15 Aug HISTORICAL DETECTIVE
“FOLLOWING THE LIGHT OF THE SUN, WE LEFT THE OLD WORLD.”
Having been a Private Detective, the experience taught me new skills that help me as a historian and writer. My books require a lot of research and just plain asking questions because I write about Kansas and Kansans that are largely forgotten. Sometimes it is very hard to verify stories and I have to document where I get every fact. My bibliographies get real lengthy. So when a question of a historical event came into the office it was sent to me. Boy is this one intriguing. I will need your help.
The mystery takes place near Riverdale, Kansas. A family was camping just south of what would become Riverdale on a little hill. Two little girls were caught on fire by the campfire and died from their injuries. This would be sometime in the 1870’s. The two girls were buried and the family moved on. It is assumed that the family was traveling south towards Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. Since this is close to the Chisholm Trail it is not a far reach to assume the family was traveling south. The old trail was actually several miles wide because the herds coming up were following each other and they grazed as the cattle were slowly moved north. The old trail was an old highway for the native tribes and it was no accident that Jesse Chisholm staked the trail for J.R. Mead to establish trading posts. It is also near todays US 81 and I-35 Highways.
Local settlers soon had an acre of land donated by William and Eliza Burrows to establish Fairview Cemetery at this site. Later another two acres were added to the cemetery. There is a metal plaque at Fairview Cemetery giving the brief story of how the cemetery came to be there. They would like to find the names of the two girls lost tragically so that a monument can be placed there.
Americans have always been movers. That is how the continent was settled past the Appalachian Mountains and settled clear to the Pacific Ocean. The majority of people came to escape horrible living conditions and monarchs to create a new life in this far land. Most could not even believe that a person who was not born into the ‘landed gentry’ could claim a place that would be a home to grow and live free.
To get that dream the conditions were hard and the land unforgiving. Many paid a dear price to follow a dream. Some had to endure terrible hardships and this family was faced with the loss of two girls. They had no choice but to bury them and move on. Who were they and where did they go?
It is hoped that someone has an old family bible, journal, or diary that can identify who this family was and what the names of the girls were. Maybe this story will ring a bell that great-grandma or someone told over the years. If you have any idea who these people were, what happened to them, and where are the descendants today? You would be filling in some blanks of history.
If you can help get in touch through this paper or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can send me information: ROGER RINGER, 2261 NE WELL RD. MEDICINE LODGE, KS. 67104
Fairview Cemetery is located one mile west of US 81 Highway on 70th Ave. North in Sumner County. The old town of Riverdale is one mile north on the highway. This is north of Wellington.