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  • Melody Lager

County Poor Farms


Without nursing homes or rent subsidies, cities and towns attempted to take care of the needy by investing in Poor Farms. Wright County purchased land in 1877 with the thought in mind that it would be a county care facility. The land was purchased by tax levy, and located “one mile east and one mile south” of downtown Clarion. With a large farm house already there, it seemed suited for it’s mission. In 1893 the house was enlarged, and shortly thereafter more land was purchased.


In 1888 the Wright County Monitor reported the farm was being managed by George Kinson, with Mrs. Kinson taking care of the house. It was noted she “kept everything in apple-pie order and to the benefit of the county.” The farm was rented out, with rent fees going towards upkeep and for the benefit of those who lived there. The people who lived at the farm were often elderly, poor, or mentally challenged. At times, they were expected to help out however they could.


At some point in time, the poor farm was renamed the “Wright County Farm”. In 1905 a state inspection found the home lacking – “too many stoves to heat, needing painted” and a few other items. The barn was put up in 1906. In 1916 the home was still lacking“ in modern conveniences” such as a furnace, indoor bathroom etc. At that time the county supervisors were recommending a new home be built. They calculated a savings by raising a small tax and not paying for other people to live in homes outside of the county.


The average number of people cared for in the institution was seven. As time progressed, it became more cost efficient to have nursing homes for the elderly. (Pictured above is a "poor farm" from another county in Iowa.)

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