could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

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Poor Farm


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


        Go 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 the premises.


        A January report to the county board had six men and one woman living there.

        A 1909 Gibbon newspaper article reported four inmates living there but in harder times there were more.


        The Poor Farm was closed about 1920.

        It was rented out as a farm until the land was sold in 1958 to help pay for the new jail.

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 monument reads,

Poor Farm



Eternal Peace

Erected 1998

        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 cement.

    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 obituaries

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 mentally ill

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.


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Revised: 05/03/2018