The Ray County Museum is located in the old Ray County Poor
Farm/House, County Home, Alms House, and I am sure a few other names but
those are the major one. Most people within Ray County know this is the
old Poor Farm, but how many people know that this is not the original
Poor Farm or even the original location? The original Poor Farm was
located on the corner of Hwy B and Hwy F, the farm had 126 acres of
land. To this date we don’t have a date of when county started the Poor
Farm, but do know that it was around in the 1860’s.
David Rimmer and in his care he had his
own family but had six people that the county felt could not care for
themselves for one reason or another. The six were Polly Higgins, Nancy
Hutchins, Pamelia Brown, Cynthia Brown, Sarah Andrews, and Casse Albert.
If this was not the beginning it was very close as this small number
grew to the 20’s by the 1900’s.
The superintendents of the Poor Farm must have really loved their job
because the pay was not the greatest, David up to George Cook (who was
the last superintendent at the old Poor Farm), was paid a grand total of
$25 a month and room and board for them and their family. When the
county built the new Poor Farm they upped the pay to $75 a month and
room and board, first superintendent was Sexus T Simms, but the job
required more from the person, still not a lot of money. In 1928 the
Board for the Visiting of Corrective Institutions made a visit to the
Poor Farm for their semi-annual visit and after giving Andy Ballard,
current superintendent, very high marks recommended “Mr. Ballard’s
salary should be increased, members of the committee terming it
‘inadequate.’ Mr. Ballard receives at the present time $100, from which
he must pay an assistant.”
Within Ray County we have two Potter’s Fields, one is behind the
museum and the other currently we do not currently know the location.
Currently I know of six people buried at the original Potter’s Field and
thirty buried at the new location. I will say this, I am FAR from
complete on either location but of the total of 36 names I currently
have I know for a fact they are buried in one of the two Potter’s
Fields. Will I come up with more? I am sure I will as I go thru more and
more of the old records.
Anyone know where the name Potter’s Field comes from?
The term comes from the story Matthew 27:7 in the New Testament of
the Bible, in which Jewish priests take 30 pieces of silver returned by a
repentant Judas. “The chief priests picked up the coins and said, ‘It
is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood
money.’ So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a
burial place for foreigners.
If anyone reading this thinks they might have any information on the
Poor Farm that might help me please let me know, and I don’t care if it
was “Grandma Jones said that so and so was there” I will take it because
it might be a clue and clues are where you start. If I can take the
clue Mrs. Cox and find her in the home I hope I can find most other