We have a “cowtown” museum in the city I live. The museum has building g duplicates of the original city as it stood in the late 1890s. You can walk into each store , shop, house, or farm as it stood over 100 years ago. It’s what I would call an interactive museum. I really enjoy Cowtown and they always hold interesting historical events.
Like any museum Cowtown is a living , growing learning experience. I have been to Cowtown many, many times in my years of living in the city I was born and grew up in. I have never noticed the undertaker business until last week. Cowtown has about 50+ buildings and recreations on their grounds and I have never noticed the undertaker before. Below are some pictures I took that shows how death was treated in the years after the Civil War.
If you aren’t familiar with Elf on a Shelf you might think this picture is a little odd. The idea is that you use the elf doll and tell your children that the elf is watching good boys and girls for Santa. Now the elf moves at night to a different location to further convince your kids he is real. Sometimes this little elf will even play tricks at night while children are asleep. An example would be you find him on the kitchen table with your cereal ready, or maybe he picked out your clothes while you slept. You get the idea.
Now this sounds like great fun BUT most parents start this little game around Thanksgiving and it’s played up and until Christmas. This can be troublesome in many ways. Trying to come up with different ideas as to where to put the elf while the kids are asleep and what trick or new discovery the elf might create. That’s a lot of work! Or heaven forbid the parent is to tired to do the elf relocation one night, then you have to come up with why the elf did not move. The worst or maybe best idea is the elf is partially eaten by the dog, hence the picture.
In my last post I wrote about my inspiration for posting pictures and comments about Kansas cemeteries. Not the huge mid century cemeteries and their big Masoleums or the newer cemeteries with flat markers, big statues and biblical names for each section. My inspiration is a YouTube channel called Sidestep Adventures. On this YouTube channel they take you through Georgia and Alabama cemeteries that many don’t realize exist and are so old they aren’t even mapped.
I’m starting in my own county of Sedgwick in the state of Kansas. Prairie cemeteries mark the harsh realities of what life was like in the early to late 1800s. The cemeteries are small and some of them are no longer hidden due to urban sprawl. Marked in stone is the life the prairie provided for the first that settled Kansas.
These pictures are of Eldridge Cemetery near Colwich KS. This is a farming community outside of Wichita KS. Colwich was once miles outside of the city but today is only 7 miles away from Wichita. There is no one named Eldridge buried here. The first grave that I could find belonged to a child named F. Arthur , age 1 year- 9 mos. Little Arthur is laid to rest with his father who shares the same stone maker. Most of the graves are from the late 1800s to the very early 1900s with very few exceptions. The majority of the graves are of infants, children, and young adults, with their parents following in death. There is one small mausoleum building with no identification of its owner. The cemetery is well groomed and some flowers were placed at one grave. The legacy of this Kansas cemetery seems to be the hard life of early farming in Kansas.
I follow a YouTube Chanel called Sidestep Adventures. The host takes you through the past of Alabama and let me tell you it has a lot of past to view. I’m a bit of a history buff and I find his episodes on old cemeteries fascinating. Of course Kansas doesn’t have as many historical cemeteries, slave cemeteries, plantation cemeteries as Georgia and Alabama but we do have a few hidden gems. The difference being that our Kansas cemeteries are not hidden beneath bushes, wisteria, and huge oak trees. Kansas cemeteries are of the plains. The plains of Kansas were very harsh to the settlers of the 1800s, lots of sun, wind, and dust, and not much more. I have no doubt that many of the small farm cemeteries are long gone, plowed over and forgotten. The ones that do remain are quaint and quietly taken care of. The host of SidestepAdventures would tell you the cemeteries that remain almost own themselves. In other words, if a cemetery has been photographed and reported to the county that land can’t be sold or built on, so they just work around them. I will have to check out Kansas law on cemeteries before my next post.
Here is my first attempt at showing small Kansas cemeteries on the prairie.
#1 RUBY Cemetery. Although this cemetery is close to Clearwater KS ( population 2500) and Wichita KS (population 400,000.) You can see by my pictures it is a prairie cemetery of years ago.
Every year we drive up to Minnesota to see our youngest daughter and her partner. It’s such a long drive from Kansas (12 hours) that unless we have planed ahead we simply just drive, and that’s a lot of highway.
When we do pull off the highway, and as long as it doesn’t take us too far off the path, I try to locate local cemeteries. The small city of Cameron, Missouri has a population of around 10,000. Give or take a few thousand. This small size city has the daunting task of taking care of 5 cemeteries. All five are large cemeteries and all five belong to the city of Cameron. The cemeteries are: McDaniel 600+, Packard 2000+, Graceland Memorial 1000+, Graceland 2000+, Evergreen 1500+, the numbers represent approximately how many are buried at each cemetery. Cameron had a historical board as well as a cemetery board and with that many cemeteries to maintain its easy to understand why they have the boards. I’m in awe of how such a small city manages to maintain so much cemetery acreage.
I have changed my mind several times as to what I want done with my body when I am gone. I have at this older age made my decision and it is my final choice. Unfortunately my past has made me think of this more than others might. I have personally planned every family members funeral. I spoke at most of them. I have learned what I don’t want. I walk for an hour each day for exercise and for my dog, he loves the walks. There is a park very close to my house and I have walked through it thousands of times. A friend pointed out the marker one day as we walked together. It has sunken a bit but it sits by a tree , a tree that was planted in honor of his passing. Of course most cities would never give permission to allow such a tree planting or a marker placed but 30 years ago they did. I’m sure others have found it over time and others will find the maker in the future. What a nice place in a park, under a big tree.
Cemetery names are often the same as the small town the cemetery is near. Often cemeteries will have religious or saint names. Some make reference to water or flowers such Riverside or Rose Hill. Greenwood and Evergreen are very popular names for cemeteries. You would be hard pressed NOT to find an Evergreen or Greenwood Cemetery in every state of the United States.
These pictures are of one such Greenwood Cemetery. The difference is this Cemetery is on Madeline Island, Wisconsin. The Island is on Lake Superior and is beautiful. The Island has a population of 300 – 1500 depending on the time of year. I spotted this cemetery ( the only one on the island ) and wanted to take a look. I might have missed it if it had not been for the iron fence entrance. I did not enter any further than the gate which was open and welcoming, it just didn’t seem right to disturb such a small peaceful place and moment.
This photo is one that was given to me by one of my daughter’s friends. The photo was taken the day after the home and land that his family owned in southwestern Kansas burned to the ground. Thankfully the land and buildings were the only loss and everyone survived the blaze that burned for hours.
The photo was taken with a simple camera, no special lens, no added effects, no touch ups. Is the figure in the sky just a rement of the fire that burned and lingered or is it an angel watching over a family? Do we see what we want or need to comfort ourselves? Is that not what faith is, just believing?