Monday, May 18, 2009

Photographing Tombstones, Entry 1

Today was another gorgeous day, and of course I was stuck in the house all day. Finally at 8PM I decided that it was high time for a quick break. I got in the Gold Standard and drove seven miles west to the Bloomington Cemetery for a quick foray of photographing tombstones. There are over 50,000 people known buried in what is now Osborne County, Kansas, and I have made it a project to go out and photograph every known tombstone in one year's time.

Why, do you ask?
Simple: (1) it gets me out of the house; (2) you get to see some pretty interesting country as you Dare To Do Dirt tracking down some of these public cemeteries (Osborne County has 41, officially); (3) Genealogists and even the odd historian or two will kiss your feet to discover that there is a photograph available of that long-lost ancestor they are half a continent away from and so cannot come and take the photo themselves.

At any rate, the Bloomington Cemetery is relatively easy to reach, being on rock roads only a mile north and a half mile west of the comforting pavement of U.S. Highway 24. The small cemetery has had a rough time of it over the years; of the over 80 known burials, only 42 tombstones can be now be found.

If you ever have the chance to visit this cemetery, be sure to look for one of the five oldest marked graves in Osborne County. Bryan Frentress was born in November 1860 in Iowa to Thomas and Martha, and when only ten years old he passed away on September 5, 1871. Check out his tombstone - no doubt adding to his parents' sense of loss was the final ignominy that the stonemason spelled his name incorrectly as Byon.

One grave you will not find - that of Delbert Tunison. Delbert was six months married in 1885 when he was shot and killed during a midnight visit to the barn of his wife's parents. The story goes that her family objected strongly to their marriage and after a few months the new Mrs. Tunison began to as well. So one night she convinced her husband to go out at night to her parents' farm and bring back two horses and a buggy that should have been her dowry.

Upon entering the barn Delbert was met by his wife's two brothers, who promptly declared him a trespasser and shot him dead. One brother eventually went to prison for the crime, the other brother received a lesser sentence, the widow got off scot-free, and poor Delbert had only his ten-year old brother William to mourn his passing. Delbert lies to this day somewhere in the northern part of the cemetery in an unmarked grave.

1 comment:

LoisM said...

New twist to the here are some facts: Del's brother Willis Wesley was 24 and provided the lot for burial. His mother was in Sumner KS (Mrs. Joe Degon) and his father R.C. and mom Elizabeth both show on the 1885 KS census in Osborne Cnty. Two others were involved in planning the murder - Albert Whitaker and John Cranshaw. There were 2 State Supreme Court cases (State vs)Whitaker and Miller. Records show Ida with 2 children - Jeremiah Delbert and May born between 1880-5.