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Box car village

Published: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 9:48 a.m. CST

Have you driven through the country and noticed old railroad boxcars in farm fields and barn lots and wondered how they got there?

For some time a plan was needed whereby the county’s dependent families could be cared for at the county farm. The farm was located three miles northeast of Osceola in Osceola Township adjoining the Fremont Township line.

The use of box cars was suggested and the Board of Supervisor’s devised a plan to purchase discarded box cars from the C. B. & Q Railroad Company. The cars were to be placed on the farm and used as cottages for the families. A contract was signed where the company would deliver ten of the cars in Osceola for $20 each with the county hoping to make the farm a real asset to the county.

In November 1933, the plan called for the new village of some 10 cottages to spring up at the county farm. The new “town” at first was going to be named Glenntown for Supervisor Rolla Glenn who had charge of the farms affairs but was later changed to Sticklerville, honoring John Stickler, steward of the farm.

A county grader outfit leveled off the sites for the cars near the county home and laid out streets for the village. The cars to be placed on the streets were 12 feet wide and 36 feet long, making two rooms cottages 12 feet by 18 feet, or three rooms 8 feet by 12 feet. Windows and doors were put in and each was furnished as well as possible. The houses were most comfortable, clean and warm. Rent would be free and families would be provided with a plot of ground where they could grow and preserve their own food. The farm supplied ample meat, butter and milk.

The families were to be housed in the cars until spring when they would be moved out to the farm. The houses were placed on skids to facilitate moving, the method of moving from freight yards could possibly have been by house moving equipment or a plan devised where cars could be unloaded direct from the railroad at the county farm.

One of the cars was fixed up as sort of a hospital with nurse’s quarters, and partitioned men’s and women’s ward’s for those ill at the farm.

By December 1933, the houses were not used as extensively as had been expected, however, and only occupants of the county farm moved into them. The cars were then moved to various parts of the farm and the individual families were given a garden spot to cultivate.

The numerous families who were dependent for past years and were to be moved to the farm had become self-supporting through the federal work done in the county, relieving the county of their support.

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