From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.


James Chance recalled by grandson during Chance Cemetery visit

Leavenworth Times, 18 Sep 1988

by L. Candy Ruff, Times Lifestyles Editor


Harvey Chance remembers his grandfather, James Chance was blind the last years of his life, his grandson said not long ago, but he loved the southern Leavenworth County farm his family had settled in the 1870s. The older Chance was the last person buried in Chance Cemetery.

"He always had his German shepherd near him," Chance said from the southernmost cemetery of Leavenworth County. "Everday, he would let the dog lead him into Linwood to get the mail."

The Chance family arrived in the Kaw Valley after the Civil War. They farmed property high above the Kaw River. Within a few years they were called on by neighbors to use a portion of their land for burials. By 1880, they buried one of their own.

Headstone records indicate the first Chance burial was the family patriach, Green Chance. He was 67 years old at the time of his death in 1880.

"He was my grandfather's uncle. I always heard the old people talk about the family coming to Kansas in a covered wagon. I believe there was also a man named Collins, who came with them."

J. W. Collins died in 1908 at the age of 75. His headstone is not far from Green's. Evelyn Townsend wrote in 1979 the cemetery was often used by the Chance family and their neighbors before Mount Sidney Cemetery, located just down the road, was established after the turn of the century.

Mrs. Townsend said legand had it that many Indians were buried in the same area before white settlers arrived. Those graves were marked by stones. There remain today 15 headstones dating from 1873 to 1933.

The Chance homestead is several hundred yards from the cemetery. Harvey Chance said his grandfather was known for the cared he gave his animals.

"I can remember him tending his chickens and cows. Even when he got older and couldn't see, he was still worried about his animals. But that dog of his was never far from his side," he recalled.

After World War II, weeds and brush were allowed to cover the headstones and little attention was paid to the cemetery. The Sherman Township was charged with caring for the pioneer burial ground in 1973. Mrs. Townsend is the wife of former township trustee, Lawrence Townsend.

Bill and Carmen King worked with a Cub Scout pack from Linwood to clean out the cemetery several years ago. The Scout still pay periodic attention to the cemetery. They erected a cemetery sign in 1983.

King now serves as a trustee of the Sherman Township. He said Chance is one of six southern Leavenworth County cemeteries under the care of the township.


Photo Caption


VISITING CHANCE CEMETERY -- Harvey Chance stands near the headstone of his grandfather, James Chance, the last person buried in the Chance Cemetery, the southern-most cemetery of Leavenworth County. (Times Photo)

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