Idaho Poorhouse
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IDAHO_BONNER_photo.jpg (163229 bytes)

Old Bonner County Poor Farm
the Poorhouse Story
HISTORY:

 

The following is an excerpt from a U.S. Government REPORT 
summarizing various state poor laws in 1904. .
Click on the link above for more information.

 

LOCAL NOTES:

 

"Bonner County Poor Farm helped out many when needed"

from the Bonner County Daily Bee                                                    January 5, 2003
reprinted with permission

By Bob Gunter
Daily Bee Correspondent 


The Hunt family had a brickyard south of where the remains of the County Poor Farm now sits. Mr. Hunt built a two-story home that later became approximately the eastern third of the old Poor Farm. He built his home using the bricks he made in the brickyard for both the foundation and the main structure. It is possible that the Hunt family lost the home to the county for taxes.  

There is a sad story about something that happened while the Hunts were there. They had been having problems with coyotes trying to get their chickens. One night they heard a noise and Clarence, a son, went out back without his father's knowledge. Mr. Hunt got his shotgun and went to check on the chickens. He saw a movement and not being able to see he shot his son in the face. It did not kill him but he had very poor eyesight for the rest of his life and Mr. Hunt never got over the accident.    

At that particular time it was thought that the City of Sandpoint was going to be located out in the general area of the Poor Farm (on today’s Gooby Road) and away from the eastern side of Sand Creek. When the county acquired the Hunt property it was their desire to have a County Hospital and with brick left over from the Hunt factory they added the two-thirds of the western part of the old County Poor Farm. There was a swing in sentiment and Sandpoint was developed, as we know it today. It was on 8 January 1908 that the County converted what was to be a county hospital into the County Poor Farm. It was primarily designed to take care of elderly men who could not take care of themselves and had no means of support. This was prior to Social Security and other programs offering help.

Charlie and Alice Albertson, the caretakers, lived in the part that had been the Hunt residence. The county hired them to come in and take care of the old men. They were to see that they were fed and that things were done the way the county wanted them done. It was designed to be self-sustaining because they raised their own meat, their own dairy products, and they had a large garden. The county not only had the caretakers but they would allow the caretakers to hire kitchen help and farm help. Typically these were foster type children of high school age and they would receive $25 a month plus room and board.

Almost every day there would be a hobo that showed up wanting something to eat. He was asked to fill the wood box to pay for his meal. The people who came to the Poor Farm had a job to do. It might be working in the garden, milking the cows, or working around the farm doing various chores. The men who stayed at the Poor Farm were good people but circumstances had forced them to ask for assistance. Some of them were young and had been hurt on the job or they couldn't work due to the weather. By all reports they always got good treatment.

In 1957 Bonner County closed the Poor Farm and leased the property to two doctors just prior to their opening of what was called Sandpoint Manor. They operated it as their rest home for about two years and then moved to a new location in town. About 1960 the county put the property up for sale and the Gooby family purchased it. 

Submitted by:  Bob Waterous    waterous@televar.com 



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We are hoping to build this base of information about poorhouses in IDAHO 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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