Adair County Iowa
The Adair County Farm (Poor Farm)
Although the Adair County Farm was not purchased as a County Home until February 4, 1995, the farm was first recorded to Chars. Parson from “the United States of Am.” in March, 1856. It was filed as the SW ¼ of 33-86-31 and the Patent was obtained September 10, 1857. Within the next 29 years the farm changed hands eleven times, was twice sold at sheriff’s auction, and was the cause of a family lawsuit.
Parsons owned the farm from March, 1856, until April, 1857, when he sold it to David Dillman for $1,000. Dillman almost lost the farm when foreclosure notice was served on him, but he was able to sell the farm to Jacob Rowe of Butler County, Ohio, for $1,400. But the transaction was not filed, so in April, 1866, the farm was again obtained by Jacob Rowe through a sheriff’s deed, after a lawsuit by Rowe vs Dillman. Jacob Rowe died in June, 1872, but his will was not recorded until 1878. At that time it was learned that he had left one third of his estate to his wife, who had passed away before the will was read, and the balance to the children of his two nieces. Rowe had misspelled the names of the heirs in his will, and because of the misspelling, a lawsuit between the heirs lasted until 1880. At that time, three of the heirs, William Krauss, Paul Krauss, and Chas. Krauss, obtained two-thirds of the farm at a referee’s sale for $1,400, and the other one-third from Henrietta Reuth, a niece, for $320.
During the period 1881-1884, the mortgage for the farm was held and released between D. W. Church, The Krauss brother, James Harrison, R. M. Baulderson, H. C. Dennis, James Lombard, R. C. Stevenson, and C. D. Albright. On September 24, 1884, d. Heaton bought the farm at a foreclosure sale for $4,000. D. Heaton sold the farm for $3,800 to the Board of Supervisors of Adair County, and their successors, for a “Poor Farm”, on February 4, 1885.
After the purchase of the farm, a new house was built in 1885 to accommodate the inmates of the Poor Farm. The architect was Chas. E. Shepard, of Stuart. The County Home had eight caretakers. The first steward was Samuel Ewing. He received $500 a year for his salary. The other caretakers were (in their order) Dolf Love, Harry Dorsey, Zack Jones, Ernest Butler, “Davy” Johnson, Lloyd Eckhardt, and Frank Estell. Davy Johnson, who remained the longest of the caretakers, was there for 22 years (1926-1946 and 1948-1950). Lawrence Jones worked for Johnson all these years at the County Farm.
New building s were added as the years progressed. There were two large barns, a hog house, a machine shed, a chicken house, two granaries, and a summer kitchen. The water was pumped by windmill into a very large supply tank. In 1946, the water was found to be contaminated so a new well was dug in the front yard for drinking water. The County Home had its own Delco lighting system. A new electric line from Greenfield was put in in 1927. The house was remodeled in 1929. A new kitchen, ladies’ sitting room, ladies’ sleeping quarters, two sleeping rooms for the hired help, and a large front porch were added. The house had twelve rooms and three baths.
The inmates varied in number from year to year, coming and going each year. There were as many as 25 persons in 1934 and only seven when the County Home closed in 1956. A few remained for many years. Peggy Needles and her daughter Lillie Needles, and Jimmy Brinton were long-time residents.
The county Farm cemetery, which is still owned and maintained by the county, has 23 stones—15 with names and 8 unknown. Six stones are dated. The names are M. Welch, Jimmie Leishman, Henry Horn, Malahn McKee, Coderey Wall, E. B. Stanley, Sarah Turner, Frank Zaman, Chas. Ingstrom, Len Slacum, William Kelso, Nelson Clark, J. A. Kerr, Charley Darnelle, and Mark Wood.
In September, 1956, THE Adair County Board of Supervisors determined the County Farm was not an economical method of caring for the poor of the county, and the farm was sold at public auction to a bidder who decided he did not want to purchase the farm. So the farm was then sold to W. A. Kluever on October 23, 1956