Monday, September 14

Tombstone Tuesday: Who Dresses Carrie?

Carrie's summer attire
Monday afternoon, 14th Sep 2009

You might find it odd that I've included the date and time of day I took this photo (and the ones below). Well, for posterity mostly, because the hat and accessories mysteriously change with the seasons, and have been for the past twenty years.

But no one, save the person who's doing it, ever knows exactly when the switch will take place.

According to newspaper accounts and blog posts (see links below), the attire on the headstone of little Carrie Frances Kiene has become a Topeka legend as well as an ongoing head-scratcher.

Because no one publicly admits to ever having caught Carrie's mystery dresser in the act, aficionados of spooky graveyard tales believe some ghostly entity (or Carrie herself) makes the switch on moonless nights.

It can only happen on a dark night because not only is Mount Hope Cemetery a busy place during the day (visitors and groundskeepers), the gravestone is quite tall and clearly visible through the wrought iron fence to anyone driving, cycling, or walking by on the 17th Street side.

One enterprising Topeka Capital-Journal reporter did lie in wait once and did witness the event, but was sworn to secrecy. He'll only say it's a woman and that this is her "thing".

Weird as it may be, secretly dressing a headstone is definitely better than, say, stealing a neighbor's prize-winning petunias in the middle of the night.

And it does provide a public service of sorts. Dull parties can be instantly livened up simply by asking "Have you seen Carrie's latest outfit?".

At any rate, I think it's sweet that Carrie's benefactor wraps her in a blanket during the winter, but can't help but wonder why she never covers that poor child's bare feet!

Carrie Frances
daughter of
F.A. and R.S. KIENE
Feb. 10. 1880
Feb. 24, 1885
I cannot return to you
But you can come to me

Other articles on the mystery and/or photos of Carrie's outfits:

Mystery Will Be Left Unsolved (1999)
Little Carrie: The Mystery At Mount Hope (September 2009)
Carrie's Memorial at Find A Grave
Child Grave Mystery Dress-Up

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Tombstone Tuesday is sponsored by GeneaBloggers


gaelikaa said...

Jamagenie - what a fascinating story. What a tragic death too - so sad for a child to die so young - she was obviously very much loved. Whoever is dressing up the gravestone is obviously doing so from love.

Cal said...

Such a young death. An intriguing story. And a lovely way to warm people's hearts.

JamaGenie said...

gaelikaa and Cal, I haven't found anything that tells how Carrie died. Most likely, being February, it was one of the childhood illnesses that (thankfully) are no longer deadly.

As for the mysterious dresser and her motives, I'm guessing it's a cemetery visitor who saw the statue and felt sorry for the girl buried beneath it. There's definitely "something" about it that draws one to it, even though similar statues can be found in most every cemetery.

Frieda Babbley said...

Absolutely fascinating. How incredibly bizarre, freaky, and wonderful at the same time! Fantastic post JamaGenie!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Intriguing story! You can almost see someone sneaking around in the dark, dressing the statue.

Shirley Anderson said...

I've never heard of this but think it's very cool! In fact, rather heartwarming when you think about it.