The Ottawa County Poor Farm

This summer, the Herrick District Library assisted Hope College students Chloe Bares, Aubrey Brolsma, and Ty Overhiser with their research project on the Ottawa County Poor Farm, and as a result of that research, the students created a website with the information. Supervised by Dr. Wei Yu Wayne Tan, these three researchers had access to records that Herrick and other local organizations kept for many years, containing all sorts of interesting data. As part of their project, the students have compiled information from both the original records and what was available here at the library to construct some pictures of what it might have been like on the poor farm for those living there.

One of those stories was that of a long-time resident called J. Steel. This resident was something of a mystery, as he was displaying signs of amnesia when he began his stay, a stay that lasted until his death at the age of 111. His great age was even noted by the likes of President Nixon, who sent him a letter at the Poor Farm.

The researchers intend to update the website as more data is collected, so be sure to check out this interesting piece of Ottawa County history. Another recommended resource is available online at the Michigan Genealogy Website.