from: "The Reference Book Of Wyoming County History " by Mary K Bowmanm, 1963,pages 157-8


submitted by W. Darrell Miller
scanned by  David Halsey
In 1850 an overseer of the poor was appointed for each magisterial district. The poor (there were few of them) were placed in private homes for board and care, cost of which was paid by the county if they were too old or unable to work. Those able to work earned their keep. A number of homeless but able bodied persons, usually women, earned their living in this matter.

Between 1873 and 1877, the County Poor Farm System of caring for the aged and poor was instituted in West Virginia. On November 10. 1878, the county bought a "Poor Farm" on Bearhole Fork from the heirs of Daniel Perdew. Sr.. for $450.00. The next year James A. Sauls contracted to collect the paupers of the various districts and keep them on this farm for a year. His successors as keeper were William Ferguson. two years~ George W. Stewart, who was paid $26 per person per year. increased to $33.90 per person in 1883 but did not permit use of the Poor Farm. (He lived in Oceana District and may have kept them at his home.) In 1884 Booker Short kept the poor for $35 per person. for which privilege he gave bond for $500. For several years the only inmates of the "Poor Farm" were an aged husband and wife. The ... Poor Farm became increasingly unsatisfactory and its use was abandoned, the contractors keeping the poor at their homes. This method also drew complaints and criticism strong enough to cause the authorities to look into the matter.In 1885 John A. Workman contracted to keep the poor. Upon complaint, an investigation of his premises was ordered with particular reference to leaking roof, bedding, and board. In January 1886, the county sold the Poor Farm to Rev. Drury Halsey for $400. Thereafter keeping the poor was contracted to individuals at private homes.

In 1886 Halsey, a member of the Court, was delegated to visit the poor and, if necessary, to furnish them with clothing and food. In 1891 Leroy Perdew contracted to keep the poor for $75 each per year, requirements being that he keep not more than four persons in a room or more than two in a bed; that they be properly clothed, fed, and allowed to attend religious worship; and that he give bond for $1,000 to insure compliance upon his part.

This method, never satisfactory because of the odious terms of poor house and pauper, was abandoned around 1900. To needy persons the court made direct allowances, including up-keep of widows and orphans, thus permitting the needy to re-main among relatives and friends. The record discloses many instances of cash allowances being made direct to unfortunate persons in great distress.

Establishment of the Department of Public Assistance in each county in 1935, for relief to the aged, destitute, and poor. resulted in much badly needed relief. However, through deceit, misrepresentation, and unfair practices of applicants, some at first received relief who should not have while, through technicalities, some very needy persons were barred from receiving aid.

The Department of Public Assistance, commonly called the DPA. was set up in Wyoming County on November 10, 1936, with S. D. Hutchinson as supervisor and twelve workers and assistants. This setup continues at the present time (1962) and functions as well and as equitably as is possible so to do.

The DPA is run by a competent administrator and staff who use every effort to be fair in performing their duties. This department occupies a suite of rooms in the County Annex. Under this setup the State Department of Public Welfare. assisted by certain Federal Relief Agencies, shares the relief load of counties.

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