Written By Daniel Buxton
Edited by Lynn Eddington and Holly Buxton
"Poor farms were county or town-run residences where paupers (mainly elderly and disabled people) were supported at public expense. They were common in the United States beginning in the middle of the 19th century and declined in use after the Social Security Act took effect in 1935 with most disappearing completely by about 1950."
On April 10, 1903, Bullitt County Fiscal Court bought two tracts of land totaling 189 acres from C.L. Croan to be used as a poor farm. The county agreed to pay $5,825.00 at 6% interest paid in four payments the first payment being $2,025.00 cash in hand and one payment of $1,268.00 and two payments of $1,266.00 over a 3-year period. On July 2, 1903, the fiscal court decided that they wanted 2 box houses to be built on the Poor Farm, one for whites and one for coloreds. They opened bids to carpenters for the work.
The Poor House was located at the current location of the Southeast Bullitt Volunteer Fire & Rescue No.2 on Old Highway 245 in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.
They received the following bids:
The bid of C.L Croan and J.T. Tucker was accepted. On October 5, 1903, it was ordered that a corn-crib, meat house and a coal house be built on the Poor Farm. It was also ordered that a married man be hired to manage the Poor Farm and that the County Judge, Leroy Daniel, be appointed commissioner of the county poor farm.
According to the 1910 Census the following were inmates of the Bullitt County Poor Farm.
James W. Stansbeary, his wife Mary, and their daughter Ella and Son Clarence were living on the Bullitt County Poor Farm. James was manager of the Bullitt County Poor Farm.
According to the 1920 Census the following were inmates of the Bullitt County Poor Farm.
L. Mudd his wife Georgie, and their three sons were living on the Bullitt County Poor Farm. He was probably working for W.A. Cook who was the manager of the poor farm at that time.
According to the 1930 Census the following were inmates of the Bullitt County Poor Farm.
George T. Perkins and his family were living on the Bullitt County Poor Farm at the time. George T. Perkins was the Manager at the time.
The county poor farm would be in operation for the next 50 plus years. Those poor folks who lived on the farm were referred to as inmates and required to work on the farm to earn their keep. If you were an invalid you would not be required to work. Sometimes the unfortunate folks who found themselves there died and, with no family, were buried in the cemetery on the property. The cemetery predates the Poor Farm since it was originally an old family graveyard. Over the years there have been a few poor souls killed on the railroad tracks that were unidentified and listed as John Doe and buried in the Poor Farm Cemetery.
About 1980 The Bullitt County Poor Farm Cemetery was moved by the state to make way for new work being done on I-65. The cemetery was moved to the Cedar Grove Methodist Church Cemetery. Only one of the original stones was moved. The state paid to have 45 small granite markers put into place.
The following is a list of known burials that took place while the Poor Farm was in operation.
|George Shackleford||March 30, 1911|
|Alf Perry (African American)||October 26, 1911||killed by train at Brooks|
|John Doe (White)||November 6, 1911||Struck by Train|
|Martha Cleveland||September 9, 1913|
|Mary Plez Hodge||June 10, 1914||born March 1, 1879|
|John Doe (African American)||July 10, 1915||(Run over by L&N Freight)|
|George Vance (African American)||November 10, 1915|
|Jim Funk (African American)||November 13, 1915||born November 13, 1915|
|Cyrus Emerson||March 24, 1918|
|George Odd (African American)||June 1, 1920||blacksmith|
|Nelson Williams||December 3, 1922|
|George Hoagland||November 2, 1923|
|Robert Hardy||March 10, 1926|
|John Carter||October 1, 1926||age 64|
|George Stillwell||February 21, 1928|
|James Thompson||February 17, 1930|
|Charlie Kennison (African American)||March 30, 1930|
|Andrew McFall||October 1, 1932|
|Louise Beard||February 8, 1935|
|M.C. Roberts||October 24, 1936|
|Jess Todd||December 6, 1936|
|Leona Pugh||April 11, 1937||accidental drowning|
|Emanuel Dewitt||June 21, 1937|
|William Miller||January 20, 1940|
|John Browning||October 27, 1941|
|Andrew J. Turner||December 23, 1941|
|Robert Pulliam||March 14, 1945||born August 27, 1855|
|John Doe (White)||October 30, 1947||Struck by L&N Freight Train|
|Martha Bivens Smith||February 6, 1948|
|Mitchell V. Becker||November 8, 1948|
|Phillip Mason||September 26, 1950||born Oct 12, 1870|
|Judy Diane Miller||February 15, 1951||born January 6, 1951|
According to the June 22, 1917, edition of the Pioneer News, W.A. Cook, who was the manager of the Poor Farm, he said they grew some of the finest wheat for the year. There were different managers over the years. According to the February 27, 1922, edition of the Pioneer News, Chas Harris took over as manager and received room and board for him and his family and $300.00 a year.
It is unclear when the Poor Farm ended its operations. According to Fiscal Court records, on September 21, 1953, the Poor House was leased out as a boarding house. A little over a year later on December 20, 1954, the tenant was asked to move out. On June 11, 1954, Fiscal Court asked for $8,375.00 for the land on the Poor Farm that the state wants to use for right of way for a toll road. On November 16, 1959, the state of Kentucky pays Bullitt County $4,500.00 for Poor Farm land to be used as right of way for the Kentucky Turnpike on and off ramps
On August 20, 1962, Paul Grubbs, representative of The Bullitt County Chamber of Commerce and owner of Grubbs Development Corporation, approached the Bullitt County Fiscal Court about buying the Poor Farm. Two and half years later Grubbs Development Corporation and the Bullitt County Fiscal Court enter into an agreement to buy the Poor Farm.
At this time it is unclear if this deal ever went through. I was unable to find a deed between the two parties.
Joe Raley apparently lived in the house on the Poor Farm from April 1955 when he started renting and managing until May 15, 1973 when he was asked to vacate the houses. Mr. Raley continued to rent the land only until September 1, 1977. On July 8, 1972 one of the houses was rented out to Mr. and Mrs. Elvin R. Hodge. In March 1973 The State of Kentucky bought additional Poor Farm land from the county for road work. On November 19, 1973 The Fiscal Court ordered the county attorney to regain possession of the house on the poor farm.
Over time the land that was the Bullitt County Poor Farm was leased out by Fiscal Court for various uses. On January 19, 1981 the Bullitt Fiscal Court leased 29.77 acres to the Bullitt County Fair Board for 35 years. On July 16, 1982 Fiscal Court gave Joe Raley permission to dismantle 2 barns on the Bullitt County Poor Farm property and keep the lumber. On July 18, 1983 Bullitt County Fiscal Court leases some of the Bullitt County Poor Farm land to Southeast Fire Department. Another additional 1 acre was leased to the Southeast Bullitt County Fire Department.
The Bullitt County Poor Farm Management structure was two fold. The County Judge was the commissioner and then Fiscal Court would hire a manager to farm the land and run the day to day operations. Over the years this structure was changed. In some cases the County Judge was referred to as the manager or receiver. In some cases the manger would hire somebody to live on the farm to and run to the day to day operations. What follows is a list of County Judges/Commissioners, Managers, and those who live on and ran the farm.
If you, the reader, have an interest in any particular part of our county history, and wish to contribute to this effort, use the form on our Contact Us page to send us your comments about this, or any Bullitt County History page. We welcome your comments and suggestions. If you feel that we have misspoken at any point, please feel free to point this out to us.