Rock Island County Infirmary and Poor House

In the early days the county poor were boarded out in various places, but the county in about 1850 or 1852 purchased the old Rinnah Wells farm, which was located at the turn of the old Camden Mills road, about half a mile north of the wagon bridge, across the Rock River. On this farm was a long two-story frame house, which was made our first County Poor House. November 20, 1860, Rock Island County purchased the farm of James M. Smith, near Coal Valley, for a consideration of $3,000. Mr. Frederick Weyerhaeuser, who then lived in Coal Valley, built the first poor house on this property. The first time it was erected it was forty by sixty feet, though since its destruction by fire, December 29, 1902, a new building of brick, fifty-eight by one hundred feet, and four. stories high has taken its place. The new structure was completed in 1903 at a cost of $20,000. William S. Bailey was appointed steward of the poor farm September, 1860. At that time the infirmary contained but eighteen inmates. Mr. Bailey’s salary at that time was four hundred dollars per year. By 1869 his salary had been increased to $1,000 per year, the number of inmates having vastly increased by that time. Excepting the year 1869 Mr. Bailey was superintendent of the infirmary until 1881, when he was succeeded by Mr. A. Buttman, who served three years. Following Mr. Buttman came Mr. James Robertson, who served two years, then Mr. W. H. H. Dow, who served eleven years. December 15, 1897, Mr. John C. Swank was appointed superintendent, and he has since officiated in that capacity.

 

Early Settlements of Rock Island County 

 

Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908