Bowie County Poor Farm
By Frances Fox
Taken from Ye Olde Ancestors, August 7, 1991
Written permission given by the New Boston Genealogy Society
to post this information to the Bowie County TXGenWeb site.


I usually tell you about some family that came to Bowie County back in the 1800's, who overcame great obstacles and had many discendents who will enjoy reading about their family.  Then we will gather more information about the family and even pictures and add them to the New Boston Public Library's collection for the pleasure of all other friends and descendents of that family.  This week we have a sad story.  I don't know if these people have any descendents at all, probably not many.

What happens to you when you are the only one left in your family or they won't take you in and you are sick and unable to work?  Well, right now, there are pensions, Social Security, Medicare, and many other social services available to those in need without any stigma.  Those things have not always been here.  Bowie County maintained a Poor Farm for paupers in the 1930's and possibly some time before then.

It was located south of the old court house at Boston and had at least three houses.  There was a main house where the supervisor and his family lived.  This house had a very large kitchen and dining room.  There was a place to raise vegetables and those who lived there worked to grow their own fod.  The supervisor cooked breakfast and dinner.  They were allowed to take something back to their quarters to eat for supper.

Charlie Duffer was the last supervisor at the Poor Farm.  He lived in the main house with his wife, Ada, and their adopted son, Tommy White Duffer.  It is thought that the County Commissioners liked Charlie Duffer because he was really tight with the money.  The mules that were used to work the county roads were also kept on the Poor Farm property.  One man is remembered as having lived there, Bill Riddle.

If a person living at the Poor Farm died, they were buried on the north side of Read Hill Cemetery on the outside of the fence in an unmarked grave.  Today I walked along the north fence and looked over into the grove of trees that grow there and could not see even field stones marking the sites.  However, Bowden Funeral Home did record five burials that they conducted there:
 1. Griffin, Willis - born 1896, died 1941
 2. Knight, Cora - born 1904, died 1934
 3. McGan, John Robert - born ____, died 1937
 4. Crawford, Fraqnces Marion - died 1938
 5. Read, Robert - born 1884, died 1940

We would like to have the names of the others.  Perhaps some reader will remember and contact us.  If they cannot have a marker, maybe their names could at least be recorded in our cemetery records.  A grave digger says he helped dig the graves and believes there are at least 15-20 graves there.

Thinking of the social services that we have that were not available then, I asked when they paid their first income taxes.  One said he paid his first income taxes in 1937 when he got a job in Atlanta, Texas painting houses.  He made $1.50 a day, that's $7.50 for a 40 hour week.  He had to drive to Atlanta and gas was 10 cents a gallon.

If you can help with any of the name from the Poor Farm, please write the New Boston Library, P O Box 104, New Boston, TX 75570.



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