Archive for Sunday, May 27, 2007

Young pioneer’s tombstone finds resting place at Clinton Cemetery

May 27, 2007

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Wreaths lie near the tombstone of Anna Jessie, who died at age 5 in 1878, at Clinton Cemetery. The tombstone, which a farmer found on his land, was moved last fall from the Wakarusa River Valley and Heritage Museum to the cemetery.

Wreaths lie near the tombstone of Anna Jessie, who died at age 5 in 1878, at Clinton Cemetery. The tombstone, which a farmer found on his land, was moved last fall from the Wakarusa River Valley and Heritage Museum to the cemetery.

Bob Wandel, a member of Sons of Union Veterans, places a wreath near the tombstone of Anna Jessie, who died at age 5 in 1878, at Clinton Cemetery.

Bob Wandel, a member of Sons of Union Veterans, places a wreath near the tombstone of Anna Jessie, who died at age 5 in 1878, at Clinton Cemetery.

Her name was Anna Jessie, and she died at the age of 5 on Sept. 6, 1878.

No one knows where the little girl's body is buried, but the white marble tombstone that bears her name has a final resting place in Clinton Cemetery. Thanks to members of a Lawrence organization called the Sons of Union Veterans, it was placed there last fall.

"I am just delighted. It's just like it has always been here," local historian Martha Parker said as she stood under shade trees by the tombstone at the far end of the little cemetery.

For years the stone had been on display in the Clinton Lake Museum. A farmer had uncovered it while plowing a field near the intersection of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Douglas County Route 442, also called Stull Road. Not knowing where the grave was or what to do with it, the tombstone was given to the museum.

The inscription on the tombstone reads: "Darling Anna Jessie, dau. of B. and M.A. Blunt; B. March 27, 1873, D. Sept. 6, 1878."

Parker, who is the director of the museum that is now called the Wakarusa River Valley and Heritage Museum, did research and found out more about the Blunt family. The girl's parents were Ben Blunt, an American Indian born in North Carolina in 1817, and Mary Blunt, who was black and 16 years younger than her husband. They came to Kansas sometime between 1862 and 1864.

An 1875 Kansas census record shows that Anna Jessie had three brothers and one sister ranging from 9 months to 13 years old. An old mortuary record showed that one of the Blunt's sons also was buried, but it is not known where, Parker said. The son wasn't named, nor was his age given.

Ben Blunt and his wife are buried in unmarked graves in Lawrence's Oak Hill Cemetery. He died in 1904; she died in 1903.

The exact location of the family farm is not known, although Anna's tombstone may have been on or near it, Parker said. It is not known how Anna died.

Bob Wandel, a member of the SUV's Samuel J. Churchill Camp No. 4, saw the tombstone in the museum one day last year while doing research on Civil War veterans. Parker told Wandel about the tombstone. Wandel got with another SUV member, Delmar Koch, and the two of them spent time one day placing the tombstone in a concrete base at the cemetery.

Parker had checked with the cemetery sexton and a location for the marker was chosen only a few feet from the tombstone of Nickerson Cowen, a black slave freed when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

"I think it's great that it is out where people can see it," Wandel said. "Knowing that it's a little girl, that kind of hits home."

Anna is buried among many former slaves and black soldiers from the Civil War era.

"Most of the stones are those of black families, and there are unmarked graves all over out here," Parker said.

Comments

displacedsunflower 7 years, 11 months ago

I am so glad that the little girl's tomestone has been put in a place in a cemetery, but I am saddened that the location of her remains is unknown. I have 'campaigned' in Franklin & Douglas counties (circulating a petition & delivering it to a state representative in Topeka, etc.) for treating the dead with dignity in old cemeteries. I have 'witched' for unmarked & unknown graves in my family's local cemetery and some markers have been put on them as being graves.

RKLOG 7 years, 11 months ago

Respect for the dead and care of cemeteries and grave stones is a good cause. Not just because burying the dead is something that we all have to deal with at one time or another, but maintaining graves and cemeteries will help preserve family records and family histories. Where as the person dies, their history is allowed to survive.

RKLOG 7 years, 11 months ago

Bevy, that is an excellent idea. Maybe a website could be organized that could show some of the rubbings collected. Every grave represents a unique history and individual, and preservation is the important key for future researchers and families when trying to locate those "lost" individuals.

bevy 7 years, 11 months ago

We went out to Maple Grove Cemetery at Lecompton today to visit our great, great-great, and great-great-great grandparent's graves, plus some aunts and one baby. My 14 year old daughter commented on some of the really old tombstones out there (not those of our family), and how sad it is that they are sinking into the ground. She wondered why no one took care of them anymore.

As a student of history, I am more saddened by the fact that the lettering is wearing off, and someday soon these precious records will be lost to time. Perhaps I should take paper and pencil and make some rubbings while I still can.

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