County Poor-House and Farm      Clinton County, Michigan

From History of Shiawassee and Clinton Counties, 1880, D.W. Ensign and Co.

Submitted by:    Dale and Linda

     The first official action taken in reference to the support of the county poor of Clinton is recorded in the proceedings of the county commissioners in October, 1839, at which time Grafton Webber, of Watertown, Thomas Fisk, of Bingham, and Franklin Oliver, of De Witt were appointed county superintendents of the poor for the ensuing year.  In the month of February following it was resolved to abolish the distinction of county and township poor, and that “all expenses hereafter incurred shall be a charge against the county.”  The first step towards providing a county farm for the poor was taken at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors on the 4th of January, 1844, when a resolution was offered that arrangements be made for the purchase of a farm for the maintenance of the poor.  This resolution was laid on the table and finally rejected by the board, but at the annual session in the following autumn a committee to whom the report of the superintendents of the poor was referred recommended the purchase of a farm, and Supervisors Boughton, Pearl, and Tabor were appointed a committee to examine the farm of William Utley and ascertain his price.  The committee reported, and after due consideration the farm was purchase for six hundred and sixty-one dollars and sixty-eight cents, the deed bearing the date Nov. 1, 1844.  Its location is in township 5 north, range 2 west (De Witt), and is the northwest  quarter of the southwest quarter and the west half of the south fraction of the northwest quarter of section 9.  The farm was rented to David Olin for one year from January 1, 1845, for fifty dollars, and was sold to Jesse F. Turner for six hundred and sixty-one dollars and ninety-two cents on the 7th of October of the same year. 

     About ten years elapsed before further action was taken for the purchase of a farm.  At the fall session of 1854, N.I. Daniels, of Watertown, moved “that a committee of three be appointed, whose duty it shall be to examine locations and receive proposals with a view to the purchase of a farm and the erection of a poor-house, and report to the board at the next meeting.”  Three days later Supervisors Plowman, Estes, and Fitch were appointed such committee.  On the 12th of October, 1855, Stephen Pearl, county treasurer, was authorized to advertise and receive proposals for the purchase of a farm of from eighty to one hundred acres.  It does not appear that Mr. Pearl made a purchase, as on the 24th of January, 1856, the committee appointed in 1854 reported in favor of purchasing one hundred of land of George W. Stoddard for fifteen hundred dollars, situated on the northwest quarter of section 18, in the township of Olive.  This report  was adopted, and Stephen Pearl was appointed agent to examine title and consummate the purchase.  The deed is dated January 25, 1856, and recorded on the 29th of January of the same year.  At the January  session in 1858 a communication was received from the superintendents of the poor, recommending an appropriation to erect a building on the county poor-farm which was referred to a special committee.  There is no record of the appointment of this committee, or of any report made upon the subject. 

     At the annual session in the autumn of 1859 it was decided to let the maintenance of the county paupers to the lowest bidder with good security.  This method of supporting  the poor was continued for several years. 

     At the January session in 1864 the offer of William Sickles to exchange lots 1 and 2 in Block 13, in the village of St. Johns, for the county farm was accepted, and Charles Kipp was authorized to convey the title.  This exchange was not made, as it appears that on the 17th of December, 1867, Charles Kipp conveyed the farm owned by the county to Henry Lackey, ---this conveyance being in accordance with a resolution of the Board of Supervisors made October 17, 1867, the farm having been sold on contract to Mr. Lackey in October, 1865.  A committee was appointed to report on the necessity of purchasing a poor farm, which committee reported the next day, recommending the purchase of a farm of one hundred acres near the village of St. Johns.  This report was approved, and on the next day the superintendents of the poor were authorized to purchase a farm at a price not to exceed four thousand dollars.  A farm was purchased of Hiram L. Lamb for three thousand five hundred dollars, the deed bearing date April 8, 1867.  It contains seventy-six and a half acres, forty of which are under cultivation, and includes an orchard of one hundred and seventy-five fruit trees.  Its location is on the south half of the southeast quarter of section 18, in the township of Bingham.  The superintendents of the poor were authorized to erect a building not to exceed eighteen hundred dollars in cost, “to meet the demands of the unfortunates who are intrusted to their care.”   Under this authority a building was constructed in the summer of 1871, and another is being erected the present year to further accommodate the increasing demands of the county poor. 

     The report of the superintendents of the poor for 1879 shows as follows:  The whole number of paupers maintained in the poor-house during the year was thirty; the whole number temporarily relieved outside of the poor-house was one hundred and nineteen;  the whole amount paid from the poor-fund during the year was $6962.53;  the whole amount paid from other funds was $2393. 06.  The total expenses of the poor-farm, exclusive of interest on capital invested and value of pauper labor, was $3816.23.  Value of products of farm during the year (estimated), $793.30.  Value of poor-farm and buildings, $6500; of live stock, $330.  Total value of poor-farm and appurtenances, $8056.50.

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