Sheldon Poor Farm Cemetery: Part 1

“In the United States, poorhouses were most common during the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were often situated on the grounds of a poor farm on which able-bodied residents were required to work. A poorhouse could even be part of the same economic complex as a prison farm and other penal or charitable public institutions. Poor farms were county- or town-run residences where paupers (mainly elderly and disabled people) were supported at public expense. They were generally under the direction of one or more elected or appointed “Superintendent[s] of the Poor.”

Most were working farms that produced at least some of the produce, grain, and livestock they consumed. Residents were expected to provide labor to the extent that their health would allow, both in the fields, in providing housekeeping and care for other residents. Rules were strict and accommodations minimal.

Poor farms were based on the U.S. tradition of county governments (rather than cities, townships, or state or federal governments) providing social services for the needy within their borders. Following the 1854 veto of the Bill for the Benefit of the Indigent Insane by Franklin Pierce, the federal government did not participate in social welfare for over 70 years.

The poor farms declined in the U.S. after the Social Security Act took effect in 1935, with most disappearing completely by about 1950. Since the 1970s, funding for the care, well-being and safety of the poor and indigent is now split among county, state and federal resources. Poor farms have been replaced by subsidized housing such as public housing projects, Section 8 housing and homeless shelters.”-

“Sheldon Poor Farm Cemetery,
also known as the Sheldon Home Association, this was one of the many Vermont Poor Farms established to care for the less fortunate.

This cemetery is located on the end of the Poor Farm Road. After going past the school continue to the end of the road where it joins three other roads. The one directly ahead is private and goes to a camp and the one to the right goes to the cemetery. Look closely to your right as you go up the road since it is back in the trees. It is opposite a mobil home less than 1/4 up this road.

The original Sheldon Poor Farm was located in the Webster Neighborhood and those who died were buried there prior to the establishment of the Poor Farm with the combined efforts of several Franklin County towns. See our Poor Farm page for details.
Most of the headstones in the cemetery are ledgible. According to Find a Grave, there are 235 memorials here. The cemetery is in poor condition with need of cleaning up, clearning some brush, and mowing. The only graves that appear to be attended are those of former military service persons.
Many of the stones are cracked, not readable, or laying on the ground. The “Poor” buried here had few if any relatives to visit their sites. There is a list of names with few duplications. We found at least one child age 10 buried here.”-

The Sheldon Poor Farm Cemetery is also known as the Sheldon Home Association Cemetery. It is located on Poor Farm Road in Sheldon, Vermont.

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