Poor Farms, also called Poorhouses, were tax supported institutions for people that could not support themselves. The history of Wyoming’s Poor Farm can be found in the historic Wyoming newspapers. In 1888, House Rep. Patten introduced a Bill to establish a territorial Poor Farm at Lander and it later passed. There was a little controversy as the Legislature appointed one board and the Governor appointed a different board. The Governor wouldn’t sign off on the Bill that appointed the Legislature’s board and the Legislature wouldn’t affirm the Governor’s board.
As far as the old Wyoming newspapers tell, in 1891 they began accepting bids for farmers to lease the property. The Poor Farm seemed to be able to consistently turn a profit. Because it was profitable, Senate Bill 24 was passed in 1903 that required the Poor Farm trustees to turn over funds to the state treasurer so they could be invested in bonds. That same year, it was determined that a fish hatchery would be built on a portion of the Poor Farm.
In 1907, there was a funding battle in the Legislature by way of House Bill 70. The House wanted to appropriate $25,000 for a building on the Poor Farm. The Senate would not pass the Bill. The battle went on for 18 hours until a compromise was struck to appropriate $15,000. That same year, the authority over the poor farm was transferred from the Poor Asylum Building Commission to the State Board of Charities & Reform.
In 1909, the state announced it wanted to sell the Poor Farm and did so for $6,000. They also put out a request for proposals for the state to purchase land for the Home for Feeble Minded and Epileptics in the vicinity of Lander.
You can learn more about the history of Wyoming in Wyoming Newspapers http://newspapers.wyo.gov
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