They came, 80 strong, young and old, not to remember a famous founding father but to celebrate the significance of life and the memory of a 19th century Lawrence farmer.
The occasion Thursday at a small cemetery near the intersection of Sixth and Kasold commemorated the 100th anniversary of the death of Henry T. Davis, who farmed 160 acres at the location in the late 1800s.
John Weatherwax, a Lawrence certified public accountant whose office is near the cemetery, helped organize the gathering. Weatherwax also played trombone in the River City Mission Band, which performed "Amazing Grace" and "When the Saints Go Marching In" for the occasion.
Amid the hum of a vacuum cleaner from a nearby car wash and the buzz of going-home traffic, Steve Jansen, director of the Elizabeth M. Watkins Community Museum, told the gathering that family cemeteries vanished as Lawrence expanded.
"Each life is significant," he said. "The presence of the cemetery is a significant statement; it's a recognition that we have a past and that it should be recognized and preserved."
Jansen also told about the history of the area where Davis is buried. He said the first person buried in the cemetery was George Burt, who was killed in Quantrill's Raid on Aug. 21, 1863. Burt had sold the farm, near the California Trail that ran through the city, to Davis earlier that year.
Following the ceremony, most of those attending placed flowers on Davis' grave before retiring to the establishment that bears the farmer's name, Henry T's Bar & Grill, 3520 W. Sixth, for refreshments.