The Poor House (The Pauper Farm) – Harrisburg, IL

The Poor House (The Pauper Farm) – Harrisburg, IL is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Poor House, built in 1877 with an addition in 1904 was the effort of the culture of that era to take care of the poor.

By 1839 the Almshouse method of public welfare was introduced in which a building would be built on county land and pauper labor would farm it. One person could then oversee the operation. This farm originally containing 175 acres was built under the Almshouse Law using log buildings for many years until the brick building was constructed. The idealistic notion, that people would gladly work for their subsistence, soon met reality. The Poor Farm became an orphanage, a jail, an insane asylum, and a place for refugees, i.e. a social dumping ground for the outcast and deplored.

What started as an effort to help the county poor became another good idea that didn’t work. The farm ceased operation sometime after 1950. It now serves as the Saline County Museum and contains such things as Robert Ingersolls desk, a letter from William Jenning Bryan, an 1853 newspaper telling of the Trail of Tears and much more.

Tours at 2:00 PM each day except Monday $3. for adults. Personal Tours are $5 any other time.

Location: 1600 Feazel Street 

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