Down on the poor farm

Few traces remain of the Allen County Poor Farm. Some descriptions set the scene as idyllic with peach and apple trees, but the 'inmates' often came from bleak situations.

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September 8, 2020 - 9:52 AM

From the Annals of Allen County: “This handsome building on old U.S. 169 six miles north of Iola replaced the original poor farm which burned in 1933. It was completed in 1935 by Allen County and used to provide housing for the indigent and elderly. The farm was purchased by ACCC in 1972 to be used in its farm management instruction program and the building was razed.” Register file photo

What social and moral duties we have toward the poor, the disabled and the elderly are perennial questions, but perhaps surprisingly, they dominated public discussion when Kansas was in its infancy.

One finds an answer to such questions, or at least its remnants, about four miles north of Iola on farmland once known as the Allen County Home, or as it was known by most, the Allen County Poor Farm.

Today, few traces remain, including building foundations, a dance floor, a pond built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and several metal crosses reportedly demarcating a cemetery.

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