Old County Farm
The Washington County Court Minutes contain information on the County Poor House or Poor Farm. In the January 1895 term of County Court, the sale of the county farm was approved and a committee appointed to look into the matter. 1 April 1895 the committee reported the farm was approximately 11 miles from Jonesboro, containing 230 acres. “The soil is thin but will produce worth $12.00 per acre.”2 The old County Farm was divided into 3 sections for sale. Thirty acres on the east at $8.00 per acre, 25 acres on west at $10 per acre, and 175 acres remained intact. 3 October 1896, Commissioners authorized the sale of the Old County farm.4 Mr. H.A. Dickerson from Pulaski, VA bought 178 acres, Mr. J.A. Keys bought 40 acres which bordered land owned by F.H. Cockran, heirs of Wm. McClackin, Jas. McMackin and heir of N. Harrison. Another part was purchased by Lewis Cooper. 5
1Washington County [Tennessee] Court Minutes, Book L, County Court January Term, 1895, p. 83.
2 Washington County [Tennessee] Court Minutes, Book L, County Court April Term, 1895, p. 127.
3 Washington County [Tennessee] Court Minutes, Book L, County Court July Term, 1895, p. 184.
4 Washington County [Tennessee] Deed Book, Book 73, p. 83.
5 Washington County [Tennessee] Court Minutes, Book L, County Court October Term, 1896, p. 513.
Source: Information found by Dawn Peters, Donna Briggs and Betty Jane Hylton who were in the Jonesborough Courthouse looking for a list of people who died at the County Farm (Poor House).
Old County Cemetery
Mr. Bud Cox helped the team locate the Old County Farm Cemetery in the 17th Civil District off Glendale Road. [GPS location: 36.19.19N 082.36.48W] 7 Nov 2002
Apparently there are 38 graves. The cemetery is 81′x77′x26′x65′. The fence is no longer standing. Livestock and wildlife have trampled the area. Mr. Bill Rector owns the land surrounding the cemetery. His father bought the land from the Keys heirs. Mr. Key’s father had owned the land before him. The deed has the cemetery area set aside.
New Washington County Poor Farm
July 1895, a new tax levy was set at five cents per $100 of property for the New Asylum for the Poor. Commissioners appointed to locate new property and take bids for a suitable building were Dr. J.L. Clark, Geo. M. Farnham, Geo. E. Clark.6 In October 1895, the committee recommended the purchase of the M.H. P. Panhorst property, formerly owned by John Simpson, deceased. The property was priced at $20.00 per acres and was located 3 miles south of Jonesborough in the 15th Civil District.7 Plans for the new building were approved with revisions during the January 1896 term.8 During this same term, the building committee for the New County Asylum reported that seven bids were received. Lyon & Cooper contractors bid $2275, which was approved 9 October 7, 1896, the building is completed.10
6 Washington County [Tennessee] Court Minutes, Book L, County Court July Term, 1895, pp. 195-196.
7 Washington County [Tennessee] Court Minutes, Book L, County Court October Term, 1895, p.245.
8Washington County [Tennessee] Court Minutes, Book L, County Court January Term, 1896, p.282.
9Washington County [Tennessee] Court Minutes, Book L, County Court January Term, 1896, pp.290-291.
10 Washington County [Tennessee] Court Minutes, Book L, County Court October Term, 1895, p. 508.
Death records for residents of the Washington County, TN Poor Farm, 1914-1916
Source: Nikazy, Eddie M. Washington County, Tennessee Death Record Abstracts 1908-1916. Balitmore: Heritage Books, Inc., 1994.
S. Greenlee, black, age: 56 years, single, parents: not stated, death cause: paralysis, informant: Eli Station (Jonesboro), buried: County Farm, died: 30 Jan 1914, record (1914): 37
George Irwin, black, age: 70 years, born in North Carolina, widower, parents: not stated, death cause: heart disease, informant: Eli Staton (Jonesboro), buried: County Farm, died: 18 Jan 1914, record: (1914): 35.
Robert Helton, born: 1 Mar 1830, widower, parents: not stated, death cause: old age, heart disease, informant: Bird Reed (Jonesboro), buried: County Farm, died: 13 Apr 1915, record (1915): 165.
Sarah Salts, born: 27 May 1862, single, parents: not stated, death cause: cancer of breast, informant: J.B. Reed (Jonesboro), buried: County Farm, died: 28 May 1915, record (1915): 266.
George White, age: 66 years, born: Virginia, married, parents: not stated, death cause: paralysis, buried: County Farm, died: 11 Jan 1916, record (1916): 36.
Frank Murray, age: 46 years, single, County Farm Resident, parents: not stated, death cause: peritonitis, informant: Bird Reed (Jonesboro), buried: County Farm, died: 12 Nov 1916, record (1916): 434.
Tennessee Death Records found at Tennessee State Library and Archives and Ancestry.com
Hanah Bishop, about 75 years, d. 28 Jun 1953 [TDR 53-30398]
Adeline Wilkerson d. 15 Jan 1954 [TDR 54-06698]
Viola Barkley, d. 23 Jan 1954 [TDR 54=06699]
John Ray, about 76 years, d. 3 October 1954 [TDR 54-25827]
Jim Burgess, b.1877 d. 11 Oct 1954 [TDR 54-23505]
James Johnson, 44 years, d. 2 August 1955 [TRD 55-21586]
Death and Obituary Notices from the Jonesboro Herald and Tribune.
Page 6 of the second section. Volume VII, #24, 9 Mar 1876
Died: Daniel Coleman, well known by everyone in this place, died at the Poor House last Tuesday.
Death Certificates found at Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home:
Barlow, Susie, 50 years old, died 4 Apr 1936, buried at the County Farm Cemetery. Parents, Elbert Barlow & Margaret Laws.
Hale, Retta, 65 years old, died 3 Oct 1948, buried at the County Farm Cemetery. Parents unknown.
William, John, found dead on the Southern Railroad Tracks, 7 Dec 1944. Black, age about 70 years. Buried in the County Farm Cemetery.
In 2004 the Washington County Farm closed the doors. It was the last operating County Poor Farm in the state of Tennessee. Throughout the Court Minutes, it is found that the County paid individuals to keep the poor in their homes.
New Washington County Cemetery
Prior to 1986, burials were in a cow pasture (with no markers) at the County Farm, 330 County Farm Road, Jonesborough, TN. The cemetery was surveyed by Donna Briggs, Dawn Peters and Betty Jane Hylton on December 30, 2002. Evidence of one hundred and forty-one graves was found. There could be more undetectable graves. Not all residents were buried at the County Farm Cemetery. Several were taken to family and church cemeteries.
Present Washington County Cemetery
After 1986, residents were buried at 116 Frank Hardin Rd., behind Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Section 3 of the Mt. Zion Cemetery, Jonesborough, TN.
Source: U.S. Census Records of Washington Co. Poor Farm Residents, 1850-1930
Surveyed, photographed and contributed to the Washington County, TNGen Web Site by Bud Cox, Donna Briggs, Dawn Peters and Betty Jane Hylton, Sept. 2005.
Posted 1 Oct 2005. Updated June 2008.