When I was just a little girl, my Maternal Grandmother used to say “Better watch out or you will have to go to the Poor Farm.”
Poor Farms were very common in the late 1800’s. There was no Social Security or 401K’s for retirement or health insurance. Everyone did the best they could and took care of their family and extended family if needed.
I had not thought about “Poor Farms “ in years. Then I noticed an old photograph in the museum.
Poorhouses were usually large and located on a farm. Everyone was expected to work on the farm while they were there. You might go there because of an illness, or the death of the wage earner in the family. You might be there a short time, just to get back on your feet again. If you were elderly, you might live out the rest of your days there. As far as I know, no one was turned away. We have a whole file full of Poor Farm information. If you are searching for a relative and cannot find him or her and they seem to have disappeared you may want to check the County Poor Farm records.
Minnesota was a struggling territory in 1849, and had adopted all of the laws of Wisconsin, their neighbor to the east. When Minnesota became a State on May 11, 1858 they started to make their own laws. In Minnesota in 1864 a Poor Law went into effect which required County Commissioners to maintain poorhouses or make other provisions for the poor. Previous to 1864 townships were supposed to take care of their own poor, but that system did not work so well. Hence the Poor Law. Poorhouses existed in some areas of Minnesota until the 1950’s totally financed by the County in which they were located.
Another thought..when we used to play the card game “31”..you were allowed one free turn on “the county.”
Now both you and I know more about poorhouses than we ever thought we would know. Tell me if you have ever heard of the term “Poorhouse or Poor Farm” before.
Work is going just fine, I learn something new everyday:)