This, a story as told to me, by, Susan Chase, one of our customers from the Lobster and Wreath Festival.
Here's the story of the poorhouse & where one of your church wreathes goes every Christmas.
Around 1800, the governing powers of Chester County, PA, made provision for the destitute by building a poorhouse [or almshouse] near the west branch of the Brandywine in the Embreeville area. Because some inmates of the poorhouse died there, the poorhouse overseers set aside a portion of the property (now part of the Natural Land Trust's Cheslen Preserve) for a burial ground or potter's field, since inmates of a poorhouse didn't have the money to pay for funerals. By the early 20th century the buildings were used as a hospital for the mentally ill. A certain number of those patients had been abandoned there by their families. The use of the potter's field continued for indigent hospital patients who died, like the destitute without the means of burial anywhere else.
All the graves in the cemetery are marked with stones, but stones that bear numbers rather than names, numbers that apparently related to some sort of log or ledger of the people who had died. There are over 200 stones.
When I had walked with friends in the Cheslen Preserve and had visited the potter's field, it was so sad to think that the stones marked the final resting place of people who someone sometime must have cherished but who were now only numbers on small stones. So at Christmas 2012, we took one of the wreathes from the Lobster and Wreath sale, decorated it, and took it out to the potter's field and hung it on the gate. Of course, this December we will be taking one of your wreathes out to the cemetery again.
Merry Christmas Everyone
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