Tulsa County Poor Farm

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Tulsa County Poor Farm
Construction Began 1921
Opened 1921
Closed 1961
Demolished 1979
Current Status Demolished
Location 5516 E 51st St. Tulsa, OK
Alternate Names
  • Tulsa County Farm
  • Tulsa County Home


Farm buildings being built in 1921, the County Farm was described at the time as being "480 acres situated 8 miles East of Tulsa". The County Farm, often described as the Poor Farm, was created in an era where there was no Federal Welfare and charity was strictly the responsibility of the local government. In it's hey-day the farm reportedly boasted 260 beef and milk cattle, 300 chickens, and 75-80 hogs, not to mention the work animals such as mules and horses, and a large number of vegetable gardens.

The Farm was surrounded by controversy since the beginning. There were rumors and reports in local newspapers of misdoings, political byplay, and on various occasions arguments about converting the 480-acre farm into a county hospital or selling the land on the open market. However in 1942 the Farm was still operating much the same as it had in the beginning, canning 9,240 cans of vegetables that year and winning several blue ribbons for it's cattle.

However, in 1939 the Farm and its then superintendent Ed Lantz came under public scrutiny when a local newspaper reported that County Inspector Mabel Bassett called the farm a "local nescience" after an inspection. She gave the Tulsa County commissioners 24 hours to remove Lantz or she would institute a court action to have him discharged. Lantz resigned only after charges were filed against him by County Attorney Dixie Gilmer. "There are very unsanitary conditions throughout the home," Bassett reported. "The kitchen is dirty, the rooms adjoining are filthy, the plumbing is in terrible condition and the odors and stench are nauseating."

But by 1960, the Federal Government was in the Welfare business in a big way, and the county poor farm model was on its way out. The animal population had dwindled to 1 mule and 5 guinea hens. The mule, known as "Old Jen" was slated for the slaughter house until a group of local citizens rallied for her to instead "retire" on another local farm.

The property became the LaFortune Park & Golf Course it is today with construction beginning shortly after 1960, funded by Tulsa oilman and Mayor J.A. LaFortune. Meanwhile, Tulsa County was using the buildings on the farm property to house their County Department of Social Services and store records, but in 1977 they moved across town to the new $1 million County Complex and the buildings were demolished shortly after to add to the Golf Course area.