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Watch Now: Cayuga County Poor House Cemetery not forgotten
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Watch Now: Cayuga County Poor House Cemetery not forgotten

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In October 1988, when law enforcement was searching for two inmates who escaped from the Cayuga County Jail in Sennett, they discovered a graveyard in a nearby wooded area, hidden by thick undergrowth. There, out of sight for nearly 30 years, was the Cayuga County Poor House Cemetery. About 400 graves with small square headstones, marked only by a number, line the shallow hillside overlooking the Cayuga County Public Safety Building. Only one grave is marked with a cross and inscribed with the name 'Red Cloud.'

The county poor house was established in 1825 and operated until the late 1940s when it was turned into a nursing home. The first recorded burial was on Sept. 30, 1873, and the last on May 7, 1949.

After the discovery during that search, in which the escaped inmates were found, the sheriff's department took on the responsibility to maintain the cemetery with inmate labor. To this day, out of a sense of duty, the department's staff continues to take care of the cemetery but no longer relies on its incarcerated population.


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