County Farm History
1849 152 acres were purchased by the county for $3000 from George E. Gordon.
1850 House was built for adults who were poor, aged, or infirm and children whose parents were either dead or unable to support them. The first superintendents were paid a wage of $125/year. The goal was to create a self-supporting system where the residents would be involved in all aspects of running the farm.
1854 First recorded burials on property in what became known as the Pauper Cemetery. Grave markers included wooden crosses, field stones, and eventually rose bushes were planted for ladies and trees for the men. It is thought that as many as 677 persons were buried in the cemetery. Formal records were not kept until 1878.
1855 John Hubbard was convicted of murdering the French family. He is the only recorded person to have been hung Wabash county. The body was buried for a short time, before doctors who wanted to study the cadaver made plans to steal it. Doctors from Wabash, Huntington, and Fort Wayne were involved in a shoot-out at the cemetery while removing the body.
1865 Fire destroyed the infirmary due to a defective flue. It was rebuilt for $4,547.93.
1870 106 year old Mollie Joy was buried.
1873 August Anders a Master Horseman from Germany was buried in cemetery.
1876 Recorded that Nancy Miller and her 7 children ages ranging from 2-13 were among the 39 residents.
1885 New orphanage was opened in south Wabash, removing the children from the County Farm.
1892 Became designated as “Poor Farm”.
1894 Russell Cressey a hot-air balloon photographer/spy/mapmaker for the Union is buried in cemetery.
1900 Poor Farm became recognized not only for excellent care for the residents, but also for a small herd of Shorthorn cattle. Hogs, wheat, oats, and hay were also produced on the farm. A gas engine pump furnished water for all purposes with the exception of bathing.
1904 Edward L. Pickworth, Barnum and Bailey Circus member was buried in Pauper Cemetery.
1920 First recorded African American, Theodore Jordan was admitted to home.
1922 Residents were moved to the Old Park Hospital (Women’s Clubhouse) to allow for repairs to be conducted on the house.
1930 Hog barn was built and housed 15-50 hogs.
1942 Barn was built, rampaging elephant Modoc finds her way onto the farm for a short period.
1944 Monument was erected in cemetery.
1974 Farm was closed for Poor Farm residents. It was rented out to a childcare facility for a brief time before the home was closed permanently due to needing $15,000 for a new heating system. It was debated what would be done with the property for some time. Some wanted a new jail, industrial park, or new fairgrounds. The Miami Indians of Indiana also requested the property become their tribal headquarters. In the end the tillable acres were rented out and most of the buildings removed.
1980 Civil Defense used the home barn for storage and office space.
1982 Home was torn down.
Early 1990’s Wabash County Soil and Water Conservation District takes over the farm to use an outdoor laboratory for local school groups. Not long after this heavy equipment from the landfill were discovered to have been in the cemetery and several graves were collapsed. They were stopped and the damage repaired by leveling the ground. The workers were not aware that the cemetery extended from the main marker and that they were no longer on landfill property. Wabash SWCD took steps to clean up the area and remove the brush.
1995 Steps were taken to have a pond built.
1998 A part time person was approved to be hired to help maintain the farm.
1999 A secure area was created in the barn to store tools. Family Conservation Field day was hosted at the farm.
2000 Barn was repainted. Girl scout camp was held at farm.
2008 Interns were hired by Wabash County SWCD for general maintenance and many other projects. Two footbridges were built, trails developed, and many landscaping projects have been completed.
2009 Interns discovered more than a dozen bases and grave markers. One small child passed away on the same day of July in which her stone was found.
Find out more about Wabash County History at the Wabash County Historical Museum!