Bullitt County History

Bullitt County Poor Farm

Written By Daniel Buxton
Edited by Lynn Eddington and Holly Buxton

Bullitt County Poor Farm
Figure 1: Bullitt County Poor Farm circa 1980's (Photo provided by David Strange)

"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:

  • J.B. Dawson for $1,365.00
  • C.L. Croan and J.T. Tucker for $1,048.00
  • J.G. Richardson for $1,375.00
  • S.W. Caldmelt for $1,161.75

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.

  1. George Miller
  2. George Shackford

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.

  1. George Hogeland
  2. Geny Shaw
  3. W.L. Bulborn
  4. A. Smith (African American)
  5. George Odd (African American)
  6. M.Rullem
  7. Hellen Shaw
  8. B. Hasey

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.

  1. Joe Reynolds
  2. Bell Hall
  3. David Snellen
  4. Louis Baird
  5. Bill Pulham
  6. Sterling Bishop
  7. Maggie Baird
  8. Mattie Pulham

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.

Bullitt County Poor Farm
Figure 2 Bullitt County Poor Cemetery and Harold Dawson August 1980

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.

Bullitt County Poor Farm
Figure 3: This is one of the markers placed by the state at Cedar Grove Cemetery.

The following is a list of known burials that took place while the Poor Farm was in operation.

NameDiedNotes
George ShacklefordMarch 30, 1911 
Alf Perry (African American)October 26, 1911killed by train at Brooks
John Doe (White)November 6, 1911Struck by Train
Martha ClevelandSeptember 9, 1913 
Mary Plez HodgeJune 10, 1914born 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, 1915born November 13, 1915
Cyrus EmersonMarch 24, 1918 
George Odd (African American)June 1, 1920blacksmith
Nelson WilliamsDecember 3, 1922 
George HoaglandNovember 2, 1923 
Robert HardyMarch 10, 1926 
John CarterOctober 1, 1926age 64
George StillwellFebruary 21, 1928 
James ThompsonFebruary 17, 1930 
Charlie Kennison (African American)March 30, 1930 
Andrew McFallOctober 1, 1932 
Louise BeardFebruary 8, 1935 
M.C. RobertsOctober 24, 1936 
Jess ToddDecember 6, 1936 
Leona PughApril 11, 1937accidental drowning
Emanuel DewittJune 21, 1937 
William MillerJanuary 20, 1940 
John BrowningOctober 27, 1941 
Andrew J. TurnerDecember 23, 1941 
Robert PulliamMarch 14, 1945born August 27, 1855
John Doe (White)October 30, 1947Struck by L&N Freight Train
Martha Bivens SmithFebruary 6, 1948 
Mitchell V. BeckerNovember 8, 1948 
Phillip MasonSeptember 26, 1950born Oct 12, 1870
Judy Diane MillerFebruary 15, 1951born 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.

Commissioners/County Judge

  • 1898-1904, LeRoy Daniel
  • 1905-1908, R.F. Hays
  • 1909-1913, Leroy Daniel
  • 1914-1918, A.E. Funk
  • 1919-1922, C.P. Bradbury
  • 1923-1925, J.A. Shelton
  • 1926-1929, E.Z. Wiggington
  • 1930-1933, C.M.C. Porter
  • 1934-1937, C.P. Bradbury
  • 1938-1941, R.E. McAfee
  • 1942-1949, C.P. Bradbury
  • 1949,"H.H. Glenn & C.A. Dawson protem 1949"
  • 1950 (Jan-July 7) Conrad Merriman died in July 1950
  • 1950 C.A. Dawson
  • 1950-1958, Clarence A. Dawson
  • 1958-1963, Arson Moore
  • 1964-1969, Neil Farris
  • 1970-1981, Arson Moore

Managers

  • A.E. Funk circa 1914 (Manager/County Judge)
  • W.A. Cook circa 1916 thru 1921
  • Chas. Harris circa 2/1922 to 2/1923
  • Wm. F. Armstrong circa 1924
  • Clarence Dawson circa 1925
  • C.P. Bradbury circa 1937
  • F.M. Etherton circa 1939
  • John Raley circa 1942
  • Joe Raley circa 4/1955 to 9/1/1977 (Note: Joe Raley rented the land only from 1/17/1972 to 9/1/1977)

Sources:

  1. www.wikipedia.org
  2. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Deed Book 36: Pages 197 thru 199 (April 10, 1903)
  3. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 1: Page 349,350,351 (April 7, 1903)
  4. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 1: Page 352,353 (May 2, 1903)
  5. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 1: Page 354,355 (May 25, 1903)
  6. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 1: Page 375,376 (October 5, 1903)
  7. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 2: Page 387 (January 12, 1914
  8. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 2: Page525 (January 25, 1917)
  9. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 3: Page 32 (January 26, 1920)
  10. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 3: Page 100 (December 29, 1921)
  11. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 3: Page 131 (January 22, 1923)
  12. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 3: Page 132 (January 22, 1923)
  13. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 3: Page 155 (January 28, 1924)
  14. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 3: Page 237 (November 16, 1925)
  15. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 5: Page 354 (September 21, 1953)
  16. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 5: Page 389 (June 11, 1954)
  17. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 5: Page 408 (December 20, 1954)
  18. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 5: Page 422 (April 18, 1955)
  19. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 5: Page 452 (November 21, 1955)
  20. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 6: Page 33 (November 16, 1959)
  21. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 6: Page 22 (August 20, 1962)
  22. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 6: Page 393 (January 25, 1965)
  23. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 6: Page 447 (December 20, 1965)
  24. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 8: Page 194 (January 17, 1972)
  25. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 8: Page 215 (May 15, 1972)
  26. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 8: Page 229 (July 8, 1972)
  27. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 9: Page 29 (November 29, 1972)
  28. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 9: Page 33 (December18, 1972)
  29. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 9: Page 39 (January 15, 1973)
  30. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 9: Page 159 (November 19, 1973)
  31. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 11: Page 297 (July 29, 1977)
  32. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 14: Page 207 (November 17, 1980)
  33. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 14: Page 234,235 (January 19, 1981)
  34. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 15: Page 742 (July 16, 1982)
  35. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 16: Page 445 (May 2, 1983)
  36. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 16: Page 446 (May 16, 1983)
  37. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 16: Page 593thru 599 (July 18, 1983)
  38. Bullitt County, Kentucky, Fiscal Court Order Book 17: Page 319 (October 3, 1983)
  39. Pioneer News, June 22, 1917
  40. Pioneer News, February 27, 1922
  41. Pioneer News, February 9, 1923
  42. Pioneer News, May 5, 1983, Page 10
  43. Pioneer News, October 6, 1983, Page 1

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.

The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 18 Mar 2014 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/poorfarm.html