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.

Kansas women find history among the stones

Leavenworth Times, Sunday, Feb. 5, 1989

TOPEKA--Kansas women from across the state have been walking among the stones this past year. As members of the Woman's Kansas Day Club, they have compiled information about the cemeteries of Kansas.

Reports of their findings were shared Jan. 28 at the club's annual meeting held here at the Ramada Inn. From the Flint Hills, to the Boot Hill, to the Kansas coastline, cemeteries old and new were discovered.

Dwilette Paulson said cowboys of the last century were really buried with their boots on.

"When the bodies were moved from the Boot Hill Cemetery in the 1870s, they found many graves where the men were buried with their boots under their heads to act as pillows," the Clark County woman said.

The grave of a small child was reinterred some years ago. Surrounding the body were Spanish artifacts. Researchers believe the child's father was a Spanish conquistador.

The first burial in the Sedgwick City Cemetery was a man killed in a gun battle. Wanda Lancaster said the brevity of life "is noted in the old cemeteries, especially for the women who died in childbirth."

The cemeteries of the oldest county in Kansas were shared by L. Candy Ruff. For the past year and one-half, she has been writing stories about all the cemeteries of Leavenworth County. They have appeared in "The Leavenworth Times."

Mrs. Ruff serves as the newspaper's lifestyles editor.

"There are 10 abandoned cemeteries in our county and we are beginning to identify them in order to have them clean up and taken care of," she said.

The first teacher in Elk County was Frank Hodges. He taught in a log cabin school in 1869 and 1870. When he died in 1871, he was buried near the school.

"There is a fence around his grave now," Jean Gaines told the 250 women gathered for the meeting.

Rebecca Barber is proud of "all the digging we have been doing." Her research led her to a 125-year-old Indian cemetery in Wyandotte County.

The cemetery work of Jean Snedeger led her to publish two books on the burial grounds of Lawrence County.

"There are 123 cemeteries and burial sties with 30 of them still active and 22 abandoned," she said. "Ten of the cemeteries no longer exist. Nine are marked on private property and 45 are unmarked on private property."

The Lawrence woman led a group of people advocating the cemetery in Franklin be preserved. The only remainder of the small community east of Lawrence is a small cemetery with four headstones.

"The oldest marked grave we have found in 1842," she said.

Helen Henderson said an ill-fated vegetable colony in Allen County was the site of John Broadman's grave. He died in September 1856.

"My great-grandmother is the first white lady to cook a meal on the present site of Mapleton," she explained.

Cemetery information is being prepared for presentation to the Kansas Historical Society. The club centers its efforts on a yearly historical project. Cemeteries were the focus in 1988. School teachers are the focus in 1989.

Elsie Hemphill served as president in 1988. The Lawrence served as president in 1988. The Lawrence woman has been a longtime member. June Fausset was installed as 1989 president. The Kansas City woman will be joined by Katherine Brandon as director of the school teachers project.


Photo Caption


LEADING WOMAN'S KANSAS DAY -- Elsie Hemphill, right, Lawrence, is the outgoing president of the Woman's Kansas Day Club. She is joined by June Fausset, Kansas City, Kan., who takes over the job this year. (Times photo)


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