Greene County, Arkansas --  Poor Farm Article Big Picture March 18, 1949

Greene County, Arkansas

Big Picture March 18, 1949

reprinted from the Commercial Appeal

by A.G. Weems


It was quite by accident that my arrival at the Greene County Ark., poor farm near Paragould coincided with the departure of the manager for the last six months, A. B. Holcomb. He had been notified less than a week previously of his dismissal by County Judge Harvey Farrell and was, in fact, in the process of packing his belongings.

On the surface, this farm was like a lot of others visited in Tennessee and Mississippi. It was worse than some, better than others. The 12 inmates, all white, occupy two cabins on the twenty acres. Each of these houses, though small, has a central lobby heated by a large wood stove, the inmates living in small unheated rooms opening off on three sides.

A much needed job of renovation had been started sometime before, but got no further than the one tiny room in which it began. There, the place had been cleaned, the walls and bed painted and curtains hung over the window. It looked much more livable than any of the others.


And here's the ticklish part:

Holcomb, who had just been fired, said the judge had ordered the work stopped.The judge, who had dismissed him, said Holcomb had told him the work could not go on until the weather improved and the houses opened up. "We don't see eye to eye," the judge said.

I sat in one of the cabins and talked with the inmates, none of whom wanted Holcomb to leave.

"He's the only one who ever tried to take care of us right," one tearful old lady said, "why do they have to take him away?" The others nodded or spoke in sad agreement.

Scheduled to take Holcomb's place was Johnny Smith, a previous caretaker at the farm.

A short time ago the Paragould Junior Chamber of Commerce showing intrest in the home, took furniture and clothing out and this, too, seemed to create something of a misunderstanding. In answer to a question, Judge Farrell replied:

"Of course, we are glad to accept donations from civic and church groups, but I want it clearly understood that the county is not appealing for donations. We are giving the people who live there everything they need."

Jeptha Futrell Jr., president of the Jaycees, however, was apparently upset when told of Holcomb's dismissal. "It just don't add up," he said.


The farm, though located several miles out in the country, has no telephone and incase of illness the manager must make a trip into town for the doctor. The farm does not produce food needed on the place, though inmates are reported well fed. It is operated on a budget of $1600. However, Judge Farrell said it ran over $5000 last year, his reason for dismissing the manager who preceded Holcomb.


Transcribed by: Sandy Hardin

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