Mercer County attempts to honor 300 unmarked graves at poor farm cemetery

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – The Mercer County Commission is trying to honor nearly 300 unmarked graves.

The Mercer County Poor Farm is where hundreds of people were buried between 1918 and 1951. Of the roughly 300 people buried there, the county only knows the names of 76.

Since 2005, officials have been slowly refurbishing the area. According to County Commissioner Bill Archer, the area used to be filled with trees and they couldn’t see any headstones, but they knew where burial sights were due to indentations in the ground. 

“When we first cut into the cemetery to remove some of the trees, we could see the indentations and we estimated the number to be 250-300 burials there, but we saw no headstones at that time,” Archer said.

The indentations range in size as well, and it’s estimated that even some infants and children are buried there.

The county operated the poor farm up until 1951. The commission believes many of those buried there are workers from the United Mine Workers. Since the efforts to restore the poor farm began, only two headstones have been discovered, both of which were for workers with the United Mine Workers. All other graves are unmarked. The other 74 that the county knows of are a result of some records found that date back to the 1930’s. 

To honor those that are buried and were once forgotten, the commission holds a memorial service at the poor farm once a year.