Caretaker of historic structure asks for respect from public

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
When does vandalism stop and compassion start? At what point do misconceptions begin to clear and unfounded rumors are laid to rest?

Nancy Marr, owner of the former Marion County Poor Farm, has been caretaker of the historic structure for more than three decades and has recently been victim to property destruction and labeling.

“I don’t mind if people drive by, as long as they keep on going,” Marr said. “But when they stop and fool around at the cemetery and get silly with thinking I’m a spooky old lady, I don’t like that spooky concept they have.”

While away for a short visit in June, Marr came home to discover that vandals had thrown bricks through her windows.

“I lost five of them,” she said. “It was the worst vandalism I ever had. They threw rocks, and then they went to the cemetery, and that’s where they were caught.”

Rumors continue to swirl around the fascination some have with the former poor-farm cemetery and the current condition of the house. But Marr said she is doing the best she can at this time in her life.

“I’m eccentric,” Marr said. “I enjoy it because it frees me to be an individual and not follow the crowd.”

A Quaker, Marr said she enjoys the solitude of her surroundings in the country. She keeps a plaque over her front door that reads: “The quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

“I have all these sayings I collect,” Marr said. “Most of them are from the Bible.”

Her educational background includes a degree in elementary education. She also earned a master’s degree in guidance counseling and student personnel. Both degrees are from Wichita State University.

Traveler, teacher, counselor, mother and homeowner, she writes and has dreams.

“I have plans,” Marr said. “I love to dream.”

A young senior citizen, Marr is looking for a position in special education in one of the area schools. Maybe, if students get to know her as a teacher again, they will leave her home alone, she said.

But for now, she asks the youth and adults in the area to respect her privacy and property.

“Instead of condemning me, I would prefer they show some compassion,” Marr said. “I try very hard. It’s been the story of my life.”

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