of February next, for superintending the Lyon county poor farm for one year from March 1st, 1877.  Bidders will please state price per week for boarding paupers, and price for use of farm.  Household and kitchen furniture for paupers furnished by county.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ February 9, 1877 ~ Page 2)


Several committees, to whom had been referred bills, reported them with recommendations.

Mr. Ballaine from the committee on needed legislation, submitted the following report:

MR.  SPEAKER:  Your committee on needed legislation, to whom was referred a peition of F. E. Smith and thirty-seven others, residents of school district No. 37, Lyon county, Kansas, asking to be relieved from the responsbility of educating the pauper childre of said county, have had the same under consideration and instruct me to state that no legislation is needed in the premises, because,

1.  The state pays a large portion of the funds necessary to educate these children.

2.  The principle of our school system is that in educating a child society secures the benefit there from in the man; and we would further suggest that any community that would desire to be relieved from educating their unfortunate, the "indigent children," have themselves been deprived of educational advantages and to others pertaining to civilized communities.

The above report seems to have emanated from the contemptible ill-bred poltroons that compose the committee on needed legislation of which the oyster-like Ballaine disgraces the chair.

The facts that induced the presentation of the petition above referred to are these:  The poor farm of Lyon county is situated in school district No. 57, and it, with all its property, is exempt from taxation, and the pauper children comprise about one fourth the number of children in the school district, and are increasing, and in order to clearly settle all controversy that might arise as to the liability of the county to pay for the schooling of her pauper children, and under the advice of her representative, L. B. Kellogg, the petition above referred to was presented.  The district simply asks that Lyon county either pay school tax on her property in the district or pay for the schooling of her pauper children.

We should not have deigned to notice the contemptible insinuations of the low bred poltroons above referred to, had we supposed that the people were conversant with the facts.  It must be apparent to every one that the county in which the poltroons above referred to germinated failed to educate their pauper children.  Hence the necessity of the legislation asked.

With the above explanation we will dismiss the insult attempted by the above named ignoramuses, and do as the boy did when the long eared animal kicked him; consider the source from whence it came.  And as we consider insinuations from anything you gentlemen insult, we shall take no notice of future reports from the aforesaid committee.
(Emporia Ledger ~ Thursday ~ February 22, 1877 ~ Page 2)

It seems that the petition from a school district in Lyon county about the education of pauper children, was that the county either pay for the schooling or else pay taxes on the poor farm.  The people of the district complain that they have to educate the children of all the county's poor and the property of the county is exempt from taxation.  Here comes up the trouble of the inequalities of taxation.  It never will be settled aright till all property, let it be owned by whom it may, and used for whatever purpose, is taxed alike.  It is the true principle and in time must prevail.---Commonwealth

It may, in a few more centuries.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ March 2, 1877 ~ Page 3)


AMERICUS,  July 1, 1877

EDITOR  NEWS:  I saw an article in the News headed as above, signed S. P. Elliot, which I wish to explain.  As to Mr. Baker stopping with Mr. Elliot I have no doubt, but as to Baker deserving pity, or being a case of charity, I have some doubt.  I will give a short history of said Baker, since last fall.  Some time in the fore part of the winter he came to my house; he got here about 8 o'clock in the evening; I was in bed.  I got up and heard his story and thought as did Mr. Elliot, that he was a subject of charity, for he said he had been very badly treated at the poor farm, and poorly fed, and also the language was bad that they used to him, as he was a very peacable man, did no one any harm; also, he wanted some clothes.  I examined his wardrobe and found it was not bad, but I told him when the Board of County Commissioners met, I would see what I could do for him, as my heart was touched at his simple and innocent appearance.  I gave him a night's lodging, supper and breakfast.  At our next meeting he was there, and there I learned more of the man.  I learned he was unmanageable at the poor farm and Mr. Lockerd was compelled to have him brought down to the goal, and he was kept there a short time.  He broke the door in the farm house with a rock, and Mr. Lockerd would not under any circumstances, take him back, and he (Baker) said if he could go to Missouri, as he had friends there, he would not trouble Lyon county any more; so he was sent there at the county's expense, but was sent back soon after, and the next I heard of him he wa back on the Poor Farm again; had had a spasm, and fell in the fire and got burned, and wanted more clothes.  We thought he was comfortable for the present, as he had a change of clothing.  On the night in question he came to my house about sundown, with complaint.  I heard him through, told him his place was the Poor Farm, and asked him about his food.  He said he had meat twice a day, and tea and coffee twice a day, and that he had beans, and mush and milk; but he said he did not eat beans, neither did he eat mush and milk; and he had found flies in the molasses, also in the beans.  I told him I was fond of meat and beans, but I could not satisfy him.  When he was here last winter I told him not to come again, if he did I would not entertain him; so I said, you know what I said about coming here again.  He said he did.  I told him he had better be going, if he was going to the Poor Farm that night.  He did not seem to understand me, so I told him again.  This time I emphasized some, and he then seemed to understand and went away.  The truth is he is a fraud.  He will not be saatisfied unless the county gives him a new suit of clothes, also a pocket knife, and then allow him to board at the Windsor, and sit on and whittle dry goods boxes, and then he will complain.  As to his changing his clothes, (he has a change of clothes,) any able-bodied man who will not change his clothes and wash himself for six months, ought to be tied to a post and whipped.  And then to think said Baker was a subject of charity because the Co. Commissioners had not washed and dressed him, it is too bad, he being a strong man, (and if any one thinks he is not an able-bodied man let him ask Mr. Lockerd).  I think he needs censuring, and I think he would get it from Mr. Elliott if he had known as much of him as I did, if he had had to hire a cheap sinner to do it for him, as he is not used to it himself.

And, Mr. Editor, I wish to rise and explain another subject.  I heard, when I was in Emporia last, that Mr. Gilmore bull-dozed Mr. Truitt into the Superintendency of the Poor Farm.  I wish to say that we advertised for sealed bids for that posisiton, and on the day of opening said bids there was only one bid, that being from Mr. Lockerd, and he had been getting $2.75 per week for each pauper over one year old.  This was his previous contract, and he had been giving two dollars per acre for the use of said farm, and his new bid was the same with this difference; he wanted, in addition, $200.00 as Superintendent's salary, and he would give only $100.00 for use of farm.  I asked him if he would not contract the same as before.  He said he would not.  We rejected his bid, and in consultation it was agreed that I should endeavor to get a man, as I had two men in view near here, and the salary was agreed upon.  This was on Friday.  On Saturday Mr. Truitt came here, said Mr. Gillmore told him the famr was not let, and he thought if he could get it he would do so.  Said he had thought of putting in a bid, but Mr. Lockard was his neighbor, and he did not want to bid against him; but as he was not going to get it, he thought he would try.  I got him pen and paper and told him to write down his proposition, and he did so; and as I thought his proposition would be accepted, I would give my consent, and he and Mr. Gilmore could fix it up without my presence, as it would save the expense of my day's work; and will say Mr. Truitt's proposition was so much better than I was authorized to give, that I readily do it, and wrote the same on it to Mr. Gilmore.  I think this due to Mr. Gilmore, as he acted more than honorable, as he always has done since I made his acquaintance as a Commissioner.

L. A.  WOOD,  Co.. Com.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ July 13, 1877 ~ Page 2)


NOTICE  IS  HEREBY  GIVEN:  That the County Clerk is authorized to receive bids for the care of the county poor farm, up to February 18th, 1878, at 10 a.m.

Persons putting in bids for the county poor farm must conform in the terms of their contract to the following specifications, to-wit:

Bidder to do all work necessary to be done on the farm in the raising and caring for crops; and at his own expense furnish all necessary help to do the work in and about the proper care and management of the farm and poor-house; and to furnish to his own expense the necessary teams to cultivate the farm in good and workmanlike manner; and to take proper care of all stock and other property belonging to the county; and to turn over the proceeds of all crops raised on said farm to the county, except so much of the garden vegetables as may be necessary to be used in the family of the overseer on his table; and to make report at the end of the year of the amount of crops on said farm during the year ending at that date; and at the end of each quarter submit to the Board of County Commissioners an itemized statement of all provisions, feed and produce purchased or raised on said poor-farm during the quarter, together with amount actually used and amount remaining on hand; and to manage said poor-farm in accordance with, and to be governed by, such rules and regulations as the Board of County Commissioners may see fit to require or adopt or prescribe; to take care of every thing in and about said poor-farm, and keep every thing in proper order; to furnish meals to the paupers regularly, and to control and govern them without oppression or partiality, and to exact such work from paupers as they may be able to perform.

The county to furnish such teams only as are actually employed, and necessarily used, in and about the management of said county poor-farm and to furnish such farming implements as are necessary to be used in anda bout the proper management of the farm.    W. F.  EWING, Co. Clerk
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ February 1, 1878 ~ Page 2)

Board met as per adjournment
Present ---- Gilmore, Wood and Taylor

On motion, bids were then taken up for keeping poor farm for the term of one year, commencing on the 1st day of March, 1878, and ending on the 28th day of February, 1879, and it being found that Ephraim Brown was the lowest bidder for the keeping of said poor farm for one year, it was ordered that the county attorney enter into contract with the said Brown for the county.

The bids for medical attendance on poor in Lyon county, was then opened, and it being found that Thomas Morris, M. D., was the lowest bidder, he was awarded the contract for same for the term of one year from the 1st of March, 1878, to March 1st, 1879, for the sum of $325.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ March 1, 1878 ~ Page 3)

We are informed that on Thursday a Mr. Williams who owns a farm south of the poor house, set fire to his pasture lot while the wind was blowing from the south and the fire destroyed a portion of poor house fence and thirty tons of hay belonging to the poor farm.  Had Mr. Williams waited until the wind was from the north he could have burned his grass without any danger of the fire doing damage, as his pasture runs down to a bend of the river.  We suppose the county will have a bill of damage for Mr. Williams or the owner of the farm he is on, to settle.
(Emporia Daily News ~ Saturday ~ March 8, 1879 ~ Page 3)

One day last week a prairie fire destroyed twenty-five or thirty tons of hay and several rods of fence on the County Poor Farm.
(Emporia Ledger ~ Thursday ~ March 13, 1879 ~ Page 3)

James N. George, of this city, was adjudged insane by a court of inquiry yesterday, and was sent to the poor farm to await admission to the asylum at Topeka.
(Emporia Daily News ~ Thursday ~ March 18, 1880 ~ Page 3)

Wm. Ramie, the demented Missourian who was picked up some days ago by Sheriff Moon, was yesterday adjudged insant by a court of inquiry, and taken to the poor farm.
(Emporia Daily News~ Tuesday ~ May 25, 1880 ~ Page 3)


Some weeks ago, a young man broken in health, and wrecked by indulgence in strong drink, found his way to the poor farm, where, after lingering out a few days of painful suffering, he died and was buried, his remains finding a resting place among the other nameless dead whose dust has mingled with the earth of Gods acre which is consecrated to the lasting repose of the humble poor.  By some means intelligence of his sad fate and mournful death reached his friends, who reside in Indiana, and are people of wealth and influence, and yesterday parties arrived in this city from his native home, to convey the remains of the deceased back to the place from whence he was tempted to stray by the power of a consuming appetite.  A magnificent metallic casket was purchased and this afternoon the body of the young man, whose name we suppress out of consideration to his friends, was disinterred and committed to the expensive receptacle prepared for its, preparatory to starting east with it tomorrow.
(Emporia Daily News ~ Wednesday ~ May 26, 1880 ~ Page 3)

The body of the young man which was disinterred at the poor farm yesterday was shipped to his former home in Indiana via the A.T. & S.F. road today.
(Emporia Daily News ~ Thursday ~ May 27, 1880 ~ Page 3)


We call the attention of our readers to a communication in this issue, in relation to the necessary of making some provision for the sick and the insane of Lyon county, who are obliged, under the present regulations, to lie in the county jail until they can be cared for by the state.  At present there are two demented people in prison on this city, two more at the poor farm, and three others for the care of whom application has been made to the authorities.  The quota of Lyon county at the state asylum is full and common humanity demands that some provision be made for the proper and decent custody of this unahppy class of sufferers.  A building for this purpose at the poor farm would probably be the most feasible solution of this important question, and the attention of the public and the county commissionesr is earnestly invited to the prompt consideration of this subject.
(Emporia Daily News ~ Wednesday ~ July 21, 1880 ~ Page 3)

Henry L. Schroeder, who has been working for Henry Lattimer, the tobacconist, was adjudged insane by a jury Saturday, and taken to the poor farm.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Friday ~ August 6, 1880 ~ Page 4)

Mr. Brown, superintendent of the infirmary, informs us that there is at the poor farm, a quiet, well-disposed little boy, three years of age for whom he would like to secure a place in some good family.
(Emporia Daily News ~ Thursday ~ August 24, 1882 ~ Page 4)


Is located about two miles southwest of the city.  It contains 80 acres of land and has on it good buildings, including a brick house to which an addition has been built this year at a cost of about $1,000.  There are at present twelve wards at the institution, and the number seldom exceeds that at any one time.  The superintendent is E. Brown, who has occupied the position for many years with great acceptability.  The average cost of keeping the inmates in food is about 14 cents per day.
(Emporia Daily News ~ Saturday ~ December 22, 1883 ~ Page 11)

Superintendent E. Brown, of the poor farm, has in charge now a bright, fine-looking boy, one year old last April, and will place him in the hands of responsible and respectable parties who may desire to take him to raise.
(Emporia Weekly News ~ Thursday ~ September 4, 1884 ~ Page 3)

A colored man named Gabriel, with decided symptoms of insanity, was yesterday taken to the poor farm.
(Emporia Daily News ~ Tuesday ~ April 14, 1885 ~ Page 1)

The commissioners today visited the poor farm and dismissed five persons whom, they thought, were kept without proper reason.
(Emporia Daily News ~ Wednesday ~ April 22, 1885 ~ Page 1)

Mrs. Will Ticer, wife of Will Ticer who was charged with helping steal some silk from the Rorabaugh store but was acquitted, was taken to the poor farm today.  She is a cripple and unable to support herself.  Her husband is in Topeka and refuses to support her.  A divorce suit between them is now pending.
(Emporia Gazette ~ Wednesday ~ December 2, 1903)


At their meeting Thursday afternoon the county commissioners accepted the resignation of Ed Urmey as manager of the county poor farm, and appointed O.H.P. Van Sickle as Mr. Urmey's successor. Mr. Van Sickle lives five miles east of Olpe, and is a well-known and enterprising Lyon country farmer. Mr. Urmey was asked to stay but he had fully considered leaving before he tendered his resignation. Mr. Urmey has leased a farm of his father-in-law's southeast of town. There were a number of applications for the job, among them an Emporia woman. The job pays $600 a year above all expenses. A set of conditions or rules was drawn up and accepted by Mr. Van Sickle. Special stress is laid on the treatment of poor and feeble inmates of the farm, that they receive kind treatment. The manager is required to make a monthly report of purchases and sales of produce.

Ed Urmey has been manager of the farm for seven years instead of five as heretofore reported. He has been proficient in his work and kind to the inmates and his work has always been satisfactory. Mr. Urmey held the job longer than any previous manager.
(Emporia Gazette ~ February 18, 1904)

Lin Maddox who has been at the county poor farm since last August, was in town last Monday for the first time since he lost his leg.  He was injured in a Santa Fe wreck last summer and after receiving temporary attendance at a Topeka hospital, was sent to the Lyon county poor farm.  Both legs were broken in the wreck.  One has healed and one was amputated above the knee.  (Emporia Gazette ~ Thursday ~ March 2, 1905 ~ Page 4)


O. H. P. Van Sickle, superintendent of the Lyon county poor farm, takes issue with the following dispatch sent out from Topeka:

"Out of the 105 counties which the state of Kansas has within its doman, at least fifty have no paupers.  One-half the county poor farms are empty, save the keeper, who draws his salary and waits for patronage.  Some of the sociological students, who add to their philosophy the economcis of living, declare that the poor houses will soon be an extinct institution in Kansas.

"There are several reasons advanced for this state of affairs.  They point out that one-half the county poor farms are empty, another one-fourth contain on an average of from three or four inmates and the rest are not crowded.  The prosperous condition naturally form one argument, but students declare that people are providing for old age more faithfully, and where poverty has overtaken the aged; father and mothers, the children, advancing as rapidly as they do in this age, will not permit their parents to become county charges.

"The state board of control is receiving reports upon request from all the counties in the state.  The main purpose was to find out just how many insane and imbeciles were being cared for by counties at poor farms.  The board is desirous of knowing how much of an addition must be built in the Winfield hospital for the weak-minded."

Mr. Van Sickle says that as far as he knows, nearly every county in Kansas has a few paupers.  At the Lyon county poor farm, there are thirteen inmates.  Since Mr. Van Sickle was appointed superintendent five years ago, the minimum number of inmates at the poor farm was twelve, and the maximum number, twenty.

Lyon county's poor farm consists of eighty acres, two miles southwest of town.  Only twenty-seven acres of the farm are under cultivation, the rest being in timber and pasture land.  On the twenty-sevenacres, Mr. Van Sickle raises potatoes, cabbage, onions, field anad sweet corn, and other vegetables.  The inmates are supposed to work, but Mr. Van Sickle says there is little dependence to be put in the majority of them.

Nine of the inmates of the poor farm are men, the others women.  Three of the thirteen were at one time in a hospital for the insane, and Mr. Van Sickle believes they properly belong there now, but owing to the crowded condition of both Kansas institutions, the county is compelled in care for them.  Two of these men are not dangerous, but the third man often has to be locked up for days at a time.

Of the thirteen inmates, only one is colored.  He claims to be over 100 years of age.  One of the paupers is noted for being sleepy, another for his ravenous appetite.  Mr. Van Sickle says every inmate has some peculiarity.  In speaking of the man with a big appetite, Mr. Van Sickle said:  "I never saw him go away from the table and leave anything.  Why, he will eat as much as four ordinary men."  Of the sleepy man he said, "I never saw that fellow sit down five minutes at a time without going to sleep.  If I send him with a team to do a job of work, I am liable to find him at one end of the field asleep."
(Emporia Weekly Gazette ~ April 9, 1908 ~ Page 3)


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