Destruction of Poor Farm Records in Floyd County, Iowa
|from Angie Email: firstname.lastname@example.org|
and I spent a day, a few years ago, in Charles City, Iowa. We
visited cemeteries, obtained dates of death from gravestones, then
visited the courthouse. We obtained death certificates for Great Uncle
Fred and Great Uncle Otto Schultz, but could not find any government
record of their father, Carl Schultz, who died in 1888 while working
at the county poor farm.
was sad to learn that Otto spent his last years at the Floyd
County Home-which used to be the county poor farm, where his father
had died so long before. Leaving the courthouse, I had a last
minute inspiration. Most
counties still have "county relief" offices in the courthouse. So we inquired about such an office and were directed to the
we walked in, I noticed a cart filled with file folders with names on
them. We spoke with the woman in the office and explained we were
searching for our ancestors. We
asked what kind of records might still exist from the county poor farm.
She had this distressed look on her face almost immediately.
motioned at the cart and said that the County Attorney had ordered
the old records burned for lack of storage space. (This
county has a large historical museum, by the way.) She said half the
records were already gone.
was stunned and almost had tears in my eyes as I explained to her how I
never knew Uncle Otto, but that I had inherited his photo album of
pictures and how cute it was that he had loved his dogs so much, and I
explained of his father dying in 1888 and he dying at the same location
60yrs later and how sad that was. She excused herself from the room
and I peeked at the top folder in the cart.
It contained almost 100 yr old records!
she came back … I couldn't believe it! …she handed me a banking
folder with Otto's name on it (which gave me his handwriting and a
middle initial I didn’t have before!) and inside was an assortment of
account records which had his uncle, my Great Great Uncle Carl Kley,
listed as financial co-signer. There was even a tax statement about the
last went to the town library to look up the obituaries. We learned that
not only had the Schultz name died out with these two uncles, but that
Otto and his wife never had children.