Hiawatha, Kansas

To say that the Davis memorial in Mount Hope Cemetery is off the beaten path doesn’t quite do its location justice.

Hiawatha, Kansas is in the heart of America’s farm country. Gorgeous, but remote.

John and Sarah Davis’s strange memorial was worth the drive. I’ve never seen anything like it. Thirteen marble statues plus urns, marble walls and roof depict every stage of the couple’s fifty year marriage.

John commissioned the work in 1930 when Sarah died. Sculptors in Carrara, Italy carved the stones until 1940.

According to legend, the townsfolk were pretty miffed that John would spend that kind of money, nearly all his family fortune, when times were so hard. 1930 was the middle of the Great Depression, but he had a point to make.

Sarah’s family hadn’t approved of their marriage. The couple was childless and John had no intention of his wife’s relatives getting a penny when he passed away.

The story makes sense. There’s waaaaay too much marble squashed onto one little burial plot. It looks like John kept trying to find more ways to spend away his money. That marble roof must weigh 50 tons! And it’s a b*#!@ to photograph!  Somebody with a better camera than mine needs to make the trek to Hiawatha and do this monument justice.

To me, the site ends up being not only a monument to a man who loved his wife, but to human foibles as well.

We live everywhere and die everywhere.

I was driving around Leawood, Kansas, kind of lost, I’ll admit.

I stopped at a big, fancy grocery store for the salad bar and directions. In the middle of the parking lot, like an oasis in a sea of asphalt, was this tiny cemetery.

Once through the gate, traffic noise seemed to fade even with suburban jungle all around. I’d stepped back in time.

Two young men’s graves told me how far back.

When I closed my eyes, I could picture the cool, peaceful spot these pioneers must have chosen. A small stand of trees in the wide open prairie.

Not in their wildest dreams could they have imagined what it would be like here a century later.

The whole place looked neglected. I wondered if anybody still mowed in the summer.

There’s a history of volunteer maintenance at the Linwood Pioneer Cemetery, at least until recently.

This sign was posted on the gate.

Does anybody reading this live near 95th Street and Mission Road in Leawood, Kansas?  What’s the end of this story?