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Illinois Genealogy Trails

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 Jefferson County Illinois
Poor House

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THE JEFFERSON COUNTY POOR FARM (ALMS HOUSE)
Lucy Grothoff, widow of Fred Grothoff, who lives near Opdyke, loaned me the old County Farm Ledger (1887 - 1936) to look through. The old ledger is very fragile and has been wet in places making it impossible to read parts of it Fred and Lucy rented the farm for a few years before purchasing it in 1943, by sealed bid, from the county. They found the ledger in the attic of the house where the supervisor of the farm always lived. When they purchased the farm, Webb and Harris, Abstractors, said it was one of the shortest abstracts they had ever prepared. Colton Summers first owned the land and his wife and child were buried there in what was later to become the “Poor Farm Cemetery”. He purchased 40 acres in Sect. 27, Mt. Vernon Township in 1836 and in 1840 purchased 40 more adjoining it. Jefferson County purchased it from him, and the Grothoff's purchased it from the county. They in turn sold it to the Airport Authority along with 80 more acres that they owned, making a total of 160 acres.

Lucy said that the big brick building that housed the tenants was set on fire and burned down by one of the tenants before they purchased it.

THE LEDGER
The ledger listed who the Superintendent or Sexton was in each year, the name, address, reason for pauperism, occupation, who to contact, reason for leaving, and a list of items each tenant brought with him when he came.

For many the farm, was just a stopping off place before being transferred to Anna or Lincoln State Hospitals or to an orphanage. Many who came were mentally ill or otherwise mentally challenged, and many others just had no place else to go. Many were widows with children. Some were very sick when they arrived and after only a few clays there died and were buried there on the farm. In those days, there were no nursing homes, few hospitals, no public aid or welfare, no Social Security, and if something happened that you couldn’t take care of yourself, you ended up at the Poor Farm. This was especially a dreaded thing for old people who didn’t have family to take care of them and for people who were injured or became ill and couldn’t work.

In 1905 a deaf and dumb man was admitted, no name was listed, all the spaces said “don’t know”, and “went with it’s mother” listed as the reason for leaving. I found it very sad to think they listed him as an "it" rather than as a “he”.

One womans residence was listed “in a tent, near an oak tree, by the creek". Her occupation “Camping”, and her reason for pauperism “a disgrace to the county”


 Some of the occupations listed were’ (spelled as in ledger)

Bum
Pluming
Carpentur
Stone Cutire
Farmer
Gardner
Housekeeper
Don’t know
Tramp
Machinist
Hired Girl
Wash Woman
Undertaker
Everything
Printer
Shumaker

Nothing
Dairy Man
Traveler
Camping
Pauper
Crazy
Wood Choper
Dress Maker
Barber
Preacher
Junk Buyer
Shoe Cobbler
Miner
Runabout
Hotel Man
Farm Wife

Peddler
Stone Mason
Minister
Painter
Plasterer
Tinner
Hobo
Tinker
Gas Worker
Cigar Maker
Lawn mower
Brick Layer
Railroader
Fiddler
Common Labor
Poor Farm Charge

Handle Horses
Shop Work
Hustler
Sexton
Nothing
Car Shops
Ditcher
Juglar
Loafer
Servant Girl
Wire Worker
Cook at Hotel
Horse Thief
Weaver
Public Work
Nothing much

 Most came with nothing, but some had a few things:

Bedding
Some clothing
A valice
Body Lice
A trunk
One comforter
One bed.
Bedstid and covers
Almost naked
a fiddle

A few rags
A gun, a fife, & some clothing
A watch, a valice
A tool Chest
Rocking chair
A sack and suitcase
A trunk & a sewing machine 
Bed clothes & cooking vesels 
a load of overtakers??????? 
(wonder what that was?)

Some of the reasons for pauperism listed (spelled as in ledger)

Husband in jail
Cripile
Pairlized
No place to stay
Lage sprained, caint walk
Soure eyes, can’t see
Crazy
Very sick
To lazy to work
Regular bummer
Always a pauper
Tramp
No home or friends
everything imaginable
Fitafied
Cortfindness
No mind at all
Drunkard
Epilectic fits
Crazy at times
Children will not care
In critical condition
Her man in the Pen.
Paralisis
Measles and confinement
feet frozen, no home
Parents in Jale
Unable to care for self
To old to work (age 86)
Broke
Broken leg
Sore rist, sprained
Mother at Co. Farm
Not able to wairk
Mother sick
Lost use of right side
Feeble mortded
Wanted to rest
No home
Mother in Jail
Disgrace to the County
Saint Vitas Dance
Almost dead from camping
Parellized
Insane
A little idiotic
Had the itch, no place to go
Turned outdoors by father
Sick with filth
Wife couldn’t keep him
Syphalis

Old age and childish
Brought here dead
Salivation
Sic and no place to stay
Bad case of skin.trouble
Old and broke down 
No home, to lazy to work
Dropesey
Idiotic
Deaf
Thrown out in Street
Blind
Tramping, wore out
Too many children
Idiotic and diseased
Exposed to smallpox
Cripple, bad weather
Bad haith
Ruptured
Consumption
Found on road, sick
Thier mother dead
Rumatiz
Hurt
Unable to work
Broken back
Wouldn’t work
Shot by parties unknown
Child, father unable to care for him
Worthless father (grandma took him)

Reasons for leaving

Discharged
Got able to work
Someone came and got him
Runaway
Sent to Anna State Hospital
Sent to Lincoln State Hospital
Went to her husband
Mother taken home, took children
Found a home
Went to tramping
Ran away with a woman
Sent to Washington County
Went camping
Husband came and got her
Went visiting
Went to live in town
Got his pension, went to the fair
Tuck away by court order
Went to see his folks
Rundaway
Died here
To orphants home

Went to Brothers
Got over his drunk
Her son came and got her.
Got mad and left
Went to do for himself
Went loafing
Bumming again
Sent to St Louis
Went to get married
Went South
To orphans Home at DuQuoin
Went back to Arkansas
Went to peddling
A friend took him
Left by order of the board
Run off after night
Sent to Anna
Gone to parts unknown
Her Grandad took her by court order’ her parents in jail

 Superintendents were:
 

1890,91,92 -- Albert Schultz     
            
1893,94 -- J.M. Purcell

1895,96 -- Albert Schultz

1897 (page had been wet)

1898 -- Albert Schultz

1899-1902 -- W. A. Smith

1903,04,05 -- unknown

1906 -- W.P Ford

1907-1911 -- C.W.Ragan

1912 -- I.N. or J.N. Smith

1913,14 -- W.A. Smith

1915-1918 -- John E. Hester

1919- 20 -- W.A. Holland

1921,22, -- C.F. Davis

1923 -- J.W. Osborn

1924-29 -- John E. Hester

1930-32 -- unknown

1933-36 -- John E. Hester

 

Source: Prairie Historian

Submitted By: Cindy Ford



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