The Cecil County Potter’s Field, the final resting place for paupers who couldn’t afford a burial, is located across from Mt. Aviat Academy. On the grounds of what was the county poorhouse, it contains some 150 to 200 unmarked graves. The Alms House, as it was also known, opened about 1776 and closed in 1952 when the county put the property up for sale. It was purchased by Elk Paper Manufacturing Company and the new owner donated part of the tract to the Oblate Sisters for Mt. Aviat Academy, a school.
In time weeds and vegetation took over the abandoned graveyard. But John Beers, who’d grown up in the neighborhood, launched a project to have the pauper’s cemetery cleaned up and marked with a marble monument. The job of memorializing those unknown persons who rest there and commemorating the burial plot used for the indigent was completed in 1968. The marble stone read: “Potter’s Field, 1776 – 1950, may their soul’s rest in peace.”
Over the centuries, unidentified drifters, the county’s poor, criminals and other outcasts from society, many having spent their final days at the poorhouse, were interred in the county graveyard. Today the sisters bury members of the order in the field.
Mr. Beers wrote a poem about the Potter’s Field. His brother Lawrence Beers, a detective for the Baltimore and Ohio, was shot and killed near Belcamp, MD. in 1919.
In Potters Field
We will bury them in potters’ field, the criminals and the unknown.
I hear the B & O Freight train coming in on the siding and see the hoboes heading for a warm night’s sleep in the county home.
On my way to the little school house by the tracks, I count them one and all.
We will give them coffee for the road for I know they will not return.
We have had a burial in potters’ field today; he was found floating in the Bay.
When his widow arrives from New York she will identify him as her own, for he was a millionaire without a home.
I see my brother Lawrence Beers passing on the freight, for this was his line of duty for the B & O
Johnny “Cash” Beers
Research Note: The Historical Society has many of the county poorhouse records and those manuscripts are valuable for research.