Operation ended in 1963 
Efforts made to put poor farm on self-supporting basis

This is the 153rd in a series of historic articles about Anderson County presented as a part of the county's participation in the American Revolution Bicentennial and the county's 175th anniversary.
October 7, 1976

By Katherine B. Hoskins
County Historian

Part III    p. 157

      For 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 project.
    
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 only?
     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 county?
     These were some of the questions confronting the Anderson County Quarterly Court in 1935.

                                                    (To be continued)  
     

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