Racine County Poor Farm
As published in "The History of Racine and Kenosha Counties" (Chicago: 1879)


In the town of Yorkville, three miles from the village of Union Grove, stands, to the poor, the most important institution in the county. For a considerable period it was located in the city of Racine, that is to say, the poor, transient and otherwise, were sent to Racine, there to be taken care of.

In 1851, however, it was deemed advisable to remove it, and start a poor farm. Accordingly, on September 27th of that year, as stated by the records of Racine County, William Hunt and wife, by Ezra Burchard, their attorney, deeded a piece of land eighty acres in extent, and subsequently Ezra Burchard donated forty acres more, all of which was applied to the same purpose. Until 1854, no action was taken, the mendicant and paupers being cared for as of old; but, in February of that year, on motion of Mr. Mullett, of the Board of Supervisors, it was decided to erect suitable buildings for the accommodation of the county poor, and, as soon as such preparation was made, no person should be supported outside of the poor house, except in extreme cases. In November of the same year, the Board of Supervisors introduced a resolution to exend $7,500 in erecting suitable buildings, but that amount being deemed in excess of what the exigencies of the matter demanded, the Commissioners of the Poor, Mr. Theodore Secor and Mr. Addington, who had been elected by the Board in February, were instructed to re-estimate the amount required. This they did, and the result was, that at a meeting of the Board held on November 24, a resolution was passed to the effect that the several accounts which had been allowed by the Board for the purpose of erecting a county poorhouse and other buildings upon the county poor farm, should be deducted from the amount of $4,000, which they appropriated for that purpose. A resolution was then passed directing the Commissioners to expedite the completion of the buildings. This they did, with such good results that, in January, 1855, the building was opened, under control of Messrs. Norton, Superintendent of the western, C. K. McEachron for the middle, and Julius Wooster for the eastern district. At the annual meeting, held in November, 1855, the Commissioners reported that there were one or two cases of insanity at the farm, and suggested that an appropriation be made for an asylum in connection with the poorhouse. Acting upon that suggestion, the Board then voted $600 for the erection of such a building.

This mode of treating the poor continued until 1861, when objections were raised by some of the other towns. Accordingly a special meeting was held, at which it was decided to adopt the town system of supporting paupers, which was, to allow each town to pay for the support of its own. Messrs. H. D. Morse, C. J. Bryce and George Herrick were then appointed a committee to control the county farm, and place an overseer thereon. This latter proviso was not attended to, however, until 1863, when Mr. Thomas Graham was appointed overseer, and employed to work at the farm.

The following is a list of the Superintendents from 1854 to the present time [1879]:

1854-55 - N. R. Norton, western district; C. K. McEachron, middle district, and Julius Wooster, eastern.

1855-56 - N. R. Norton, western district; Joseph Nelson, middle district; Isaac J. Ullman, eastern district.

1856-57 - Hans Heg, western district; John Duffles, middle district; William H. Waterman, eastern district.

1857-58 - Hans C. Heg, western district; William Balloch, middle district; Charles Burce, eastern district.

1858-59 - William H. Waterman, western district; Samuel Collins, middle district; Reuben North, eastern district.

1859-60 - John W. Edmunds, western district; Jesse B. Shaw, middle district; S. W. Spafard, eastern district.

1861 - The gentlemen already mentioned were appointed a committee to look after the interests of the institution.

1862 to 1867 - H. D. Morse, western district; C. K. McEachron, middle district; M. B. Mead, eastern district, and Thomas Graham, Overseer.

1867-68 - F. H. Trowbridge, western district; C. K. McEachron, middle district; M. B. Mead, eastern district; Thomas Graham, Keeper.

1868-1870 - James Jones, western district; John Bryce, middle district; M. B. Mead, eastern district; Thomas Graham, Keeper.

1870-72 - H. D. Morse, western district; John Bowstow, middle district; P. G. Cleeves, eastern district; J. F. Shepherd, Keeper.

1872-73 - Frank Hoyt, western district; Charles K. McEachron, middle district; Alvin Raymond, eastern district; John McBeth, Keeper.

1873-74 - H. D. Morse, western district; Charles K. McEachron, middle district; H. T. Taylor, eastern district; John McBeth, Keeper.

1874-75 - Lowry Hess, western district; C. C. Wait, middle district; John Barr, eastern district; J. F. Shepherd, Keeper.

1875-76 - M. F. Hayes, western district; Thomas Powers, middle district; John Barr, eastern district; William Callender, Keeper.

1876-79 - M. F. Hayes, western district; George West, middle district; Julius Lueck, eastern district; John Drehich, Keeper.

The farm and buildings are in excellent condition, the inmates clean, healthy, and self-supporting.




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