Poor Farm Cemetery Dedicated (w/Photos)

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Published on September 24 2012 1:38 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Some early residents of the area who might not otherwise have been remembered are being recognized at the Effingham County Poor Farm Cemetery.

(A GROUP SHOT FEATURING MANY OF THOSE WHO WORKED ON THE POOR FARM CEMETERY PROJECT ALONG WITH MEMBERS OF THE MARK PERCIVAL FAMILY.  PERCIVAL HELPED SPEARHEAD THE PROJECT BEFORE HIS DEATH)

A dedication of the cemetery was held Sunday afternoon.  The cemetery located south of the Effingham County Memorial Airport is home to the graves of 16 individuals whose death certificates say they were buried there, but local historians agree that there are likely several more people buried there.

(COUNTY BOARD MEMBER ROB ARNOLD, WHO PICKED UP THE BALL ON THE PROJECT AFTER MARK PERCIVAL'S DEATH, SERVED AS MASTER OF CEREMONIES FOR SUNDAY'S DEDICATION)

Work to reclaim the cemetery has been going on since 2000 and was the brainchild of late Effingham County Board member Mark Percival who worked on the project until his death.  Rob Arnold, who succeeded Percival on the county board, continued the work in cooperation with Loella Baker and Eleanor Bounds of the Effingham County Genealogical and Historical Society.  Other local historians including Richard Raber and Marian Burford also shared about their ties to the work and to the cemetery.  There was also recognition for members of Boy Scout Troop 335 who worked to clear the cemetery property of undergrowth along with trustees of the Effingham County Probation Department and their supervisor Richard Bence, and Mary Jo Tucker and the Effingham County K9 Search and Rescue Team who helped locate the bodies buried in the cemetery.

(SOME OF THE CROWD THAT GATHERED FOR SUNDAY'S DEDICATION CEREMONY)

Sheila Percival, Mark's widow, told those gathered that the project was "dear to Mark's heart; it bothered him that there was no recognition of those people (buried there) and their loved ones."

(A WOOD CARVING BY THE ENTRANCE TO THE POOR FARM CEMETERY)

The first record of a residence for the indigent in Effingham County is that of an "almshouse" northwest of Effingham operated by Ole Knudson.  When the county seat was moved to Effingham, the courthouse at Ewington became the poorhouse for the county.  The earliest record of the poor farm is a listing from 1852.  The poor farm continued to operate until World War II, about the time the airport was relocated to its current spot from north of Effingham.

(A MARKER BEARING THE NAMES OF THE INDIVIDUALS CONFIRMED AS HAVING BEEN BURIED IN THE POOR FARM CEMETERY)

Bounds and Baker are compiling a book about the poor farm and the cemetery.  Any stories or photos you'd like to submit for the book must be given to Bounds or Baker by October 3.