Ox Bow Park was once the site of the County Farm. The farm provided a residence for those who could not support themselves. Residents helped run the farm, grew food and generated income.
The Elkhart County Farm
The Elkhart County Farm was built in 1886. The facility included the home, two barns, a hog lot, corncrib, implement storage buildings, pastures and agricultural fields. Residents helped with the farm, livestock and garden operations. In return, those living at the home received room, board, medical attention and recreation programs. The home closed in 1977 and was torn down in 1981. A cemetery with unmarked graves is all that remains of the County Farm.
Helping Others Less Fortunate
The County Farm System began in the mid-1800s during the Industrial Revolution. The homes were a safety net for those who had nowhere else to turn. In addition to the poor, the County Farm took in the mentally ill, elderly and orphans.
The idea that it is the responsibility of the government to care for the less fortunate was expressed by the County Farm Program. Today, mental institutions, orphanages, nursing homes and social programs provide the services formerly provided by County Farms.
(Lower Left Photo Caption)
"Some enjoy the quietness of fishing along the Elkhart River just behind the County Home."
Annual Report, Elkhart County Home
(Upper Right Photo Caption)
"Two men help with chores caring for the livestock under supervision of the administrative assistant. During the summer others have helped us with such special events as making hay or harvesting corn."
Annual Report, Elkhart county Home