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Conditions of poorhouses in Kansas
From The American Poorfarm and Its Inmates, by Harry C. Evans
July 29, 2002

The poorfarms were generally in bad condition.

Kansas has $2,205,063 invested in 83 poorfarms to support 1,091 paupers. They should all be in one institution. Forty-three of the farms each have ten or less inmates. The investment per inmate at these farms is $3,934 - more than the average home of her farmers costs. At these farms, $48,689 are paid in salaries to employees, and $49,193 go to the upkeep of the farms, board of employees and support of the paupers. There is one employee for every 3.5 inmates - 66 employees and 230 paupers. It takes practically as much of the taxpayers' money to pay the employees as to support the paupers. There are 5,976 poorfarm acres lying fallow.

The County poorhouse, says a bulletin of the State Board of Health, 1918, as it is usually administered, is a close relative of the medieval almshouse of deservedly odious repute. Yet within the past year in the state of Kansas 24 children have been incarcerated within the veritable scum of feeble-minded, hopelessly insane and social derelicts who people these institutions. The reports appended from a few counties show general conditions.

ATCHISON COUNTY-Stoves for heating; well water; cesspool; farm, recently quarantined against small pox; cancer cases; vermin.

BROWN COUNTY- Irregular visits by physician, the cost for dentist work must be paid by the Superintendent. bed bugs; made-over farm building; two stories; built of inflammable material; not fireproof, bedroom and living rooms crowded; cesspool, of which neighbors complain; one insane and several feeble-minded inmates; measles.

COWLEY COUNTY-Infected inmates not isolated; no sex segregation; men and women sleep in adjoining rooms.

COFFEY COUNTY-Quarantined for itch; 8 children at farm during year.

CHASE COUNTY-Quarantined twice, once for measles, once for smallpox; two-story building; not fireproof; outdoor privy used by both sexes; water from well, cesspool; men and women associate freely; their bedrooms on opposite sides of common hallways; children at farm last year 3; no medical examination for inmates

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY-Poor lighting; no recreation or church services, no physical or medical examination of inmates at entry; inmates with transmissible diseases use common toilet; their clothes go into common laundry.