Postcard Caption says: Rock County Poor Farm, Luverne,
Read about the Centennial
Scholars Lecture, 'Strangers
at Our Gate: A Social History of Hospitality at a County Poor Farm.' --
a multi-media presentation at Concordia College -- which gave an in-depth look
at the Lac qui Parle County poor farm from 1930-1951. The researchers were
Dr. Joan Kopperud and
Dr. Harvey Stalwick.
MORE THAN A
ROOF: The Development of Minnesota Poor Farms
and Homes for the Aged
published by The Minnesota Historical Society,
St. Paul 1968
Note: This book is currently out of print and no longer being published.
However, a search through the Inter-Library Loan program revealed
that it is available in many libraries throughout the country. I was
even able to
find a copy in my own city in Texas!
This book is wonderful! I have read many, many books dealing with
the history of social services. But this author has pulled off what
often seems impossible -- the book is very factual and comprehensive, but Ms.
writes like a gifted storyteller. I couldn't put it down!
And I learned why the pattern of poorhouse development was very different in Minnesota
(and other states in the midwest.) Anyone who is curious about what
were really all about needs to read this
Here is the Minnesota
excerpt from a U.S. Government REPORT
summarizing various state poor laws in 1904. .
Click on the links above for more information.
NOTES FROM READERS:
"I just came in contact with your
website and it is of great interest to me, as I was born and raised at the Houston
County Poorfarm in Minnesota in 1932. My parents, Cyrilla (Klug) and
Valentine Esch, came there as managers in March of 1932 and I was born in
October. They were a young couple, (ages 22 and 27) and
already parents of two children, Myles and Margie, ages 1 and 2 1/2."
Alice (Esch) Miller e-mail:
"I remember (at age 65) the poorhouse that used to be in my
home town of Hopkins, Minnesota (suburb of Minneapolis) [Hennepin
County]. I never was in the place but when we drove along the highway that
fronted the institution we would frequently see an elderly man or woman walking
along the highway and my parents would comment "must besomeone from the
poorhouse". I remember feeling sorry for the people who lived there who
were too poor to have their own home or a family to take care of them."
Lois Willard email@example.com
'" I just found your site for the first time, and took a quick look at
the Minnesota page for any reference to the Anoka County MN Poor Farm.
(My grandfather was the last superintendent of the farm from 1929
until it closed in 1935, and the family lived there during those years.)
I have in my possession a copy of a paper written by Barbara Peterson in 1984
titled "A History of the Anoka County Poor Farm". It's 25
typed-double space pages (with footnotes & maps & illustrations).
I seem to remember that she wrote it as a class assignment (probably for
an oral/local history class) - I know she contacted both my mother and my
aunt for information for the paper. (That's why I have a copy of the
paper - she gave Mom a copy as thanks for her assistance with the
It would seem that this sort of thing would be of interest for your web site -
the problem is I don't have the authority to let you publish it. (Yeah,
I'm probably overly cautious, but I know how I'd feel if I found a
college/grad school paper of mine published on the web without my permission.)
In the mean time, I would be happy to provide limited information from the
paper for anyone who is interested."
Mary Chamberlain firstname.lastname@example.org
|Note: Mary sent us a copy of the paper, and it is
wonderful! Now we are desperately seeking Barbara! It would be great
if we could get permission to publish this paper. PHL
Click on the Logo above to go to the
published by Minnesota Public Radio
to accompany the documentary
which aired on July 29, 2002
|This program focused on Minnesota
Be sure to follow all the links for additional information.
If you have RealPlayer you will be able to hear the recording
of the broadcast itself. Hear Mary Bakeman share her special
knowledge of Ramsey County and other aspects of
your state's poorhouse practices. PHL
Ramsey County Poor Farm -- Photo Search
(Click on Visual Resources Database on the left to get a new search
screen; enter: Ramsey County Poor Farm; click Search)
|Location No. MR2.9 MP7.2R p2
|Negative No. 9511
||St. Paul Daily News
||Ramsey County Poor Farm, Maplewood.
|The On-Line Edition of the Minneapolis Star
Tribune (in its Metro section)
on 2/11/2001 carried an article titled:
Brown County Poor Farm to be demolished
|This article tells a very personal story from the point of view of the
daughter of the last "keepers" of that poor farm. It is not a
19th century story, but rather the 20th century story of the type so
familiar for the later period in poorhouse history. It is mentioned that
there were residents there who were also from Blue Earth, Sibley, and
|See picture postcard.
|They have taken the article down; but you can see our copy
of the page.
of MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY POORHOUSE HOLDINGS by
The Freeborn Co. (MN) Historical Museum library has in
its collection an original record book from the County
Also, in the cemetery transcripts done by the Freeborn County
Genealogical Society there are excerpts from the
commissioner's meeting minutes of people buried by the county. (However,
we are uncertain whether these were poorhouse inmates or indigent people
living outside the poorhouse who required burial at county
expense.) These excerpts start in the 1880s and go to the
early- mid-1900s. The cemetery transcripts have not been published.
These records are available for researchers to use at the historical
"POOR FARM RECORDS
Most Minnesota counties operated poor farms. Some farms date from the 1860s (although most began later in the 19th century or early in the 20th) and continued up to the 1950s. Some became nursing homes or tuberculosis sanatoriums, usually no longer operated by the county. Records of several poor farms are in county records in the State Archives. These usually contain registers of residents ("inmates") that give date and cause of application and some or all of the following information: applicant's name, nationality, marital status, age, birthplace, length of residency in state or county, occupation, health status, and death date. A Historical Directory of Minnesota Homes for the Aged, by Ethel McClure (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1968), HV1468.M65 M24, may be useful in identifying records of poor farms and municipally owned nursing homes."
Above quote from
page off the Minnesota Historical Society website
Preservation Effort Succeeds!
|Ramsey County (Minnesota) Poor
Farm Cemetery to be Converted into a Heritage Park!
County's Forgotten Cemetery
Alphabetic listing of the almost 3000 burials in the County Potter's Field.
Introduction includes a brief history of how the poor farm cemetery began and
ended, with photos. M-321, ISBN 0-915709-65-1, 80 pp., photos, paperback.
In the cemetery transcripts done by the Freeborn County
Genealogical Society there are excerpts from the commissioner's meeting minutes
of people buried by the county. (However, we are uncertain whether these were
poorhouse inmates or indigent people living outside the poorhouse who
required burial at county expense.) These excerpts start in the 1880s and go to
the early- mid-1900s. The cemetery transcripts have not been published. These
records are available for researchers to use at the historical society's
We are hoping to build this base of information about poorhouses in MINNESOTA through the helpful participation of readers. All are requested to submit items of interest by sending e-mail to The Poorhouse Lady.