Monday, September 14, 2020

Texas 'poor farm' history

Just compiling this in one place so I can find it all again. 

The Portal to Texas History has a copy of records from a "Poor Farm" in Travis County from 1890-1900; see 2015 Statesman coverage here. Also, this index of early Travis County Commissioner Court records includes numerous references to the county poor farm. The commissioners court records indexed are here.

See this prior Grits post for more background on Texas poor farms, and this longer, academic analysis from Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 

Here's a 2011 account of poor farms in Anderson County.  In Denton County, the poor farm didn't close until after World War II. Weatherford College leases the old Parker County poor farm for agricultural purposes. Collin County had one in McKinney. Hunt County had one as well. A poor farm operated in Erath County until a tornado destroyed it in 1935. In Grayson County, the poor-farm population was dominated by the mentally infirm.

In Kaufman County, the poor farm "also provided barracks for jail inmates" and once housed an "epidemic camp." It was the last of its kind. The final residents didn't leave that facility until the 1970s.

Anachronistic constitutional language authorizing Texas poor farms was removed from the state constitution in 2017.


Greg Sumpter said...

Interesting. Thanks for sharing Grits. The juvenile center in Tarrant sites on the old poor farm and TB sanitorium.

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