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.

A pathway into Villa Eden Cemetery
One-time burial ground in Fall Leaf community used in late 1800s
by L. Candy Ruff (Times Lifestyle Editor)
Leavenworth Times Oct. 16, 1988

Old timers of the Fall Leaf community tell of an older man, who often visited the Villa Eden Cemetery. The graves weren't tended too well. It didn't keep the grey-haired father from cutting a pathway to the grave of his long-dead child.

"The old man used to go in there and cut a path about 15 feet to his child's grave," Herb Siewald said from his southwestern Leavenworth County farm.

The pain of losing a child lingered through the years. After a while, he said, the old man never returned.

Clara Zimmerli Holmes didn't recall the older man, but she knew where the gate was and how youngsters attending Villa Eden school played in the community burial ground.

"There were many more stones and several big ones," she said from near the northern side of the cemetery. "There was a fence all around it in those days. The teacher would let us out for lunch and we'd run down the hill and up here."

Siewald saw the abstract for the property several years ago. The Fall Leaf school district owned the land when an acre was put aside as a community burial ground.

During lunch hours of long ago, Mrs. Holmes says youngsters would go, "crawling over the fence and all through that brush. The varments had dug under the tombstones."

It frightened the students of the one room-school house about one-half mile to the north, she said. That school house burnt about four years ago. A family double-wide trailer stands there today.

Set in the center of the abandoned cemetery is the Davenport family plot. The large headstone in the center may be one Mrs. Holmes remembers. A Victorian-era iron fence circles the plot on three sides. Melvin Davidson's great-grandfather is buried there.

"The Davenports were from my grand-mother's side of the family," he said Tuesday afternoon. "They came here in the 1800s sometime. I know he fought in the Union Army. It's marked on his stone."

During what must have been the cemetery's most prominent years, two Davenport men died within six months of one another. James B. Davenport was 37 years old when he died March 6, 1895. The death of his father occurred six months later.

"How that poor woman must have grieved," Shirley Davidson said. "Losing her son and then husband so close together."

Melvin and Shirley Davidson stand in a long family line that has farmed the land near the cemetery. James Davenport's daughter, Ola Ann, married David Davidson near the turn of the century. He soon gained recognization as one of the best known cattlemen in Leavenworth and Douglas counties.

"My father was Charles, their son," Melvin Davidson explained.

Twelve headstones were identified in 1979. Six more were discovered Tuesday. Nearly all were children. A 6 year old named Warren appears to the first burial according to headstones. He died Sept. 30, 1874.

"He may have been a child of old Doc Warren," Mrs. Holmes suggested. "He was an old-time country doctor people used to tell about."

From the Memorial Day memories Melvin Davidson has from childhood was a group of older people coming to the cemetery with flowers. But that was about the only time he ever saw anyone visiting the small cemetery atop one of the highest elevations in southern Leavenworth County.

"I had a great uncle that came up here, but that was long years ago. He would get in there and cut that brush away. He'd make a path to the Davenport plot in the center. After he was gone, no one paid much attention to it," he said.

Article donated by Debra Graden, President
Leavenworth County Genealogical Society, 1998

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