1886: New Facility, Better Care



Early 1800s | 1855-1856 | 1861 | 1886

In 1886 a new, larger facility was built to house the dependent of Johnson County.

To view images and find out more about the new facility,

please visit the 1963 Photograph Exhibit

Located right next to the old complex, this new facility still farmed the land and was quite successful:

Original farm buildings and barn

"The Poor Farm for the year 1888 showed a total of 240 acres of land valued at $9600, insane and pauper buildings valued at $20,000, barn, cribs, and sheds built this year for $750, household goods valued at $1000, an ice and wash house valued at $500, for a total overall value of property and goods at $32,650. It was also noted the stock of the poor farm are in excellent condition, and are of a quality much better than average."

1888 Report on Stock

- 8 head of horses ($800)

- 2 head of colts ($125)

- 22 head of cattle ($550)

- 35 head of fat hogs ($525)

- 70 head of stock the type of which is illegible valued at $560

- Plus other animals and a variety of crops




When the new complex was built, the old asylum wing was turned into a hog farm. Upon inspection of the cell bars, you can see damage done to the boards by the hogs.

As a hog farm, electric lights were added and a small fire burned a hole in the ceiling, revealing the attic. It is unkown when this fire took place.

As the years progressed the Poor Farm and Asylum continued to grow. "By the late twentieth century, the farming operation involved raising corn, oats, Triticale and Hay. Also have a Dairy Herd, Hogs, Feeding Cattle, Spring Chicken Fryerts, and Chicken Laying Flock" In addition were approximately five acres of vegetables including a wide variety of vegetables such as broccoli, turnips, eggplant, cabbage, squash, rutabagas, Swiss chard, etc., with 3,984 gallons of vegetables canned and frozen for the year."

"In 1971, the county home employed two cooks, two men Ward attendants, two women Ward attendants, one farm hand, one registered nurse, two doctors, and one psychiatrist. The home housed 106 patients, of which 46 were mentally retarded and 60 were mentally ill."

In the late 1900s, the operation was privatized and is now known as Chatham Oaks. The only original building still standing are the 1856 asylum wing and surrounding farm buildings. They are under the ownership of Johnson County. The Johnson County Historical Society holds the rights to interpret this amazing site.

For questions or comments, please contact Catherine Stewart