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Monday, July 30, 2007

Update:The County Farm History Found

Well I found some more detailed information on the County Farm. It appears in the previous post about the county farm, Blog for Ellis County Texas History: The County Farm ,that Guru Bob and I were both right. It was both a pauper's farm and they did send nonviolent offenders to work of their debt at the County Farm. The prisoners were sent there towards the end of the use of the property. Somwhere in 1960 they stopped using it. Thanks to the research of Ruth Stone in the History of Ellis County book. I have attached her article below.

Ellis County Farm
by Ruth Stone
At the February term of the Ellis County Court, in 1882, a committee consisting of W. D. Ryburn, John Farrar, and M. B. Templeton was appointed to investigate the possibility of purchasing a farm to be used as the Ellis County Poor Farm, and to gain all information they could as to the practical workings of such a project.1
Investigations of various farms were made, which finally resulted in the purchase of one just east of Waxahachie. This farm contained 370 acres, 200 of which were under cultivation. The farm was established as a County Farm in October 1883, and became self-sustaining. The number of paupers usually averaged about 7 or 8, with more whites than negroes.
The first keeper was John Evans, who ran it for one year. Then Wm. Ralston took charge and kept it 4 years. E. J. Garrett held the position of manager for 1 year. Wm. Ralston again took charge of the Farm and was still holding the position in 1892.2
The Farm has been operated under much the same set-up through the intervening years. In 1959, the farm consisted of 470 acres. The manager for 17 years was Mr. Gene Rothrock, who operated it upon a paying basis. In 1961 he retired and A. J. Robertson succeeded him.
It is no longer considered a Poor Farm exclusively. It is rather, an extension of the County Jail system. The work on the farm is done by prisoners who are unable to pay fines for misdemeanors. There are usually anywhere from one to 20 prisoners, mostly Negroes and Mexicans. These prisoners are either sentenced by the County Judge because of being public nuisances, or to work out fines that have been imposed upon them. They are allowed $3.00 per day to apply on their fines. The prisoners work on the farm or on the roads, with an overseer for every 7 or 8 men.
The farm is county property, and expenses are paid out of the County general fund.3
*No longer used as county farm. Circa 1960. Ellis County Records, Vol A. Page 164, 356, 359-60. Memorial and Biographical History of Ellis Co. 1892, page 132. "Interview with County Commissioner, E. J. Kendall

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