Rock Island County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
Illinois Genealogy Trails

Rock Island County
Infirmary, Poor House and Poor Farm

Poor House
Transcribed from "Historic Rock Island County" by K. Torp

In the early days the county poor were boarded out in various places, but the county in about 1850 or 1852 purchased the old Rinnah Wells farm, which was located at the turn of the old Camden Mills road, about half a mile north of the wagon bridge, across the Rock River. On this farm was a long two-story frame house, which was made our first County Poor House. November 20, 1860, Rock Island County purchased the farm of James M. Smith, near coal Valley, for a consideration of $3,000. Mr. Frederick Weyerhaeuser, who then lived in Coal Valley, built the first poor house on this property.

The first time it was erected it was forty by sixty feet, though since its destruction by fire, December 29, 1902, a new building of brick, 58 by 100 feet, and four stories high has taken its place. The new structure was completed in 1903 at a cost of $20,000.

William S. Bailey was appointed steward of the poor farm September, 1860. At that time the infirmary contained by 18 inmates. Mr. Bailey's salary at that time was four hundred dollars per year. By 1869 his salary had been increased to $1,000 per year, the number of inmates having vastly increased by that time. Excepting the year 1869 Mr. Bailey was superintendent of the infirmary until 1881, when he was succeeded by Mr. A. Buttman, who served three years. Following Mr. Buttman came Mr. James Robertson, who served two years, then Mr. W. H. H. Dow, who served eleven years. December 15, 1897, Mr. John C. Swank was appointed superintendent, and he has since officiated

Source: Reports of Inspections of the County Infirmaries of Illinois in 1911
SECOND ANNUAL REPORT OF THE State Charities Commission,
By Illinois State Charities Commission, December 31, 1911
Transcribed by Candi H. -2008

F. W. WYLIE, Superintendent, Coal Valley.
The Rock Island county infirmary is located on a good farm of about 172 acres near Coal Valley. The building and grounds are ample and well kept.
The keeper's family occupies a house detached from the inmates' building. 
The main building Is an attractive three-story brick, extending north and south. Most of the rooms are arranged on either side of central halls, so
that they have east or west windows. Doors are locked between the departments for men and women.
The bed rooms are clean, there are curtains and screens for all windows and there Is a chair and a table in almost every room. The beds are dressed
In white and are free from vermin, although there are bed bugs in the walls.
The walls throughout the building have been freshly whitewashed, the woodwork has been recently painted. Pictures have been hung in the halls and In many rooms.
The dining room is in the basement. Men and women eat at separate tables, which are kept very clean. The kitchen is also in the basement.
Most of the cooking is done by steam; hoods have been provided, so that the kitchen is free from odors.
At present, coal oil lamps are used; hall lights are burned throughout the night. Electric lights will soon be installed.
Nine bath tubs are provided; wash bowls, with running water, are placed in the halls.
A two-story frame building is used for aged men. Some of the men are locked in cells, provided with iron bars, to keep them from wandering about at night.
Adequate lavatory facilities are provided in this building, as in the larger one. It Is darker and less pleasant to live in, but it Is kept as clean and as well furnished as is the brick building. A good supply of books is furnished the inmates by the Rock Island Public Library.
There is a small hospital building for men, but none for women.
The superintendent of the Infirmary makes a semi-annual report to the supervisors. The infirmary committee of the board of supervisors makes
an annual report, giving an invoice of all personal property.
There are seventy-nine men, twenty women and one baby of five months at the Rock Island infirmary. Twenty-five of this number are so old as to
be helpless. Eleven are badly crippled, two are blind, ten are feeble-minded and one has epileptic spells. Yet, the only help provided for inmates is one
assistant and a cook paid by the superintendent from his salary of $1,800.00 a year in that capacity.


Poor House Newspaper Items

Geo. W. Black, of Eliza post office, and John Kinnerman are notified by the Rock Island County Board of supervisors to remove Mrs. Lydia Kinnerman and Jos. Kinnerman - their relatives - from the county of Rock Island and to provide for their wants (RE Weekly Union, Wednesday, 19 December 1866 - Sub. by K.T.)

The County Farm
In another part of the paper we published notices of two deaths at the county farm, furnished us by Mr. Wm. S. Bailey, the steward. Mr. Bailey informs us that he has selected a very pleasant spot of ground on the county farm, for a burying place for all who die there. He has fenced it in, with good tight fence and the graves are marked so the bodies can be found if called for by friends. He is also keeping records of the deaths &c.
[Rock Island, The Evening Argus, Sat. April 15, 1865 - Submitted by Candi Horton]

Who Wants Children
Mr. Wm. S. Bailey, steward of the county farm, wishes us to say that he has a boy at the farm (now a county charge) which perhaps some family would like to adopt. The boy is about a year old. He also says there is another child, a boy, in Moline, about two months old which is in county charge. If any one wishes to adopt one or both of these children, they can make application to Mr. Bailey, at the county farm or to Supervisor Stoddard, a member of poor farm committee, in this city.
[Rock Island, The Evening Argus, Sat. April 15, 1865 - Submitted by Candi Horton]

Rock Island County, Illinois

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