Hi. Yeah. I know I’m not doing this anymore. But I found an interesting book dated 1926 “The American Poorfarm and its Inmates.” And there’s something here about Colorado and Larimere (sic) County.
Colorado has 7 poorfarms at which there are but 40 inmates…. In 1923 a Department of Charities and Corrections was created with power to investigate “the whole system of charities.” It’s first and only report showed deplorable conditions relative to dependents of all classes; there is congestion in insane and feeble-minded hospitals; the poorfarms are distressed to know what to do with inmates who disrupt the life of the place and keep other inmates nervous and unhappy.
Shortly after this report the governor closed the department on the ground of economy. The report contains one single sentence that is a volume within itself:
The Alumni of a State University can speak out about the needs of the University, but the alumni of a State Hospital for the insane or a county poorfarm, are not organized and cannot speak convincingly.
The author goes on to say inmates in Colorado are treated inhumanely and children are neglected. But don’t take that too personally, the thrust of the entire book is to villainize and put an end to poorfarms. No state gets off without a good condemnation of its county poorfarms.
On the other hand, it’s an interesting counterweight to many poorfarm histories, generally written by those running the home, which paint the places as warm, loving communities full of elderly who are grateful to their selfless and caring caretakers.
I’ve heard that Larimer County had several poorfarms over the years. The last was at the location of the current hospital on Lemay…which began as the infirmary for the poorfarm. In American Poorfarm, the author says specifically about Larimer’s institution:
Lighting unsatisfactory; twice quarantined–smallpox and scarlet fever; three cancer cases; bedbugs; one illegitimate child born to inmate; building made-over farmhouse; inflammable material; not fireproof; bedrooms stuffy; all rooms crowded; bathroom not easily accessible; no privacy for bathing; toilets fairly clean; outside privies 20 feet from house.
As for Weld County, he writes:
Quarantined several times; five cancer and tubercular cases; pest house [a building for isolating those with contagious diseases] on grounds; no recreation.
There’s a lot more to know about Larimer County and Colorado Poorfarms, but I’m not there to look it up anymore. Check out the archives at the Museum for more.
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