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PAUPER CEMETERY

Orange Co., Texas
Submitted by: Elaine Stone

This nformation is from Las Sabinas magazine, vol. 17, 1991, book 4, Charlotte Chiasson.

A two acre pauper cemetery for Orange County has been located on Old Timers Road in Precint 2 for about the past 75 years. Little is known by county officials about the exact number of paupers buried there, since records have only been kept since 1954 by the county welfare department. Morris Collier, former Precinct 2 commissioner, said he didn't know of the pauper's cemetery until he became the commissioner.

County commissioners records show that a man in the 1800s was given the use of a five to ten acre tract of land to farm in trade for his maintaining the pauper cemetery. According to Beatrice Fuller, owner of the Fuller Funeral Home, the plot of land designated for the pauper cemetery was made a legal cemetery during the time when Harry Watts was county judge, which was between 1930 and 1934.

Maurice Smith, a 65 year old retired millwright construction worker who maintained the cemetery grounds for 21 years, said the cemetery has been on Old Timers Road at least 75 years. Smith's father in law, Ben Henry, had told him several times that the cemetery was there when he was a young man. "My father in law was born and raised here on the Sabine River, and he died several years ago in the 1890's" Smith said." Smith began keeping up the grounds in 1950 when the cemetery was so grown up with trees that he didn't want his young children playing nearby. "I didn't want them snake bit," Smith said, "so I cleared the entire property." " He has lived across the street from the pauper cemetery for the last 35 years. "There used to be metal markers on the graves before I started taking care of it," said Smith. The markers were inad- vertently mowed by someone, he said. "Now they don't know where everyone is buried. They (the county) have a record of who is buried, but don't know where they're buried," he noted.

According to local funeral home owner, Brown Claybar, "One of the original provisions for the pauper cemetery was that they never put up any markers with the burials, so that there would be a uniformity for all buried out there." Smith recalled a man from Florida who was killed on the railroad tracks. No identification was found, so they buried him in the pauper's cemetery. "The county finally located where he was from," he said. "His people were real well off. They talked to the man's brother, and he said he always loved being a hobo." One burial involved a lady that had drowned in the Sabine River. Officials could not identify her, so she was buried with a simple "Miss X" on a marker.

The last time the county used the pauper cemetery was May, 1980, according to Orange County Welfare department director Wauldine Laughlin. "The county has since gone to a token burial allotment as op- posed to giving the cemetery spaces," Claybar said. Ms. Laughlin described a pauper as a person who has no insurance, no family that can help, must have a welfare application, or a transient with no identification. A com- plete check is made by the welfare department with any family members or resources that the deceased may have. They also have to be a county resi- dent. "If no resources are found, we fill out a form saying the welfare department has investigated and the person is eligible for a pauper's funeral, which is only $600," Ms. Laughlin said. Claybar said local funeral homes find a cemetery that will handle a pauper burial, and a plot is donated. The funeral home is paid $600 by the county. This year Orange County has buried between six and ten paupers, "which is an average amount," according to Ms. Laughlin.

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