Saturday, May 30, 2009

Photographing Tombstones, Entry 2

Now equipped with my trusty digital camera once more, I stopped by the Delhi Cemetery on the way back from Lincoln to continue my project of taking photos of every tombstone in Osborne County. Located approximately nine miles north of Lucas, Kansas, Delhi Cemetery sits in the extreme southeast corner of the county in Delhi Township. Both the township and cemetery are named after Delhi, Vermont.

If you are into cemeteries, Delhi is certainly one to check out. Old and new stones are well mixed amongst each other here. The cemetery is also known for its native stone handcarved tombstones. The following are a few examples:

Among the many stories found in Delhi Cemetery is that of Bosen and Eliza (Jaman) Bronson. Bosen, or "Bose" as he was called, was a Kentucky slave who received permission from his master to fight for the Union side in the Civil War. Eliza was born in 1808 in Virginia, and ended up in Kentucky as well at the close of the war. The two then married (her fourth) and eventually took out a homestead in Delhi Township. They got to see their grandchildren graduate college here in Kansas. Eliza died in 1916 at the age of 108 years, still the oldest person to ever live in Osborne County. Surrounding their final resting place are what may be the unmarked graves of as many as 40 other "Exodusters" who left the South to resettle in Osborne County.

Explorer Extra: While the photo above shows one headstone for Bose Bronson, a second headstone for the Civil War veteran stands just to the north on the other side of an old cedar, giving a different date of death. Why there are two stones is no longer known.

Great Explorer Story: In the middle of four century-old cedar trees I was kneeling down in front of a small tombstone trying to focus my camera. Suddenly I heard something fall with a solid Whumph out of the tree about two feet in front of me.

Now, even though it is 2PM by this time, I instinctly know that I am in a cemetery, and that I am the only living human in that cemetery to boot. Therefore instinct took over and I did a very credible backflip and scrambled to my feet - just in time to see a large snake pulling the rest of its body out of the tree and along the grass.

The five-foot reptile gave me a little hiss and slowly slithered off toward the next tree, its middle clearly bulging with no doubt its latest prey. Either several hours or several minutes later (I really didn't care which it was) my heart finally calmed down and I went back to photographing tombstones - automatically jumping at every little sound I heard from the remaining trees I had to get under.

Moral of the Story: Explorers can Expect the Unexpected!

I'll finish with this photo of a tombstone for a three-day old infant. A cedar tree/bush has completely grown over this stone, and the only way to get a photo of it was to lie on my stomach and crawl under the bush, with all the cedar needles sticking in. Good thing I was the only living human in the cemetery; otherwise it would have been too good an opportunity for someone to lean over just as I was taking this photograph and yell,


Happy Exploring!

Fast Trip to Lincoln & Back

Today I had to make a fast trip to Lincoln, Kansas, to meet my sister and retrieve my camera, which somehow found its way into her car over the Memorial Day weekend. My sister lives in Salina, Kansas, and as Lincoln is roughly halfway between Osborne and Salina the Hungry Hunter Restaurant is an ideal place at which to meet for lunch.

The hodgepodge inside of the Hungry Hunter of antiques, stuffed game, art deco lighting, and ornate tin ceiling makes for a great atmosphere in which to eat. And the food is not bad either! Generous portions at generous prices. I opted for a simple Old English Burger with fries, and still had no room for dessert.

So we were sitting there eating and talking, when this man approached our table. "Do either of you own the Crown Victoria parked out front ?"he asked.

My heart sank. I've been run into, I thought. "Er, yes," I replied.

But no, there's a happy ending to this story.

"I'm Jim Williams, the photographer for the Lincoln Sentinel (the local newspaper). Well, I noticed that you are missing one of your hubcaps. I used to own a Crown Victoria," the man explained, "and I lost one of the hubcaps too. Found out that they would cost a lot to replace - well over $100 - so instead I took off all of my hubcaps. I've got the three in sacks on my porch for sale. You can have them for, say, five bucks each. I won't be home, but you can go by and get them."

He gave me his address and left, leaving my sister and I looked at each other in pleasant shock. We finished eating and went by the man's house and, sure enough, on the porch were the hubcaps. I left the money for two and left with another great story to tell about my fellow rural Kansans. And The Gold Standard has four hubcaps again! Thanks, Jim.
After lunch we went back our separate ways, and instead of taking State Highway 18 west out of town I decided as a proper Kansas Explorer that it was time to Dare to Do Dirt. So I turned onto Lincoln's North Street and headed west out of town, where the street suddenly turns into a classic Kansas dirt road.

Just a few miles west of Lincoln the road runs back into Highway 18, but not before you get to cross this historic trestle bridge. Fewer and fewer of these kinds of bridges are being maintained in Kansas each year.
Just west of Vesper on Highway 18 there is a roadcut that exposes the local clay deposits, including this rare purple layer.

Further along on Highway 18, a couple of miles west or so of Lucas, can be seen one of the last ceramic tile grain silos still standing with enough of its wooden roof to be able to understand this classic architectural style. Across the road to the south you can also see a native stone one-room schoolhouse still being preserved.