First poor farm purchased, superintendent appointed

This is another historical article on Anderson County and her people.  June 30, 1983.

By Katherine B. Hoskins
County Historian

Part III    p. 405

     In July 1854 the Anderson County Quarterly Court, for the second time, made plans to purchase a poor farm and house "for the reception and accommodation of the paupers of Anderson County."  This time they were able to find a suitable place and carry through with their plans.
     The Court instructed the committee "to prepare for the erection of a poor house, either by purchase, or lease for a number of years, some two or three miles from the town of Clinton, to purchase no higher than $1,000 nor lower than $200, or to lease for not less than three years or more than 15years, and report at the next term of Court."
     The committee to carry out these instructions consisted of Calvin Adkins, John Key, Samuel D. Leinart, James Moore and Samuel C. Young.
     The committee reported to the Court on Nov. 11, 1854, that they had procured a suitable site by purchase from James F. Strader for the sum of $425.  It was situated about one mile northwest of Clinton, contained about 65 acres, in which there was a double building, affording two large sleeping rooms, which would take care of both sexes of the paupers.  The farm adjoined the lands of R. B. Strong, William Rains and J. I. Shipes, and contained a large spring, which became known as the Poor House Spring.
     At the January 1855 term of County Court John Key, James Moore and S. C. Young were appointed commissioners.  They were instructed to proceed to prepare the house for the reception of paupers, and as soon as this was done they were to give public notice to all paupers and persons having charge of paupers in Anderson County, to bring them forthwith to the Poor House, and if they failed to come they were to be stricken from the list of paupers and no allowance made for them henceforth.
     Ezekiel Taylor was appointed superintendent in charge of the poor house, and S. C. Young was to furnish bread stuffs.
     In 1874 several small houses were built on the poor farm to house married couples or families, and the main building was repaired.  S. L. Moore, T. S. Kincaid and John Allen were overseers for the project.  Robert Medaris was the builder.
     It was noted that in the 1880s the regular cost of making coffins for paupers was $2 for an adult, and $1.50 for a child.  It cost $2.50 to have a deceased pauper shaved, more than the cost of the coffin.
     The Poor House commissioners were allowed $5 per year for their services; the chairman $10.
     By 1895 the farm purchased in 1874 had become inadequate for care of the needy in the county, and a larger farm was purchased by the county.  The following information is from the Clinton Gazette dated Oct. 30, 1894:
"After the Poor Farm in Pop Hollow was discontinued, 63 persons were scattered over the county wholly or partially supported by the county at a cost of $2,700 per year.  Early in the year a special committee, Arvel Taylor, S. L. Moore and C. R. Lowe, purchased a farm for this purpose.  It was the old Bradley farm in the fourth civil distric on Clinch River where it crosses the mouth of Block House Valley, at the approximate cost of $11,000.  Produce from the farm this year consisted of 2,500 bushels of corn, 100 bushels threshed oats, 3,500 bushels of fodder, and enough pumpkins, turnips, beans, peas, sorghum, etc. to more than feed the paupers in this county.  Hogs, cattle and other stock were bought, and new houses were added for the inmates in an "L" with the superintendent's house in front where the cooking and eating is done.  Mr. and Mrs. Rufus M. Dew serve as superintendent and matron.  They are to look after the farm and care for the comfort of the inmates when sick.  They are also to have the help of the inmates in running the farm, which in all probability will become self supporting."

     In 1901 a granary was built for wheat, oats and other grain raised on the farm.  Produce was canned for winter use.  Eggs and milk were sold, above what was needed for the table.
     In 1902 it was reported that produce in the value of about $250 was sold from the poor farm above what was needed for food by the inmates and superintendent's family.
     Lyon's View, state institution for the insane, had been built in Knoxville by this time, so no longer did the poor farm have to keep insane persons.
     A blind inmate was said to have been able to hunt mussel shells in the river and had found several pearls.
     The county physician made regular visits to the poor farm and monthly reported as to the health of the inmates.  Local ministers took turns holding religious services at the farm.
     Investigations were made from time to time by the commissioners, as to management, buying and selling, etc., but on the whole the farm seems to have been well managed and the inmates reasonably well taken care of.  Since it was more or less a political job, superintendents were changed occasionally.  Some years the farm earned some more than it took to keep it going; other years the Court would need to supplement the income earned.    


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