Is Topeka's Rochester Cemetery a Ghostly Playground??
The thing about cemeteries is they're filled with objects that aren't supposed to move. But in Rochester Cemetery they do. A lot.
Oh sure, it's always blamed on the ground contracting and expanding during the winter. Or the ground being soggy after a rain. Or the gale-force winds that sometimes precede a storm. And when those won't work...vandals.
Well, how 'bout giving some of the credit to Rochester's permanent "residents" popping out for a little fun...
It must get awfully b-o-r-i-n-g just lying around for all eternity with absolutely nothing to do. Who's to say those who were practical jokesters before they were planted aren't still doing it?
Scaring the bejeezus out of mortals is for amateurs, the Newly Arrived.
Old timers know messing with tombstones is much more fun!
Malyssa Fulmer's for instance...
When she was born back in 1854 in Pennsylvania, the tree behind the stone wasn't even a glint in God's eye yet. Trees were scarce in Kansas Territory until it was opened to white settlers only a few months before Malyssa took her first breath.
At some point after that, the seed for this particular tree stowed away in the prairie schooner (covered wagon) of a pioneer family from Back East bound for the Land of Milk and Honey, was picked up by a bird and dropped on this spot, where it took root. By the time Malyssa died at the age of 72, it was only a sapling. When daughter Bertha chose this spot for her mother's final resting place, she may've looked forward to the shade it would provide on the blistering hot summer days she'd bring flowers.
Exhibit A - no tree roots
Alas, Bertha is herself long dead. No one brings flowers for Malyssa anymore, or notices that her tombstone is listing westward. A lot.
The scientific explanation, of course, is that as the tree grew, so did the roots. Out and up. Supposedly moving Malyssa's stone in the process. Oh, please... Are we really supposed to believe a bunch of roots can move a quarter ton of granite?
And what about Earnie Haynes's stone? See any roots that could've scooted the top part several inches to the north?
Sadly, Earnie died the day after his 10th birthday...from what, I have no idea.
But let's be real here. A 10-year-old boy on his own in a strange place with nothing to do means there will be mischief. With a capital M.
Don't let the fact that the angels took him at such a young age fool you. Ten-year-old boys are clever. Probably tweaked his own stone a bit to divert suspicion from himself.
And to impress his neighbor, an "older woman" - almost 11 years old. Miss Lora B. Stuart. Part of her stone is visible to the left of Earnie's in the previous photo.
Considering Lora passed away only three months before Earnie and how close their stones are, it's a good possibilty their families were related, or at least close friends.
That they both died so young and in the winter would indicate they succumbed to one of the childhood diseses that are no longer life-threatening to today's children.
But I digress...
Annie LANG & Mira ARENDS
Poor Annie Lang...
No doubt about it, Annie Lang's stone was going to be a target for pranksters the minute it was set.
Clearly homemade from a slab of concrete, the name and dates look to be drawn with a stick. Perhaps by her widowed mother Caroline, a "saleslady in a grocery store" in 1920. When that year's census was taken, she and 12-year-old Annie were two of the 13 "roomers" in a boarding house at the edge of downtown Topeka. Alas, the year Annie died is illegible.
To the left of Annie's stone is that of Mira A. (nee Platts) ARENDS, born in 1809 in New York state; died in 1895. According to an old city directory, in 1859 Mira A. Platts was a resident of New York City. No clue where she was from then until 1895, when she appears in the KS State Census with her German-born husband, H.A. Arends, a farmer. She was 85, he was 77. There's a story in that I'll bet.
You'll notice Annie and Mira's stones fared a little better than the pine tree behind them. The missing chunk is definitely the result of a storm, but no storm tilted those stones like that...
Which brings us to little Lee Roy Morris...
Little Lee Roy has been out here for 105 years, but his stone is perfectly level and perfectly intact. I find that very odd. A stone that old and so far from the others with no visible damage.
Unless, of course, you count the bird poop on the bottom section. Bird poop that looks amazingly like a gentleman in an overcoat. It clearly has a head, a body and two legs. Is this Lee Roy's way of saying he's not a child any more and can do what the big boys do?
Makes ya wonder what he's been up to all that time, doesn't it??
More by this Author
Topeka's Rochester Cemetery has been a favorite of ghost hunters and Halloween thrill seekers since at least 1967. They come here hoping to see the infamous Albino Woman who roams the cemetery as well as the surrounding...
A mini-tour of Winterset and Madison County, Iowa, of (mostly) uncommon sights you'll never find in postcard kiosks or souvenir shops.
- EDITOR'S CHOICE87
The Titanic sank in April 1912 and the Italian Contra Concordia almost exactly 100 years later (January 2012)...at almost the same time of night. But that's not all they have in common.