Laura L. Shull graciously gave us permission to copy these articles from the POPE COUNTY HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION QUARTERLY Vol. 32, Number 4, December 1998. We have tried to retain as much as possible the format of the pages as they appeared in that publication. However, the mixed fonts and font sizes below are the responsiblity of our currently using OCS software which encountered problems. So while the overall formatting is that of the pages in the original article -- the messy rest is our fault! (This material is still under copyright and is provided here only for your personal use and may not be reproduced except with her consent. To contact her, e-mail )

Pope County's Pauper Problem


By Laura L. Shull  
Quarterly Co
(Copyright 1998 by Laura L. Shull)

There are no voices now to speak for the paupers of Pope County, to tell the stories of those unfortunates from the earliest years of the county's existence to well into this century.
            How did they survive? Or did they?
            Perhaps a ghostly whisper arises from the handwriting in fading brown ink in the County Court Record Books of more than a century ago. Pope County tried to take care of its paupers in a variety of ways -- from the outright monthly support payment directly to a pauper, to paying a person for supporting and clothing and burying a pauper, to "keepers of the poor" contracting on a per head monthly basis -- the lowest bid was accepted -- to two poor farms.
            Paupers were buried in unmarked graves, the only mention of their passing an entry in the County Court Record Book such as: March 28, 1892, $60 to Peter Huggler for burying a pauper; or 1879, Ransom Boswell, $5 making coffin for Jane Robinson (a pauper). 
Hatley, Tyler Road Sites
            Pope County spent $400 in February 1876 to buy 80 acres (30 under cultivation) of land with a good hewn log house and log barn for a poor farm. The 80 acres is located about three miles east of Dover near the present-day Hatley Missionary Baptist Church. There reportedly is a small unkept pauper cemetery in the same area with graves marked only by field stones. There are no visible signs today to show where the poor farm buildings once stood.
            This poor farm lasted until 1885 when the property and buildings were sold for $100. It took the buyer a year to pay off the note at 5 percent interest.
            It was 1898 before the County Court got really serious again about taking care of its paupers. In that year property was purchased east of Russellville on what is now known as Tyler Road. The sole remaining building of that poor farm is a single story long field stone building which now houses a church. This building was the residence building for the poor farm inmates, as they were termed in official county records.
            The county spent nearly $3,000 on land purchase, building construction and furnishings, farming equipment and livestock in late 1898 and early 1899.

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