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County Poor Farm


The county in 1888 voted to build an asylum for the poor on ground which they had bought in 1877 for that purpose. The large three story stone structure was first known as the Marion County Poor Asylum and located nine miles north of Peabody. The sum of $10,000 had been allowed for both land and building, but less than that was spent on it. Not only that, by 1901 the County Poor Farm was paying an average $200 per year to the county treasury after expenses. Twelve residents, six men and six women were living there in 1901. Most of them were incompetent to a degree and were unable, under supervision, to maintain the house and 160 acre farm profitably. Later the Poor Farm or Asylum was known as the Marion County Rest Home and even later as Cedar Rest.

"In addition to caring for many of the old, the destitute and disturbed residents of the county, this also served as a home for unwed mothers. More than a few of the infants born here were adopted out through the County Health Department."

During the management of Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Beisel, the State Department of Kansas notified the county that major renovations and repair would have to be done. Patients were moved out and the home was closed for about two years. Then, in 1950, the commissioners of the county welfare department moved toward re-opening the home. One hundred twenty acres of the land was sold to pay for renovation and remodeling. A total of $34,000 was used to enlarge the building, add new equipment and install an elevator. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Loewen were appointed managers. At this time, the name was changed to Cedar Rest, because of the attractive cedars on the place and also to remove the stigma of "poor asylum." Cedar Rest was used until the fifty-bed Marion County Home was built at Peabody. The patients were moved there in 1964 and the old landmark "Cedar Rest" was sold at auction in November, 1964.

The old stone building was bought by Art and Virginia Mills who remodeled it into a lodge and restaurant. Their "Cedar Villa" was opened in the fall of 1968.
(Marion County, Kansas, Past and Present, by Sandra Van Meter)

After visiting all the farms, some twenty-two in number that had been offered the county for a poor farm, the commissioners yesterday bought the W. E. Glover farm, five miles southwest of Marion. In an interview with Commissioner Stahl last evening he said that the farm was the best one of all that was offered; plenty of good water, and better still there was not an acre of the whole piece that was not tillable. There are 160 acres in the tract, 120 of which is already under cultivation and with the improvements that will be put on by the county in the way of buildings it will be a "poor farm" in name only. The county are to have possession next fall and in the meantime our commissioners will visit the "poor farms" of other counties to decide upon the best way of cultivating and the duties of the steward. We are confident that the choice of the commissioners will meet the approval of all the tax payers of the county. The price paid was $4,500.
(Marion Register ~ April 27, 1887)

Open House Sunday At County Home

Above: Front view of the newly remodeled County Home; the new sun porch; workmen finishing woodwork and cabinets in the kitchen and a section of the caretaker's private kitchen.

The Board of County Commissioners has announced open house at the newly remodeled County Home from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday, February 24. The Home is located on a small tract of land southeast of Hillsboro.

About three years ago the County Home was declared unsafe for occupancy and the inmates of the home at that time were placed in various other homes in this section and for a time the Board was undecided whether to sell the entire property and build a new home in one or other of the towns of the county, or to sell most of the land and use the proceeds to remodel, which was the final decision.

Fred Foth, contractor of Hillsboro, was awarded the contract for the remodeling and has had a crew of men busy on the job for several months. The home was completely remodeled on the inside and some changes made on exterior. The walls are of native rock and were left as they were.

George S. Jost, commissioner from this district, many times has complimented Mr. Foth on the work he has done at the Home. John Bartel of Hillsboro did the painting and finishing of the woodwork inside while the plumbing and wiring contracts went to Peabody firms. The Board has divided the work over the county as much as was possible.

Included in the work done at the home was converting the entire basement into a recreation room with a new cement floor. This room is being decorated and furnished so that residents of the home will have a place where they can visit together as a family or entertain friends and visitors. The building is equipped with two modern bathrooms on each of the upper floors and a half bath in the basement. There will be room for 30 residents in the home when it is completely furnished.

A new addition to the home is a glassed in sun porch on the south of the building. This is one of the fine features of the remodeling program. The whole building has been made modern with reference to fire and safety regulations.

Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Loewen of Herington have been secured by the Board to manage the home and care for and feed the residents. Both Mr. and Mrs. Loewen are former residents of Hillsboro and the Ebenfeld community.

In case of bad weather the open house will be postponed.
(Hillsboro ~ February 21, 1952)

"Poor Farm" Passes

Imposing Landmark, "Cedar Rest", To Be Sold At Auction Friday

An era and a county landmark will come to an end this Friday when "Cedar Rest," the former "County Poor Farm" will be sold at auction.

Land, building, fixtures, and remaining contents of the imposing 3-story stone structure southwest of Marion will go on the auctioneer's block, and the county's first noble effort at taking care of its indigent, more unfortunate citizens will become history

Some of that history's highlights will be of interest to many.

Early in the county's life the fathers realized the need for a county "poor farm," and in 1877 bought a quarter section of land in the Spring Branch neighborhood for this purpose.

Then in 1889 this imposing stone residence was built, with one of the county's well-known stone masons, Fred Scheaffler of Hillsboro, cutting and shaping the stone with his artisan's hammer and chisel.

We do not have complete, detailed records at hand, but one of our informants tells us that the first operator of the home was V. P. DuVall, the grandfather of Marion's present resident, Wm. DuVall, and he came to Marion from managing the Grand View Hotel in Lincolnville. At that time the home was called "The Marion County Poor Asylum."

The early operators had a full-time job farming the land, and taking care of the home, as well. They always had big gardens, and raised hogs and cattle, doing their own slaughtering to help in the job of feeding the patients or residents of the home.

In more recent years, well-known operator-farmers at the county institution were Mr. and Mrs. Adam Beltz and Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Beisel.

An interesting development lies in the fact that the use and scope of the home has changed drastically, with the changing social picture and more thorough supervision and stiffer rules.

In addition to caring for many of the old, the destitute, and the disturbed residents of the county, this also served as a home for unwed mothers. More than a few of the infants here were adopted out through the County Health Department.

During the managership of the Beisels, the state department gave the county notice that major renovations and repair would have to be done, or the home closed as a safety precaution. So for some two years, the patients were moved out, into widely scattered homes and other nursing facilities, and the "poor farm" was closed.

In 1950 the commissioners and the county welfare department started action to re-open the home. Mr. and Mrs. Arth werur Loewen were contacted to operate the home. One hundred and twenty acres of the land were sold at public auction in 1951, and the money from this sale, plus some extra---a total of $34,000, was used to entirely renovate the home, to install an elevator, and other necessary equipment. The Loewens and the county did a great deal of work to modernize and enlarge this home to handle an ever-increasing demand from families who wished to use its services.

It was at this time that the name was hanged to the much more pleasant, "Cedar Rest", so-named because of the attractive cedar trees on the property, and to remove any stigma that might be attached to residence there.

In the full basement of this fine old house, which is in reality its first floor, is located the dining room and kitchen, shower, laundry and furnace room, and one 4-bed ward. The dining room also doubled as a recreation and visiting room.

On the next, or main floor, was a sun porch, another 4-bed ward, and all the rest were single-bed rooms. Virtually the same arrangement existed on the top floor.

"I wish you would mention the fact that when TV first came out, the patients of the home all saved their nickels and dimes and chipped in to buy a set for their own enjoyment. That set was still there and in use when we retired in 1958," says Art Loewen.

Cedar Rest was never a place of inactivity. In addition to the projects and interests of the residents, there was never a Sunday that went by that did not see some church group holding services there, or putting on a special program.

HDU groups, Girl and Boy Scouts, and just interested individuals, all took time to remember those at Cedar Rest.

For several years, the only hospital beds there were those furnished by the local VFW post, as were a number of wheel chairs.

And every Christmas there was plenty of attention, always a Santa Claus with a sack of candy and nuts for everyone, young and old. There were Christmas carols, birthday cakes.

Now all are moved into their brand, spanking new Marion County Home at Peabody, a 50-patient facility all on one floor.

So Friday "Cedar Rest" will be sold. The county will retain some eight acres, mainly for the use of the road and bridge department, and the storage of materials. Included in that to be saved will be the small, neat cemetery, and a couple of small storage buildings. The rest will find a new owner, and a new usage.
(Marion County Record ~ November 26, 1964)

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