From 1885 until 1915 county-financed burials were provided for honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines who had served during wartime but “died without sufficient means to defray the necessary burial expenses.” In 1915 the death benefit was extended to the indigent widows of honorably discharged veterans as well as to indigent men who had served in the state militia during the Civil War. In 1935 the benefit was further extended to include women who had served in the enlisted nurse corps or in other capacities in the military. Moreover, the death benefit was no longer just for those who had died in poverty, but was granted without regard to economic status. The 1935 law stated that county assistance was only available if the funeral cost no more than 4 hundred dollars.[i]
Laws of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
[i] Laws of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Session of 1885, Harrisburg, 1885, 17-20; Ibid, Session of 1915, Harrisburg, 1915, 132-33, 870-75; Ibid, Session of 1935, Harrisburg, 1935, 683-90. The law was revised in 1955, although the requirements for granting the death benefit remained essentially the same; see Ibid, Session of 1955, Harrisburg, 1955, 404-15. In 1955 the Chester County Office of Veterans Affairs was created to aid the county commissioners in the granting of burial allowances and in the administration of a growing number of benefits for veterans. This office acts under the rulings of the federal Veterans Administration.
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