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RiverCat Journal : Elmwood Cemetery

Posted by on October 22, 2013

Current Venue: Coffeyville, KS
Campground:   Buckeye Mobile Estates
Visiting: Elmwood Cemetary

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It’s not that there aren’t plenty of things to do in the Coffeyville area on a budget.  It’s just that I’ve been quite content to fish and watch football on my days off — especially after investing in a fishing rod and cable TV.  But yesterday I had to get out of the “house” a little bit.

Elmwood Cemetery is home to the infamous Dalton Brothers gang — 3 members being shot and killed during their last-attempted bank robbery.  For many years, their grave site was marked by only a pole.  It’s customary, after all, not to celebrate our villains until they are long gone.  In fact, I believe it was Frank Dalton…

Elmwood Cemetery, Frank Dalton

…(don’t quote me on this part) that finally gave the gang a proper tombstone upon his return from the war…

Elmwood Cemetery, Dalton Tombstone

There are several bouquets of flowers around the site — the gang has a special place in someone’s hearts.  I doubt even my grave site will ever see this much flora.  These days the town of Coffeyville celebrates the gang — er, their demise — with the annual “Dalton Days.”  They also have a museum in their honor.  Perhaps an amusement park one day…

Elmwood Cemetery

I’m not criticizing.  It’s  human nature to celebrate our most notorious villains.  The pirates, cowboy outlaws, crime bosses.  I just think it’s interesting that we’ll celebrate the characters we consider real slimeballs today — gangbangers, serial killers, and mass murderers.  It will happen — we just wait until it’s “fashionable” to do this without violating people’s sensitivities.

Elmwood Cemetery 2

You may be wondering how I could go to a cemetery and not do a little ghost-hunting.  Well, this turned out be a two-part adventure.  I went during the day so I could locate the most famous residents first, then I went back at night…

Unfortunately, the late evening was dominated by train noise.  In fact, this is me waiting at a railroad crossing at around midnight…

Elmwood Cemetery 3

…only to find another train behind the cemetery making quite a loud racket.  It seemed the train would be there awhile doing some loading and hitching — not optimal conditions for ghost-hunting, in my estimation.  What the heck, I might as well snap a couple photos while I was there.  But I believe it was while I was standing next to Memphis Red* contemplating this that I was spotted by the neighborhood watch.  It wasn’t 5 minutes of sneaking in the cemetery (curfew was 9 pm) that I spotted two cops searching the van with their flashlights.  I was busted!

Elmwood Cemetery 4

But they were pretty cool about it.  They explained that the curfew had been set do to kids vandalizing graves, thereby ruining it for people “doing what you do.”  I think they’d deduced I was a ghost-hunter despite my only explanation being I wanted to get a couple photos of the cemetery at night.  Reputedly, it is a haunted cemetery so it’s probably not the first time they’ve encountered weirdos like me.

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