Remembering the dead . . .

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Making sure the dead are remembered is one of the reasons Jack Fly and Ted Roller have spent days pouring over pages of county court records to find the names of Barry County paupers buried in one of two Barry County Poor Farm cemeteries.

From the last quarter of the 19th Century through the mid-1950s, many of Barry County's poor were buried in unmarked graves on property located near the county's two poor houses.

"Back then, the county would bring poor and indigent people to one place where they housed and cared for them," said Fly. "A lot of these people were disabled and mentally challenged, but those who were physically able actually farmed on the property to help support themselves."

Fly, who is an active member of the Barry County Cemetery Restoration Project, has taken on the challenge of identifying those who were buried at these cemeteries because he would like to have their names engraved on monuments that will be erected at both cemetery sites.

"It is our goal to place a single monument at both cemeteries to commemorate the burials of the paupers and poor of our county who are buried there and so long ago forgotten," said Fly. "They lived in disrespect and they lie in disgrace. It is time to right that wrong."

Fly was been joined in his research on the Barry County Poor Farm cemeteries by Roller, a fellow genealogical enthusiast. Through their research and efforts, both cemeteries were located.

The original cemetery, which dates back to 1874, is located in the Mineral Springs area where the first Barry County Poor Farm once stood. It is located on private property and was completely unmarked. Fly was able to use dowsing rods to locate 28 unmarked graves, and those graves were staked out, platted and photographed for historic record.

The second Poor Farm cemetery is located on the hill behind the Barry County Care Center, which was once known as the Almshouse.

The cemetery is fenced but has fallen into disrepair over the past several decades. Recently, members of Cassville Boy Scout Troop #76 were recruited to help clean up the site and more work days will be scheduled in the near future.

Once the site is cleared of overgrowth, Fly will dowse for graves and then stake their locations within the cemetery. Although individual grave markers will not be erected, Fly said he would like to see simple white crosses marking each grave site.

The Almshouse on County Farm Road was built in 1906 after the poor farm in the Mineral Springs area fell into a deplorable condition.

In addition to locating the original poor farm cemetery and cleaning up the second, Fly and Roller continue to search county and state death certificates and records to compile a list of people who were buried in the Poor Farm cemeteries. To date, the men have documented 29 burials at the Almshouse Cemetery.

The names of those buried there include: Mrs. Frederick Schuman, died Sept. 20, 1911; John A. Bowman, died Feb. 6, 1912; Harvey Martin, died Dec. 20, 1912; L. Kirkpatrick, died Nov. 6, 1913; Mary Jones, died Sept. 7, 1914; George W. Jackson, died Nov. 3, 1914; W.H. Crowe, died March 2, 1916; Lillian May Wheeler, died March 3, 1916; Lottie Jane Shaffer, died Feb. 10, 1917.

Isreal Grover, died Oct. 5, 1853; Samuel Harris, died May 27, 1919; Tressie Perkins, died Oct. 21, 1921; Ross Woodward, died Oct. 27, 1924; Fannie Dodge, died Jan. 29, 1926; Henry Baker, died April 18, 1928; Charles Williams, died Sept. 26, 1929; Tommy Williams, died Oct. 19, 1929; Bartley Cook, died May 5, 1931; H.E. Weber, died Jan. 28, 1932.

King Rhodes, died July 16, 1933; Edward Detty, died, July 16, 1933; John Perkins, died Dec. 6, 1933; Charles Foster, died June 8, 1935; John Wilson, died Sept. 29, 1935; Samuel Ellsworth, died Nov. 2, 1935; George Wesley Pope, died April 13, 1939; infant Hawk, died Dec. 5, 1940; Joel Alfred Martin, died Aug. 14, 1948; and Audie Hayes, died Feb. 9, 1952.

Each of these names will be placed on a monument, which will be erected at the Poor Farm cemetery sites. As more names are uncovered, they will be added to the monument.

Currently, donations are being sought to pay for the two monuments. Anyone wishing to contribute to the Poor Farm Memorial Stone Project can mailed their donations to: The Barry County Genealogical and Historical Society, P.O. Box 291, Cassville MO 65625. The notation on the check should read Poor Farm Memorial Stone.

"I want to get the nicest monument possible for the money we can collect," said Fly. "I also want to list as many names as we can document.

"I think everyone should have a monument," said Fly. "It's your mark in the world to say you were here. I think people should be remembered."

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