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uld county poor farm closing
By J. BOB LUCAS
The old county poor farm complex
at 5516 E. 51st St., a Tulsa landmark
for more than a half century, is about
On Oct. 21. the present occupant,
the County Departmentol Social Services.
will move across town to new
$1 million Quarters in the county
complex at 2401 Chacles Page Blvd.
And all traces of the old county
farm eventually will be obliterated,
though no date has been set for the
razing, according toCountyCommis·
sian Chairman Lewis Harris.
A decision first must be made he
said. on where to locate Court Clerk
Don Austin's old court records division.
The reeords now are housed in
the former hospital building.
What is left of the county farm consists
of two one-story brick buildings
with tile roofs back among the tree~
on the extreme northeast IS-acre tip
of what once was a 480 acre working,
and sometimes thriving, county
MOST OF THAT property now is
occupied by LaFortune County Park
St. Francis Hospital, and Memoriai
In its early days, the county farm
was described, in newspapers, as
being eight miles east of Tulsa.
It Is now surrounded by an affluent
neighborhood, miles inside the city
The county farm, often described
in former days as the poor farm, was
created in an era when there was no
federal welfare program and charity
was strictly a local proposition.
The farm has been known at various
times as the county farm, the
county home, and the county
The County Commission, under the
Oklahoma Constitution, is the
"overseer of the poor."
The farm buildings were constructed
On one occasion, in its heyday, the
farm reported ha ving 260 beef and
milk cattle, 300 chickens, 75 or 80
hogs, not to mention work animals.
Il" 1942. 9,240 jars of vegetables
were canned at the farm, and its cattle
won several blue ribbons.
But by 1960, the federal government
was in the welfare businessina
big way, and the farm was on Its way
out. The animal population had dwindled
to one mule and four or five
Old Jen, the melancholy mule, had
outlived her usefulness and was
headed for the slaughterhouse, until
an outraged citizenry found her a
The farm was the center of controversy
almost from the beginning.
There were rumors and reports of
misdoings, political byplay, and, on
various occasions. arguments about
convertina the 480-acre farm into a
county hospital, county park, or seiling
it for what it would bring on the
COSVERSION of the county farm
to a swank park and gall course was
financed by the late J. A. LaFortune,
Tulsa oilman and philanthropist.
Jack Helton, county social ser,'
ices director, says there is still a
great need for facilities such as the
County Emergency Shelter. It deals
in quick relief for destitute persons
who can't readily find it anywhere
else. he said.
"We never turn any qualilied person
down," he said. "Many transients
are referred to us by the Salvation
Army where they can't stay
more than two days."
The Tulsa shelter tries to get the
applicant a job in three days and into
their own home in two weeks, Helton
The move will begin October 21. It
involves centralization of the County
Social Services division in the new
These include several offices at
1916 N. Sheridan Road, the county
clinic, pharmacy and emergency
The new shelter, which will open
Oct. 25, will have 30 rooms and a
capacity of SO. Capacity of the old
shelter was 75. The construction was
financed by federal revenue sharing
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Central Library Local History Collection: Tulsa County farm and home [vertical file]