On November 14, 1819 the Fiscal Court of Fayette County met to consider the matter of erecting a home for the poor and infirm. A committee was chosen to find a suitable site for a home for the poor of the county & also to find a person to manage this home. A modest sum of $1,000 was set aside to purchase land & begin the construction of buildings. Between the waters of East Hickman creek & Walnut Hill pike, which it fronts, they purchased 50 acres from Peter Harkman located 9 miles from the city. This later expanded to include 180 acres.
Part of the main building was erected at a cost of $1800 dollars and accepted by the court in 1822. John Thornton was selected to run the infirmary & farm and did so for 22 years when he died at his post. He was given $500 annually by the county to care for an average of 18 inmates. In the early years preceding the Civil War, it was not unusual for the infirmary to be housing children.
Anderson Lafoon succeeded John Thornton as keeper. In the early days 3 men were chosen to assist the keeper. At that time the title “poorhouse” was used to designate this spot. Instead of 1 large dormitory, inmates lived in several cottages fronting a courtyard with shade trees. Men, women & African-Americans all lived in separate cottages, but were all the same.
Inmates farmed the almost 200 acres, making it self-sustaining. Most however, were not able to work or care for themselves. By 1918 it was proposed to move the infirmary closer to the city limits. The buildings were in poor condition and needed to be replaced. In 1919 city commissioners sold 70 acres of the Lyle farm next to the county jail on Old Frankfort Pike. The new infirmary was erected in 1920 at a cost of $50,000 on the city/county jail farm. Superintendent Charles R. Jordan was the director of the new facility.
By 1955 it was decided to end the dairy operation at the infirmary and there was talk of privatizing the hospital. In 1960 the county closed the infirmary and it was turned over in 1961 to a farm for delinquents sponsored by the Sertoma Club. Later known as the Bluegrass Boys’ Ranch, but closed for good in 1977. The county then started to use the property for a landfill. All buildings were demolished and only the infirmary cemetery remains.
Infirmary Death Index
Contributed by Phil Tkacz | firstname.lastname@example.org
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