From the Chastain Scrapbook
Bert Visits the Poor Farm
Monday was a nice day, everybody said so, and what everybody says must be so. We sauntered about town asking this one and that one what was the news? There was none, they all answered with a frown. Some said Tilden would be President, and others said Hayes would be the coming man,, but this subject had been talked so much we cared little to dispute over it, as we felt time alone would settle the matter, so we cast about for something more to interest the readers of the JOURNAL. All at once we remembered that we had been planning a visit to what is known as the 'Poor Farm,' that is the farm owned by the county, and where the poor are cared for So after dinner we "lit out," a foot, of course. As we were leaving town we met one of the citizens of town who asked where we were going, and when we told him, he said he did not know where it was but thought it was in the north part of the county, so we thought it our duty to find it and tell where it really was, we were of the opinion it was southeast of town, so off we went in that direction. Passing by the depot we stopped to see what all the fuss they were making was about, and found it was only a train load of stock they were carrying. Here we met conductor Bailey, as jolly a man as one need wish to meet. He has a pleasant word for all, and wars one of the broadest smiles extant. May his shadow never grow less, and may be live a hundred years more.
After leaving the depot we sped onward and soon came up with a fellow traveler. He attracted our attention, as he was walking with two canes, one foot turned out, and the other--turned out too. After passing the compliments of the day, we bade bold to ask his name. Throwing up his head, slinging one foot in front, and bring the other cane down with vehemence, he exclaimed: Mr. McBee. We stood aghast. This was the man who had caused lawyers to flee for their lives, who had defied the court, who had done everything mortal could do and not wallow in human gore. Was it to be wondered we felt lost? Yet he looked as if he was, oh, so mild! He was going to visit friends, after which he would go to Terre Haute, erect a house and sell more whiskey than every before, that he would.
We remembered old tray, so we hurried on and soon found ourselves in front of the residence of Marion Oney. We saw him at work among his grape vines, so we dropped in and had a pleasant chat with him. He is devoting much of his time to fruit raising, and we feel sure it will repay him for his labor. Taking us into his cellar he feasted us on fine apples and such. There we saw two barrels of native wine, of his own manufacture. He is intending to plant more trees in the spring. He now has five hundred apple trees, and several hundred other fruit trees, and fifteen hundred large grape vines. Success to him.
Leaving his farm, we took cross lots and came out in the highway near the residence of our ex-townsmen, R. E. Dye. We called, but the family were out, and only the old house dog lay asleep in the sun before the front door--but the fly--bad froze out, so we passed on, and at the next house we asked for directions which were given, and we soon arrived at the Poor Farm. The farm in questions lies five miles southeast of Leon. It contains 220 acres; 200 in the main farm, the 20 acres being off southwest on Magruder, and is a fine body of timber. Of the home farm, about sixty acres are in cultivation. The wheat and oats were a failure this year, but the corn was about an average, of which there wee a little over 40 acres. There is quite a fine orchard on the farm which gives much aid for table use. The farm is better in proportion, than the buildings. The house is one story high, about twenty feet wide and eighty long, and the wind whistles through it like water through a sieve. Certainly our county can afford a better house than this one. Our opinion is that it would pay the county in the long run, to sell this farm and buy one nearer the county seat. The expense alone, in medical attendance, would go far toward making up the difference. The barn is a log one, and small at that. Mr. and Mrs. Brown do all that any one could do to keep the farm and house in good condition, yet the labor is almost lost. One team, three cows, a few pigs and sheep compromise the stock on the farm. We say if we must have a farm, let us have a good one. About fifty-five paupers were received during the past year. Most of them were women and children. At present there are only three, all women, one an idiot, a pitiable object. Several have been found good homes, while others have recovered from sickness and maintain themselves.
After spending some time in looking around the farm, we started back to town. Going north about a mile, we came to what is known as "Eden Prairie" school house. As it lacked some time of being 4 o'clock, we dropped in to see the school and hear them spell.
The school is in the care of Miss Lanie Kemp, one of the best teachers in the county. The lessons were well recited and the best order prevailed. The teacher's work is a great one, and well they deserve every word of cheer they receive. Now the sun was getting low, and we had to go to town. Leaving the school house we continued on north, passing several fine farms, stopping a few moments with Mr. Artt, who was watering his horses at the road-side. We passed the residence of Wm Gammon, which looked very home like from the road. As the shades of night were gathering, we longed for the famous steed that John Gilpin rode when he was going out to dine. At last we reached town pretty well tired out and hungry as a "Heathen Chinee," but supper was soon ready and we fell to and almost make our boarding boss think we were made of rubber. Then lighting a cigar we strolled up town, where a crowd was gathered around an auction wagon and getting swindled out of their ready money, and will go next morning and ask the merchants here for credit. We are certain they will never et any of our ready money, cause we never have any. Who ever heard of us having money? Echo says who?
We have big a cold as one could wish, but wouldn't sell it, not much.
Copied by Judy Chastain
February 24, 2003