Memorial service to be held at Mercer County Poor Farm Cemetery

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – A short hike through the woods near the former Forestry Center in Mercer County leads you to a cemetery filled with unmarked graves.

It’s called a Poor Farm, a place where the underprivileged were sent to work. Now, it’s a graveyard filled with the farm’s inhabitants.

According to County Commissioner Bill Archer, each year the County puts on a memorial service for those lost to time. 

“It’s a long-forgotten cemetery in Mercer County, but one that’s a significant part of our history,” Archer said.

The memorial service has been put on each year since 2017, save for 2020 when it was cancelled due to COVID-19. The county estimates there are roughly 300 graves in the Poor Farm Cemetery, some of which were for infants and children.

“We estimate it’s between 250-300 burials up there, but we only know the names of 76 of those people.”

This year’s memorial service will be a brief ceremony where anyone is welcome. Through a grant from the West Virginia Coal Heritage Foundation, they even have a service for disabled individuals to be taken to the graveyard on a modified cart.

A gravel road leading to the Poor Farm was also a recent addition. Over the years, the county has done numerous projects to increase accessibility to the farm.

According to Archer, they’re aware that Memorial Day is meant to honor those who served in the military, but they also like to spend the weekend honoring those at the Poor Farm. 

“Memorial Day is for those military personnel killed in action in defense of liberty, and we want to recognize them. But we also want to recognize that all people are not forgotten.”

The ceremony will take place this Sunday, May 30, at 3PM. 

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