HISTORY LINKS & HELPFUL RESOURCES:
Find Your Own History:
A guide to genealogy resources
Where can I research Genealogy in Wood County?
Ohio Genealogical Society
Wood County Chapter
How Do I Get A Property Listed on the National Register of Historic
Visit the Ohio Historic Preservation Office National
Register provided by the Ohio Historical Society
Wood County Infirmary and Poor House history:
Early History of the County Home
Current stories about the Wood County Historical Center & Museum are on BGFILE.com.
Search artifact history on:
Some of our collection is online at Ohio Memory, a collaborative project of the Ohio Historical Society and the State Library of Ohio.
Looking for that yearboook, scrapbook, or photo?
Try researching the Wood County District Public Library archive:
Looking for Ohio Historical Markers?
Remarkable Ohio Historical Marker App for Smart Phones
now on iTunes
YOUR OWN HISTORY
If you are interested in
researching information about someone who lived at the Infirmary
or in the community, we suggest contacting the following resources:
Tips and Workshops for Genealogy Research from the Ohio Historical Society. Check out Ohio Histore-news.
County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society
Chapter Workroom, Courthouse Square, P.O. Box 722, Bowling Green,
Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 am - 12 pm
Types of Information: Published cemetery inscription books,
published birth, marriage, and death record books, public census
records, published wills and abstracts
for Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University
5th Floor, Jerome Library, BGSU, Bowling Green, Ohio 43403
Hours: Hours vary with school term.
Types of Information: Census records, area newspapers, original
Infirmary records, probate records, Wood County Health Department
records, Wood County cemetery inscription books
County District Public Library
251 North Main Street , Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
Hours: Monday - Thursday, 9 am - 8:30 pm; Friday, 9
am - 6pm;
Saturday, 9 am - 5 pm; Sunday, 1 pm - 5 pm
Types of Information: Census Records, area newspapers, published
cemetery inscriptions, published probate records, birth and death
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
Fremont, Ohio 43420-2796
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 9 am - 5 pm; Sundays and federal holidays, noon - 5 pm (library closed).
Types of Information: Probate records and estate files for cases #843-5617 (1871-1921), microfilm for cases #1-5945 (1820-1923), obituary database, divorce cases #1-117 (1894-1896), Guardianships & Trusts #1-905 (1851-1884, 1905-1910).
County Court of Common Pleas Probate Division
Second Floor, One Courthouse Square, Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm (except legal holidays)
Types of Information: Birth records, marriage records, death
records, estate records, wills
County Health Department
1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, excluding most
Types of Information: Birth records, delayed birth records,
Ohio Historical Society
800 E. 17th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43211
614-297-2300 or toll-free 800-686-6124
Hours: see website.
Types of Information: Death Certificates over 50 years old, birth certificates prior to 1908.
County Historical Center and Museum
13660 County Home Road, Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
Hours: Tuesday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm;
Saturday - Sunday, 1pm-4pm (except holidays)
Types of Information: Photo Index, scrapbooks, expense ledgers,
Infirmary accident book, Home history books and records, certificates
HISTORY OF THE COUNTY HOME
In 1865, the Wood County Board
of Commissioners agreed to move ahead on plans to build a poor farm.
By 1867, they had raised the funds necessary to buy 160 acres southeast
of Bowling Green. They followed up by accepting bids on the building
contract and hiring the first of several Superintendents.
When The Home opened its doors in 1869, six residents from the County
Insane Farm in Perrysburg moved in. By the 1870s, sixty-five Wood
County residents called the infirmary home. The additional people
sparked additional construction, including the chicken
coop, the power
house and the addition of a third floor on the infirmary building.
At the time, it was believed
that a poor work ethic was the cause of unemployment, so the Infirmary
was seen as a way of rehabilitating those in need of work. Hindsight
being 20/20, one might now notice that the industrialization of
agriculture drastically cut the number of men needed to complete
tasks on the average farm, putting thousands of farm hands out of
work. Nevertheless, all residents (then known as "inmates") of the
infirmary who were physically able conducted the daily chores that
made The Home a self-sufficient farm.
Duties on the farm included
tending to the almost 150 acres of farmland. Livestock on the farm
included dairy cattle, chickens, sheep, hogs and horses. Inmates
were charged with a number of the chores that kept the farm in working
order. Female inmates helped tend to the infirmary's garden, canning
fruits and vegetables and occasionally assisted in the preparation
Still other residents aided
the bedridden inmates of The Home. A large sitting room in the center
wing provided a place for the elderly inmates to spend time together.
The early days of the American
welfare system were plagued with corruption and political scandal,
but the Wood County Infirmary wasn't like many of the other poor
farms in the country. Due in part to the long terms of service from
two Superintendents, The Home became one of the more successful
institutions of its kind.
In 1878, Edwin Farmer and his wife Charlotte were hired as the new
Superintendent and Matron of the infirmary. The Farmer years were
marked by a number of important events, including the first discovery
of natural gas in Wood County on the grounds of the infirmary. That
well, drilled in 1884 by Andrew Byers and M.O. Ladd, was the first
of many on the site that helped provide fuel to the boiler, stoves
and lights in The Home. The
Lunatic Asylum and the cattle
barn and were also built during the Farmers' stay at the infirmary.
Additionally, in 1898, the County Commissioners found that the east
and center wings were in disrepair and decided to demolish them
and build the structures that reside in their places today.
As the 20th Century arrived,
the infirmary met with some misfortune, including the exhaustion
of the gas supply and a flu epidemic that took the lives of eight
inmates in 1900. In 1904, Superintendent Farmer passed away and
was replaced by Frank Brandeberry, the husband of Farmer's daughter,
The Brandeberrys had a successful 45 year tenure
at the infirmary. Near the beginning of the Brandeberry administration,
the ice house was built, allowing
for the harvesting of ice from the infirmary reservoir.
Another of the major changes
to the site during the Brandeberry's term at The Home was the addition
of what is now referred to as the Brandeberry Wall. The stone wall
and concrete picket fence that still encloses the front and side
yards of the site were completed by an inmate and Brandeberry himself
around 1925. The wall was restored in 1995 by A. Schooner.
In 1949, Frank and Lottie Brandeberry
retired, and the final years of the Wood County Infirmary began.
State and federal legislation had moved the mentally ill, the orphaned
and many of the homeless to other types of facilities, and by the
1950s, The Home's primary function was that of a nursing home for
the elderly. Despite improvements to the site's power plant, the
infirmary was still considerably deficient when it came to meeting
modern codes for care giving institutions. This deficiency led a
Citizens Committee to propose the construction of a new county home.
On February 15, 1971, the residents of the infirmary were moved
to a new County Home about a half a mile away. The County Commissioners
proposed that the old building be torn down.
It was then that Lyle Fletcher,
secretary of the Park Commission and editor and archivist of the
Wood County Historical Society, organized a movement to save the
building. The infirmary building and grounds were turned over to
the Wood County Park Commission for use as a park. Buildings not
used by the Park Commission were allocated to the Wood County Historical
Society for the creation of a local history museum.
In 1975, the Wood County Historical
Center and Museum opened its doors to the public, providing just
three rooms of exhibit space in the West Wing. Today, the majority
of the original infirmary building has been converted into space
used for historical exhibits. Almost all of the items held here
have been donated by area residents. Contemporary visitors to the
former Wood County Infirmary can expect a variety of educational
experiences, including information on the original uses of the building
as well as a wealth of information on the significant history of
Wood County and Northwestern Ohio.
SUPERINTENDENTS & MATRONS OF THE COUNTY HOME
January 16, 1869 - Wood County Infirmary opened with six residents. The Wood County Commissioners appointed J.B. Lockhard as the first Director.
1872 to 1877 - First Superintendent Thomas C. Reid
1877 to 1878 - E.M. Jenkins, Superintendent
1878 to 1904 - Edwin & Charlotte Farmer, Superintendent & Matron
1904 to 1949 - Frank & Lottie Brandeberry, Superintendent & Matron
1949 to 1952 - Dr. & Mrs. C.E. Petteys, Superintendent & Matron
1952 to 1969 - Mr. & Mrs. Wayne Roe, Superintendent & Matron
1969 to 1971 - Doris Roof, a nurse, acted as manager
February 15, 1971 - the Infirmary, now primarily a nursing home, closed. The residents were moved to the new Wood County Nursing Home, now called WoodHaven.