EL PASO
the Poorhouse Story
TEXAS POORHOUSE HISTORY by county
 
HISTORICAL MARKER:

"El Paso County's second poor farm, known as the El Paso Poor Farm, was established here in 1915. John O'Shea, a wealthy farmer and businessman whose farm was nearby, assumed operation of the farm. His wife, Agnes O'Shea, was in charge of the residents. John O'Shea died in 1929, and the couple's daughter, Helen O'Shea Keleher, came from her home in San Antonio to operate the farm with her mother. The farm was scheduled to be closed in 1929, but, with the troubled times of the Depression era, its population grew. Renamed "Rio Vista Farm," the poor farm hosted a variety of public welfare programs beginning in the 1930s. It operated under the Texas Transient Bureau and later the Federal Works Progress Administration. A temporary base for a Civilian Conservation Corps unit in 1936, the farm continued to shelter hundreds of homeless and destitute adults and children. From 1951 to 1964, the farm was used as a reception and processing center for the Bracero Program, which brought Mexican laborers to work in the lower valley of El Paso and other agricultural areas in the U.S. New federal welfare programs and state law reduced the population of the poor farm to four, and it was closed in 1964. Unlike other Texas county poor farms, Rio Vista followed a familial rather than institutional model, accepting neglected and abandoned children in addition to the adult indigent population. In later life, Helen O'Shea Keleher cited the fifty years she spent with the more than four thousand orphans and neglected children of the Rio Vista Poor Farm as her proudest accomplishment. (2000)"

 

LOCAL NOTES:

 

the Poorhouse Story
PERSONAL NOTES FROM READERS:

"My great-great-grandfather was one of the administrators of the Tarrant County Poor Farm. I have a picture of him along with other members of the family on the steps of the big 2 story building with large pillars, (the poor farm).   The picture was taken,  from the appearance of the clothing,  in either the 1920's or 1930's."
     Ronald Mickle
  Novembersecond@aol.com 
the Poorhouse Story
RECORDS:

 

the Poorhouse Story
CEMETERIES:

the Poorhouse Story

We are hoping to build this base of information about the poorhouse in  EL PASO county through the helpful participation of readers. All are requested to submit items of interest by sending e-mail to The Poorhouse Lady.

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