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Boone County Poor Farm

History of the Home

The Boone County Poorhouse Farm, the county institution that cared for the poor and destitue people of the county, was located in Dodge Township (Sections 19 and 20, Township 85, Range 26). Today, the site where the farm was located can be found on County Highway R21 (Nature Road). The farm was located on the east side of the road between 140th St. and Mayapple Lane.

The people of Boone County had talked about starting such a facility for a number of years, but no definite action was taken until 1867. At that time, the county was in debt and there was strenuous opposition to increasing the debt even to purchase a county poor farm. But the need of such an institution had become so imperative that the board of supervisors submitted a proposition to the people to be voted upon at the October election in 1867, to borrow $12,000, which to purchase a county poor farm. The proposition carried by a vote of 882 for the proposition and 291 against it.

Having received authority to proceed with the work the board of supervisors, after looking around in various parts of the county, decided to purchase a 240 acre farm owned by J.F. Alexander, located in Dodge Township.

The poor farm used the residents and also hired men to farm the land and take care of the dairy, beef, hogs and chickens. These men were paid for their work during the summer and lived there with their families all year. There was also a cemetery there for the residents to use and between 1894 and 1921, according to WPA and death records, 38 people were buried in the cemetery.

In 1894, a fire occurred in the insane building. The building was entirely consumed, together with eight of the nine inmates that occupied it. In 1917, another fire occured, this time in the main building, which housed the paupers. The three story building was destroyed and four residents died in the fire, 56 escaped safely.

The main building was rebuilt in 1917 and two wings were added in 1940. The farm continued to house and care for residents until 1997 when it was closed. In 2004, the county demolished the farm and replaced it with a park area. The cemetery is in bad repair, but the township trustees are putting together a plan to restore it and improve the access to the area.
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