Tenants of the Horton Poor Farm would have included the impoverished, widows, orphans, the elderly and those who would have had difficulties with daily living. The exact date of the original construction of the poor farm is currently unknown. The first official reports concerning the Horton Poor Farm date back to 1887.
Dr. A.C. Page who in 1891, was inspecting the municipal poor houses had this to say about the Horton Poor Farm in his report to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly:
Visited September 15th and 16th (1891) the townships – Horton, Cornwallis and Aylesford. The Horton Farm is very prettily situated in Greenwich, and is a very suitable one, but the house is old and not well adapted to the purpose, being too small and having poor sleeping conditions.
There are twenty-two inmates, seven of whom are children. The bedsteads are poor, rickety, wooden contrivances, not fit for the purposes for which they are used, but on the other hand well calculated for the breeding of vermin.
The house is kept as clean as possible under the circumstances and the inmates are well fed and clothed. The milk, butter and vegetables are abundant and are well supplemented by an ample supply of fruit – all raised on the place. They have no sickness nor any regular visits by a doctor. No bathroom. No bathing. No enclosed grounds. No pains to keep the sexes separate. The theological students from Wolfville minister to their spiritual wants every Sabbath — a service which seems highly appreciated.
On June 17, 1893, the house building was destroyed by fire. A few months later on September 9, 1893 visit, Dr. A.C. Page had this to say:
I visited the Horton poor in a temporary residence — an old farm house near their late home, which was destroyed by fire on the 17th of June last. The fire was caused by an idiotic inmate, and involved no loss of human life.
Also, years later, an account by a resident of the poor farm at the time of construction of the new house said that the inmates were housed in the basement of the adjacent barn, under very difficult and unsatisfactory conditions.
Newt Bishop of Highbury was contracted to build the new house, and by the summer of 1884 it was completed and the inmates had moved in. Medical Officer E.D. Bowles M.D. visited the Horton Poor Farm on July 3, 1884 and reported the following on the new house:
The building burnt in June last year has been replaced by a fine looking two and a half story structure, 33×60, with an excellent cellar under the whole, where the furnaces are for heating are in position. The building is a handsome and substantial one, planned with an idea to convenience and economy of space. One peculiar feature of it is a room fitted up expressly for religious services, comfortable supplied with chairs and ornamented with growing plants and flowers. The services are conducted by students from Acadia.
It wasn’t until 1914 that the Horton Poor Farm had running water. Obtained by a twenty five year lease from Charles Pudsey, they installed pipes and a ditch from a spring though his land to the Post Road.
As early as 1884 there had been talks of combining the poor farms of Horton, Aylesford and Cornwallis townships for the ease of operation. This eventually did happen in 1922 with the opening of the County Poor Farm in Waterville. With this, the Horton Poor Farm ceased operation and was sold. Over the years the cemetery plot became separated from the poor farm plot and eventually became property of the adjacent railway property.
The cemetery for the Horton Poor Farm, located on the north side of the former rail bed, now a county multi use trail, sits on a bluff overlooking the Cornwallis River. Bodies of the deceased would have been brought to the cemetery by horse and wagon or by sled if it was snow covered. In the years following the closure of the Horton Poor Farm, the cemetery fell into a state of neglect, with trees and the fence fallen down. In the 1960s, Councillor Gordon Woodman had new corner posts installed to mark the boundaries. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the newly formed Burial Grounds Care Society got to work researching and obtaining assistance from the County of Kings, Lafarge Canada and the Windsor and Hantsport Railway Company. A walking trail was cut into the woods and Lafarge put gravel down on the old wagon road leading across the tracks to the cemetery. With assistance from the County, a new post and chain fence was erected and a large stone at the entrance marking the cemetery.
On Saturday June 5, 2004, a re-dedication ceremony was held for the Horton Poor Farm cemetery by the Reverend Donald C. MacPherson with members of the Burial Grounds Care Society, municipal government, local residents and the newspaper in attendance.
Work continues at the Horton Poor Farm cemetery to this day, with work parties to maintain and keep the site clean. In the summer of 2016, a park bench was installed just outside of the entrance for use of visitors of the cemetery or users of the nearby trails.
The History of Greenwich by Edythe Quinn
Burial Grounds Care Society files.