The liberal manner in which the Supervisors of Henry County have provided for the sustenance and comfort of her paupers is a matter of just pride on the part of her citizens. The building known as the " Henry County Infirmary" is an object of admiration to all who visit it, not only on account of its architectural design and its neat and beautiful surroundings, but for its complete and admirable arrangement for the health and comfort of its inmates. It is situated on the County Farm in Munson Township, near the center of the county, and about six miles south from Geneseo.

The Poor Farm consisted originally of one hundred and twenty acres, entere 'by the county at government price, in 1854. In 1875, the adjoining forty acres belonging to the same quarter section, was added at a cost of $2,000.

Preparatory to the erection of the present building a tour of inspection was made in several adjoining counties of the state by a committee of the Board of Supervisors, consisting of Dr. R. R. Sales, of Colona; A. W. Perry, of Geneseo; Lewis Shearer, of Cornwall; O. E. Page and Richard Mascall. of Cambridge, to ascertain the manner of treating paupers, the kind of buildings in use for that purpose, and to decide upon some plan for an infirmary in Henry County that should equal, if not surpass, the best models examined. The result of this tour of inspection was the adoption of the plan for the present building, which was drawn up in a rough sketch by the committee before their return home and subsequently adopted by the Board.

A. W. Perry, Dr. R. R. Sales and John Blackburn were appointed the building committee ; but owing to the remoteness of the other members, the chief oversight fell upon A. W. Perry, whose indefatigable labors, efficient management, and financial integrity justly entitle him to the credit which has been unanimously awarded him by his fellow citizens.

A. J. Kinney, architect, Chicago, furnished the plan and specifications, after the rough sketch which had been drawn and adopted by the committee. The contract was let to Archer & Frost, of Princeton, Ill., and the work began in 1871.

The building is in the French style of architecture. It consists of two wings with transverse gables, 33 by 86 feet, and connected together by a main building 60 feet long by. 40 feet wide, and standing back so that the wings at each end form a projection of 23 feet from the front line of the main building. The whole length of the building, including both wings, is 126 feet. The roof of the main building, between the transverse gables, is Mansard, with ornamented attic windows, and presents a beautiful front view. The structure is of brick and Joliet stone, the latter composing the basement story. It is two stories in height, besides the attic, which affords about the same amount of room as the other floors.

The corridors in the lower stories run through the interior of the building at right angles, but, to economize space, they are placed around the outside in the attic. It is well lighted and ventilated, flues for the latter purpose running through all the main walls of the building. It is heated hy steam, and hot and cold water supplied to all parts of the house. The water is pumped up from wells and cisterns into a large reservoir in the attic. It is said to be the best building for the cost in the state, the whole cost, including heating apparatus, being about $50,000.

The center building is occupied by the warden and his family. The wings on either hand are for male and female paupers. Each wing contains 32 rooms for paupers, with bathrooms and water closets on each floor. The basement is occupied for cooking, culinary purposes, dining rooms for officers and inmates, laundry, store rooms, cellar, engine room, etc. In the rear of the infirmary proper is a separate asylum or room for the more troublesome of the insane inmates, which has been fitted up from the old "poor house" in use before the present building was erected. The grounds about the Infirmary are very tastefully laid out, and the building occupies an elevation from which drainage is easier.

This has been taken advantage of to make the basement one of the most dry and airy apartments of the building. The whole presents a beautiful and attractive home for that class of unfortunates whom adversity or misfortune has compelled to seek a shelter within its friendly walls.

The first steam heating apparatus put in proved inefficient, and was replaced in 1874. This and other changes cost about $5,000.

L. J. Wilkinson was chosen Warden, and Mrs. L. J. Wilkinson Matron, and entered upon their duties May 1, 1872. Their eminent fitness for the place, and excellent management, have kept them in the office till the present time, and will probably keep them there for many years yet to come, should they not be called, as their talents and faithfulness deserve, to preside over some larger institution.

The present number of inmates (1877) is 61.



The History of Henry County

Submittd by the Webmaster


©Wini Caudell and Contributors

All Rights Reserved

Illinois Ancestors