In 1883, the Parker County Commissioners Court bought the 320-acre poor farm for $1,900, payable in three annual payments. At that time, the County Judge was A.J. Hunter, and the four commissioners were B.C. Tarkinton, Joe C. Moore, Frank Barnett, and W.A. Massey. State law mandated help for indigent people, and the county was paying 38 people $3 to $10 a month. Commissioner Moore said that the paupers were getting too expensive, and so the court decided it could save money if it bought a farm, on which the paupers could work for their keep. The farm operated for many years until it was closed in the 1940′s.
As well as the land’s incredible history, the property has much natural value as well. The entire acreage is 270 acres. About 70% of the property is natural wildlife habitat, and a 190-acre nature park is planned. With so much habitat loss occurring in Parker County due to development, it is important that land be set aside for wildlife habitat. The poor farm is an excellent opportunity to do this.
The rest of the land was once farmland, and is now just flat land overrun with mesquite. This land will probably be used for a new Senior Center, free Dental Clinic for seniors, and county government buildings. There is already a 4-H Youth Center in the north-west corner of the property.
Since the Parker County Poor Farm is county property, it is in the hands of the Commissioners Court. The job of the Poor Farm Advisory Group is to get interested citizens involved in creating a master plan for the development of the poor farm, and then to present that master plan to the court. Then it will be up to the county as to whether this grand idea will be manifested. At this point, we are trying to get the word out to the public. If there is public interest (and we have found that there is) in this project, the court may be motivated to approve our plan.