A caller during the last program wanted to
know about a small cemetery on Poole road about 4 miles north of Highway 30.
It is the Poor Farm cemetery which was abandoned for many years.
Location of Buffalo County's Poor Farm
four miles east of Kearney on Highway 30 to Poole Road (Buda School corner).
Turn north and go four miles. The farm was located on the northwest corner
of that intersection.
Some background information about the Poor Farm
Poor Farms were the forerunner of
welfare and care homes. They were owned and operated by the county. Buffalo
County’s Poor Farm was established in 1878 when 160 acres was purchased in
Center Township. Later another 80 acres on the north was added. Livestock
and crops were raised and the inmates were expected to help with the
farming. Inmates were there because they could not support themselves
because of ill health or had no visible means of support or no relatives who
would take responsibility for them.
There was a 3-story [counting the
basement] house on the farm with the dining room in the basement, sitting
room on second floor and sleeping rooms on third floor. Plans for the house
were drawn by an architect who designed it so it could be doubled in size by
building a mirror image. The second half was never constructed. I saw the
plans once among papers that the Archives got when the move was made from
the old court house to the new one, but don’t know where it is now.
A Timeline of Events at the Poor Farm
1889 - From the Hub
The poor farm building was erected by
W. T. Scott, contractor and D. B. Marston, Frank Rice, H. H. Bowie and W. J.
Stearns. The building is located on an elevation, on the north side of the
farm overlooking the Platte Valley. It is a very comfortable frame building
two stories and brick basement. The entire building is neatly furnished and
will accommodate the county poor very comfortably. There is also a barn on
January report to the county board had six men and one woman living there.
1909 Gibbon newspaper article reported four inmates living there but in
harder times there were more.
The Poor Farm was closed about 1920.
was rented out as a farm until the land was sold in 1958 to help pay for the
Poor Farm Cemetery
According to different sources there
are 33 burials or maybe 17 or maybe 11 in this cemetery. As far as we know,
there are no records of burials. The only other way of finding out who was
buried there is from newspaper articles and obituaries. These so far have
yielded descriptions of 5 burials.
About 1997 an effort was made to
locate and identify abandoned cemeteries in Buffalo County and apply to the
County Board so that the county, according to state law, would be
responsible for at least the mowing of them. A granite monument identifying
the Poor Farm Cemetery was erected the following year. The engraving on the
The cemetery is located on the west
side of Poole Road a half mile north of the 92nd Road intersection. A row of
a half dozen or so trees mark the western boundary of the cemetery, Poole
Road runs along the east side, and a dirt lane providing access to the
fields there runs along the south side.
The granite monument has been positioned in the center of this rectangle.
There are no tombstones or grave markers except one by a tree about 12 feet
west and 15 feet north of the monument. This is a cement slab about 15
inches wide with the name ABE which was apparently scratched into the wet
The cemetery had been mowed within the last couple of weeks
or so of the time we visited the site on 6-29-2002. With the lack of rain it
was hard to tell just how long ago it had been mowed but the brome grass had
not grown much.
Known Burials – those five we know of from newspaper death notices or
Elizabeth Rice – March 1903. 68 years old. Had a nephew at Litchfield who
would not take her remains there for burial.
Lewis Snurr – November 1903. A peddler well-known in the county
Fisher (no first name) – April 1904. Stabbed himself in chest. Admitted in
Oct. 1903, a stranger on his way to California when he became physically and
John Harrison – January 1908. From Pleasanton but no kinfolk
John Satin (Seaton) – Native of Ireland. Gibbon Methodist minister did his
service although he had been Presbyterian in his earlier days.