Indigent Burials

Last week the Archives was researching the County’s history of providing burials for the indigent, and discovered that there was at least one official Salt Lake County Potter’s Field, located at the Taylorsville City Cemetery.  The County wanted everyone to be properly provided for, no matter what their economic status was when they were alive. 

Salt Lake County has provided this service since official County business started  in 1852.  The very first Salt Lake County ledger book, first entry dated April 1852, documents the earliest expenditures of the County, including roads and bridges, criminal convictions, salaries of employees, and includes a section on “Paupers.”   The County provided paupers with lodging, food, clothing, and also burials.   The image below is taken from the ledger book, and shows grave clothes and burial furnished in January of 1853, along with payment made to an individual for “keeping Benj. Houghton an orphan.” 

Pauper expenditures, Salt Lake County Ledger Book, 1852 -1856

 As the population of the County grew, the Charity Department’s responsibilities also increased.  A total of $1807.50 was paid for the “indigent dead” in the 1930 Auditor’s Annual  Report.  The Charity Department also provided other needed items for the poor, such as coal for heat. 
Salt Lake County Auditor Annual Report, 1930
 Today, the District Attorney’s office, Civil Division, is responsible for indigent burials. 
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