The County and the City.
in a while there seems to be a clash between the county and the
city in the matter of paupers, sick and well. The law is perfectly
plain that it is the duty of the county to take care of all the
paupers within its limits, and Dallas county has a poor-house
and farm for the purpose. Yet, many such a case is palmed off
on the city that properly belongs to the county, and per consequence
the city hospital to-day is over-crowded with inmates, and, it
is very probable, will have to get more hospital space. All paupers
living in the city are cared for by the city, either where they
live or in the hospital. This morning an old man asked admission
to the city hospital, and was denied admission because he did
not live in the city, but more properly belonged to the county.
He is an old man, looks pale and emaciated, is very feeble, has
one eye out, and one leg off, and is truly an object of charity
and pity. The county should send him to the poor farm and take
care of him, for he claims Dallas county as his home, and says
he has been working in the country. He certainly is unable to
work now and is penniless. The city has all it can care for.
There are certain blatherskites, little cross roads, stem winding,
selfcocking politicians who delight in trying to raise hostility
among the people in the country against the city, and resort
to all the lowflung and pitiful arts of the demagogue and subterfuges
of ward pot house bummers to do it, and this very question of
the poor farm, and the city hospital is one of their pet schemes.
Certainly every man with a thimble-full of brains knows that
what is to the interest of the city of Dallas is to the interest
of all Dallas county. Dallas secures railroads by subsidies,
not a dollar of which the people in the country pay, and Dallas
city gives the right-of-way for railroads through her streets.
The people in the country are as much, if not more, benefited
by these railroads than the city, yet scores and scores of them
want double the value of their land for right-of-way for a railroad,
every one of which doubles the value of the balance of their
land. Scores and scores, aye hundreds and hundreds of them, under
the inspiration of these little crossroads orator puffs, complain
whenever a pauper is sent to the poor farm, and say the city
ought to take care of them.
20, 1886, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. ?
- o o o -
[CITY HEALTH OFFICER'S
BURIAL OF THE DEAD.
city ordinances furnish the means of securing reliable death
statistics. As information of so much importance, all the safeguards
should be used in securing correct death records. The cemeteries
are now all within the city limits. The council can now appoint
a city sexton, whose duty it should be to keep watch over the
burial of the dead and secure a record in every case. It has
now become an accepted fact that the death rate is the correct
public health measurement.
poor, you hear of continually, but never of the city's paupers.
Several years since County Judge E. G. Bower, on the part of
the commissioners, and your present health officer, acting for
the city, made an arrangement in regard to the city paupers.
The city had accumulated large accounts against the county for
taking care of the county sick. These accounts could not be collected.
We agreed that the city would take care of the county sick, as
it had been doing. The county, in order to remunerate the city
for this, would take care of all the city paupers on the county
farm, and bury our dead, including those from the city hospital.
This arrangement got rid of the city undertaker. This plan has
worked well and has proven of mutual benefit.
- April 21, 1890, Dallas
Daily Times Herald, pp. 5, 8.
- o o o -
AT COUNTY EXPENSE.
CONTRACTS THE COMMISSION-
ERS MADE WITH MR. LINSKIE.
McAdams Says It Was Never
Stipulated That Paupers Were to be
Buried Without Being Washed,
Shaved or Dressed.
Judge Nash, to a TIMES-HERALD
reporter, to-day, said that after reading the article in this
paper yesterday, in regard to the burial of Valentine J. Kirkham,
he investigated the kind of contract the county has with Undertaker
Linskie to bury paupers. He said:
15, 1894, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 6, col. 5.
I find that in December, 1884,
the Commissioners' Court made an order giving Mr. Linskie, over
competitors, the contract to bury paupers at the rate of $4.50
each. In 1885, the contract was renewed for two years longer,
but since that expired, the county has had no contract with Mr.
Linskie, or anybody else, but he has gone on and buried paupers
at the same rate.
"Messrs. McAdams and Orr are
the only members of the Commissioners' Court who were in office
in 1884 and 1886, and Mr. Orr is not in town. Mr. McAdams says
he does not remember that anything was ever said as to the manner
in which the burials of paupers should take place, but he is
very certain that it was not stipulated that paupers should be
buried without being washed, shaved or dressed. He does not believe
that anybody in a civilized land would have human beings buried
in that way.
"The first order that I was
called upon for on becoming County Judge, I made inquiry about
the matter and was told that Mr. Linskie had the contract to
bury paupers, and I have ever since given orders to him. I have
never heard any complaint against him, and therefore, never paid
any attention to this matter.
"The presumption is that when
a person dies, no matter how poor, that his friends or neighbors,
in default of relatives, will perform the Christian office of
shaving, washing and otherwise preparing him for burial, and
the Commissioners' Court, no doubt, took this for granted when
they let the contract without specifying that it should be done.
The human body is held sacred by even the lowest tribes of savages,
and on account of the mystery of the origin and destiny of man,
the disposition of the body after death has, in all times and
places, been a matter of the most solemn moment.
"The Commissioners' Court
will look into this matter at once."
- o o o -
March 30, 2004:
CITY NEWS NOTES.
Court, to-day, awarded the contract to bury paupers to Loudermilk
& Miller. They are to receive $4.75 for a plain burial, but
$2 additional when robe and underclothing are furnished, and
$2.50 for a coffin alone.
- February 18, 1895,
Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 2, col. 5.
- o o o -
THE POTTER'S FIELD.
A Visit to the Graves
ments Taken of Their
Grave -- Last Resting Place of
the Friendless, Showing the Variety
of Human Charity.
reporter yesterday visited the county potter's field for the
purpose of ascertaining the foundation for the weird reports
about shallow graves and terrible stenches emanating therefrom.
The potter's field lies to the right of the west entrance to
Trinity cemetery, and to reach it, the cemetery gate is passed
through and a road turning to the right is taken and followed
about fifty yards, where it enters the burial ground of the unfortunate
whom death has overtaken in an hour of adversity, or who, like
the little waif, Galatea, left at the Woman's Home some days
ago, have no known relations. Poor Galatea. Her days on earth
were short. Who was responsible for her existence, nobody knows,
except the keeper of the great book, in which even the blades
of grass are numbered. Galatea's in the newest grave in the potter's
field, and beside and all around it, except on the side next
[to] the new-made graves, the weeds grow breast high. But weeds
are no rarity in the potter's field. With the exception of a
narrow strip, where the recent interments have taken place, the
whole of those acres where the bodies of the poor are turned
to the earth is a jungle of weeds, blackberry vines, Bermuda
grass and brambles. These are scattered about, and in places,
the rank weeds rival them in height.
A ROW OF PAUPER GRAVES
When The News reporter arrived
at the cemetery yesterday, he went to the sexton in charge, A.
S. Hall and Ted Green, who, when he made his inquiry known, volunteered
to assist him any way in making an investigation of the graves.
In company with them, the reporter visited the graves, which,
it was said, were in bad condition.
"This grave," said Mr.
Hall, pausing at the lot belonging to the King's Daughters and
pointing to the grave of Mrs. A. Decker, "this one, that
was examined by County Commissioner Barcus yesterday. It had
sunk in at the head and needed filling. It may have sunk more
than usual, as the grave was dug during one of the cold days
of last February and remained open all night and the earth froze.
When the earth was thrown on the grave, it was in large clods,
and when these settled down, it sank more than usual."
- August 8, 1895, The
Dallas Morning News, p. 2, col. 6-7.
When the reporter saw the grave,
it had been refilled and rounded off on top. Ted Green pushed
an iron rod down to the top of the box which inclosed the coffin
and it was found to be 2 feet 6 inches deep. No odor could be
detected, and Ted Green declared that a body would have "quit
smelling," that had been buried that long.
"The standard depth of a grave
is 4 feet 6 inches," said Mr. Green, "and there is
a box in this grave with sides twenty inches high, in which the
coffin is placed, so that just makes the grave about the standard
The graves of the paupers were
"We dig the graves of the
paupers four feet deep, as they are buried in coffins without
boxes around them," said Mr. Hall. "Four feet for grown
people, and three and a half feet for babies, is the way we dig
Several of the graves were sounded
with the rod and found to be 3 feet 3 inches to the top of the
coffin. A baby's grave was sounded and found to be 2 feet 4 inches
to the top of the coffin. The measurements were from the level
of the ground, and not from the top of mound.
"We are only paid to dig the
grave and fill it, and then to visit it again after it sinks
in and fill in again," said Mr. Green. "After the second
filling, the coffin decays and falls in, which will be four or
five years, and then it will sink again. Of course, we can't
be expected to come around and fill them again after that time.
There are graves over in the old part of this field which have
sunk in three feet. Nobody knows whose they are, and there is
no way of finding out," said Mr. Hall.
He and the reporter made an excursion
into the jungle to find some of the sunken and forgotten graves.
"Are you used to chiggers?"
asked Hall, gazing at the low-quarter shoes of the reporter.
Being informed that chiggers had no terrors for a reporter, he
led the way with the comforting remark that there were not many
snakes, but his partner, Green, had killed a rattler the day
before with six rattles and a button. "All this ground we
are walking on is thick with graves," said he, and it was
evident from the uneven feeling under foot. It was impossible
to see the ground on account of the matted Bermuda grass, which
rose waist high. Parting the weeds with his hands and feeling
for hollows in the grounds with his feet, he proceeded with the
reporter in his wake. "Here's a deep un," he said,
as his foot went down a couple of feet and found no bottom. An
umbrella was used for a sounder, and it found bottom about three
feet. The thick grass was parted and the walls of the grave became
visible. It was about four feet long and eighteen inches wide
and was evidently a child's grave. A strange dank odor, such
as makes the blood chill and the flesh creep, arose from it.
Water had recently settled there and had left a green fungi on
the walls and bottom. Not very far from this grave was a marble
slab with Chinese characters in upright lines upon it -- the
grave of some Celestial who had departed this life in a foreign
land, but whose friends inscribed upon his tomb his epitaph in
his native tongue. Near by, in a place where the weeds had not
grown as luxuriantly, was a little mound covered with shells,
and in a broken glass plate, was part of a doll's teaset, a little
pitcher about an inch high, some little cups and saucers and
a little pie plate, which told of happy, careless childish days,
more eloquently, here buried in weeds and grass, than any words
that could be graven on marble.
The tramp through the wilderness
of weeds was continued, sunken graves being found every few steps.
"This grass is burned off every winter," said Mr. Hall.
"You see the rats make nests in these sunken graves and
the neighbors' dogs get after them and scratch into the graves.
There is no one in charge of the potter's field, that is to watch
it. We are in charge of Trinity cemetery, and when we bury a
corpse, our work is done."
"If any one wanted to disinter
one of these corpses, who would prevent him?"
"We would do it, if we knew
about it, and I don't think any graves could be opened without
our finding it out. We have never had a reason to suspect that
any of the graves were robbed. Here is a place where graves are
about as thick as you ever see them," he said, pointing
to a lot of little head-boards, about two feet apart. "Stillborns,
every one of them," he said briefly. The little graves were
as thick as cells in a honeycomb.
The reporter called on Mr. O. E.
Farmer, who lives about 100 yards from the potter's field. "Yes,
I saw the grave in the King's Daughters' plot," he answered
to a query. It was sunken in until there was only about six inches
of earth on it. I can show you a grave of a grown man in the
potter's field, where it is not two feet to the top of the coffin."
The reporter accompanied him to this grave, which was dated Feb.
1, 1895, and it was sounded with an iron rod and the coffin was
found at a depth of twenty-two inches. Mr. Farmer said he had
not noticed any odor from the grave at his home.
Wm. Boerns, living next door, said
he had not noticed any smell from the graveyard, but that there
was an outhouse that "did smell ridiculous sometimes."
F. L. d'Ablemont, living the same
distance away as the others, said he rose at 3 o'clock in the
morning, and at that hour, he had detected an odor from the graveyard.
He said: "Everybody in this neighborhood has been sick,
and I think it is caused by the graveyard. I saw the sunken grave
that was filled and there was not more than six inches of dirt
on the box."
The reporter sought Judge Nash
and the county commissioners, but none of them were in town.
In the county contract for burying
paupers, it is specified "that the coffin shall be stained
and varnished cypress, in coffin shape, neatly lined. The grave
is to be dug and filled in carefully and cautiously, in a manner
suitable and becoming. The graves to be so as to utilize the
ground and in regular rows. The cost of the burial, with the
coffin furnished, to be $4.75. When a robe and underclothing
are furnished, $2 extra is charged. A coffin alone, to be furnished
for $2.50. Headboards to be put up at each grave with name and
number of same kept with a record."
- o o o -
NOT PAY BILL
ITY TO PAY FOR HOLDING
that under the law they have no authority to pay an undertaker
for holding the body of a dead man, the commissioners court in
session Monday morning, rejected the bill of $103 of the Weiland
Undertaking company for holding the body of the man found dead
near the Lancaster Avenue early in November. This action on the
part of the court members was taken following the receipt of
a ruling from the attorney general in which it was stated that
the county was authorized only to pay burial expenses, and that
in case where deceased was a pauper.
- December 23, 1912,
Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 3.
Since the body was found, it has been
held at the morgue of the Weiland Undertaking company under instructions
from Judge Barry Miller's grand jury. The body has never been
identified, nor has any indictment in connection with the case
been returned. Several arrests, however, were made but in each,
the defendants were ordered released.
Assistant County Attorney Bane, working
with Judge Miller's grand jury, expresses the belief that the
body should have been buried several days ago. He declared the
probers had no clue on which to work and so far he knew there
were no means in view for securing an identification.
The county, it is said, will pay the
burial expenses, but the other expenses in holding the body must
be paid by the state, if paid at all.
- o o o -
EDY WANTS TO
MANAGER THINKS CITY EN-
TITLED TO COLLECT FOR
future, the city should sell to local undertakers the privilege
ot serving as the city morgue rather than pay them to bury paupers,
since the morgue contract, now attendant to the pauper burial
contract, is what the undertakers seek when they submit bids
for burying paupers, City Manager John N. Edy declared Wednesday.
- November 11, 1931,
Dallas Times Herald, Sec. II, p. 1, col. 4.
The morgue contract enables an
undertaker to get bodies of all unidentified bodies found by
police and bodies of all persons who die at city-county hospitals
unattended by friends or relatives. Relatives of these persons
usually pay for funeral services and seldom elect to turn the
bodies over to other undertakers for burial. After a conference
with a dozen local undertakers Tuesday afternoon, Manager Edy
said that this morgue contract might be worth as much as $4,500
annually to an undertaker.
The manager, as yet, has not decided
whether he will recommend that the city let the white paper burial
contract, with its attendant morgue privileges, on bids received
One undertaker, the Keathly-Foley
company, offered to pay the city $500 for the one-year contract.
Other undertakers offered to bury paupers at prices ranging from
nothing at all to $35 per body. Last year, the city paid $5 per
body for the burial of white paupers, $15 for negro adult paupers
and $6 for negro children.
"I am convinced that the business
the city contractor receives through its designation as the morgue
is legitimate," Edy said. "The city is bound
to have some sort of a morgue, which, of course, must be properly
operated. But, it should seek bids on the morgue contract, rather
than on the pauper burial contract with the morgue contract attendant."
Last year, the city paid for the
burial of 164 paupers. The pauper burial contractor paid
about $25 to bury each body. This was considerably more
than the $5 to $15 they received from the city. But, the
revenues derived from burying others brought to the morgue, more
than offset the loss sustained in burying the paupers.
- o o o -
More Burial Bids
two additional bids for burial of pauper dead Saturday, City
Manager John N. Edy indicated that contract might be awarded
Monday to one of the three undertakers seeking the work, unless
other bids are received. Under the new specifications, undertakers
will bid on furnishing a semi-public morgue service, supplemental
ambulance service and the burial of pauper dead.
- December 31, 1931,
Dallas Morning News, Sec. I, p. 6, col. 1.
- o o o -
June 29, 2004:
FOR BURIAL BIDS
will be advertised for Dallas County's pauper burial contract,
Commissioners' Court voted Monday. This two-year contract during
the last fiscal period was held by Sparkman-Holtz-Brand, but
was canceled due to a misunderstanding. Weever Funeral Home has
been burying pauper dead in the county for the last few months
1, 1937, Dallas Daily Times Herald, Sec. II, p. 18, col. 7.
- o o o -
June 29, 2004:
One Cent Burial
For Pauper Dead
Sought by City
government expected Friday to continue burying Dallas paupers
for one cent a year.
- July 2, 1937, Dallas
Daily Times Herald, Sec. II, p. 1, col. 6.
At a special meeting Tuesday, the
council will advertise for bids for a contract to bury paupers
during the next year.
Most local undertakers seek this
contract for the one-cent remuneration because of its attendant
privileges. The contractor has the right to claim bodies of accident
victims, whose families often order high-priced funerals. He
also provides ambulance service for the Emergency Hospital when
the city ambulance is not in use.
The contractor usually buries between
150 and 200 paupers for the one cent.
- o o o -
October 30, 2004:
FOR PAUPERS MUST
BE AWARDED FRIDAY
council must award the pauper burial contract at its meeting
Friday, City Manager Hal Moseley said Wednesday, because the
present arrangement will expire this month.
- August 4, 1937, Dallas
Daily Times Herald, Sec. II, p. 1, col. 7.
Bids were received for this contract
several weeks ago. They were virtually the same, in so far as
the cost to the city is concerned. But, an argument arose over
the matter when certain religious bodies complained that the
present contractor has been refusing to bury paupers in private
The city pays these contractors
a nominal sum for interring the indigent dead, but often the
bodies are claimed by relatives who are willing to pay funeral
expenses. This enables the contractors to realize profit.
- o o o -
October 31, 2004:
WIN CITY CONTRACTS
FOR PAUPER BURIALS
of Sparkman-Holtz-Brand, Inc., for the contract to bury the white
pauper dead without cost to the city, was accepted Friday afternoon
by the city council, on recommendation of City Manager Hal Moseley
and Health Directory J. W. Bass. The contract, which is for a
period of two years, has been held by the Weever Funeral Home.
- August 7, 1937, Dallas
Daily Times Herald, p. 8, col. 4.
The council instructed the undertaking
firm to bury indigent persons in cemeteries maintained by religious
bodies, provided space was furnished by the organization. Under
the new contract, bodies are to be held for two and one-half
hours, instead of one h our, before embalming.
Contract for the interment of Negro
paupers was awarded to the Crawford Undertaking Company. It also
extends for a two-year period. The city is to be charged the
traditional amount of one cent per burial.
The city opened bids for razing
of the Methodist Publishing House building, which is in the path
of the Field Street opening project. It advertised for bids to
reconstruct parts of the White Rock-Fair Park sanitary sewer,
which has been damaged by quicksand.
- o o o -
October 31, 2004:
FOR PAUPER BURIAL
Court, Monday, granted two-year contracts for burials of pauper
dead to Sparkman-Holtz-Brand and Peoples Undertaking companies.
- August 9, 1937, Dallas
Daily Times Herald, Sec. II, p. 10, col. 3.
Sparkman-Holtz-Brand obtained the
burial for whites for no consideration. People's Undertaking
Company bid to bury Negroes at a rate of 1 cent per year.
The contracts stipulated that the
county furnish the burial sites "whenever necessary."
- o o o -