Wandering Aimlessly


Children’s Poor Farm, Mason Hill

by Phil Burkhouse


This week I will finalize the history and tales of the Children’s Poor Farm/Orphanage that operated on Mason Hill from 1912-1920.  In talking with Fannie Belle’s descendants and reading the remembrances of former boarders, Raymond Birney Coon and June Hugar were very interesting for me.

I can imagine the trials and tribulations Fannie Belle endured while caring for the children whose families had fallen on hard times.  The Fourteenth Census of the United States (1920 census) listed Fannie Belle as head and 23 boarders.  Birney relates children came and went fast, with some staying less than six months.  There were always more girls than boys, and the most children at the home at one time was 30.  Birney referred to Fannie Belle as the Dragon Lady and mentioned when she whipped them she would say it hurt her more than it hurt them, but several of the boys thought she had a sadistic streak in her.

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