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Joel Mack & County Poor Farm Recap

Winfield Courier, May 8, 1884.
The County Commissioners held a special meeting last Friday at which they purchased for a county poor farm the Joel Mack place, two miles southeast of the city; consideration $7,500. The Board gets possession for building purposes immediately, and entire possession the first of September.
                                              OUR COUNTY POOR FARM.
                             One of Cowley County’s Praise Worthy Institutions.
                                                    “Blessed are the Poor.”
Winfield Courier, Thursday, July 23, 1885.

The Board of County Commissioners drove out Monday afternoon to view the poor house. Through their courtesy our reporter was taken along. No doubt most of the citizens of this county are aware that we have one of the best locations and buildings for the purpose of caring for the destitute, if not the best, of any county in Kansas. Somewhat over one year ago the County Commissioners purchased the Joel Mack farm two miles southeast of this city, containing one hundred and fifty acres, at fifty dollars per acre. This is a number one piece of land. There is plenty of good water and some timber. This spring the contract was let for a building suitable for the poor. This building occupies a shady grove about the center of the farm, east and west. It stands upon a site from which the surrounding country can plainly be seen and the city of Winfield. The building is 30 x 50; facing north and south, built of stone, the front pitch faced rouge work, the rest of the building rubble work. It is three stories high including a basement. The basement consists of a dining room and kitchen, side by side. North of this is a large room unfinished, which will be used for a cellar and store room. Two short flights of stairs lead out of the dining room and kitchen to the second story. Here a hall runs the full length of the building. At the north end of the hall is the sitting room, a pleasant and commodious room. Opposite this is a room for the sick, or it may be used for a second sitting room. Along each side of the hall are bedrooms of ample size. On the second floor are eight rooms. An easy flight of stairs ascends to the third story. This is not finished yet on account of a lack of funds. When the third story is finished, the house will contain twenty rooms. It struck us at once upon viewing this pleasant place that old age could here while away the most pleasant hours of their existence, away from the bustle of a noisy life. The infirm, the crippled, and the forsaken, the young, the old, and the middle aged can find a home here if they deserve it, and the pleasant surroundings will dispel the cutting thoughts of what might have been. Cowley County has been badly in need of an institution of this kind for some time. The building costs about $3,100, the land $7,500. This more than exhausts the fund of $10,000 appropriated for this purpose. We don’t believe the county could duplicate it today for $12,000. This farm should be more than self-sustaining, and under the able supervision of our “County Dads,” will be so. Our Commissioners have shown excellent judgment in selecting this site and in the management all the way through. The work is all first class. J. B. Stannard is the architect and superintendent, and has shown his ability in this line. Conner & Sons did the stone work in their usual workmanship like manner. Armstrong & Reeves were the carpenters, and did it well. Harvey and Frazier were the plasterers and made a very fine job. Shaw and Barnes executed the painting in a first-class manner. Take it all in all, it is a public institution we can well be proud of.
Winfield Courier, February 13, 1897.
                              [Dispatch. Independence, Kansas, February 11, 1897.]
“Last night a wagon and team were found in a secluded place in the woods, not far from the road at the crossing of the Verdigris river, about three miles east of Nowata, Indian Territory, fifty miles south of here. Today it was identified as that of Joel Mack, a wealthy stock raiser, who owns a large tract of land near Bartlesville, but whose family lived in this (Independence) city. His coat and hat were found near the wagon. Indications were that a struggle had taken place. Excitement ran high and upon further search it was found where his clothes had been burned, and later his head, detached from his body, was discovered in some underbrush on the river’s bank. His body cannot be found and it is probable that he was murdered and his body thrown into the river. Mack was in this city a little over two weeks ago and started in a wagon for Vinita, where he was a prominent witness in a case in the United States court there. It was thought by some that he was murdered to prevent his appearing on the stand. He had considerable money when he left here and some thought that might have been the incentive. A dispatch to his wife here states that the horses had stood several days and were almost dead when found.”
Mr. Mack was a pioneer resident of Winfield and preempted the claim upon which is now located the county poor farm. He has relatives in this county yet.


Cowley County Historical Society Museum