Mills County, Iowa


Charitable institutions, ever since the earliest dawn of history, have existed in some form to ameliorate the unhappy and sorrowful phases of human life. With the advance in knowledge, and the increased duty thereby resting on men to care for their fellows, there have resulted a better understanding of the needs of humanity and better methods of meeting them. Institutions of a charitable nature have sprung up in every clime, more or less perfect in their organization and administration; all of which are doing a noble work for humanity. But, as is more interesting to us, our own land is in no respect behind other lands in its care for the sick and sore, the poor and the unfortunate. In every state there are numerous institutions, cared for at its expense, and in nearly every county the same feeling of kindness finds expression in the maintenance of a home for the same classes. The care of this county for the unfortunate in life has ever been most kind. Busied with individual cares and necessities, as its inhabitants have been, they nevertheless found opportunity to pause and enquire into the condition of the poor of the county. Not until the year 1875 did there occur any public expression of interest in or solicitude for people of this class; but in that year such an expression was obtained, in response to the following notice of the Board of Supervisors, which was issued at the September term of that year.

To the Qualified Electors of Mills County, Iowa
AUDITOR'S OFFICE, Mills County, Iowa
Notice is hereby given that at a regular meeting of the board of supervisors of said county, begun on the 6th day of September, 1875, it was ordered that the question of levying a tax of one mill on the dollar, on the taxable property of said county for the purchase of land for a county poor farm, be submitted to the electors of said county at the general election to be held on the 12th day of October, 1875, and that on the ballots of those voting for said tax shall be written or printed the words "For Poor Farm Tax," and that on the ballots of those voting against said tax shall be written or printed the words, "Against Poor Farm Tax."

Wm. H. Taft, County Auditor
Glenwood, September 8, 1875

Pursuant to this notice the election was held. It is a matter of deep regret that so many were to be found in the county so occupied with their own schemes that they not only took no interest in, but actually tried to defeat the will of more liberal-minded and more humane men. But the measure triumphed by a vote of three to one, and the county began properly to care for its poor. Subsequent to the election the following notice was issued:


Notice to hereby given that at the general election held on the 12th day of October, 1875, the electors of Mills county adopted the proposition to levy a tax of one mill on the dollar on the taxable property of said county for the purchase of land for a poor farm, by the following vote:

For poor farm tax: 1,202 votes
Against poor farm tax 406 votes

Wm. H. Taft, County Auditor
Glenwood, October 22, 1875

Measures were at once taken to provide a suitable home and property, to be used for the purposes named in the question as submitted to the voters of the county. Bids were called for and made. After inquiry into the several farms offered, that of Jesse Miller seemed most eligible. At the October session, 1876, of the board of supervisors the following was transacted:

WHEREAS, The board of supervisors of said county, at a regular session begun and held on Monday, the 18th day of October, 1875, after careful and full consideration of the whole subject, decided by a vote in full session at the court house, in Glenwood, Iowa, to purchase of one Jesse Miller, two hundred and ten acres of land in said county, on the following terms and conditions, to which terms and conditions the said county of Mills, through their board of supervisors, and the said Jesse Miller, on his part, and each of said parties consent and bind themselves hereby to perform, viz:

The said Miller and said Mills county have this day contracted for the sale and purchase of the following described land situated in Mills county, Iowa, viz: The southeast 1/4 of section sixteen and the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section twenty-one (21), and ten acres, bounded as follows: Commencing at the northwest corner of the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section seventeen, and running thence east sixty, one and one-half rods; thence south twenty-six rods; thence west sixty-one and one-half rods, and thence north to the to the place of beginning, all situated in township seventy-two (72), north of range forty-two (42) west, and containing in all two hundred and ten acres. Said Miller agrees to take and accept, and said Mills county agrees to give for said land the sum of eight thousand dollars. There are included with the land one roan cow, two years old past; one Brown corn-planter, two Blackhawk cultivators, and two double harrows. The said personal property is this day delivered by said Miller to Mills county. The said eight thousand dollars is the total amount agreed to be paid for all the above described land and personal property. It is agreed that said Mills county shall pay interest on the said eight thousand dollars from this date at the rate of ten per cent per annum. Said Mills county also hereby agrees to pay to said Miller on March 1st, 1876, the sum of three thousand dollars; on April 1st, 1876, the sum of one thousand dollars, and on March 1st, 1877, the sum of four thousand dollars, with the privilege of paying any sum sooner if said county sees proper to do so. Said Miller agrees hereby to deliver to said Mills county the possession of said premises, together will all improvements and appurtenances thereunto belonging, on the 1st day of December, 1875, save and except the following: Said Miller reserves possession of the bins in the barn now used to store his wheat and oats; also, the cribs necessary to crib his corn on said premises, until July 1, 1876; also the privilege of turning his stock in the stalk field on said premises until March 1, 1876. Said Mills county also agrees to assume the payment of taxes on said property for the year 1875. On the final performance by Mills county of the terms of this contract on its part, said Miller hereby agrees to make to said Mills county a good and sufficient warranty deed to the land above described, free and clear of any and all encumbrances.

In witness whereof said Miller and a majority of the members of said board, in actual and open session, have hereunto subscribed their names.
Jesse Miller
John Barbour: Majority of the Members of said Board of Supervisors.
H.A. Norton
Dated October 22, 1875
And thus was instituted the "poor farm," the founding of which should always be a matter of self congratulation for the county. With one of the finest farms in the limits of Mills, and under the able management of Superintendent Smawley, the institution is self sustaining; a circumstance calling for renewed approval. The inmates, at the close of 1880, numbered fifteen all seeming contented, though enjoying a home provided by the public at large.

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