Christian County, Kentucky Poor Farm

“The poor ye have with ye always,” said the Master, and to care for them is a duty incumbent upon us as civilized beings. Kindness costs but little, and to the child of misfortune it sometimes goes almost as far as dollars and cents. The writer recently visited one of these institutions called poorhouses, and was pointed out a man, who, it was said, could once ” ride ten miles on his own land,” but a series of misfortunes brought him to the poorhouse. None of us know how soon we may go ” over the hills to the poorhouse.” Then ‘be kind to the poor, for in so doing you may entertain angels unawares.” We find allusions quite often in the early records of the county to the poor and appropriations for their benefit, but it was not for many years after the organization of the county, that steps were taken to provide a county farm and poor house. Some fifty years ago a poor-farm was purchased, and it is a poor-farm in more senses than one. The land is poor and almost worthless, and for many years after its purchase the buildings were scarcely fit to shelter human beings. Under the administration of Judge Long as County Judge, the old buildings were torn down and new ones erected, which, although they are not what they should be, are substantial and comfortable. Judge Long also laid out a cemetery on the place, and planted an orchard, as well as making many other needed’ improvements.

The poor-farm is in Hopkinsville Precinct, four miles north of the city, and comprises about two hundred acres of land. The buildings are log and frame, and have been built within the last few years. The cost to the county of each pauper will average nearly $100, and, the number of paupers varies from fifteen to thirty. It seems just a little strange that the County Board are not better financiers. Were they to purchase a good farm . and erect comfortable buildings, it would be economical in more ways than one. Many paupers go there who are able to do considerable work, and the farm, was it good land, could make the institution almost self-sustaining. Then the idea of having to work when able, would keep many from going to it who now apply for admission in order to live without work. This plan is followed by many of the Western States, and has been found to work well. It seems to have been the original idea here to conduct the poorhouse in a manner that no one would care to enter it except as a last resort to prevent starvation. This was neither wise, economical nor humane. That improvements have been made in the institution of late years is vastly to the credit of the reformers and to the county – Perrin.


Perrin, William Henry, ed., Counties of Christian and Trigg, Kentucky, Historical and Biographical, Chicago : F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1884.

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