several years after 1895 when the county poor farm was established, the
Quarterly Court, through its commissioners and the farm superintendent,
sought to improve methods of caring for Anderson County's needy citizens
and to make the farm as nearly self-supporting as possible.
During the year 1903 $650 in cash was turned in
to the Court from sale of produce after necessary expenses of the farm had
been paid. Other years produce or timber from the farm would be
bartered for items needed by other county departments. One year 16
bushels of corn from the county farm was exchanged to P. M. Liles for
enough paint to paint the Courthouse fence.
In 1929 the county farm report showed 69 acres
under cultivation. Forty-five acres were in corn, with the balance
of the acreage in wheat, soy beans, tobacco, tomatoes, sweet potatoes,
bunch beans and watermelons. Buildings included a dairy barn,
granary, tool shed, garage, inmate houses and main building.
The highest number of inmates at one time was
probably 41, including 16 children. This was in 1937. School
books were purchased and the children sent to school. Those adults
who were able worked on the farm and helped produce marketable crops.
Tobacco was sold to Dean Planters Warehouse, milk
and cream to the Sugar Creek Creamery, tomatoes, beans and sweet potatoes
to Bush Brothers Cannery, wheat to J. Allen Smith and Co., fresh produce
and eggs to local merchants, hogs to Lay's Packing Co. and cattle to the
Union Stock Yards in Knoxville.
Black Aberdeen and Jersey milk cows made up their
herd of cattle. In 1958 the herd consisted of 104 head. In
1956, 1,200 jars of fruits and jellies were preserved. Most of this
was kept for use on the farm, but some was sold.
Quarterly reports of inventory, revenues and
expenditures were made to the Court. The 1960 inventory was $25,717,
of which $12,000 was the estimated worth of the cattle.
It is not known exactly what date the farm
ceased housing and caring for inmates, but at the Oct. 15, 1962 session of
the Quarterly Court of Anderson County, it was voted that the county farm
cease operations not later than June 30, 1963.
The livestock and equipment were to be
sold. The land, other than that required by the Tennessee Valley
Authority for the Melton Hill Lake, was to be held and selective cutting
of timber allowed. The money received from TVA was to be placed in a
special county building fund.
In April 1963 the Operations Committee of the
Court was requested to work out details of closing the farm operation,
arrange for sale of stock and lease the land which was to be held for
future industrial sites.
In the meantime, dating from the early 1930s,
other forms of relief to the needy were being established. On
April 6, 1931 a Mother's Pension Fund of $500 was set up from the county's
general fund, as provided by law. Eight persons were eligible to
draw this money at $10 a quarter year.
At that time the only relief or welfare money
being spent by Anderson County consisted of the operation of the county
farm pauper burials at $29 each, and the Mother's Pension payments.
A related expense to welfare which the county had
been paying for several years was for keeping county patients in Easter
State Hospital for the insane, whose families were financially unable to
bear this expense
The 1930s marked the beginning of a new era in
the care of the chronic poor -- unemployable persons or families.
As an outgrowth of the long economic depression of the late 1920s and
early 1930s, an entirely new concept had been advanced of a complex,
sophisticated type of assistance throughout the nation. Local, state
and federal funds would be combined to carry out this magnitudinous
Since the passage of the Elizabethan
Poor Law in 1640 assistance to the needy had been considered a problem for
the "local" governmental units. The question was, should
it continue to be a "local" problem, or should a larger
governmental unit accept this responsibility so that the burden of care
would rest on a larger taxing unit?
Would this be better than for the local money to
be spent for the care of the chronically ill and insane of Anderson County
Would the County Court establish a Welfare
Committee of five social-minded members, who would advise and assist a
state field representative in coordinating the welfare activities of the
These were some of the questions confronting the
Anderson County Quarterly Court in 1935.
(To be continued)