Ken Newton FB image

The stone tells a story about William Dale Curry, but a meager one. We might deduce that sadness accompanied the placement of this marker.

William lived barely four months, dying on March 16, 1908. We don’t know how.

Yet we know enough of the human heart that even in those days of limited medical options, a measure of love and hope followed the birth of a child. His passing came as a thunderclap to someone.

Those who grieved William also have gone to their reward. And a generation or two besides. Time marches, the parade so far endless.

If memory has failed of the boy’s time here, he joins others, 112 years later, as part of a heart-hurting list, undeserved by any of them put here.

Like, for instance, Elizabeth Hazlewood, dead a few weeks short of her 10th birthday in 1919. “Gone But Not Forgotten” reads her gravestone.

And Anna Mae Rose, the 24-year-old wife of F.L. Rose. The widower made sure a carved flower adorns her monument.

A husband and bride, William and Mary C. Drowns, died the same year, 1920, both having been born before the Civil War.

These otherwise disparate souls have a couple of things in common. One, they found a final resting place at King Hill Cemetery, where I spent a morning walking around. Two, their grave makers have been knocked to the ground by vandals.

What an odd pastime, the desecration of headstones.

Of all the forms of vandalism — not any favorable — few hold the promise of bad karma like this one.

All our paths, all those of our loved ones, head this one direction. Does it makes sense to exert energy, a grunt and a shove, in knocking a monument from its footing?

This season of Halloween revels in the possibility of a disquieted hereafter. Some houses have yards littered with plastic gravestones, a place to whistle past, a ghostly ambience but with candy treats waiting.

Morbid, sure, but leave folks to their innocent frights. Let that be the good time.

Wanderings in actual cemeteries, with lawbreaking a result, leave nothing but disrespect. Maybe no one in the Curry or Hazlewood or Rose or Drowns lineage will actively complain. Most people, though, take offense to such injury.

Gary Lewis did. He has a great-great-great grandmother buried in the cemetery, Sarah Poindexter Lewis. The information literally dropped into his lap.

When his father died a few years ago, “My sister brought all the old books, and this picture fell out of one of the books, and it happened to be of (Sarah),” Lewis said. “The next day, I went down and tried to find her grave.”

He found it, but the St. Joseph man also came away appalled by what else he found. Lewis has counted more than 150 stones tipped over, with many others broken in half.

“I finally decided I was going to do something about it,” he said.

Lewis has begun the process of starting a not-for-profit organization, a collection point for donations, but he also hopes to attract volunteers to help in the cleanup and raise awareness.

“It just deserves better, in my opinion,” he said.

You don’t just happen upon King Hill Cemetery. A winding road leads to it. Since the mid-19th century, funeral processions have traveled up this South Side hill.

The trip did not deter vandals, either. Sadly, they go to great lengths practicing their craft.

Death spares us nothing. Our virus-impacted times should teach that. So much has been laid waste to. Is it too much to ask that graves and their stones get an exemption?

Ken Newton can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPNewton

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.