Homes for the Aged in Missouri

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The Depression Years - What Happened to the Elderly With No Children with Whom to Live?

Economic times were tough in the latter 1920s and worse in the 1930s. If you were born in the 1850s though and had come to America on a merchant boat or in steerage, you did not have the advantage of a generational family home to retreat to in "retirement." If you were childless or other relatives were long distances away, you often had no place to go and live the final years of your life.

In Missouri, in some locales, churches banded together to provide lodging and care for the homeless, the sick, the elderly. Larger church organizations put up houses specfically for the care of the downtrodden, the disheartened, the lonely. Especially in the Depression years of the 'Thirties, families were broken apart due to crop failures, bank failures, business closures, and illnesses.

Not in it for profit, still it was difficult to keep the doors to such places open. Difficult to keep enough food on the shelves and medicines in the cabinets, heat in the fireplaces or coal in the bins. Some well-intentioned homes had to close up and assign residents to other homes or just turn them back out into the streets of the community. Where did these people go? Where are the recorded names of the residents of such places and the planned dispositions of their cases. What government entities kept track of these residences and these relocations? Were families notified? Are their records of deaths of residents and their burial sites filed in some public access place?