Monday, July 16, 2007

How They Treat Paupers

The burial of paupers and the records this creates is an interesting resource for local and family history. These records, if they can be located, can provide an abundance of information regarding the less fortunate members of society. Because these records concerned the finances of the city, some accounting was maintained. By examining cemetery records and city records, some details can be uncovered about the impoverished and destitute in our communities. In addition, these records tell us a great deal about the communties in which our ancestors lived.
As an example, in the the City of Atlanta, Georgia, paupers were buried in the city cemetery, Oakland. For a time the cemetery kept a careful listing on the paupers' graves. A list of burials from 1870 to 1876 is contained in the manuscript collection of Oakland Cemetery. The collection is held at the James G. Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. It is manuscript number 618. In that time,the 1870s, annual negotiations between the city and coffin makers of Atlanta determined the treatment of paupers' remains. In 1875 the city paid $1 for each paupers' coffin. In 1880, the contract for paupers' coffins was awarded to Y. B. Cragilo, who would produce coffins at a cost of 88 cents per coffin. In 1884, the city moved the paupers' cemetery to West View Cemetery.
Close scrutiny of city and cemetery records may provide genealogists, family historians, and local historians with new information and new resources about our ancestors and the communties that they lived in. Exploring these resources can be enlightening and aid our research in a variety of ways.

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