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Burlingame, KS: Day Trip to the Boonies

Civil War monument in Burlingame City Cemetery, Burlingame KS.

Civil War monument in Burlingame City Cemetery, Burlingame KS.

What follows are the adventures of two Big City Gals loose... or lost? the Land of the One Finger Wave on a day trip to "the boonies", the purpose of which was to provide my friend Lisa a desperately needed change of scenery while I would attempt to locate and photograph a few graves in the City Cemetery on the edge of Burlingame, Kansas.

"City Cemetery", btw, is a misnomer.

First, the cemetery is no longer managed by the City of Burlingame. Second, the clerks at the tiny Burlingame City Hall have decreed (no doubt to lighten what must be an excruciatingly heavy workload in a town no bigger than a minute) that they no longer have time to look up cemetery plot numbers for out-of-towners.

But being small towners, they aren't genetically capable of out-and-out rudeness to friendly strangers either.

Instead, they'll politely instruct you to contact a local lady who now keeps the records at her home, then they'll carefully write out her name, address and phone number...or rummage around for a Xeroxed copy of the information.

Never mind that this takes more time than simply opening the Cemetery Records book and writing down the Plot/Lot number for an out-of-towner.

But that's a whole other hub...

Lisa has MS and therefore has a lift-equipped van we call the LisaMobile to transport the power wheelchair that's her only means of self-mobility away from home.

The LisaMobile drives like a lumber wagon, and ever since we came "this close" to getting blown into a ditch by a crosswind, I refuse to drive it on windy days. It wasn't windy that day, but it would be hot.

Lisa isn't a family history buff, but nobody's perfect, right? But she does enjoy the detours I sometimes take into cemeteries as I'm driving us around on Errand Day.

This trip, however, was not a quick detour from one store to another. As a Photo Volunteer for Find A Grave, I needed to go to Burlingame City Cem to try to fulfill requests for tombstone photographs.

Lisa was desperate for a change of scenery, even if only to sit in the van soaking up AC and listening to the radio while I trudged up and down rows and rows of graves.

The night before I'd emptied the memory card in my camera, installed fresh batteries, marked each target grave on a grid map of the cemetery, and made a list of names to look for.

An hour, hour and a half tops, of walking and snapping pix is how long I calculated it would take. Piece of cake.

Or would've been, if the graves had been where cemetery records said they were, and if tombstones had ever been placed on them.

Alas, most of the graves on the list were stoneless. When I found nothing but grass in the spot a stone should be, I'd check several rows in either direction. In one instance, the marker I was looking for was across the drive and three rows farther back.

By 11 a.m. the mercury was nudging 90F. We had only marked off less than a third of the list of graves, and I'd photographed exactly three stones.

By noon, even popping into the blessedly cool van to cross off yet another unmarked grave or move the van to the next section, I was definitely wilting.

Plus, we both had to pee.

News flash: public toilets in rural cemeteries are a rarity, and I'd never mastered pop-behind-a-bush squatting. But then I don't normally stay in one graveyard for several hours, so the presence or absence of a loo had never been a concern.

Until now.

We decided to break for lunch and find a bathroom.

Surprise! If you're in a motorized wheelchair, don't plan on eating at the only cafe in Burlingame unless you can levitate it up and over the two limestone steps at the door. If there's an entrance for wheelchairs, we couldn't find it. Osage City is only 6 miles south and has several Handicapped Accessible restaurants, so that's where we headed.

The LisaMobile.

The LisaMobile.

But I digress...

One grave on the list was close to the road out to the highway. But after parking the van under a huge tree, I realized I'd serendipitously parked only a few steps from the stone of a Burlingame veterinarian named A. W. Hoover whose family tree I'd worked on several years ago after learning his daughter Kate had been a distant cousin-by-marriage of two of my grandchildren.

On a shoot, I never review photos as I go, but instead take several shots from slightly different angles, confident at least one will be perfect. Hence, I didn't know until later that most of the LisaMobile was in the above shot of the Hoovers' stone.


Or that the soldier atop the Civil War memorial would seem to be standing on the Souders stone in this one.

It's...pardon the pun...dead on, don't you think? ;D

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Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on May 14, 2020:

Virginia, I was aware of your Joys' brief residence in Burlingame from your "Then and Now" Blog. Thank you for stopping by and for verifying my assumption that no Joy family member was left behind in BG. In the early days, even long-time residents often found such a sad event a reason to move on.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on May 14, 2020:

My grandmother spent 2 years of her childhood in Burlingame so I stopped by to see what you found there. Hmm, graves... I shouldn't be surprised.

As far as I know, the Joy family didn't leave any graves there between 1906 and 1908.

Nice photos!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on May 24, 2010:

habee, I haven't been to cemeteries in the Deep South, but I imagine they're quite beautiful and...haunting. (Sorry, couldn't pass that one up!) ;D

Holle Abee from Georgia on May 24, 2010:

I love old cemeteries. Bonaventure in Savannah is one of my faves.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on April 07, 2010:

DG, you write so beautifully that you must have your dyslexia under control. And it's my experience that most dyslexics have above-average IQs, so any misunderstanding on the part of a listener or reader is due to too many brilliant thoughts in your brain fighting to get out at one time. ;D

De Greek from UK on April 06, 2010:

Now how is this possible? I just wrote on a comment of yours that we are in danger of forming a mutual admiration society!

That Mcain got what he deserved, I say! :-)

Bear in mind that I am dyslexic and you will often have difficulty understanding what the hell I am talking about, but my heart is otherwise pure :-)

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on April 06, 2010:

De Greek, great minds...birds of a feather...yada yada. We may have a mutual admiration thing going here!

De Greek from UK on April 06, 2010:

At first I did a double take, thinking that it was a piece I wrote myself. Then I realised that it is a piece I WISHED I had written myself. And the finally I realised how unlikely it is that I would be able to write something so good, so casually. In short, you are WONDERFUL! :-)

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on October 24, 2009:

Ixxy, you're most welcome! And thank *you* for the tidbit about being buried according to the family tree on that mountain. Fascinating! I'm guessing...excuse the unintentional pun...the *order of descent* isn't obvious to an outsider, but would certainly save haggling about "where to bury Uncle Fred" when the time comes!

lxxy from Beneath, Between, Beyond on October 23, 2009:

While many freak at grave yards, I find them a sense of endless fascination.

G|M's family has a whole mountain in panther, west VA. In my opinion, it's the coolest one to ever see--everyone buried in relation to tree, the oldest at the top, newer down the sides.

I often have a sense of wonder of the psychology behind such things, however. But I suppose a grave and a marker is much cheaper than a pyramid.

In my kooky mind, the memories I imprint and retain are my eternity. Thanks for this excellent look at small town culture, and wonderful job with the pictures!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on September 30, 2009:

Robin, glad you like it - and thanks for telling how you got here too!

Robin on September 30, 2009:

I wondered in here by way of the "One Finger Wave" post by way of today's Wordless Wednesday post.....and I'm glad I funny and so much fun......and quite interesting too. :-)

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on September 29, 2009:

I don't know, robie2 - why did it take you so long? lol! (Yes, I'm sure Sophia would be proud...and isn't it just about her birthday?)

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on September 28, 2009:

Now why did it take me so long to find this one? Of course I love it as I have my own connections to the Burlingame cemetery and to the Hoovers as well:-) Sophia would be proud

Duchess OBlunt on August 12, 2009:

Thank you JamaGenee, I will certainly do so.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on August 12, 2009:

Duchess, even if you don't do volunteer photos, at least add memorials for your own ancestors - but FIRST check to see that someone else hasn't already added (some of) them, because Find A Grave discorages duplicates. There are submitters who make memorials for entire cemeteries, but if they are no relation to your people buried there, *must* transfer your relatives' memorials to you if you request it.

Consider making Find A Grave memorials that you link to each other a free back up for your own files, as well as another way to make the information available to relatives you might never have heard of.

Duchess OBlunt on August 11, 2009:

I have a keen interest in our family history, and as a result have visited some local cemeteries to take some pictures. I always felt others might think me a little morbid, but after reading your hub (and I will read more), I feel I am in very good company.

Thank you for sharing this. I think I would like to take a look at this Find A Grave volunteer idea.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on July 25, 2009:

2patricias, I won't mind at all! The more the merrier. An English cemetery hub by the two of you couldn't be anything but a joy to read! Go for it. ;D

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on July 23, 2009:

A very interesting idea for a Hub! When Pat had a 'proper job' she used to manage some cemetaries (as well as parks) and feels very comfortable among tomb-stones. So maybe we will work on something from an English angle.

Hope you won't mind, as IF we do a cemetary Hub is will be v. different from yours. (and probably not as good).

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 18, 2009:

Really! Did she marry a Hoover? Is she buried in Kansas?

Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on June 18, 2009:

I almost thought that was the tombstone of my great-great grandmother who was named Catherine. I named my daughter for her.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 18, 2009:

Hi May! Haven't seen you for awhile! No, bushes weren't an option. Had to laugh tho when a couple days later, we visited a cemetery that *does* have a restroom. The other cem in the same town has one too!

mayhmong from North Carolina on June 17, 2009:

Awww, you mean you girls didn't go for the bush? tehehe

I wonder if you ever caught a picture of an orb floating around. Have you gone there at night before?

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 16, 2009:

You're most welcome...and deserving, marisue! And thank *you* for the thunbs up on the interview. You're pretty witty yourself! ;D

marisuewrites from USA on June 16, 2009:

woo hooo thanks for mentioning me in your interview and your interview was fabulous!! You're so witty!!! =)) thanks again...I feel famous. LOL =)))

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 15, 2009:

You're welcome, Bill. Let us know how the hunt for your grandfather's grave turns out! Yes, get pictures of the graves at the other cemetery too! Someone will thank you for it!

William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on June 15, 2009:

You bring the cemetery to life, JamaGenee. You've inspired to me to take action, finally, on finding my grandfather's grave which I know to be somewhere in Yonkers, N.Y., and to get pictures of the graves of other relatives at a different Yonkers cemetery. Who would've thought that finding graves would be fun? Thanks for another great hub.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 14, 2009:

Dolores, Find A Grave *is* a worthwhile project.  Even posting photos of the 3 or 4 graves on either side of a loved one's grave you're visiting could give closure to a relative at the other end of the country.

btw, an friend and I went to a county historical museum that had ancient volunteer who was simply *thrilled* to see us. Talked our heads off.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on June 14, 2009:

Jama, I love the story and have spent several interesting cemetary days myself. On a recent trip, my friend and I visited the cemetery office which looked unchanged since 1923. The guy who worked in there was ancient and, I guess, a bit lonely, so we had a long, iinteresting visit. The find a grave project sounds like a very worthwhile persuit. Old cemetaries are beautiful places.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 11, 2009:

Peggy, Find A Grave is only a business in the sense that members can pay *not* to have ads appear on the memorials they create. The rest is entirely volunteer. I'm still teary-eyed over receiving a photo of my gr-gr-gm's grave in rural Iowa this week, taken by a kind gentleman who saw my request and went right out and photographed it the next day! (And I totally agree with you on free **preventative** care!)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 11, 2009:

Good way to start would be free PREVENTATIVE care for everyone. But I digress from the point of your hub.

Loved your cemetery hub as usual. Had no idea that there is an actual business involved in finding markers, etc. Right up your alley! LOL

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 10, 2009:

Veritas, I wonder why you didn't make this comment on London Girl's hub. Perhaps you should've read her entire series on Britain's health care system instead of coming over here and "calling me out" because you **assumed** anyone who advocates national healh care must be "freeloading on the taxpayers money".

You couldn't be more wrong.  Residents of countries who do have national health care take many more trips - real vacations - than Americans because they aren't being bled dry paying inflated health "insurance" premiums and paying out-of-pocket for overpriced drugs they don't need prescribed by doctors who get kickbacks from the drug companies that produce them. 

In countries with national health care, greed is not the driving force it is here. Residents of such countries are *much* healthier than the average American because health care is *not* a business, but a **basic right**.

Veritas on June 10, 2009:


I noticed a comment you left at another hub about nationalizing the healthcare system and offering free healthcare to everyone (as if there is such a thing!)

I read your profile and also noticed you travel a lot. Why don't you take one or two less trips a year and pay for your own healthcare? Why do you insist on freeloading on the taxpayers money? You will feel so much better about yourself if you take care of your own business concerning your health and responsibilities as a citizen of this great nation.

Hate to call you out like this but it must be done.....

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 07, 2009:

My pleasure, jennifer! Thanks!

jennifer maurer on June 07, 2009:

Loved your hub, jama. They are always so interesting, as well as easy and fun to read! Keep them coming!

myra636 from Viginia on June 06, 2009:

Hi I am all so trying to trace my family back so far I have made it to the late 1700 in North Carolina so I will be reading the rest of your hubs to see if I can get any tips thanks

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 06, 2009:

I need to start parking the LisaMobile wayyyyy out of camera range!

As for the tell-all, I'm thinking seriously about it! ;D

Elena. from Madrid on June 06, 2009:

Ay, Jama, telling a child (AHEM) NOT to do something is a sure fire way to push them in that direction!  Please tell tell tell tell! Laugh! 

Maybe you need to start checking either the shots you take to ensure you got them right, or else you could start checking your subconscious inclinations towards Ms LisaMobile! :-)

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 06, 2009:

Elena, don't tempt me to put on paper what I know *some* City Hall employees do to keep "busy".  I say "some", because I've visited many (and courthouses too) where the employees were extremely helpful.

Don't know why the LisaMobile looks so spiffy in photos. It really doesn't look that good "in person".  Stopped at another cem yesterday on the way to somewhere, and darned if the LM isn't in a bunch of those pics too!  And one pic *does* look like I took it for a van catalog! ;D

Elena. from Madrid on June 05, 2009:

Jama!  I just dig your cem hubs!  That Civil War Memorial soldier does seem to be flying around, doesn't it? HA!  And that other shot, it seems you were working on a catalog for vans!  :-P

You got me with your observations about small town city hall employees! Unbelievable how they all seem to be so *terribly overworked* all over the world! Laugh!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 05, 2009:

Thanks, BadCo.  You and CabinGirl have a great weekend too! ;D  


badcompany99 on June 05, 2009:

As always a DEAD good read, enjoy yer weekend moi friend : )

Benz B on June 04, 2009:

awesome hub. was a great read. nicely done.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 04, 2009:

Thanks, Rob. I haven't read your new BT hub, but will head over there!

Rob Welsh from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time. on June 04, 2009:

Hi Jama.. A few years ago I walked Arlington, more out of disbelief than curiousity.. The day you published this hub, I had just been to take some shots at Bumble Town cemetery for my New BT hub and I ended up 2 hours there. (out of curiousity). I took several photos of WW1 graves and felt a deep desire to research some of the lives. Came home & opened my emails and had a notice of your hub.  I understand the interest, its quite sobering when you think that there was a life: but what did that life mean?  Good hub Jama, you write so well.  Take care.. Rob.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 04, 2009:

Thanks, R. Blue. Stay tuned...there *will* be more. ;D

R. Blue from Right here on June 04, 2009:

Love your graveyard more of them please.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 04, 2009:

Cris, I always love having coffee with you! ;D

Silver Freak, of course I picked the hottest day *so far* to go rambling in cemeteries.  What better place to drop dead from heat exhaustion!  ;D

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 04, 2009:

LondonGirl, older graveyards in New England are next to or near churches like in the UK, but in the Midwest, usually not.  Out here they're at the edge of town, as burial grounds for an entire community, rather than associated with any particular denomination.  Some rural cemeteries are next to churches founded by specific groups of immigrants, i.e. an old German church and graveyard near Herington where the earliest stones are in German. 

Listing age in years/months/days used to be fairly common here.   Don't know why.  Never thought about it really, but it's easy to calculate the birth date from y/m/d. 

We do multiple names on a stone here too.  Catherine Hoover's husband, Dr. A.W. Hoover, is on the side of the stone to left of her, and one of their children is on the right.  "Group" monuments usually replaced individual stones.  More common today is a flat stone with the husband on one half and the wife on the other, and some will have the date of marriage in the middle.  Biblical verses are still used, but not as often as they were 100 years ago.

Silver Freak from The state of confusion on June 04, 2009:

Wonderful hub! Ya just hadda pick the hottest day of the year so far to ramble around outside in the "wilds" dincha? LOL!

Gotta love those day trips!

Cris A from Manila, Philippines on June 04, 2009:

I always love hearing, er, reading about your cemetary exploits - they're always bound to be fun with of course an air of mystery. And what do I say about your narrative? Superb as always, like we're just having coffee :D

LondonGirl from London on June 03, 2009:

Are graveyards in small towns and villages in the USA around churches and chapels, as they are here? Or are they separate (as they are in the big cities, such as London, where churchyards got filled up a long time ago).

The photo with the van and the stone is an unusual one, I've never seen a gravestone quite so specific about how old an elderly person was!

The tombstones in my parents' village's churchyard tend to say name, wife / daughter / husband / father of, often birth year and death date, and usually have some sort of appropriate Biblical verse.

Most are for more than one person, and have been added to as time went on, so it's fairly common to see something like:

To the Memory of George Smith, who went to the Lord in 1840, aged 49, "Blessed Be The Name of the Lord"


To the Memory of Mary Smith, beloved wife of George Smith, who died in 1868, aged 65


To the Memory of their daughter Jane, who died... (etc)

Kscharles on June 03, 2009:

Great hub! I look forward to every one you write--just keep them coming, please!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 03, 2009:

Haunty, I didn't notice the one over the LisaMobile.  Thanks for pointing out.  Alas, it was a little after noon, so the sun was high overhead and the camera caught sunlight diffused through the tree.  But on the other hand, who knows what playful spirits do in the daytime...

ralwus, isn't that weird?  And doesn't it look like a huge snake with a big head is slithering up the tree?  There's another pic from a slightly different angle where it looks like two snakes.  Alas, it's only from the bark being stripped, probably in a storm.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 03, 2009:

Laughing Mom, these people weren't always dead. *Some* were probably a lot of fun in life too, but there's one grave over by Lawrence that the tombstone has spent more time in people's backyards than on his grave. Kids keep stealing it, but instead of destroying it, they take it home!

Roy wanting to crawl into your grandma's grave?  Nothing morbid about that. Kids are often told a loved one "went to sleep", so this would just be wanting to crawl into grandma's new "bed".  (And yes, I *did* get a chuckle out of it!) ;D

ralwus on June 03, 2009:

Wow Jama! I see that now that you have pointed it out. kewl!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 03, 2009:

Candie, I'd love to hear about the interesting graves in that little cemetery! 

CJ, I'm loving your Whitstable hubs!  Think you've found your niche - that you're enchanted by the place shines through each one.  So please, do a Whitstable graveyard hub so we can see the stone you mentioned! ("Stone on stones" - an interesting concept...) ;D

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 03, 2009:

TamCor, glad you enjoyed this.  Graveyards *are* fascinating places. Good exercise physically *and* mentally too.   There's a grave that a woman on FindAgrave has been looking for.  We think we just find it.  There's a Civil War marker at the wife's stone, which can only mean Hubby is buried with her, even tho his name was never added to the stone.

FindAGrave is a "warm fuzzies" way to help people who live too far away to visit the grave of a loved one who, for whatever reason, was buried in your area.

Haunty from Hungary on June 03, 2009:

And if you ask me there's another one (or the same) at the upper left above the LizaMobile. Weird, you never notice these before someone points out they are there. :)

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 03, 2009:

frog, I hope you do become a volunteer at FindAGrave.  It's a worthwhile project.  Thanks to them I finally saw a great-grandfather's stone outside Indianapolis.

ralwus, if you look closely at the upper left of the Civil War Memorial pic, it looks like a "mist" hovering above the soldier's right shoulder.  Didn't notice it in the original, but it's there.  Something about cropping the photo to an oval accentuated it.  Otherwise, no I haven't caught a ghost image (that I know of), and the Dearly Departeds that drop in occasionally were camera shy anyway.  ;D

Laughing Mom on June 03, 2009:

You are the only person on the face of this planet that I know of that can find fun in a cemetary.

I have a picture of Roy pointing into the hole grandma's casket is suspended above because he was asking if he could crawl in. Everyone tells me it's a picture in bad taste, but I figured you might appreciate it.

Grave finders? I had no idea!

Christopher James Stone from Whitstable, UK on June 03, 2009:

Hi JamaGenee, you've inspired me. I think I might do a Whitstable Cemetery hub at some point too. There's one grave stone up there I know you'd love.

Candie V from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure! on June 03, 2009:

What a great day! We have an even smaller cemetary here in town and I love to wander and look at the dates and names of local families. I shall see whos grave info I would like to look up!

Tammy Cornett from Ohio on June 03, 2009:

I loved reading this hub--cemetaries have always fascinated us, and many times we've strolled through them, reading the headstones...I hadn't hear of Find A Grave, though--gonna have to check that out!

ralwus on June 03, 2009:

I just love your cemetary adventures. And the photos are just wonderful. btw have you ever gotten a ghost image on any of your pictures? some do you know?

Andria on June 03, 2009:

Jama - I'm pretty damn rubbish with photos but I still take them. Now and then I take a great one ... accidently.

I'm gonna check out the volunteer grave hunting - it's kinda up my morbid fascination street ;)

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 03, 2009:

Hey, frog!  Thanks for kudo and the link - I'll check it out.  Breaking your laptop - what a disaster!  Mine hit the floor going through security at O'Hare in Chicago.  Was sure it was toast, but the fall didn't faze it a bit. Alas, it was stolen a year later...

Find A Grave takes Photo Volunteers from all over the world (hint hint).  About my method of taking pictures - never would've been so free with the shutter button back in the days of film!  I love digital cameras because the only limitation is the size of the memory card, otherwise it's snap, snap, snap, then delete the duds.  Heaven! ;D

Andria on June 03, 2009:

Jama - what a great way to spend a day :) You'd sure love my cemetary up the road ... Cemitério do Alto do São João - here's a few random pic-links:

I love how your method of picture taking creates random results - like the soldier. I had some of my cemetary but lost them by way of breaking my previous laptop.

And I didn't realise you could volunteer for find-a-grave. Gives you more reason to hang around them ...

Great article - thanks :)

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