Erath County Poor Farm Cemetery
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member QuarrellaDeVil
N 32° 14.749 W 098° 10.916
14S E 577064 N 3567977
Quick Description: Texas Historical Marker for the Erath County Poor Farm Cemetery, providing some background on both the poor farm and the cemetery itself. It is located in front of the entrance to the Texas A & M Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 3/7/2019 8:06:43 AM
Waymark Code: WM106F4
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
Views: 3

Long Description:
The cemetery itself is a bit off the road (Erath County Rd 177), and you'll be traveling some crude roads and crossing cattle guards to reach it: It's a good idea to visit when the ground is dry, as AAA will have a heck of a time getting you out of here if you get stuck. As of this posting, it's a bit overgrown, but still in decent condition for a poor farm cemetery. For those without GPS units, there is a photo in the gallery of an open gate, and you can use that as a guide: Make a hard right turn once you pass through it, and the crosses of the cemetery will be visible ahead of you.
Marker Number: 17623

Marker Text:
In 1869, the Texas Constitution directed counties to establish a "Manual-Labor Poor-House" to care for "indigent and poor inhabitants" and provide work for "all persons committing petty offences." Erath County Commissioners started a poor farm in 1881. For $650, they purchased a farm from J.B. Hill four miles from the county courthouse in the Smith Springs community. The farm included homes for paupers and a superintendent, a water well, and a building with bars for convict laborers. John Zimmerman, the first superintendent, received $40 per month to manage and oversee the farm.

The poor farm operated for more than fifty years. The farm produced cotton, peanuts, and other crops. Area doctors provided medical care, usually without a fee, and county funds paid for medicine. The county also provided a coffin upon death, and dedicated a cemetery on the property. No records have been found to identify residents or those interred at the poor farm cemetery. In the 1930s, federal New Deal programs improved living conditions for many Americans, and the need for poor farms ended. When the Erath County Poor Farm closed, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Swanzy, the last caretakers, took several remaining residents to live on property they owned near Huckabay. In 1935, a tornado struck the site and destroyed most of the buildings. In 1939, county commissioners deeded the 260-acre site to Texas A & M as an experimental agricultural station. Restoration of the cemetery and the marking of unidentified gravesites with crosses, begun by Boy Scout troops in the 1980s and continued by the Erath County Poor Farm Cemetery Association, commemorates these unknown citizens.

Historic Texas Cemetery - 2011
Marker is Property of the State of Texas

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