Ah, well and good? My arithmetic (it may be in error) indicates that the County Board has increased its current tax levy some 20 percent over its previous year's levy; thus the Board will surely have sufficient funds to conduct the County's obligatory business, to destruct and construct buildings, to assure a transfer station for the County's trash, and maybe to have a bit left over to assume a responsibility County Boards have blown off for some 50 years — that of maintaining the County Farm cemetery.
In the late 1800s a far-seeing Coles County Board purchased land in Ashmore Township to provide a home for indigent citizens of the county. Through the 75-80 years this institution functioned, hundreds of needy people lived at the County Farm (also known as the "Poor Farm" or the "Alms Farm"). When residents died at the Farm, sometimes their families made burial arrangements, but in many instances the individual was interred on the Farm. At least two cemeteries have existed: a small one immediately north of the current building has completely disappeared; but a much larger one approximately one-half mile directly south of the building — south of Route 16 — still exists. Through the years, in excess of one hundred people were buried in this larger cemetery. The actual number of burials is unknown as records are spotty, but approximately sixty stones dating from the 1890's to the 1930's are still standing, and most of the names are decipherable. Other stones have fallen and many graves have sunken. Ashmore Township death records cite burials at the County Farm, the Poor Farm or the Alms Farm. The Coles County Genealogical Library has a record of the burials and a plat of the cemetery.
When the County Farm closed, in essence, the County Board abandoned the cemetery. After more than 100 years of ownership (and profits from renting the land to a local farmer), the County for whatever reason, sold the land, and the cemetery is in danger of being destroyed. Since the County established the cemetery, the Board clearly has a responsibility for it and should be held accountable for cleaning it up and maintaining it. Certainly the people interred there and their descendants deserve to be treated with dignity, grace and respect. KEN BIDLE Ashmore