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Archive for Monday, May 19, 2008

Hidden cemeteries to be cleaned up

KU Endowment to clear area between Clinton, Lone Star lakes

Monte Soukup, Kansas University Endowment Association's vice president for property management, looks for lettering on an old headstone during a tour of an abandoned family cemetery last week south of Clinton Lake. KU Endowment, which owns the property, plans to clean up the overgrown landscape at the cemetery before Memorial Day.

Monte Soukup, Kansas University Endowment Association's vice president for property management, looks for lettering on an old headstone during a tour of an abandoned family cemetery last week south of Clinton Lake. KU Endowment, which owns the property, plans to clean up the overgrown landscape at the cemetery before Memorial Day.

May 19, 2008

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They've been hidden in the woods for at least a century, tucked behind rock walls and barbed wire, covered by fallen branches, brush and poison ivy.

By Memorial Day, the landscape around the two mostly forgotten family cemeteries will be cleared and the few remaining grave markers will be revealed.

"It's just the right thing to do," said Monte Soukup, Kansas University Endowment Association's vice president for property management.

The cemeteries are about a mile apart on 222 acres of land belonging to the association. Known as the Adams Campus Outdoor Education Center, the land is leased to KU Recreation Services. The campus is between Clinton and Lone Star lakes.

Soukup, who started his job last fall, visited the cemeteries for the first time a few weeks ago with Clinton-area historian Martha Parker. Parker discovered the cemeteries more than 25 years ago while working on a book with Betty Laird titled "Soil of Our Souls: Histories of the Clinton Lake Area Communities."

One of the cemeteries is the Jones-Vancil families cemetery. The second cemetery was for a Swedish family with names such as Hellstrom and Bjorklund.

Parker brought the cemeteries to the attention of the Endowment Association many years ago and called the association about them again last fall. Now a landscaper has been hired to clean out the cemeteries. The association will see that they are maintained from now on, Soukup said.

"Once we get the limbs picked up and the brush cleared I think we'll be able to maintain it twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring," Soukup said.

Parker said she was delighted about the association's decision.

"I think it's a neat thing to do after all these years," she said. "This just kind of completes the area, knowing where the cemeteries are and that they (the association) are going to be responsible for maintaining them."

Comments

Lynn731 5 years, 11 months ago

Wonderful work Martha !! Thank you, Lynn

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Reality_Check 5 years, 11 months ago

OK, I'll go with LongGoneFromLarryville's version, since he was with me at the time (we were at LHS) and his memory's better.

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LongGoneFromLarryville 5 years, 11 months ago

Yay!I stumbled across the Vancil plot in 1978, before the lake was full. At the time, the pillar on Abbie's grave was loose and somebody had tucked a note in there. "Dear Abbie, I am dead. What should I do? (signed) Bewildered"Glad she's not been forgotten since.

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Reality_Check 5 years, 11 months ago

I found Abby Vancil's grave there in the mid-70s and loved stumbling on it. Someone had written a note and stuck it to the headstone: "Dear Abby: You're dead! Ha, ha." Nearby was a derelict farmhouse that some friends later torched just to see it burn.

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