County Farm, Round Grove Twp
Whiteside Co., ILL.
The Whiteside County Poor Farm was located in the eastern part of Sec. 23, Mt Pleasant Twp. The home is on the south side of U.S. Highway 30 and just west of the Home and farm building and east of Round Grove Cemetery. Since 1871 a record of those buried at Round Grove Cemetery had been kept in the running account of the Home. These records are/were in the office of the Superintendent of the County Nursing Home.
At the June term of the Board of Supervisors, in 1853, a commitee consisting of W. C. Snyder, Wm. Y. Wetzell and James M. Pratt, was appointed to enquire into the expediency of purchasing a farm and erecting buildings for the purpose of helping and maintaining the county paupers who afterwards reported that they had selected a farm in Union Grove township consisting of two hundred and forty acres, of which one hundred and twenty acres were enclosed and under cultivation. The farm was reported to be prairie with the exception of thirty acres of savanna, and about eight acres of passable wood land, and was watered by never failing springs. The buildings consisted of a good stone house, barn and outbuildiugs of wood. The cost farm was $25 per acre, and the payments to be one half cash, and the balance in one and two years time with interest at ten per cent per annum. The was accepted, and a committee appointed to purchase the farm at the terms reported, the farm to be known as the "County Poor Farm." This farm used for the purposes for which it was purchased, until 1869, when it was sold, the right of occupation being, however, reserved until April 1, 1870.
At the April term in 1869, the Board of Supervisors appointed James M. Pratt, L. S. Pennington and H. R. Sampson a committee to select another more suitable location for a poor farm, which should be near a railroad, the committee also being authorized to erect upon it suitable buildings of stone or brick. At the July term the committee reported that they had selected a farm containing one hundred and eight acres belonging to Wm. Knox, on the Sterling and Morrison road, just north of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad situated in section 23, township 21 north, range 5 east, the price to he $45 per acre. Upon the presentation of the report the committee were directed to purchase the farm of Mr. Knox, and proceed to the erection of buildings, the cost of the latter not to exceed $15,000. Bids for the construction of the Poor House upon the plan adopted by the committee were at once advertised for, and at the September term,1869, the contract awarded to Switzer & Kennedy of Morrison, for $11,600. They were also to receive an additional sum of $400 for stone caps to doors and windows, and for grouting tire bottom of the basement, as their bid did not include these additions. The heating furnace, cisterns and outbuildings were not included in the contract. The Poor House building and the barn were completed in the summer of 1870, and at the September term of the Board the committee reported that they had paid Switzer & Kennedy $11, 900 for the construction of the former, and $1,548 for the latter, as provided in the contract.
The Poor House is 72 by 50 feet in size and three stories high with basement. On the ground floor are the family kitchen, paupers' kitchen and dining room, cellar, furnace room, two bathrooms, two pantries and the store room. The first floor contains a large sitting room in the center of tbe building and two bed rooms in the rear. On either side of the sitting room is a vestibule, which on one side connects with an office, and on the other with a parlor. Back of the parlor and office are four sleeping rooms, and two cells. `The second floor is divided into twelve apartments, in four of which are capacious closets. The building is divided into two distinct portions, one intended for the use male, and the other of female inmates. In the front of the house are fine stone steps with iron railings leading to an extensive porch, surmounted by an elaborately finished portion. The general architecture of the exterior as well as the interior of the hourse from the basement to the attic, shows that the whole work was done by master hands. The farm lies on both sides of the road, the land being slightly rolling, and admirably adapted for agricultural purposes. there is a fine apple orchard on the place, besides a great variety of small fruits such as grapes, raspberries, plums, currants, etc. Taken altogether the County Poor Farm affords a home which equals that of many outside of its precincts, who scorn the name of pauper, and the fact that a liberal and ample provision is thus made for the poor of the county, reflects great credit upon the generosity and humanity of its in habitants.
THE COUNTY INSANE BUILDING
It soon appeared after the County Poor House became occupied that better and more ample accommodation was necessary for the care and protection of the insane poor. The people of the county determined early that this unfortunate class of the population should have the best care that could be given them, and hence had assigned to them proper rooms in the old as well as the new County Poor House.
With the increase of population came an increase of the number of these persons, demanding more full accommodation which could only be properly effected by the construction of a separate building. At the September term of the Board of Supervisors, in 1874, it was therefore recommended that an appropriation be made for the erection of a building for this purpose on the County Poor Farm. The committee on paupers, of the Board, was at the same time appointed a special building committee to procure the necessary plans and specifications, and report them, with an estimate of the entire expense of erecting the structure, at a special meeting of the Board to be held as soon as the report could be prepared.
The special meeting was held in December, 1874, when the following plan of the building was adopted. The building to be 32 by 44 feet, to stand detached from the main county building at a distance of eighteen or twenty feet, running north and south, and to consist of a stone basement ten feet in height, and two stories of brick each ten feet high, containing sixteen cells, with ample hall and room on each floor for recreation and exercise. The contract for constructing the building was let to J.A. & A. McKay of Morrison, at a cost of $5,995, to which $100 was afterwards added for flues.
James B. Mason was appointed Superintendent of the work, and Mr. Platt, of Sterling, as arbitrator to whom all matter of changes as to prices should be referred. On the 29th of November 1875, the committee reported to the Board of Supervisors that they had on that day accepted the Insance Building as completed, and settled with the contractors, J.A. & A. McKay, the total coast of the building being $7,429.47. [Source: Whiteside County History - Bent & Wilson]
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