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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Museum gives lecture on McPherson grave markers

  • About 30 people could be seen gathered around tombstones in the McPherson Cemetery Saturday evening — at least until the sun went down.
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  • About 30 people could be seen gathered around tombstones in the McPherson Cemetery Saturday evening — at least until the sun went down.
    Carla Barber, executive director of the McPherson Museum, spoke to the group from 6 to 7 p.m. during the Museum's annual Tombstone Talks about people who have been buried in the cemetery, as well as the significance of their grave markers.
    She also spoke about what the county was like during the time these people lived there and contributions they made to the city and county.
    Barber said the significance of some tombstones is literal, while other times it is symbolic.
    For example, Deemer Unruh's grave marker is decorated with a mechanical device, representing his love of old engines.
    “This was just indicative of the kind of thing he loved,” Barber said.
    Others include symbols such as arches, lamps and shells. Barber said these symbols have specific meanings.
    For example, a broken column or sword usually meant a life cut short or an early death, while lambs represented innocence.
    Barber said tombstones are often inscribed with epitaphs to remember the person by. She said her favorites are the ones with a clever twist.
    “My favorite goes like this,” she said. “Under the sod, under these trees lies the body of Old Man Pease. He is not here, but only his pod. Pease shelled out and gone to God.”
    While visiting the Anspach obelisk, Barber talked about different kinds of grave markers. She said obelisks became popular for a time because they were bigger and often cheaper than other markers.
    She also said they were sometimes investments for a family. Families would have one obelisk to mark the family plot, and individuals would have simple markers.
    Dean and Madonna Reynolds have come to Tombstone Talks several times. They said they come so they can know more about the place they live.
    “It's good to know your heritage and the principles your community was founded on,” Dean Reynolds said.
    Contact Josh Arnett by email at jarnett@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @ArnettSentinel.
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