from a Sunday Journal article (circa 1910)
POOR FARM SELF-SUSTAINING ALL EXPENSES PAID
FROM STOCK AND CROPS RUN ON A BUSINESS BASIS
Lancaster County Institution Pleasant Home for the Impoverished
– Officers Give Credit to Superintendent and Wife –
If you should be so unfortunate as to become impoverished and incapable of supporting yourself and should be obliged to seek an asylum at what is popularly known as the Lancaster County poor farm you would not fare so badly. You would be supplied with free clothing and some substantial meals daily and with a clean, comfortable bed in a scrupulously kept room. There at night you could rest your weary body and during the summer be lulled to sleep by the refreshing breezes which sweep across the seemingly limitless fields of corn, alfalfa and wheat, pick up the fragrance from the clover dotted meadows and whisper a song beneath the giant cottonwoods which surround the big white building which the county has provided as a domicile for those who through misfortune or improvidence have come to be public charges. The County farm is about 5 miles to the northwest of the city of Lincoln and is one of the most inviting spots to be found in Lancaster County. The main building sets back away from the county road.
The receipts were $1,856.96, from the following sources:
This leaves an apparent deficit of $1,482.48, but the remainder of the old crop on hand is enough to much more than wipe this out, to say nothing of the hogs, cattle and chickens. There is at present in the bins on the farm 363 bushels of wheat, worth from $.90 to a dollar per bushel, and 1700 bushels of corn, worth at least $.50 per bushel. Then there is 40 tons of alfalfa and an equal amount of hay.
To the south of the house is a splendid garden which supplies the table with vegetables of every variety during the season and enables the matron to stock the commodious cave against the time when biting winds sweep down from the north, when opulent earth hibernates beneath her great mantle of white and the counties ancient charges huddle close to the glowing heater. And by the way, this cave is something which every visitor to the farm should see. It extends deep into the earth and is cemented throughout, so that no moisture or frost can penetrate to its depths.
The poor farm is not obliged to care for some unfortunate sick person in the city. These must be sent to hospitals or nurses provided at some private place, enabling an expense which would not be necessary if proper accommodations were available at the farm. It is not probable that this improvement will be made this year, however.
The Lancaster County Poor Farm and Home, 1871 - 1976. One of 54 county farms in Nebraska.
In 1869 about a fourth of the Lancaster County Board minutes was devoted to allocations to the overseers of the paupers... a pair of shoes, firewood, groceries, rent, meals and coffins were specifically allocated for people who could not afford to support themselves. It was then called "outdoor assistance".
On April 2, 1871, it was announced by the County Board without any allocation hearing or bond issue, that the overseers of the paupers were discharged and their charges would henceforth go to live in the "commodious" county residence for paupers. This residence was to be supported by the 240 acres of the county farm.
As early as the 1900s the farm produced some 80 head of beef cattle, 40 hogs, 40 dairy cattle, 800 to 1000 chickens, nearly 100 fruit trees and substantial vegetable gardens. This all paid for the maintenance of the farm. There were even occasional small profits for the 20 to 25 able-bodied residents. The County Poor Farm was tended almost entirely by a Master farmer, his wife and hired hands. It has been a mostly mythical concept that the poor and aged helped significantly with the farm work.
In 1914 sparks from a miss lit coal stove-fire caught the roof on fire and the original large wooden house burned down. It was replaced in 1916 by the present structure which was billed as a fire proof building. This new residence housed usually between 30 and 35 residents, and had at times as many as 73 and as few as 6.
In 1953 the no longer profitable County Farm was sold to George Cook and the Westview County Home was operated up until 1976 as a tax supported institution. The paupers' cemetery remains to the north and east of the house along Bluff Road. There are many unmarked and undocumented graves of former residents.