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Poor Farm

Lincoln County established a poor farm in late 1895 to house indigent residents. Usually the inmates were elderly as well, but not always. The intent of the farm was to provide a place to live but that to make the institution somewhat self-supporting; in other words, it really was a working farm to some extent, and the residents grew their own food and took care of the premises. The Poor Farm was closed in early 1962, the land sold and the residents moved to the new nursing home in Lincoln.
Before the poor farm was established, the indigent were put up for bid. A person looking for some extra income might bid to take in a pauper. That person would receive money from the county to care of the pauper and might have some money left over as "pay" for their care. Township officers took sealed bids for the upkeep of the indigent in their township. These are examples from the Lincoln Republican of April 20 and 27:

Notice is hereby given that I will on the 1st day of May, 1893, let the contract for keeping, one Barney Peterson, aged 23 years, and one James Kine, aged 72 years, for the year ending May 1, 1894. Letting to be at my residence in Vesper township at 12 o’clock, noon of said day. R.S. Holman, Trustee

Notice is hereby given that I will, on Wednesday, May 10, at noon, at the county clerk’s office in the city of Lincoln, receive bids for the keeping and maintainance, board, care, and lodging of the following named paupers:
James Emerson Walker, aged 46 years, sick
James McKee, aged 59 years sick
H.H. Hogan, aged 78 years, almost blind.
Hannah Coker, aged 73 years, sick.
James Beggs, age 73, sick.
The right is reserved to reject any or all bids. John Duwell, Township Trustee, Elkhorn township

From the Lincoln Beacon of April 19, 1894:
Pauper Sale
I will receive at my store in Lincoln, Kan., up to noon Tuesday, May 1, 1894, sealed bids for the keep and maintenance of James Beggs, aged about 70 years, invalid pauper. Right to reject any or all bids reserved.
Thomas Thompson
Trustee Elkhorn township

In 1895, the county decided to establish the poor farm. The Lincoln Beacon, run by Capt. W.S. and Anna C. Wait, provided extensive coverage of the founding of the farm and Mrs. Wait visited the farm herself and wrote an account of what she found there. The articles below give some history of the farm and the names of the earliest residents:

Lincoln Beacon, Oct. 31, 1895
Poor Farm Proposition

A proposition to purchase a tract of land, erect the necessary buildings and improvements for the purpose of an asylum for the poor of Lincoln county, and assess a tax upon the taxable property of said county for that purpose not to exceed four thousand dollars ($4,000.00).

Lincoln Beacon, March 26, 1896
Poor Farm Affairs

The contract with William Doty as superintendent of the poor farm was filed and approved; Mr. Doty’s bond was also filed and approved.
Bids for the erection of needed buildings (or other improvements) at the poor farm were filed as follows (based upon specifications on file in the county clerk’s office):
Hall & Shaffer – (Entire building) stonework per cord, $5; carpenter work with lumber, $741; carpenter work without lumber, $220; plastering and lathing without materials, 10 cents per yard; plastering and lathing with materials, 34.5 cents per yard; laying flues without materials, 15 cents per foot; laying flues with materials, 58 cents per foot.
W.S. Rees – Will dig cellar and trench for $50; five cents per yard extra for sandrock or hard clay.
John Rearwin – Will deliver stone for $4 per cord; measured in wall, $3; all dimension stone, 8 cents per superficial foot.
Edwin Baker – Will dig cellar, trench and cellar-way for $40.
W.P. Harman – Will dig cellar, trench and cellar-way for $30.
J.C. Warman – Wil paint new building two coats of best lead and oil outside and tin work two coats of mineral paint, and all woodwork inside two coats of hard oil finish, and furnish material, for $51.35.
C. Bernhardt – Two iron doors and two iron shutters complete for $45, or 8 cents per pound.
Sahlmann & Tilton – Itemized bid to excavate, furnish all materials, and do all the work according to the full specifications; total $1,464.70.
A.J. Troeger – Build and complete, and furnish all lumber and hardware (except iron doors and window grating) for $622.90. If material is furnished and delivered will build and complete for $190.
Benjamin Baker – Will furnish stone, lime and sand and build for $8 per cord, mason measurement; will furnish brick, lime, sand and thimbles for 75 cents per foot.
Jacob Rasmussen – Will do all excavating for 15 cents per cubic yard.
C.N. Rouse – Will furnish all cement, lath, sand, lime, whitewash, hair, nails and labor for plastering at 23 cents per yard. Will do all the work, if materials are furnished, for 10 cents per yard.
All of the above bids were rejected.
It was finally decided to build a frame house 24x40 feet, 9 foot story, cellar 24x20x6 feet with walls 7 feet high. Homer D. Hall was employed to build and superintend the building at $1.75 per day, and employ help on said building at a price not to exceed one dollar and half per day, except for such extra labor as may be necessary to build cellar walls.
All material necessary for the construction of said building to be ordered by the county clerk, with H.D. Hall in consultation.
Homer D. Hall authorized to hire and discharge labor according to his best judgment.
The board purchased of William Doty two hogs, at $15; one cow at $20; two and half dozen chickens at $6.25.

Lincoln Beacon, May 7, 1896
Purchases for the Poor Farm

The county commissioners dispensed with the services of the regular purchsing agent last week for the time, and personally selected and bought for the county some goods with which to set up housekeeping out at the poor farm. Of J.W. Behrmann, they bought bedding tot eh value of $10.47. Of J.D. Sherirkc they bought paits and brushes to the value of $7.00 Of A.R. Hall they ordered 12 86-inch iron bedsteads and twelve chairs, and have under advisement the ordering of more goods from him; the exact value of Mr. Hall’s orders cannot be told until the order is completed and a general discout on the whole made. The board bought a stove and fixtures, and a washing machine of harris & Hawkins, valued at about $35. They also bought $16 worth of bedding of W.D. Morgan, and tinware, hardware and dishes at the Pennsylvania Store to the value of $19.

Lincoln Beacon, May 14, 1896

We took a trip out to the poorhouse a few days ago to inspect the new building and the premises generally.
The new dwelling is 40x24 feet, one story high, of frame, with rock walled cellar 20x24 feet. The house is divided into seven rooms --- six bedrooms 9x9 and a kitchen 12x24 feet. Mr. Doty, the overseer, told us that he believed the intention was to heat the bedrooms with steam from a furnace in the cellar. The query arose from there being no flues in any of the bedrooms and no stove pipe hole into the flue from the hallway which runs from the front end of the building back to the kitchen. Mr. Doty claimed to us that a good deal of unnecessary time had been spent on the building in the accomplishment of a given amount of results. The building was just ready for the plasterers, who were expected to begin work last Monday.
There are on the place a few peach and apple trees which give promise of bearing a good big crop. It would be a great boon if the orchard were larger.
There are now in eight acres of alfalfa, five acres of oats, five acres of sorghum, one and two-thirds acres of potatoes and 70 acres of corn, and all crops are in excellent condition and growing vigorously at this writing. The report that an iron and steel cell had been put in the poor farm in which to detain insane or ungovernable inmates is a pure fake, although it is generally believed.

Lincoln Beacon, May 21, 1896

Six indigents have been registered so far at the poor farm: Rhoda Brooks and James Green from Marion, John Dane from Beaver, James Coyne from Vesper, Mary Cardwell from Cedron, John Schroeder from Indiana. The plasterers have finished their work and the inmates are in the new building.

Lincoln Beacon, July 9, 1896

John Kube of Valley township is the latest addition at the poor farm. Mr. Kube has been disabled by a severe attack of erysipelas, which is yielding to treatment. He declares his intention to leave the farm as soon as he is able to work. Including him there are now seven indigents on the farm.

Lincoln Beacon, Sept. 3, 1896

John Dane, a very old man who is an inmate of the county poor farm, has fallen heir to about $8,000 worth of property willed him by a bachelor brother who lately died in Indiana.

Lincoln Beacon, Sept. 17, 1896

That "$8,000 estate of old man Dane’s" has dwindled down to one fourth of $3,060 minus a claim of over $200 and the cost of probating. This will bring Mr. Dane’s share down to one-fourth of about $2,500, which will have to be put in the hands of a trustee, as the old gentleman is non compos mentis.

Lincoln Sentinel, Feb. 5, 1903
The New Superintendent of the Poor Farm

The county commisioners met Friday, Jan. 30, to open bids for the superintendency of the poor farm. There were seven bids ranging from $548 to $750 per annum. The bidders: E.A. Doolittle, Joe Smith, Joe Poff, E.N. Gould, J.A. Melrose, J.P. Tucker and W.H. Bishop. The commissioners had such an excellent list of men to select from that they had to adjourn for the next day in order that they might go over the situation carefully. It seems that not only was the capability of the men considered but also the wives, too. There is a need of having a woman who is a good nurse as many of the inmates are invalids and need expert attention. Then the size of the family was considered. The board did not want a man with a large family. After carefully considering the different applicants the commissioners unanimously selected E.W. [sic] Doolittle at $650 per annum, he furnishing teams, hired help, etc. Mr. Doolittle and wife are most estimable people and we feel that the board will not regret their choice for this place, though this could be said of most of the others who applied. The board expressed themselves as being sorry to lose Mr. and Mrs. Mack who had so faithfully and satisfactorily performed their work on the county farm.

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, Jan. 2, 1930
Remembered the Old Folks at Co. Farm

Rev. Plott, Mrs. Fred Snart and her Sunday School class and Miss Emily Medcraft went to the County Farm Sunday before Christmas and brightened up the day for the old folks there by a nice program and Miss Medcraft brought some small gift for each of them. On Christmas eve the W.R.C. members and the Searchlight Study Club brought for them and so did Miss Pearl Metz.
These remembrances were greatly appreciated by the old folks and made the holiday season much brighter for them.

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, March 3, 1932
New Supt. At County Farm

Mr. and Mrs. Don McGinnis and three sons moved Tuesday, March 1, to the Lincoln County farm where Mr. McGinnis began at once his duties as superintendent of the farm. Mrs. McGinnis will be in charge of the house and the eight inmates.
Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Jeffers, who have been managing the farm for the past year, moved to the G.R. Jeffers farm and will make their home there. Mr. and Mrs. G.R. Jeffers moved to the Dan Metz farm, vacated by the McGinnis family.
Mr. McGinnis held a sale of his farm machinery and other goods last Wednesday afternoon and reports coming from the sale indicated that everything sold very well.

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, Feb. 20, 1930
Nine Years of Service

Mr. and Mrs. M. Baringer are about to retire from the county farm after giving nine years of faithful and efficient service to this county. They took charge of the farm in 1921 and have been serving the county from that time until now. Mr. and Mrs. Baringer did their work well and faithfully and could have continued if they so desired, but Mrs. Baringer's health would not permit them to remain and keep up the strenuous work connected with the home of the farm. They are retiring with the good will of the inmates as well as of the county commissioners.
Mr. Baringer bought a home in Lincoln and they plan to move to town when they relinquish the reins of their present office. The people of Lincoln will welcome them to our city.

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, Dec. 28, 1961
County Farm Sale
Auction Date Set
For Jan. 4, 1962

The Lincoln County farm, located in Beaver township, is scheduled to be sold at public auction Thursday, Jan. 4, 1962, the sale to be held at the south front door of the courthouse in Lincoln at 10 a.m.
Sale of the county farm is another step toward closing the old farm home and opening the new, 42-bed home for the aged, now under construction in Lincoln and nearing completion. Contractors on the new home have set Jan. 1, 1962, as the completion goal.
The county farm, purchased in 1896, has been a county institution since that date. The farm, described as the Northwest Quarter of Section 34, Township 11, Range 7 West of the 6th P.M., consists of 160 acres, less acreage taken out by the creek. Eighty-six acres are under cultivation and there is a 25-acre pasture.
Early in October, C.A. Ramsey, Albert Marshall and Henry Obermueller were appointed to appraise the farm and set the price at $19,500.
Residents of the county home will be moved as soon as possible to the new residence for the aged.

Of course, many residents of the poor farm died there. There are six or seven people buried at the site where the poor farm stood and attempts are being made to identify which of the residents were buried there. The obituaries below are for residents of the poor farm. Not all were buried there; as you’ll see by the obituaries, some were buried in family plots that had been purchased before their financial luck changed, although those graves are usually unmarked, and some are likely in the potter’s fields of various cemeteries.

Lincoln Republican, May 13, 1897
John Dane

At the county poor farm, near Lincoln, on Wednesday, May 5, John Dane, at the age of 82 years.
The funeral was held Thursday afternon, the service being conducted by Rev. Lott. The body was interred on the farm at a place intended for a burial ground.

Lincoln Beacon, Jan. 13, 1898
David V. Lewis

David V. Lewis died at the poor farm in this county on Sunday, Jan. 9, aged 82 years and 4 months, of old age.
Mr. Lewis was best known to the people of Lincoln county as "Ludovicus," through the columns of The Beacon, for which he had contributed much entertaining reading from the time the present proprietors assumed charge of the paper until a few weeks before his death.
We believe Mr. Lewis was born in Indiana. From that state he removed to Iowa many years ago and from Iowa to Lincoln county, Kan., in 1874. He was a member of the Baptist church, and ever since our acquaintance of over 20 years with him began, he was a consistent christian as well as a church member.
He was a man of most decided literary tastes – an omnivorous reader and a ready, entertaining writer and conversationalist.
He had little thrift from a business standpoint, and his few relatives not being often able to extend them financial aid, himself and aged wife had been in sore financial straits much of the time since coming to this county. Their situation was greatly relieved a few years since by Mrs. Lewis securing a small pension as the dependent parent of a Union solder, her son by a previous marriage having died while in the service.
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis’ removal to the poor farm was only to secure for them nursing and proper attendance in their almost helpless condition. Their pension was not diverted from its original purpose, but was put in the hands of a guardian upon their admission to the poor farm.
Mr. Lewis was a man of considerable active ability and had an excellent education supplemented by wide reading. He did not appear to be in any way a narrow man. He certainly was destitute of sordidness or even of ordinary selfishness. Judging from the desperate efforts he has made for the past 20 years to earn a part at least of his daily bread at gardening and other work which his enfeebled frame could do, he was a man who probably always did what he saw to do to get along.
Mr. Lewis lived and died rooted and grounded in which is called the "Christian faith" and a belief that for those who strive to live according to the purposes of God there is a most blessed and enviable hereafter in store. He seemed to us to live up to these professions.
Mr. Lewis’ death occurred early in the morning. The funeral took place late in the afternoon, at the poor farm, conducted by Rev. J.A. Woody, and the interment was made in the old Pinon cemetery, where a daughter of Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Ed. DeForrest, was buried many years ago.
[Buried in Union Valley Cemetery. Tombstone gives year of birth as 1816.]

Lincoln Beacon, April 28, 1898
Sophie Johnson

Sophie Johnson, aunt of Mrs. Thompson and Otto and Charles and Mrs. Louis Nelson, died at the Lincoln county poor farm last Thursday, April 21, aged 88 years.
She was born in Sweden. During her last days she suffered very much. The funeral services were conducted at the farm by Rev. H.C. Bradbury. Some of the neighbors attended. The burial was in the Lincoln Cemetery. She was a true christian and often felt her Best Friend very near during her weakness and pain.
[Burial not found in Lincoln County records; possibly in potter’s field?]

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, Dec. 15, 1927
John Duncan

John Duncan died at the county farm Sunday evening at a very ripe old age. He was one of the earliest settlers of the west and of this county, where he made his home until a few years ago when he was taken to the county farm where he could be given good care during his last years.
Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon and the interment was in the Sylvan Grove Cemetery.
[Burial not found in Lincoln County records.]

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, June 9, 1927
Rhoda Brooks

Mrs. Rhoda Brooks was born in the state of Ohio in the year 1856 and died June 5, 1927, at the County Farm in Lincoln, age 71 years. [She] has resided at the farm for the past 31 years. Although frail in body has always been willing to do what she could and considerate of others. Several times during her sickness she said, God was going to take her home.
[Burial not found in Lincoln County records. I believe this woman was actually single and was the daughter of Simeon Brooks. Anyone with information about this family can contact Tracee Hamilton; use the email link at the bottom of this page.]

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, Sept. 15, 1927
Mary Wagoner

Mrs. Mary Wagoner was born May 7, 1840, in Germany and passed away at the county farm Sept. 9, 1927. This has been her home for the past 14 years. She was a thoughtful, good woman always doing what she could for others.
Funeral services were held Saturday. Short service was given at the grave with Rev. T.H. Parrott in charge.
[Burial not found in Lincoln County records.]

Lincoln Republican, May 31, 1928
Susan Lienhard

Susan Lienhard was born in Zurich, Switzerland, July 3, 1863. She came to Kansas with her parents in 1880. They settled on a farm in Valley Township where she spent many years of her life. After the death of her parents she went to the County Farm where she has been for many years.
She leaves one brother, William Lienhard of Mission, Tex., and one sister, Mrs. Henry Defrieze of Turon [Huron?], Kansas.
She was kind to those around her and always ready and willing to do the things which she could for others.
[Buried in a family plot that is now located in the Don Meili pasture in Lincoln County. She died May 27.]

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, June 13, 1929
George Marts

George Marts, aged 76, died at the county farm Saturday, where he had lived for more than six years. The funeral was held Monday afternoon in Sylvan Grove and burial was made in the Sylvan Grove Cemetery. The Rev. A.E. Smith of the Pilgrim Holiness church conducted the service. Mr. Marts had no living relatives but lived at one time in Sylvan Grove where his wife, who preceded him in death, is buried.
[Burial not found in Lincoln County records.]

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, Sept. 23, 1948
County Home Resident Will be 92 October 1, Is Still Alert and Active

Mrs. Julia Brown, a resident of the Lincoln County farm home for the past several years, is eagerly looking forward to Friday, Oct. 1. It will be her birthday anniversary and she will be 92 years old.
A tiny little woman, Mrs. Brown is alert and active, getting around almost as easily as many women not half her age. She is able to care for herself and aside from a palsied condition suffers from no physical impairments. She hears and sees exceptionally well and [keeps] abreast of the [illegible word or words]. Her room is as neat as the proverbial pin and she herself is just as clean and sparkling. She's always been that way.
For a number of years, Mrs. Brown has followed the hobby of keeping scrap books. Into them she carefully places newspaper and magazing clippings she has found interesting along with birthday cards, Christmas greetings and valentines she may receive from time to time. If friends, acquaintances or strangers should send Mrs. Brown a card for her birthday Friday, it will be treasured by her for many months to come. She has but few relatives. Mrs. Lillian Saunders of Barnard, past 80, is a niece.
The past summer was a wonderful one from Mrs. Brown. Her only living child, a daughter aged 72 years, came to visit with her for several weeks. The daughter, Mrs. Minnie B. Joos, lives in Los Angeles, where she is well known as a concert pianist and accompaniest as well as a teacher of piano. She is especially noted for her patient teaching of children and conducts a very concentrated course for adults advanced and beginners. There are many clippings about Mrs. Joos in Mrs. Brown's scrapbooks and there are pictures, too, among them one taken last summer when the two were together for their first visit in many years.
If plans work out, Mrs. Joos expected to return to Lincoln again next summer to spend a few weeks with her mother. Mrs. Brown knows that she will enjoy that very much. The daughter would wilingly take her mother to Los Angeles to live with her, but Mrs. Brown would much rather stay at the county farm home where she feel she is really independent.
Hats off the Mrs. Brown. May we wish you a very happy birthday!

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, Jan. 31, 1957
Fire At County Farm Causes Big Damage

Fire of undetermined origin broke out in the wash house at the Lincoln County farm home last Saturday afternoon about 2:15, burning the building and its contents, which included a large 18-foot double deep freeze, cream separator, a large storage box of bed clothing, washing machine and several barrels of personal effects belonging to Mrs. Tommy Meier.
The deep freezer was just recently filled to capacity and the entire contents were lost. Mrs. Walter Meier, county farm matron, says the washing equipment, cream separator and deep freeze were all practically new, none over a year old.
A patient of the county farm noticed the fire and reported it to Mrs. Meier, who was working at the far side of the house. The fire caused the electricity to be cut off, which put the farm out of power for the water supply.
The Ralph Jeffers and Clyde Jeffers families noticed the fire and came to assist in fighting the flames. The only water supply was from a hand pump, which had not been in use much since the installation of the new electic pump. There were four fire extinguishers in the house but they had little or no effecct on a fire of such proportions. The wash house is only a few feet from the house and the folks at the county farm were indeed lucky that the fire was confined just to the wash house building. Those who fought the blaze concentrated their effort to saving the house when it was seen that the wash house was lost.
Mrs. Meier estimated the loss between $1,500 to$2,000, and Mrs. Tommy Meier estimated her loss at $550.

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, 28 December 1961
County Farm Sale Auction Date Set For January 4, '62

The Lincoln county farm, located in Beaver township, is scheduled to be sold at public auction Thursday, Jan. 4, 1962, the sale to be held at the south front door of the court house in Lincoln. Ray Gerbitz and Vic Horejsi will be auctioneers.
Sale of the county farm is another step toward closing the old farm home and opening the new 42-bed home for the aged, now under construction in Lincoln and nearing completion. Contractors on the new home have set Jan. 1, 1962, as the completion goal.
The county farm, purchased in 1896, has been a county institution since that date. The farm, described as the Northwest Quarter of Section 34, Township 11, Range 7 West of the 6th P.M., consists of 160 acres, less acreage taken out by the creek. Eighty-six acres are under cultivation and there is a 25-acre pasture.
Early in October, C.A. Ramsey, Albert Marshall and Henry Obermueller were appointed to appraise the farm and set the price at $19,500.
The land and buldings must bring not less than three-fourths of the appraised value as fixed by the appraisers, and subject to the rights of the tenants thereon.
Terms of the sale shall be 25 percent of the purchase price to be paid at the time of sale and the balance upon the furnishing of abstract.
Residents of the county home will be moved as soon as possible to the new residence for the aged.

If anyone has more information about any of the people listed above or about the poor farm, please contact Tracee Hamilton.

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Tracee Hamilton, Lincoln County Coordinator

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