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