Tuesday, March 2

TombstoneTues: Arthur Wm CUPP

Arthur William CUPP
b. 20 Feb 1897, Lena Valley, Greenwood Co, KS
d. 02 January 1914, Lemoore, Kings Co, Calif

First, I apologize to those who find this photo offensive.
Obviously it is not a tombstone, and normally I consider
photos of the remains of a Recently Departed to be, at
the very least, in poor taste. I've never understood
why anyone would make such photos in the first place.

However, I've always been fascinated by the composition
of this particular photo. Because the gunshot wound
that ended Arthur's life isn't visible, and because
before I ever saw the photo I knew he was only
16 at the time, it's easy to imagine he's only
playing a teenage prank, and afterward stood
up and had a good laugh with his buddies.

He didn't get up, of course, but teenage horsing
around gone horribly wrong may've been what
caused him to be the subject of this photo.

The Emporia Gazette on 14 January 1914 reported
"[Arthur] was instantly killed by the accidental
discharge of a gun while riding in an auto with
his cousin John Kerby. The gun had been
under the lap robe to protect it from the
which was falling. Young Kerby heard
report and looked quickly around to get a

glance from his cousin, who dropped dead.

That was the version relayed from California
to the hometown newspaper back in Kansas.

A now-elderly relative claims what really happened
was John Kerby, believing the gun wasn't loaded,
had reached under the lap robe and was holding
it against Arthur's side when it went off.

But back to the photo...

In 1914, the deceased would be embalmed by an undertaker,
then returned to his or her home to be dressed and put on
display for mourners until the funeral and burial. Much
like present-day viewings (or visitations) at a funeral
home, except family members were expected to
take turns "sitting [with] the body" at night.

Where the deceased was "laid out" for viewing was a
matter of personal choice and size of the dwelling. If
the front parlor was large enough, the kitchen table
was brought in, covered, and the body placed on it.

If not, as it wasn't at my grandparents', the dining room
and its table would be used. Or the body might be placed
on the bed in the bedroom closest to the front door.

That said, I can't for the life of me figure out if
the room Arthur is in is the parlor or a bedroom.
Its size suggests the parlor, but the dresses
hanging at the left would indicate a bedroom.

And the hangings around the body... Could be
something the funeral home provided, but might
just as easily be the curtains from the parlor.

Now two photos from happier times...

~ Arthur's parents ~
Albert Isaac "Bert" CUPP, 20, & Jennie May MORRIS, 16,
on their wedding day, 22 Feb 1894, in Emporia KS.
Eldest child Clara Etta was born 18 mos later.
Arthur arrived 15 months after "Etta".

A year or two after Arthur's birth, Bert decided he didn't
want to be married to Jennie any more and went to
California. Jennie eventually divorced him (in 1899),
also went to California, married a not-very-nice man
named Emerson Brown, and had seven more children.
The eldest is in the center of the next photo.

Clara Etta Cupp, 9, & Arthur William Cupp, almost 7,
with half-sister Mary Ellen Brown, almost 2, in Dec 1903

See "Etta" as a teenager
with some of her Morris
cousins (the photo is toward the end of the post).

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Tombstone Tuesday is sponsored by GeneaBloggers


Nora Johnson said...

How very interesting and instructive! TFS!

Hope you're having a great Tuesday - raining cats & dogs here!

xx LOLA & NORA:)

PS Hope you're feeling very much better now! x

Frieda Babbley said...

What a wonderful post. Exciting information. The photo actually drew me in. Curiosity? Interest in the morbid? Perhaps. (I'm probably offending someone myself by saying this, but then the past is so very very interesting.) With each post of yours I read I find I want to research my own history more and more. If I could read Greek a bit easier I would tackle it. For now, I have to rely on the little my mother knows. I suppose keeping those bits of knowledge alive would be well worth the effort at the very least.

JamaGenie said...

Lola & Nora, sorry about the rain - but right now rain would be a welcome change from snow or hearing the weather person say *more* snow is in the forecast. And YES, I feel MUCH better - finally. Thanks!

Frieda, what ever possessed you to have GREEK ancestors? (pause to fall out of the chair laughing) (-: Seriously, it's my goal to get *everybody* interested in their family history, whether they can speak the Mother Tongue or not. And may I remind you the language barrier is NO excuse. I'm sure Sufi (??) at HP would be happy to assist (or can hook you up with someone who will). Ciao!

Dorene from Ohio said...

What an amazing photo, and story!

Sanjay Maharaj said...

I really did admire the information you have put together on him, it's very informative, great wrok, thanks for sharing

My name is PJ. said...

All very true.

Did you know that the Irish would pick the body of the diseased up and dance with it? It still happens at wakes now and again.

Tombstone Tuesday...this is a new oe on me!!

JamaGenie said...

In that case, P.J., I think I'm glad to only have enough Irish blood to be "truly" Irish on St. Patrick's!

As for Tombstone Tuesday, feel free to post tombstone photos, with or without a story about the deceased.

Frieda Babbley said...

*bangs palm to forehead* Sufi! Of course. Why didn't I think of that? Hah. Excellent idea. I'll write him. Thanks for the idea.

PJ, really? That's fascinating.

William F. Torpey said...

Fascinating story and pictures.

Somehow I always find old photos interesting. A friend of mine told me just the other day that in some Irish wakes the would have the deceased sitting up while everyone enjoyed drinks and had a good time. Why not?

When my late brother, Don, had cancer his wife invited friends and relatives to his home to see him. Everyone was enjoying the camaraderie in the room when Don whispered in my ear: "I feel like I'm at my own funeral." I suddenly realized how he might feel that way. He died only weeks later.

By the way, I still haven't forgotten about getting a photo of my grandfather's gravesite. I'll get to it soon (when all the snow melts and the sun comes out again.)

JamaGenie said...

Bill, whether intentional or not, I think your sister-in-law gave your brother an opportunity most people don't get - to be *alive* at one's own funeral, though this gathering sounds more like an Irish wake.

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!