On Sept. 19, a bus tour from Great Bend, Kan., stopped at Mt. Muncie Cemetery for a quick tour.
On Sept. 19, a bus tour from Great Bend, Kan., stopped at Mt. Muncie Cemetery for a quick tour. Named after the Munsee Indians, the cemetery is located on 190 acres and is the final resting place for more than 28,400 people.
The scenic cemetery is home to more than 25 types of trees including a state champion. In 2011, the Kansas Forest Service measured a tulip poplar tree located in Section 14. Towering at 113 feet, it is the largest tree of its kind in the state.
There are several famous and infamous people buried in the cemetery. Some of the names might be familiar to a person, including: Harriet Cushing, founder of Cushing Memorial Hospital; entrepreneur Fred Harvey, known for his Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe Railroad lines; and D.R. Anthony publisher and editor of the Leavenworth Times.
The namesake of David J. Brewer Elementary, 401 N. 17th Street is buried in Section 22. Brewer was born in what is now present day Turkey to missionary parents. He came to Leavenworth in 1859 to practice law. Brewer became a prominent judicial figure serving on the Kansas Supreme Court and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served until his death in 1910.
Other noteworthy people include Thomas Moonlight, a Civil War Union brevet general who served as Kansas adjutant general, U.S. minister to Bolivia, and territorial governor of Wyoming.
James Howard Gillpatrick commanded the 2nd Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Its sister regiment was the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Renamed the 79th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment). On April 18, 1864, the 79th was massacred during the Battle of Poison Springs. Col. Gillpatrick's troops avenged their fallen comrades at Jenkins Ferry, Ark., on May 4, 1864 when they charged the Confederates with the battle cry "Remember Poison Springs."
In 1856, Robert Crozier came to Leavenworth and established the Leavenworth Daily Times and practiced law. He served as a member of the territorial council and President Lincoln appointed him U.S. attorney for the district of Kansas from 1861-1864. He served on the board of the Kansas Historical Society and served the remainder of U.S. Senator Alexander Caldwell's term. Caldwell, a Mexican-American War veteran became president of First National Bank and is buried in Section 14.
The pair of gravesites that manager Gene Kirby receives the most questions about is Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, who were executed in 1965 for the murders of four members of the Clutter family. Truman Capote not only recounted the murders in his book, "In Cold Blood," he also paid for the pair's tombstones. The stones were stolen from the cemetery and later recovered by the KBI in Allen County, Kan. Several entities laid claim to the stones and a judge decided that they should go to the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka. The stones were on display once until surviving members of the Clutter family objected and the stones were removed to storage.
Mt. Muncie is located at 1500 N. 8th Street in Lansing. To visit, travel on Main Street/K-7 and turn east onto K-5 by Ray Miller Park. You will pass Leavenworth National Cemetery and Mt. Muncie's gate is on the left. For more information, please call Mt. Muncie Cemetery at 913-727-1935.
Laura Phillippi is site supervisor of the Lansing Historical Museum.