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Pauper Keepers

Pauper Keeper Date Sworn in
Hiram F Strong October 27, 1851
G. W. Wells October 8, 1872
B. L. Davis November 2, 1891

In his book Mitchell writes of the law in Johnson County in regards to paupers era early 1900's.

He states:


    "9.  They shall have the power to prevent the introduction of the town, or within one mile of the limits of any person who is a pauper, or who is likely to become a charge upon the town, from disease, old age or any other cause, and punished by fines in the sum, not exceeding one hundred dollars, any person so offending, and return the person or pauper likely to become a charge upon the town at the cost and the expense of the person or persons so offending."

Very little can be found in regards to the duties of the pauper keepers of Johnson County. On the net a great article on these keepers and the duties can be found in an article by Linda Myers-Phinney. She writes of pre-welfare in Missouri and the duties of the keepers there. I can only surmise that the condition would have been very similar as the time frame is.

In her article she goes on to say:

"The earliest records are "pauper bonds." The county court accepted bids for the care of indigents for a length of time varying from three to twelve months. The court "sold" the pauper to the lowest bidder, paying the bidder the amount of the bid to care for the pauper. If the lowest bid were $50, the bidder would receive $50 per person from the county. The bidder in turn provided a performance bond to the State of Missouri. The bidder was to use all of the county stipend for the use of the poor, providing suitable food and clothing, and treating his charges "humanely," "properly," and "kindly." The 1888 bonds also required the contracting caretaker, referred to as the Keeper of Paupers, to provide "necessary medical attention" for his charges.

The county court ordered the sheriff to "sell all of the paupers within said County at the east door of the Court the lowest and best bidder." The winning bidder himself was instructed to keep the paupers and house them together in one place. This effectively prevented him from "selling" them to anyone else for less than the county paid him."

 Her entire informative article can be found at: OzarkWatch

Indeed this will be a very interesting story to be learned. If you know anything of pauper keepers please share with us!

Read more about Pauper Keepers and the Kentucky Poorhouses