“THE LIFE OF THE DEAD
IS PLACED IN THE
MEMORY OF THE
Marcus Tullius Cicero
An article saved for me by some very good friends renewed many memories. It was in the Hutch News written by Kathy Hanks. The story was about an abandoned cemetery and the Old Order Amish. I have had the privilege to become friends with an Amish family and the people and history hold a special interest for me. It has been a long time since I was back to Yoder and say hello and drink coffee with the men.
My friend was one who had the misfortune of coming down with cancer. His was the only Amish funeral I had ever been to and it was an experience that I will never forget. My best friend went with me at the time. He had been the bulk truck driver picking up the family’s milk for a while. We were two of three ‘English’ at the proceedings, yet we were made to feel a part of the ceremony. There were bus loads of friends and relatives from as far away as Ohio. I never had the chance to count how many were there for the service.
I have always been fascinated with the Old Order Amish views of the world we live in. The article brings back a lot that I have not thought about for a while. The story is about a long abandoned cemetery south of Dodge City where an Amish settlement had once been. It is one of the ‘Failed settlements’ in Kansas. The severe weather took it’s toll on the settlers in Kansas. Six settlements were abandoned. Traces of the settlements soon were gone but the cemeteries are still there. Unless the advice of the Kansas State Government has been heeded by township officials over the years.
You see this cemetery south of Dodge City survives because a township official could not bring himself to pull up the head stones and plow under the plots. You see in Kansas after 15 years of abandonment and no one puts forth ownership, or assumes the care of, Kansas has no protections for them.
I made the effort many years ago when my State Representative at the time would listen, and give consideration for things that were not a hot topic, and yet should be done just because they were right. He managed to lose his next election before we got anything in the works. I know a land owner in South East Kansas that has been tending to an abandoned cemetery for years since no one will do it.
Maybe it takes a group of Amish from Iowa to come and save a cemetery that they don’t have to, to set the example. Shouldn’t we introduce a bill and pass a historic cemetery act?
Sometimes it takes a simple people to set an example to bring us back to the time when we respected those who went before us. To prevent the despoiling of the hallowed ground where the dead lay shouldn’t there be protection?
Along Kansas trails and ghost towns lay many a lone grave. Most are lost except in the notation in a book. South of Clearwater several miles on the Chisholm Trail there was a lone trading post. A family traveling through sometime in the 1870’s had an infant die. It was buried nearby this trading post joining a Vaquero that died coming up the trail. I can’t help but wonder if there is a family somewhere in their genealogy that remembers that infant?
The old cemeteries are the history books that don’t fit on our shelves. Don’t you think we should give them the protection they deserve?