Tuesday, March 16

TombstoneTues: Another Odd Funeral Pic

Why would anyone want a photo like this??

Grave site of Jeremiah M. "Jerry" CUPP &
2nd wife Mary (Hummer) Whelan-Cupp,
Mount Hope Cemetery, Topeka KS,
after Jerry's funeral, 16 August 1936.

My mother's side of the family was, to put it
mildly, weird when it came to life's milestones.
Weddings or new babies rarely rated a snapshot,
but let a relative pass to the Great Beyond
and the word went out at warp speed:
"Don't forget your camera!".

No idea who snapped the pile of dirt next
to Grandma's uncle Jerry's grave, but it's
definitely her handwriting on the reverse
of two prints of the above photo:

The clipping above is a prime example why information
in newspaper obits should never be treated as fact.

According to marriage records in Lyon Co, Kansas,
Jerry married Ellen Morgan in 1894, not 1891,
and Ellen didn't die in 1893, but in 1895,
6 mos after the birth of daughter Phyllis
(put out for adoption after Ellen's death).
Jerry didn't remarry until 1897.

However, 1903 is when he would've
learned his mother really did only leave
him $1 in her will, not the farm he'd
evicted her from 4 years earlier

"Taken Aug 16 - 36"

That caption is my grandmother to a "T".
Nowhere in the obits is Jerry's death date
mentioned, nor would it occur to her
to note it on the back of the photos.

But by golly, she wasn't about to forget
the date she made a 100-mile round trip
on a hot August day to attend the funeral!

Nor is the day Jerry died noted on the back of
a photo of Grandma at the old train station in
Topeka with cousin Robyn Cupp and wife Leila,
who'd come all the way from Tulsa OK. (Don't
know where that photo got to - sorry - only
that the occasion was Jerry's funeral.)

I finally determined from historical society
newspaper microfilms that he died Aug 13th.

More about:
Jerry throwing his mother off her own land
why she had no use for the Hummer sisters.

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Arthur said...

Re: "The clipping above is a prime example why information
in newspaper obits should never be treated as fact."
I always wondered how this could happen. Then I was aghast when I read the published copies of my mother's obituary I had submitted to three newspapers last spring, and in all the re-editing I had somehow given her my father's birth year, 1920, not 1922. And you know it is damage done - no published correction will suffice. (Now, had my sisters really read the copy carefully as I thought I had asked . . . . )

steviewren said...

Funny that your family took more interest in a relative's death than birth. But it's stories like these that give a family character.

Actually, there is a copy of my granddaddy's obit in my baby book...our families may have a lot in common.

Alan Burnett said...

Fascinating, I'm so glad I discovered your blog.

JamaGenie said...

Arthur, at the funeral home after my mother died, I carefully spelled my uncommon married name to the funeral director, who entered that spelling on the obit form. Even then, it was misspelled in the published copy!

The obit of her mother (who outlived her) is another "comedy of errors", as is her death certificate. Her 80-something daughter was the informant for both, relaying the "facts" from memory, not the several obits Grandma had composed before her own memory failed.

Biographies in county histories published in the 1880s are also a fountain of misinformation. People had to pay to have a bio included, so what was published was whatever "facts" the subject wanted his neighbors to know. For this reason, these are known as "vanity bios".

JamaGenie said...

Hi, Alan. I'm thrilled to have discovered your blog(s) too!

steviewren, maybe because I came from a "warped" family, your granddaddy's obit in your baby book doesn't seem odd at all! (: All joking aside, an ancestor's obit in a baby book makes perfect sense. Gives the child a head start on his/her family history later on. My own baby book came with a 2-page fill-in-the-blanks family tree, which I now know wasn't very accurate, but it was a start!

Mavis said...

My family is strange like that too. I've got picture of both of my maternal grandparents in their coffins, also two of daddy's brothers and oh yes the haunting picture of my great-grandmothers coffin / funeral. Heck my dad even had a video camera at one of his brother's funerals that he felt the need to show me because I couldn't make it to my uncle's funeral.

Although I think the pictures are strange and somewhat morbid, I'm actually glad I have them especially my maternal grandmother. I was only 5 when she died and my memories of her aren't the strongest.

JamaGenie said...

Mavis, even though I jest about them, I'm glad to have such pictures too.

I've never heard of videotaping a funeral, but no that you mention it, I wish someone had taped the funeral of one of my uncles. It was a celebration of life and there wasn't a dry eye in the church, not from weeping but from laughing at the stories told about him. A funeral service definitely worth reliving.