Although known as the Salem Orphan’s Home Cemetery, this field of graves once belonged to the Industrial School and Hygiene Home for the Friendless.
Incorporated in 1890, the purpose of the home was to “maintain and educate friendless persons, to provide and maintain a home for such persons, and to provide homes in Chirsitan families for homeless and friendless children.”
Through the assistance of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren conference, sister Amanda Dohner provided these things to children who had nowhere else to go.
By 1893, 49 children, many from Chicago and other points east, had arrived at the Industrial Home. The residents helped run a successful farm, raising various grains, fruits and vegetables, and a purebred Jersey dairy herd.
By 1910, the need for an orphanage declined, and the home became a place for individuals who were mentally disabled or elderly.
In May, 1915, the name was changed to Salem Home. It continued to operate as a home for the elderly as well as hospital with a nurses’ training center until 1944.
On April 29, 1944, lightning struck the building, igniting a fire in the southeast corner of the structure. All 23 patients and residents were safely removed from the home, but the building was a total loss.
The home for the elderly and the hospital were rebuilt within Hillsboro city limits. Only a few grave markers remain in the cemetery and little is known about them. On the eastern edge of the cemetery lies a children’s row. Another marker honors a father, but no name can be found.rn