Iowa Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story

Postcard Caption -- Chickasaw County Home, New Hampton, Iowa

... and here's a more rural view  

Clinton County Poor Farm (above)
see link to more below



[Note: These pages will take a while to load because of scanned photographs.]

See photograph and a second illustration of the building portrayed in the illustration above. Chickasaw Co. (and another photo added!)

DES MOINES (Burlington) and LUCAS (Chariton) 

Photograph of Employees of the CLINTON County Poor Farm (c1913)  
and 2 picture postcards of the building  

WAPELLO County Poor Farm  (2 views)  

JACKSON County Poor Farm     JONES County Home  

PAGE County Alms House     ALLAMAKEE County Home 

JEFFERSON County Poor Farm   

CEDAR  County Home   BOONE County Home  

HARRISON County Poor House  

BENTON County Home near Vinton  

CRAWFORD County Home   

the Poorhouse Story
Here is the Iowa Excerpt  from a U.S. Government REPORT 
summarizing various state poor laws in 1904
Click on the links above the excerpt  for more information.

Article regarding the Poor Farm and Asylum of Boone County Iowa --the asylum building burned to the ground on 23 Jan 1894, killing eight of the nine inmates.   

Excerpt of the history of the Bremer County Poor Farm (from Waverly's 1883 Bremer County Iowa History) 
[Note: This passage certainly illustrates that the process of approving and implementing a poorhouse was not always easy or prompt!  PHL ]

Historical  essay  about the Chickasaw County Home from History of Chickasaw & Howard Counties (1919)

Newspaper article from "The Osceola Democrat" January 16, 1908 
History of the Clarke County Poor Farm

Here is a totally wonderful (!) GenWeb   page devoted to "The Clinton County Poor Farm and Insane Asylum." 

Here is a fascinating and rather extensive article about the history of the Dallas County poor farm. It is an 8 page PDF file entitled "Historic Interpretation of Institutional Management." While it focuses in great detail on Dallas County, it also includes statistics and some historical information about the 20th century fate of poor farms in other Iowa counties.  [This was apparently part of a project of students and faculty at Iowa State University who have been studying and using data from the General Land Office. I am uncertain about the date of publication. PHL]

Notes about the Jasper County Poor Farm:  History   &   Cemetery  (with photographs) 

History of the First Johnson County Insane Asylum and Poor Farm
at   (includes photos)

Here is an excerpt about the Jones County Farm 
from History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present
by R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910

The Lee "county poor farm was north of Keokuk." 

History of the Muscatine County Home Cemetery    from the the original Muscatine Co IA Genealogy Home Page site. 
[Note:  These folks have done a wonderful job with their poorhouse records! This article is a fascinating account of the methods ... and the hard work and dedication! ... involved in compiling comprehensive records for this cemetery.  We have posted links to other pages from this site in our sections below which deal with RECORDS and CEMETERIES.  PHL ]

History of the Tama County Poor Farm  
(copied with consent) from the Tama County Iowa GenWeb's on-line edition of 
HISTORY OF TAMA COUNTY IOWA Union Publishing Company, Springfield, Illinois 1883

Historical notes about the Wapello County Poor Farm from WAPELLO COUNTY HISTORY 1986    

the Poorhouse Story

Boone County Poor Farm -- Residents List from the 1880 Census  

Buchanan County Poor Farm -- Residents List from the 1880 Census  

Dubuque County Poor Farm -- Residents List from the 1880 Census  
(Note: The Poor Farm is the third list on this page.) 

Lee County Poor Farm -- Residents List from the 1856 Census  

Lee County Poor Farm -- Residents List  from the 1880 Census  

Muscatine County Farm (aka County Home) -- Residents List from the 1910 Census

"An Alms House listed in the 1920 Polk County, Iowa census is in Saylor township and is called the Polk County Alms House. Supervisor District Number 7, Enumeration District Number 180, sheet number 16 A."
     Brenda B

Pottawattamie County 1870 Census -- poorhouse residents
- page 169A, HN (Dwelling) 4

Wapello County -- Residents List from the 1895 Census  

the Poorhouse Story

Boone County Poorhouse Cemetery Photos & WPA List (1937) of those buried there. 

Butler County Poor Farm and Cemetery, Butler County, IA
[We have provided you with a copy of this page with full credits.]
It was found at 

Lee County poor farm -- "An old map showed a cemetery at this site.   The cemetery was abandoned at some time, and lost to the elements." 

Muscatine County Home Cemetery Burial Register   

the Poorhouse Story


"Looking for records from a great uncle who grew up in Decatur County, Iowa.  He lived at the poor farm near Leon, Iowa.  I wonder where those records would be now?   Also, there was a sister who was mentally ill who lived at, I presume, an institution but it could have been the poorhouse or poor farm.    Thanks for any light you can shed on this Iowa poorhouse." 
     Sally Wiebe  

"Floyd County, Iowa had a poorhouse on the county farm. It still exists-it is now an extremely run-down brick "boarding house" and it is still "rural" in it's location outside of Charles City, Iowa. I believe the county may still own it or still support people living in it. The "County Relief Office" in the courthouse kept files on the individuals that stayed there." [see related report below]

Report of DESTRUCTION of Poor Farm Records in Floyd County, Iowa

"My mother (age 91 now) lived on a farm near the Jackson Co. Poor Farm, which was by Andrew.  It's in the Maquoketa area but the actual location is Andrew (most noted as the birthplace of Iowa's first governor, Ansel Briggs).  My mother worked there as a teen after finishing 8th grade.  Her main job was baking bread for the "inmates" as they called them.  As a little girl, my parents took my sister and I to several open houses there that were held in the summer.  The stately buildings were replaced with new ones and it is now a care facility.  If there is anything you'd like me to ask my mother about working there, the conditions or whatever, please let me know as there may not be anyone else around who worked there 75+ years ago. All that remains is an old rock building, one of the first I believe and I'll ask her about that plus I can check with our historical society which probably has information.
Norma Round 

"My grandmother Isabelle(Belle) Hooker gave birth to son Harold Hooker at the Mitchell County Poor Farm  in Iowa, in Dec.1899. In the 1900 census she was living as servant on the Poor Farm.   If anyone has any further information about where to find records from this poorhouse, I would very much appreciate any suggestions."
     Lula Robertson 

"There is a facility in Knoxville,Iowa (Marion Co.) in the country south of the city limits, now called the Marion Co. Care Home.  But years ago it was called the poor farm, where patients living there could work on the farm grounds and barn which is still there.  The original facility building on the sight was torn down."
     Mel Temple 

"My grandmother sold her few earthly possessions and moved to the "County Home" [Poor House?] 
in Polk Co. IA in the late 1930s or early 40s without telling any of her three children. My mother learned of this from a neighbor who got to thinking about the situation, wondered if family knew what had happened and called my mother quite awhile after the fact. Mother was appalled, but could do nothing. She traveled from Chicago to ?? [Des Moines?] with me in tow to visit. I was too young to remember any conversation, but do remember that my mother was quite upset from the time of the telephone call until after we returned home. Many tears were shed, but don't think anything was resolved. She eventually died there, I believe. [Elizabeth [Libbie Belle] Miller, who died 6 Apr 1943.] I grieve for all the memories and mementos of her long life were lost. My mother always refused to discuss it. Can anyone please tell me where the Polk Co County Home was located?
Are there pictures? Thank you for your help."  
Marilyn Threlkeld  

"Polk County was supposed to have a poor house. My great-great-grandfather's  obituary (John A. Stevens) stated that he worked at the Polk County Poor Farm. I would love to find out more about it. Thanks."
      Debbie Gochenour - Hansen 

"Warren County had a poorhouse. My gggrandfather, Robert Zarley, was the first Superintendent there."
     Julianne Molek 

My Ggrandmother was admitted to an almshouse some where in Iowa. She lived in Winnesheik Co. Iowa. And she was still at the almshouse  in 1920, very sick never to be released. Could anyone tell me where this poorhouse she would have been sent to was located? 
     Bonnie Pierce 

the Poorhouse Story

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