Compiled by:

Janet Clayton GARDNER




Dedicated to the memory of  Elizabeth C. Willoughby LOYD

My great-great grandmother

A former inmate of the County Home



home.jpg (79259 bytes)




Acknowledgement page 1

Preface page 2

Introduction (with footnotes) page 4


Mr. John Hood GARNER page 11

Mrs. Thelma Folsom FOSTER page 13

Mrs. Ruth WHITMIRE page 16

Map of County Home page 19

Illustration of Johnny KULMS page 20

Objects found in book

Envelope page 21

Papers page 22

Record of Inmates in County Home page 23

Index page 91


Compiler's Book Page 1


Never can just one person compile such a book without the assistance, and support of others. I give my sincere heartfelt thanks to my very best friend, Eva Maurine LOYD CLAYTON, who also happens to be my mother, for all the proof reading, encouragement and smiles throughout this project. To my husband, I thank for the love and support shown while preparing this book and understanding when meals weren't prepared.

Next my grateful thanks is extended to Mrs. Thelma FOSTER and Ruth WHITMIRE for allowing a perfect stranger into their homes and sharing their valuable recollections of the County Home. Their gracious hospitality was greatly appreciated.

Next, I thank Mr. John Hood GARNER for sharing his service as Commissioner of Bell County in order to give the readers a business outlook of the County Home.

In Bell County, Texas, Vada SUTTON, the County Clerk, allowed me the use of the commissioner's Court Minutes and spent her valuable time answering my many questions. Many thanks to Ms. SUTTON"S staff for making copies and seeing to my needs. Especially, to Mrs. Linda ENGELHOLM for her expression of enthusiasm. To Ms. Lena ARMSTRONG, Bell County Librarian, for permitting me to view priceless material from the archives of the Library.

Without the collective help of these gracious individuals this book would not have been as interesting or informative. Words can not express the deep appreciation I feel for their valuable time given!



Compiler's Book Page 2-3


Many years have been spent trying to find the death date of my great-great grandmother, Elizabeth C. LOYD. We knew where she came from, whom she married, how many children she had and she was buried in an unmarked grave in the Pendleton cemetery. But her death date was a mystery.

After gathering information for the last eleven years we knew Elizabeth was still alive in 1917. However, felt she had died before 1920. This was not sufficient for our family records. WE wanted to know exactly when she died and perhaps obtain a copy of her death notice from the newspaper

In the past 5 yeas many of her descendants were asked if they could help. Her grandson, Clyde LLOYD, of Bell County, Texas informed us that Elizabeth was buried in the Pendleton cemetery in Pendleton, Texas next to other family remembers. However, her grave was unmarked. Uncle Clyde was then asked if he could remember how old he was when Elizabeth died. He answered, "No!" Other questions were asked to pin point the year of death however, the answers were not revealing.

In 1994, the government released the Federal Census reports taken in 1920 throughout the United States. I decided to update the family records I had diligently compiled for the past twelve years including all branches of my family tree. My first location would be Bell County, Texas knowing I would find not only my mother's maternal but paternal ancestors as well. This would keep me busy for quite awhile!

To my surprise I found my great-great grandmother listed shortly after I began my search. She was enumerated as an inmate in the "Poor House" of Bell County. The "Poor House?" "What did this mean?" Then I remembered a letter in my personal files dated June 21, 1919 concerning Elizabeth. The letter was written by Judge Mallory B. BLAIR, County Judge of Bell County, to the State Comptroller requesting forms for Elizabeth to draw a military pension. Judge BLAIR states, "Mrs. LOYD is old and her mind is about like a child's. she has no one to look after her until recently. She is now in good hands, but ill and has been for several months and needs this pension very badly."

The next step in my research was to find out if any records of the "Poor House" still existed. I went to the Bell County Courthouse to see Vada SUTTON the County Clerk. I asked Ms. SUTTON if there were any records of the "Poor House." She reached down and retrieved an aged book from a bottom shelf and stated this is the record book of the County Home. I opened the book and began to scan the names of the inmates. Number twenty three on the first page was my great-great grandmother, Elizabeth. Not only did the book furnish her death date but her birth date, dates she entered and left the home and her son's name. This information led me to an obituary in the "Temple Daily Telegram" and confirmation on the location of her unmarked grave. What a jackpot! I copied the first page in the record book and the obituary from the newspaper. Gathered all my notes and I headed back Home. I had what I wanted!

Through all the excitement I started to realize if the information in the County Home record book was so important 6to me it must be important to others looking for a lost loved one. Finally, this past April while attending a 1995 FOREMAN family reunion, in Bell County, I went to the Bell County Clerk's Office and requested a copy of the record book for transcription. I felt this information must be distributed!

The original book measures 12" x 17" and is titled "Record of Inmates of County Home, Bell County, Texas." There were two hundred original pages. However, some of these original pages have been torn out, cut out or they are blank. Which left only sixty seven pages to be transcribed. Most of the time deciphering handwriting style, and spelling in older records such as this is very tedious. However, the handwriting in this record book was for the most very legible. However, some of the entries were crowded into limited space and determining what entry went with what inmate left a sense of uncertainty.

Names have been transcribed as written in the original book. However, different spellings have been used by different record keepers. The entries were duplicated several times throughout the original book. It appears that each time a new superintendent was on the job the entries were copied again. However, new information may be found on the page with the new entry. Therefore it is highly recommended the searcher check the index for all possible spellings and listings.

This book was compiled to help other researches find their lost loved ones. The valuable information can be used as a tool to further the search and perhaps create a bond between the inmate and researcher that leaves a sense of belonging.

>From the wisdom of Solomon comes the words, "He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered." (Proverbs 21:13) Bell count heard these cries and answered them. For this, I thank you Bell County!


Compiler's Book Page 4-10




The Bell Count Home was first known as the Bell County: "Poor Farm" consisted of three hundred acres and was used as a detention farm for paupers and county convicts.1 The farm was located east of Belton near the present "Bend of the River" on Interstate Highway 35. From Belton you travel east on 2nd St to Interstate Highway 35. As you cross over the interstate you will see the "golden arches" (McDonalds) on the right. Turn left onto the access road. Not far down the access road is a bridge crossing the Leon River. As you cross the bridge look to the right and you will see the bend of the river. Just past the bridge is a ranch owned by Ruebin TALASEK called "Bend O' the River." In this general area is where the "Poor Farm" was located.

The date the "Poor Farm" was established is uncertain at this time, however we do know from the 1900 Federal Census Schedules of Bell County, the "Poor Farm" was there as early as June 20, 1900 housing William P. COBURN as superintendent of the farm along with his wife, Mary; 79 year old mother, Maria, and five children. On that day there were eight convicts and twenty three inmates, black and white, aging from six years old to 82 years old with birthplaces listed throughout the United States, Germany and England.2 [The word "inmates" refers to the paupers] The 1910 Federal Census Schedules of Bell County listed William J. KENNEDY as superintendent, his wife Lou, five children, two convict guards by the name of Lee BUTLER and a Mr. HUGHES and a total of twenty three convicts and inmates black, white and mulatto aging from 2 months to 82 years old with birthplaces listed throughout the United States, Germany Bohemia and England.3

>From 1900 until 1913 there were several superintendents employed by the Bell County Commissioners Court. Some of the superintendents were, W. P. COBURN, A. J. OWENS, J. B. BLAIR, and W. J. KENNEDY. Each year the Commissioners Court would employ a superintendent by either extending the current superintendent's contract or hiring a new person. The contract the superintendent signed clearly stated the superintendent and his family were to employ their entire time and best energies in the service of the County under the direction of the Commissioners Court and the superintendent was to be placed under bonds in the sum of five hundred dollars for the faithful performance of his duties, the negligent waste or destruction of any and all property instructed to his care and the value of any services of convict labor lost through his negligence or carelessness. W. P. COBURN'' salary was $41.00 a month. A. J. OWENS started in 1902 with the salary of $500.00 per year then increased to $600.00 in 1904 at the renewal of his contract requiring him to increase his bond to $600.00 On October 10, 1905, the Commissioners Court voted to accept J. B. BLAIR'S application for superintendent of the county Farm with his services to begin on the first day of November. His salary was $600.00 a year with the condition he was responsible for the expense of all necessary guards for the control of convict labor placed on the farm. The bond amount increased to $1,000.00 which covered all the above mentioned bond conditions plus any monies that might come into his hands through the collection of any

fines, etc. At a special October 1905 term, A. J. OWENS was ordered to make a final report and inventory of the County Farm showing all tools, implements, livestock, feed, etc., on hand all monies on hand or collected as fines since his service began in 1902. This report was to be filed with the County Clerk no later than November 1, 1905.4 On October 30, 1905, the Commissioners Court rendered the following order: "It is ordered by the Court that the manager or superintendent of the County Farm shall & he is hereby required to keep a set of books in which he shall enter and keep a full and detailed statement of all the moneys received from the products of said farm, the labor of the convicts, sales of stock and all other sources: Also, all the expenses incurred in the maintenance of the farm, support of convicts & paupers and all other expenses incurred in the running, maintaining and support of the farm, giving dates of transactions, names of parties, amounts and etc. Said books shall show the names of all paupers and convicts received on the farm, dates of their reception, and the date of discharge & etc. and it is further ordered that said superintendent shall make a report in writing to the Commissioners Court on the first day of each month for the month immediately proceeding, showing the receipts & the expenses incurred, giving names of parties from whom goods & etc. purchased, dates of purchase, what for, and the amount of the several accounts and he shall also show in such report, the number of convicts on hand, number discharged and number received; number of paupers on hand, number received and number discharged: and he shall embrace such other information in his said monthly reports as shall enable the Court to determine therefore the exact condition of the said farm and of the convicts and paupers thereon. And he shall make such suggestions & recommendations concerning the farm and the convicts and paupers as he shall believe for the benefit of the County & the best management and conduct of the farm and the care and support of the convict and paupers. The county shall furnish the necessary books, and blanks to enable him to carry out the provisions of this order." The next day the Court went out to the County Farm and took an inventory of the property on the farm belong to Bell County. This inventory was recorded in a book which was to be filed in the County Clerk's Office.5

We are not sure what existed on the County Farm property throughout the years but we do know in 1900 a "Pest House" was built to care and treat anyone with infections and contagious diseases. A proposal in the amount of $160.00 for installing a Colt Acety Line gas generator to furnish lighting for the county home was submitted by Mr. R. L. MELLON on July 15, 1902 and accepted by the Commissioners Court. The generator installed had the capacity for running 20 lights of 12 C.P. each for 10 hours. Included was the piping to and throughout all buildings with one fixture to each room and all leads equipped with independent cut-offs. In 1905, the superintendent, J. B. BLAIR, was allowed to fence off about 100 acres to grow corn and Johnson grass for grazing and purchase a new cook stove. Wagons, cattle, hogs, and chickens were all part of the county farm's existence.6

The Bell County taxpayers were the ones absorbing the expenses of the County Farm with the Commissioners Court managing the expenditures for the County. Of course all expenditures were reviewed at budget time each year. The first indication the County Farm may close was in September of 1910 when the Court ordered the County Clerk, Mr. White, to prepare an itemized statement of expenses and receipts of the County farm for the past five years. After this report, an order by the Court issued the February term of 1911 stated that the farm was to be offered for sale on Tuesday, August 15, 1911. The conditions of the sale was to be to the highest bidder for cash, and the right to reject any and all bids submitted to the Court was expressly reserved. However, at the June term of 1911 a motion was made by Commissioner Vernon and seconded by Commissioner DAVIS to rescind the order to sell the Bell County Farm. Commissioner VERNON and DAVIS voted "yea." Commissioner DENMAN and DICKY voted "no." County Judge SHIPP voted "yea." So business continued as usual for the County Farm. On November 13, 1911, the court employed W. J. KENNEDY as the superintendent of the farm for one year with the salary of $50.00 a month with a bond of $1,000.00 to expire November 20, 1912.7 However, the closing of the County farm was inevitable. Just a year later, on November 23, 1912, the Commissioners Court came to the conclusion the Bell County Farm was not a paying proposition as a farm nor was it anywhere near self sustaining as a farm but a burden to the taxpayers of bell County. Therefore another vote was cast as follows: County Judge SHIPP; Commissioners DENMAN and MCLEAN "yea" and Commissioners DICKY and HALL "nay." Once again the Commissioner Court ordered the county Farm was to be sold on November 30, 1912 at 10 o'clock A. M. to the highest bidder and full possession be given to the new owner by December 31, 1912.8 This time the order was not rescinded! Within the next month Commissioners DENMAN and DICKY were ordered to sell all hogs, cows, hay and every and anything that belonged to Bell County which existed at the "Poor Farm." Mr. J. P. WILLIAMS bid of $18,000.00 was accepted by the Commissioners Court as the selling price. The Court ordered this amount to be transferred from the general fund to the road and bridge funds of Beats one, two, three and four. It was allocated in the following manner: 22% transferred to Beet #1; 27% transferred to Beat #2; 38% transferred to Beat #3; and 13% transferred to Beat #4.9




The county never intended to disregard the responsibility of providing for the indigent. At the same time the Court was selling the County Farm the Count purchased a five acre tract of land located north of Belton, Texas, just across the public road from the North Belton cemetery for the erection of a house for the indigent. A warrant (check) for the sum of $500.00 was issued to George W. COLE, Jr. for the purchase of this land.10

Mr. W. C. DURHAM was awarded the contract with the county to build a superintendent's house and three houses for the indigent. Mr. DURHAM was to be paid each week for the labor performed and all materials such as lumber, shingles, nails, etc., were to be purchased through the New Lumber Company. In the contract signed December 5, 1912, Mr. DURHAM stated he would, "furnish all material according to plans and specifications to build the houses. Four of them for the sum of four thousand seven hundred and forty five dollars & 75 cnets-$4,745.75."11

Then we find on December 11, 1912, there was opposition by a committee concerning the location of the new home. There are no records identifying the committee or exactly what the opposition was. However, on that day the following was stated in the Regular Session of Commissioners Court, "The request of the Committee to the Court to find some other location for the Pauper Home having been duly considered by the Court the request is unanimously respectfully declined by this Court." Just three short months later, March 15, 1913, the Commissioners Court announced the buildings for the County Home had been completed and fully inspected by the Court and found Mr. W. C. DURHAM the contractor, had fulfilled all the obligations of the contract. It was ordered that the said houses be accepted by the County and Mr. DURHAM be fully paid in accordance with the terms of the contract.12 The "Temple Daily Telegram" reported on March 16, 1913, "The county Home for the poor has been accepted and the new shades beds and mattresses installed. A fine cow has been purchased for the home, which will furnish milk and butter for all the inmates. Coops and so forth have been arranged for the raising of chickens. The four cottages and other improvements were made at a cost of $4,745.75."13

The next question the Court had to address was, Who would be allowed to be admitted to the County Home? Judge W. S. SHIPP was given the authority to see that all female convicts and sick or disabled male convicts and all poor indigent cripples, paupers, etc, which to him may seem just and proper, be admitted to the County "Poor Home." On March 17, 1913, the home was officially opened to receive inmates. There were eleven inmates admitted.14 Nine of the eleven inmates were inmates from the County Farm. The inmates transferred from the County Farm were: Peter LEE, Ben GARRETT, Will KAASE, Jim PERKINS, Hillis EUSTIS, Mary HOIT,15 Peppie DLOUGHY, Melissa ROSE and Ann HARBER. The census records reveal that Ann HARBER was an inmate of the county Farm as early as 1900. Sometime between 1900 and 1910, Peter LEE, Melissa ROSE, Peppie DLOUGHY and Jim PERKINS were admitted to the County Farm. The census records or the County Home record book does not reveal the other two inmates. Elmira FORDYCE and Mary HURD, came from the County Farm. For some of the inmates the County Home was the only home they knew for more than twenty years.16


With the opening of the home came rules and regulations were set by Commissioners Court, in order for the operation of the home to be effective and fair to all. At the regular March term in 1913, the court set forth the following rules and regulations:

It is ordered by the Court that the following rules and regulations shall obtain and be in force for the proper government of the Bell County Poor Home as follows:

1. The manager shall, at all times, carefully look after the property belonging to Bell County Poor Home in the same careful and business like manner as if same was his own property.

2. The manager shall have charge of all the inmates and the Commissioners Court shall, from time to time promulgate such rules and regulations governing their conduct while at said home as may, having in mind the full exigencies of the time and occasion, be just and right, and having a proper regard for old age and the environment in life of such inmates. The manager shall never punish in any manner any inmate of such home for any deviation of duty or conduct except in a mild and gentlemanly manner. If the conduct of any inmate becomes such as is beyond the endurance and control of said manager he shall forthwith report same to the Commissioner Court for proper adjudication. All inmates shall be treated right and proper at all times and with forbearance by said manager.

3. The manager of said home shall remain on the premises at all times, except when urgent business should call him to other places away from said home, and he shall, at all times, give his time and attention to the business at said home, and the careful taking care of such inmates. He shall not, at any time, purchase anything of whatsoever character for or in behalf of said home and charge same to Bell County, except by and with the advice and consent of Commissioner, W. P. DENMAN, or open a written order of said W. P. DENMAN, properly signed by said DENMAN.

4. The manager of said home shall from time to time make proper reports of the condition of the inmates of said home, especially in regard to clothing, food, beds, clothes, etc., and general health of each and every inmate of said home. He shall not, at any time, permit any of the inmates to suffer for want of proper care during sickness, and shall at all times call upon the County Health Officer for any advice during sickness and for medicine for such inmate as may be sick.

5. The said manager shall, at no time permit any of the inmates to leave said home without his permission and they shall not leave said home except when accompanied by said manager. He shall not permit them to leave said home, at any time, except upon written order from the Commissioners Court or when accompanied by said manager.

6. All matters affecting the management of said home or the care and control of the inmates of said home shall at all time be under the regulations of the Commissioners Court of Bell County, and the manager of said home, shall, at all times, be subject to any and all rules promulgated by the said Court for the proper efficient management of said home, and the said manager shall be subject to dismissal, upon a proper hearing before the Commissioners Court for any mis-management of said home or any deviation of duty or for any improper treatment of any inmate of said home.

7. That the Court herein resume to itself the right to formulate and promulgate any rule or regulation which to said Court may be deemed just and proper to meet any conditions or emergency in the management and control of said home and the inmates thereof, and the manager of said Home shall be at all times subject to such other and further rules and regulations as shall from time to time be made and extend by said Court, and he here and now, agrees, as well as at all times heretofore, to such rules and regulations by said Court, and fully and agreeably accepts such under and by virtue of his appointment as manager of said home, and hereby and herein fully and faithfully promises and agrees to all terms, to properly conduct himself as such manager and to faithfully and impartially keep all the rules and regulations herein made and such others as may from time to time be made and adopted by this Court. It is further agreed and understood by and between the Commissioners Court and the manager of said home that no horse or other animals shall be kept at said home except upon written orders of the Commissioners Court.

Throughout the following years, new rules and regulations were added and old ones were modified to comply with situations that existed at the time. At the November term of 1914, it was ordered by the Court that no person be permitted to the County Home except by authority of the Court, and that no person be admitted that has, or who has been exposed to any contagious or infectious disease, and all admitted to said home shall have been a boni-fide citizen of Bell County for at least six months before they were to be admitted.18 In 1917, it was ordered by the Court that any inmate had the right to leave said home but if they left without permission of the superintendent or the County Judge of Commissioners Court they would forfeit their right to return until they were admitted by order of the Court.19

Not only did the rules change but the needs for the home changed as well. Just about every time the Commissioners Court met a decision was made concerning the County Home. In 1916, the County purchased 3 1/2 acres of land adjoining the county Home from Mrs. Sam BIGHAM for the sum of $100.00. That same year, a Jersey cow and calf was purchased for $75.00 however, six months later Commissioners M. B. BLAIR and W. P. DENMAN were ordered to visit the County Home and report to the Court the physical condition of the cow as to whether her "milk will flow at the proper time." A small house was built on the property to be used as a "smoke house." IN 1917, all hogs were sold except for one. In that same year, the County paid George A. GRAY the sum of $145.00 to paint the houses at the Home. IN the 1920's the salary for the superintendent, W. W, WALLACE was raised from $45.00 a month to $75.00 per month. An assistant superintendent, Judge NEWELL, was hired and paid $35.00 a month and Mrs. WALLACE was allowed $10.00 per month for cooking. The County Judge was authorized to move and remodel a chicken house for the County Home and provide proper chicken feed, "securing work as cheap as possible." On December 11, 1922, the Court ordered the County Home Demonstration Agent to order one thousand cans to can some meat for the county Home and the County Auditor was authorized to trade for and purchase some beeves for the county Home. By 1924, the houses and surrounding buildings needed repair and painted again. H. B. PINSTON was employed to paint and Elmer WILSON to do the necessary carpenter work. The insured value of the home increased another $4,000.00 in 1927. On April 22, 1929, it was ordered that the bid of Bud LATHAM of Holland, Texas, to remove one of the cottages at the County Home for $50.00, be accepted. Bob CASS was employed to remove the weeds from the County Home in 1929. All decisions were made by the Court no matter how trivial they may have seemed. The Court was the head of this household!20

Throughout the history of Bell County, the County heard the cries of the indigent and the County did it's best to answer the needs. Not all paupers were sent to the County Home. IN fact, a large percent of the pauper's were persons who had a place to stay but no means to sustain their needs. The county would issue monthly allotments of $5.00 to $10.00 to the paupers according to their needs. Some of the inmates admitted to the home were previously on the paupers roll receiving allotments. However, the time came when they were unable to take care of themselves or had no place to stay and were admitted to the home.

Making the right decisions concerning the inmates care was enduring at times for the superintendent and Commissioners Court. On July 13, 1917, W. W. WALLACE the superintendent was ordered by the Court to go to Little River for old man HARBOSIN who had been away from the County Home on a fishing trip for the past several months. On that same day the Court instructed Mr. WALLACE to "move Mrs. WILLIAMS from the lower house to the room occupied by crazy bohemian woman in upper house, and move crazy bohemian to room now occupied by Mrs. WILLIAMS in lower house, and move old grandma from lower house to northwest room in upper house."21 In that same year, Mrs. WALLACE was issued a check in the amount of $14.45 to purchase a ticket for an inmate by the name of EVANS who wanted to go south for his general health but with the agreement he (Mr. EVANS) would agree not to return to Bell County.22

As the years went by, the County Home survived through the depression and

World War II. Several hundred inmates were admitted and released. The average stay for a superintendent and his family was about two years, however there were some who stayed as long as five years. The expenditures for the home increased with health care, new refrigerators, heaters, beds, washing machines, raising salaries and the never ending repairs to the houses.

An article in the "Killeen Daily Herald," dated Friday, May 19, 1967 gave the reader a very grim picture of the County Home. It was considered a skeleton in the county's closet. Throughout the inmate cottages there was an impression of deterioration. The cottages had little or no color inside. The walls were bare, dreary, cracked and dusty. Beds were aged as the antique furniture. Light bulbs dangled from sockets at the end of cords hanging from the ceilings. Shower and rest room facilities were very old fashioned. Several private rooms were vacant, but no waiting list existed. Located outside at the northwest end of the property was the weed infested "Potter's Field" containing about thirty to forty pauper's graves. Only one grave was marked with a tilted crude metal marker which was almost hidden by a small tree. County Judge William C. BLACK had visited the County Home and described the home as something out of another era. Judge BLACK felt with the new era of pensions, Social Security, Welfare, Medicare and other forms of public assistance, the County's responsibility to the elderly poor was not what is was 50 years prior. He felt the old era was drawing to a close and asked the Commissioners to consider closing the home. Judge BLACK reported $16,100.72 was spent by the County to operate the home in 1966. The average cost per inmate was $111.88 per month. He said, "It would cost about twice that in a private nursing home, but in a private nursing home there is quite a difference in what can be done for a person."23

On February 17, 1969, the Commissioners Court of Bell County met in the County Courthouse in Belton, Texas in regular session and on the motion of Commissioner A. J. LANHAM, and seconded by John Hood GARNER, the Court ordered that effective March 1, 1969, the County Home of Bell County would be officially closed.24 There were only six people in the home when the vote was cast. Elsie MANLEY, Ester COUCH, Minia VERNON, Ollie SAYER, William BRADFORD, and Theodore MILLS and on the 25th day of February 1969 they were moved to a nursing home at 516 South 7th Street in Temple, Texas.25

A motion to sell the County Home and buildings was made on March 3, 1969, however, the motion failed for lack of sufficient votes. Again, in 1970 an attempt was made to sell the buildings at the County Home but after tabulating the bids the Court rejected all bids. From July 31, 1972 to May 29, 1973, the Court allowed Pete HAMRICK to use the County Home property for grazing.26 We are not sure if the homes were torn down or sold. To this day, many residents say the homes were sold and moved from the property. The county kept the north part of the County Home property and in December of 1978 dedicated a new County annex building which houses the Health Department and the County Extension Office. Before the construction of the annex building the graves at the County Home cemetery were interred and placed at the North Belton Cemetery. The County Home record book reveals twenty five inmates were buried in this cemetery, however, one inmate, Mary HURD, was interred by her family and moved to Nolanville. There were additional graves for the paupers who did not live at the home. At the North Belton cemetery the graves are marked with a cement base approximately twenty four feet in length and ten inches in width with twelve metal markers imbedded in the cement approximately two feet apart with the inscription "unknown." Scott and White Clinic occupies the southern section of the old County Home property. The large oak trees, which once surrounded the old homes, still exist today swaying back and forth with only the wind to tell of old times.



By John Hood GARNER

Commissioner of Precinct #1

>From 1946-1956 & 1964-1972

Bell County, Texas

July 22, 1995

I descend from one of the early pioneer families of the Tennessee Valley located in Bell County, Texas. My father was born in the Tennessee Valley in 1872. I was not even a year old, on March 17, 1913, when the Bell County Home was officially opened. However, as a young boy I do remember hunting for rabbits on the County Home property.

In 1919, I was only seven years old but remember going every day to see the road construction on Main Street. Main street was being paved from the Courthouse traveling north until just across the overpass near the North Belton Cemetery. The road just across the overpass was not considered Main Street but was known as Airline road or the Tennessee Valley road. This road passed beside the county Home and in front of the North Belton Cemetery and traveled north all the way to Moody, Texas. This road wasn't paved until 1937 or 1938.

When World War I began I was a 30 year old construction worker. I enlisted in the United States Navy on August 18, 1942. In February of 1943 I went to the South Pacific as a member of the Naval Construction Battalion. I was wounded twice while serving my country but didn't return home until the war was over and the job was done. I returned on September 26, 1945.

Before the War, I never considered myself politically inclined. However, I decided to run of the office of Commissioner of Precinct Number One in Bell County and won. The first time I held this office was in 1946 and held the office until 1956 at which time I resigned.

The first project on my agenda was the restoration of the County Home located in Precinct One. The home was in terrible shape in 1946. The homes were falling apart. The people in the home were not being taken care as they should have been. The grounds were shamefully neglected. I guess the depression and then the war was part of the neglect. I convinced the Commissioner's Court this project was very important and needed to be addressed immediately. Bell County spent $13,000.00 restoring the county Home and grounds. This included a new wooden fence built completely around the County Home property where the houses were located.

At that time, the County Home property consisted of approximately 15 acres. The property where the Leon Heights Elementary School now stands was the cow pasture of the county Home. Where the Scott & White Clinic and the Bell County Annex is located today is where the houses were located under the big oak trees which are still standing today. The entrance to the county Homes was an iron gate located exactly straight across form the main entrance to the North Belton Cemetery. As you traveled through the iron gates you would proceed straight east and stop in front of the superintendent's house. The fence was approximately thirty feet to your right separating the cow pasture and the houses.

All the houses faced south. The four houses were all built the same except the superintendent's house had a screen porch on the backside. The first house you came to was the superintendent's house. Directly east of the Superintendent's house was the house for the bedfast patients and directly behind this house, approximately fifty feet, was the house for the women inmates. Directly behind the superintendent's house approximately fifty feet was the house for the men inmates. Between the two back houses but setting back a little ways was the "pest house." All the houses were surrounded by beautifully large oak trees. Eventually, I convinced the County to sell the cow pasture to the Belton Independent School District and the District built Leon Heights Elementary School. This property was of no use to the County Home but would benefit the education of the children of Bell County.

As I mentioned before, I resigned as Commissioner in 1956. The construction business kept me quite busy. However, I was approached by several citizens to run once again for Commissioner of Precinct Number One. I was elected in 1964 and served Bell County once again until 1972. In 1969, there were just a few inmates in the home. The inmates were eligible for government aid such as Welfare and Medicare therefore there was no need for the County's assistance. The Court decided to close the County Home. All remaining inmates were placed in nursing homes for their care.

Compiler's Book Page 13-15



Wife of J. C. FOSTER the superintendent of the

County Home from 1960 to 1965

July 21, 1995

My given name is Thelma Leona FOLSOM. FOLSOM is a Indian name. I am eighty seven years old and my birth certificate says I was born in Trinity County, Texas. My Dad was a poor man's preacher. He worked in the sawmill at Conroe, Texas making pine lumber. There was a bunch of us kids and Dad worked hard to make a living. Daddy had itchy feet so we never stayed in one place long. However, we always stayed in Texas!

I've lived in Bell County ever since I married my husband, J. C. FOSTER, and I married him when I was fifteen years old. We were married seventy years when he died in October of 1993. J. C. had a stroke twelve years earlier and I had taken care of him. J.C. was born in the little town of Rogers, Texas. He and I lived in the Joe Lee Community west of Rogers, Texas. We attended the County Line Baptist Church there. We did all our shopping in the little town of Rogers.

We moved to Belton in 1960 to take care of an elderly man by the name of Uncle John GARNER. His step daughter was our neighbor and had expressed Uncle John was looking for a couple to come and live with him to help take care of him. Uncle John had two sons in west Texas but he didn't want to leave Belton to live with them. So, J. C. and I moved in with Uncle John in a real nice house in Miller Heights. I did the cooking, cleaning and laundry. We joined the Miller Heights Baptist Church where I go now. We had worked there for about 3 months when a neighbor told us the couple at the County Home was retiring and suggested we apply for the job.

We decided to apply. The commissioners wanted a husband and wife team. The man was to take care of the grounds, make sure the men inmates were taken care of and the woman was to do the cooking and see that the women were taken car of properly. The Commissioners interviewed several couples that day. I remember they asked me if I could cook for several people. I replied I came from a large family and felt I could. J. C. spoke up and told them how I had cooked for a bunch of boarded hands out at Camp Hood. This was when J. C. worked for the Fire Department at Camp Hood. We lived out at the little village in one of the apartment units. Now days they call it Fort Hood. But back then it was called Camp Hood. One of the Commissioners said, "If she could cook for those men then without a doubt she can cook for the inmates at the home." We were hired!

I was 52 years old and J. C. was 59 years old when we went to work for the home on June 1, 1960. On the County Home property there were four houses. Three of the houses were just alike accept our house had a screen porch across the back. The houses had porches all across the front. The men's house was different. All the houses faced South towards the Leon Heights school yard. As you drove through the iron gate the drive went in front of the first house which was our house. Then the drive curved between the first house and big oak tree and continued around to the back of our house to the garage. The backside of the garage faced North Main street. Each house had it's own running water with bathrooms furnished with the big leg bathtubs.

The sick house was in line and directly east from our house. This is where the nurse, Mary HALFORD, stayed with the bedfast patients. Inside the sick house was a very long hall way with three rooms on each side. Mary had one room and the patients were in the other rooms. Then at the back of the house was the bathroom. The ceilings in each house were the very high ceilings.

Directly in line and behind the sick house was the women's house. Just east of that house stood a big old water tank. Don't know what it supplied water for. It could have supplied water for us for all I know. All I know is it was there! Between the sick house and the women's house running north to south was a large clothesline that they hung the laundry on. Laundry was done every day. Directly in line and behind our house was the men's house. The men and women that stayed in these houses were able to get up and around. They were not bedfast. The County cemetery was located up on the hill level with the houses in a pasture just behind the men's house. The county buried only one person in the cemetery while we were there. We didn't even know who it was. The county just brought the person out there. When someone died in the home their kin would come and take them away to be buried.

We had at the most fifteen inmates at one time. The three women who lived in the women's house were two sisters by the name of Elsie and Ester and another woman named Bertha from Moody or Pendleton somewhere around there. Bertha had diabetes real bad. She required insulin shots daily. I wasn't qualified to give the shots but Mary the nurse did. We had three men. Mr. GREEN, who had throat cancer and was fed through a tube in his throat, Mr. COBB an old bachelor and an old gent from Belton but I can't remember his name. Then there was Granny ADAMS, Betty SMITH and Mary Jan QUALLS. Mary Jane had been there for a long time. Ever since she was a young woman. She had arthritis. She could not lay on her side. She laid straight on her back. Her hands were drawn up which made It hard for her to feed herself and her legs were drawn up in a permanent position. However, Mary Jane had a very sweet spirit and the brightest outlook on life. She was a very happy person. Her son, daughter-in-law and grandson would come to visit her. Two other women were Ollie SAWYER and Maude TAYLOR. Then there was John KULMS who loved to mow the grass. He had a old push mower.

The inmates had no money at all. If they were in need the county paid the bill. We didn't raise a garden because there was no garden space. J. C. would buy the groceries. He would divide his business among three different merchants every three months. He would trade three months with Smith Brothers but it wasn't Smith Brothers then. Mr. and Mrs. SMITH owned the store located on the creek. Mr. SMITH died and Mrs. SMITH was not able to work any longer so the boys own the store now which is known as Smith Red and White grocery located on South Main street. They have two more stores now. Then for the next three months, J. C. would trade with another little store located at that time on Main Street and then three months with another store.

We had a pantry in the kitchen and J. C. would buy a case of green beans, corn etc. so we wouldn't run out. I cooked three meals a day. We had big food trays with plastic dishes on them. I would prepare the trays. Mary would deliver the trays to her house. The trays would be delivered to the other two houses. They would be returned with the dishes all washed except for the men's house. Elsie would take care of cleaning the trays in the women's house. J. C. would pick up the men's trays and we wold have to clean them and get them ready for the next meal. On the breakfast trays would be the inmates outgoing mail. J. C. would take the mail to the post office each day.

If the inmates needed shoes we wold put them in the car and take them to the store to pick what they wanted. If they didn't want to go to town to pick the shoe out then J. C. would go to the store and arrange for the clerk to bring the shoes out to the home for the inmate to approve and select what they wanted. However, my husband always had to carry Ester to the store because she wore a certain kind of shoe.

Of course we kept a record of the inmates who came and went. I was the one that wrote in the record book. I can remember writing a note about one of the inmates drinking a barrel of water. I use to study the book and look back at the time before we came. The manager before us was Mr. Royce MILLER. Everyone at the County Home loved Mr. MILLER dearly! IN fact Mr. MILLER would come and stay at the home while J. C. and I would have to be away at times. When Mr. MILLER left he told us, "Ya'll get Jerry cause he belongs out here" Jerry was a big spaniel with wavy black hair. He was an outside dog and slept in the garage. Everyone loved Jerry. I never knew what happened to Jerry. He may have died when the WHITMIRES were there cause he was quite old.

We did have visitors come to the home. Not too many were relatives of the inmates but church people mostly from Temple, Texas. Two ladies came from Temple and bought a television for every house. They did good things for the people. Church groups from Belton and Temple would come and sing on Sunday afternoons. At Christmas time carolers from Belton and Temple would come and sign to the inmates. There was a young lady from Temple who came and took the inmates to Temple to see the Christmas lights. I'll never forget how a special bed was made for Mary Jane to fit in the back of the ladies station wagon so she could go as well. She was a young woman but truly had feeling for the elderly. She came all the time to visit. I wish I could remember her name.


In 1965, J. C. and I decided to resign our services at the home. The WHITMIRES took over the management of the home until 1969 when the County decided to close the home. There were not many inmates at the time of closing. The County placed them all in nursing homes. Mary Jane QUALLS went to the Southern Manor nursing home in Temple. The others were placed in another nursing home located in Temple. J. C. and I would go to visit when we could. J. C. went to the auction when they sold the contents of the home and bought a cane rocker for his niece. I understand the homes were sold and moved from the property. I don't know who bought the houses but whoever bought the house we lived in got a bargain. The county had just spent a lot of money painting and placing sheet rock in the house just before we left. The place was beautiful to me. I use to take my grandchildren out to the property and reminiscence over old times. I worked in two nursing homes for 18 years after we left the County Home. I loved taking care of the elderly.

Compiler's Book Page 16-18



Wife of L. O. WHITMIRE the superintendent of the

County Home from 1965 to 1969

July 21, 1995

My husband, "Shag," and I were one of four couples that interviewed for the positions of superintendent and assistant superintendent for the Bell County Home in 1965. The next thing I knew, we received a call informing us we had the job! I was 45 years old and Shag was 53.

Shag was to take care of the grounds, see to the proper care of the male inmates and to be overseer of the operation of the home. My job was to do the cooking and see the women inmates were being properly cared for. There were two nurses. Jennie TAYLOR was the day nurse and Mary HALFORD was the resident nurse.

There were five houses which all set back among the big oak trees. The superintendent's house, women's house, and the hospital were all alike with large front porches. The men's house was a newer house and built differently with a small porch. However, our house was the only house with a kitchen and back porch. They were nice old houses with high ceilings. We had no air condition or ceiling fans however, we had big old fans. The inside of the homes were painted a light green to soften any glare and was a comfort to the eyes. They were painted white on the outside. Each house had an "old time" bathroom. The washer and dryer was kept in the women's house. There was a storage area in the women's house where we kept the extra blankets, pillows, etc. All houses faced south toward the Leon Heights school.

As you turned down the drive the first house you came to was our house. Straight in line with our house going east was the house we called the hospital. The hospital was for the bedfast patients. Mary HALFORD, the nurse, also had a room in the hospital. Straight behind the hospital was the women's house. The women patients that could get up and about stayed there. Straight behind our house was the house for the men who could get up and about. There was a fence all around the county home property. Between the men's house and women's house but on the other side of the fence was a little house with a picket fence that "Bud" lived in. This was Bud MELVIN. Bud lived in this house by himself and would come and go. I'm sure this was county property too or the County wouldn't have let him stay.

Just inside the front door of our house was the living room and the dining room to the back. On the right was the door to my bedroom. Next to my bedroom was another bedroom. You would have to travel through one bedroom to get to the other. The bathroom was located off the spare bedroom. The only way to enter the bathroom was through the bedroom. On the left side of the living room was the kitchen and little area with the kitchen table. This is where we ate our meals unless my children came and then we would use the dining room. The back door from the kitchen to the back porch.

Back behind the men's house and near Main Street was the county cemetery. You could tell there were graves but no markers. One of the nurses and I would go walking and pass the cemetery. It wasn't kept very well. We didn't have anyone buried there when we were there.

The groceries were bought at the local grocery stores. We would trade every three months with a different store. We would shop at WILSON'S, Robert TAYLOR'S and Joe SMITH'S grocery stores. We weren't given a budget. We just knew we couldn't have steak or things like that! We tried to economize the best we could. Whatever we bought was charged to the county. Sometimes my husband I would buy a roast on weekends and pay for it ourselves. We would share with everyone for a real good meal. They always had good meals including vegetables and meats. Their suppers were light which included soup or cereal. Uncle Johnny KULMS could eat cream of wheat three times a day. Most of the inmates didn't have teeth so the meals had to be something soft. I would cook something sweet all the time. Those who couldn't eat sweets were given a piece of fruit. I prepared the food at our house three times a day, dish meals out on large trays and the nurses would take the trays to the inmates. Jennie would deliver to the women's house, Mary to the hospital and Shag to the men's house. Mary and Jennie would eat their meals at our house after the inmates were fed.

We had, at the most, twenty inmates at one time. We never knew who was coming until the County called and told us they were sending someone out. Then we would start to prepare their room and bed. There were ones that came and went and then there were ones that were there before Shag and I came. There were two sisters that lived together in the women's house. They were Elsie MANLEY and Esther COUCH. They had a brother who came to visit all the time. Bertha TAYLOR lived with Elsie and Esther in the women's house. Bertha was a diabetic. Mary Jane QUALLS had been in the home for years. She came to the home when she was a very young girl. Mary Jane was one of the bedfast patients in the hospital. Bettie SMITH was paralyzed and was also a bedfast patient. Minia VERNON was just like a child. She loved her teddy bear. Robena COFFEY was a colored lady. She was so frightened the first night she came to the home. There were two Mexican ladies, Margarrita HERNANDEZ and her sister, neither could speak a word of English. The night Margarrita died I sat up with her sister beside Margarrita's bed. Neither one of us could understand the other but the circumstances created a sense of understanding. Johnny KULMS, called "Uncle Johnny" could get around and loved to got with Shag to take care of our cattle. He always wanted to help mow the yard. Shag was afraid to let him use the gasoline mower so he bought Uncle Johnny an old push mower. Shag would use the gasoline mower while Uncle Johnny attempted to mow with his push mower. He was so proud of his work. Uncle Johnny wanted to stay active and do something! There was a young boy sent to the home one time and stayed with Shag and I. But after things were straightened out at home he left and went home to his parents. Jewel CLARK was a crippled colored lady but was able to get around. In fact after Mary HALFORD, the nurse, retired we let Jewel work as a nurse for awhile. Jewel loved to crochet. I would buy her the thread and she did all my crochet work.

Once in a while I would help out and take care for the inmates if I was needed. The nurses were not registered nurses. If the inmate was to get sick we could call the doctor to come out. If they needed to go to the hospital then arrangements were made. I would go and visit the inmates at their house. However, I had to very careful how long I stayed at the other houses because Elsie and Esther would get jealous. Sometimes I would to the hospital and write letters for Mary Jane QUALLS to her son, Charles. Her son came to visit her quite often. He was a very nice looking young man. He had a wife and little girl who would come with him sometimes. Either Shag or I was at the home at all times. Unless we went on vacation. At vacation time, Royce and Alice MILLER, the past superintendent and his wife, would fill in for us. The inmates all loved the MILLERS.

Visitors came to the home quite often. Especially on the weekends. One Christmas a lady brought enough material for me to make a new dress for all the women inmates. Every Sunday the Memorial Baptist Church would conduct services at the home for the inmates.

Then came the day when we were told the home would officially be closed March 1, 1969. There were not many inmates left in the home. Mary Jane QUALLS was sent to Southern Manor just before the home closed. On February 25, 1969, Elsie MANLEY, Esther COUCH, Minia VERNON, Ollie SAWYER, William BRADFORD, and Theodore MILLS were moved to a nursing home in Temple.

Shag and I were told we could stay at the home but we left and went back home to Nolanville. We had two grown married daughters then. Now we have four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. In fact our latest great grandchild was born just this past Christmas Eve. He was named after my husband, Lathega O. WHITMIRE. Shag would have been thrilled to death to know he had a grandson named after him.

Several times we went to visit the inmates at their new homes. They were like our family. We had taken care of them for four years. They have all passed away now. We never had a minutes trouble out of any of them. They were all good people!

Compiler's Book Page 19

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Compiler's Book Page 20

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UNCLE JOHNNY KULMS and his push mower. He was an inmate from 1961-1967. In the background is the hospital at the County Home. Notice the fence, oak trees and large porch


Compiler's Book Page 21

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July 19, 1995

Above is a copy of the front and backside of an empty envelop found in the original Bell County Home record book. The only significance is the names and dates found written on this envelope.

Ruth WHITMIRE, wife of L. O. WHITMIRE, informed the compiler that the handwriting was her handwriting and the dates were birth dates. However she doesn't remember why the information was obtained.

The "Mary" listed was Mary HALFORD the full time nurse at the County Home. "Jennie" was Jennie TAYLOR the day nurse. L. O. and Ruth WHITMIRE were the last managers of the home. Royce and Alice MILLER were the managers at the home from 1946 until 1960.

On the backside of the envelope is Mary HALFORD'S telephone number after she had retired. Southern Manor was the name of the nursing home Mary Jane QUALLS went to at 1802 South 31st Street in temple, Texas. Also, listed is the telephone number of the nursing home.

Compiler's Book Page 22

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This food ration slip was found in the original Bell County Home record book. The date is May 10, 1943.

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This small slip of paper was also found loose in the original Bell County Home record book.



BELL COUNTY HOME-In Era Past But a Problem Still!-Killeen, Daily Herald, Friday, May 19, 1967


BELTON-The Bell County Home here-some call it the "poor farm"- is the end of the line for most of the dozen elderly men and women now living there. Most of them know the north end of the county home property will probably be their final resting place-in a Potter's Field, where at least 30 or 40 other graves are mostly hidden in a field of weeds and Johnson grass. Not many of the county's poor go to the county home Not many would want to. It isn't the brightest place for a senior citizen to end his final days. There are several private rooms vacant at the county home, but there is no waiting list for them. It takes only a little looking to explain why.


Bell County doesn't brag about its county home. It has little there to brag about. It is a skeleton in the county's closet. There was a time when it didn't rattle so loud as it does today. At a recent meeting of the Bell County Commissioners Court, County Judge William C. BLACK described the county home as something out of another era. He said that era is drawing to a close. Judge BLACK asked commissioners to think about closing the home. Early in this century, the county home filled a need and the county accepted the responsibility of filling that need. Today however, in a new era of pensions, Social Security, welfare, Medicare and other forms of public assistance, Judge BLACK feels the county's responsibility to the elderly poor is not what it was 50 years ago.



Judge BLACK visited the county farm the day after he asked commissioners to give thoughts to closing it. He came away, he said, with an upset stomach. Every time he visits the county home, the reaction is the same, he said. A reporter went with him on his recent visit, and came away understanding why Judge BLACK could feel upset. The county home is located on a four acre tract off North Main Street just north of the Leon Heights Elementary School. Ironically, a beautifully cared for cemetery is located almost opposite the county home and its weed-infested Potter's Field of paupers graves. L. O. WHITMIRE is superintendent of the county home. His wife is assistant superintendent. County his $286 and her $146, together they are paid $432 per month to operate the home and care for the "inmates"-as they are called. Their combined salaries account for about a third of the $16,100.72 spent by the county to operate the home last year. The average cost per inmate last year was $111.88 per month.


"It would cost about twice that in a private nursing home, but in a private nursing home there is quite a difference in what can be done for a person," Judge BLACK said. It costs about $2.50 a day to care for each inmate of the county home, not counting the cost of salaries for the WHITMIRES. Most of the inmates at the county home have no income whatsoever. Those that do receive Social Security turn their checks over to the county to help defray part of the costs for the care and keep. There are three "cottages" for the inmates. The WHITMIRES live in another. Men live in one cottage and most of the women in another. Two elderly sisters live alone in one cottage that has eight private rooms. According to Judge BLACK, the elderly sisters live alone together because they can't get along with the other woman residents. Some of the inmates have lived at the home for 20 or 30 years. For a good deal of their lives, they have known no other home.


Several of the inmates are bed-ridden. Life flashes briefly into their eyes when someone new comes by. Then they slump back in bed and look again with blank looks at the ceiling. One of the bed-ridden women is described politely by other inmates as an arthritic. In reality, the woman has an arrested communicable disease. She has been a resident at the county home for the last 21 of her 53 years. She has a 23 year old unmarried son who visits her occasionally, but is unable to care for her. In another room was a covered form that seemed to be that of a child, but it was a grown woman. The woman, a Latin American, lies in bed, knotted up in a ball. She couldn't weigh more that 60 pounds. A Latin American woman standing by her bedside looked up when visitors passed by. She spoke swiftly in Spanish to the form on the bed. Only the muttered word "Americanoes" was intelligible.


Throughout the inmate cottages there was an impression of deterioration. Fresh paint would do wonders. There were no signs of fresh or even remotely fresh paint. The cottages have little or no color inside, about the only decorative touches furnished by the residents. Religious pictures adorn some of the walls. But for the most part, the walls are bare, dreary, cracked and dusty. Beds are as aged as the antique furniture. Light bulbs dangle from sockets at the end of cords hanging from the ceiling Shower and rest room facilities are not all they might be. Sub-standard conditions at the "home" are not the fault of the WHITMIRES, Judge BLACK said. They do what they can on the budget the county allocates. During his recent visit, Judge BLACK told WHITMIRE to start a painting program, particularly in one of the women's cottages. One of the women's cottages is dark and drab. A good coat of white paint would brighten it considerably, Judge BLACK said. During the tour, Judge BLACK pointed to a worn spot on a door jamb leading into one of the private rooms. For a person sitting in a chair, the worn spot is head high. "You can tell someone sat there for a long, long time," Judge BLACK said, almost sadly. One time, Judge BLACK recalled, he chided WHITMIRE about the food served to inmates. Judge BLACK learned that WHITMIRE and his wife prepared large quantities of mush and soft-boiled eggs. "You're feeding them too much mush and soft-boiled eggs," Judge BLACK said he told WHITMIRE. "You can't feed them just mush and soft-boiled eggs all the time."


"Judge, have you asked them what they want to eat? Ask them, They'll tell you. That's what they want, mush and soft boiled eggs, WHITMIRE replied. "Most of these old folks don't have teeth. They can't eat many solid foods. Anything soft or liquid appeals to them," Judge BLACK said he learned. These people aren't forgotten altogether," Judge BLACK said, "You'd be surprised at the number of visitors they have. They have visitors most every weekend and on holidays. Visitors, particularly on holidays, bring candy and chicken and other food. It's such a waste. The solid foods are thrown away, because most of the old folks can't eat anything too solid." The two elderly sisters give some visitors a hard time, too Judge BLACK said. "Once they were brought some candy. The sisters took a look at it and said they wouldn't have it. They told their visitors to go back into town and get some good candy-some good chocolate would do," said Judge BLACK.


A little out of place in the deteriorating surroundings are television sets, radios-and in the cottage occupied by the elderly sisters-a brand new washing machine. During his visit, Judge BLACK was asked by the elderly sisters to help them hang out their laundry. The Judge declined. Judge BLACK paused at the room of every inmate, chatted briefly with each of them and asked them how things were going. One sly old woman replied that the Judge should do something about the food. The she wrinkled into a smile and said, "He feeds us good, Judge. He feeds us good." Some Medicare representatives met with frustration when they tried to fill out some Medicare application forms recently, Judge BLACK said.


Asked where her husband was one woman said she didn't know. "Where did you live before coming here?" the Medicare representative asked. "Oh up on Cedar Creek," the woman replied telling him she and her husband chopped wood and raised cotton for a living. "Do you have any children?" asked Medicare. "Yep, reckon I do," she replied. "What are their names and ages?" "Gosh, I don't remember all that." "Where and when were you born?" "Don't rightly recall. Seems they told me it was up the creek aways, but I don't rightly recall." Medicare gave up and left. Mrs. Joyce FORSMAN, in charge of developing a study in Bell County on mental health and mental retardation has compiled a 100 page report since last September. Her report includes comments on the county home, after personally inspecting it.


Among the comments when made in a separate letter to Judge BLACK, she had this to say about the county home. "It is a remnant of another era. I am sure at one time there were whole dependent families cared for this way. The county responsibility for various kinds of infirmities and dependencies was an accepted part of our earlier days. The need for this has declined with the various kinds of public assistance and Social Security benefits. "The first thing that needs to be established (in Bell County) is whether we any longer have a real need for this kind of county responsibility." Mrs. FORSMAN suggested a combination of phasing out operation of the county home, and until it is phased out, "improving what service is given" on a constructive and economic basis. She cited the extreme isolation of bed-ridden residents. "Private rooms are nice, but they are lonely when a person can't get out of them. I'm sure that the objection would be raised that these people would not get along together, but even fighting with some one is preferable to being alone," she wrote. "If we closed the county home where would these dozen people go? Who would care for them and how? They have no money. It is a real problem. It is a problem of a new era," Judge BLACK said.

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TIME WORN-Long hours and years of sitting in this chair at the Bell County home in Belton have left a worn spot on the door jamb from constant rubbing by a woman resident's head. In the almost bare room in the background is the woman patient's bed. Tacked and pinned to the wall are a picture of evangelist Billy GRAHAM and other religious decorations. In an effort to brighten the women's cottage, the county has ordered it painted at a cost of about $325.

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REST IN PEACE-County Judge William C. BLACK surveys the "end of the road" that waits for most of the dozen residents of the Bell County Home. The field in which Judge BLACK is standing is a Potters Field, Bell County's burial place for the poor. About 40 graves are located on this tract behind the county home in Belton. In the foreground here, tilted to one side, is a crude grave marker almost hidden by a small tree beside it


***NOTICE*** The next pages are the actual entries in the original record book. The same inmate is sometimes entered in the record several different times. Be sure you search through the complete book. Each entry has additional information. Any statements found between brackets [ ] will be comments by compiler and not actually found in original record book. Any statements found between parenthesis ( )can be found in the original record book



Bell County Home

Index | Pages 1 - 22 | Pages 23 - 39 | Pages 40 - 56 | Pages 57 - 74 | Pages 75- 90