St. John’s United Church of Christ

St. John's United Church of Christ - Fruitland 04-15-2014While Mother and I were roaming around Jackson and Fruitland, we came upon a shiny white church off Hwy FF that had a cemetery behind it. I hate to disappoint some of you, but that orange orb isn’t a UFO or a spirit materialization: it’s just an internal reflection caused by shooting into the sun.

We had a busy day. Before getting to St. John’s, we visited

Church and cemetery photo gallery

I couldn’t find much information on the church and its cemetery, so I’ll offer up this photo gallery and count on you to tell me more about it. I’m particularly curious about what kind of plant that is. (Wife Lila thinks it’s a Dogwood.)

Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery.

Pleasant Hill Presbyterian

Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church 04-15-2014While we were on our ramble to find the Cape Girardeau Northern Railroad depot in Fruitland, and and being distracted by dandelions, we ended up on 541 east of Hwy 61 on a lane that took us up to the Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church. The door was locked, so I couldn’t go inside.

Church established in 1838

Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church 04-15-2014A sign in front of the well-preserved church proclaimed it was established in 1838.

Cemetery dates to 1839

Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church 04-15-2014A stone in the cemetery said it was established a year after the church

Visitor register in mailbox

Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church 04-15-2014I opened a mailbox marked “Visitors,” expecting to find a brochure or other information about the church. Instead, there was a notebook started in 1990 where visitors could leave messages.

Dialog with the dead

Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church 04-15-2014I leafed through a few pages of the molding and watermarked notebook and found that many of the writers had left what could best be described as dialogues with the dead. After awhile, I felt like I was intruding, listening to a private conversation at the next dinner table, and I put the book back.

It was the first time I’ve encountered that.

Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church photo gallery

If you want to know more about the church, Pleasant Hill and Fruitland, James Baughn did a great job of covering those subjects back in 2012. Rather than doing a bunch of cutting and pasting and pretending I was doing research, I encourage you to visit his blog.

Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys or click on the sides of the photos to move through the gallery.

Portraits for the Ages

Bollinger County Memorial Park Marble HillI spent a lot of my younger years in Southeast Missouri cemeteries because Mother and Grandmother made a point of keeping fresh decorations on the graves of family and friends. As a child, I was fascinated by two things in the Advance cemetery where my namesake, Kenneth Welch, was buried.

A few rows over from his stone was a marker with a photograph on it. On the left as you made the circle to leave the cemetery was a wooden box with a glass cover. Inside was an intricate hair bouquet made from the deceased’s hair. The ceramic photo is still on the first marker, but there is no trace of the bouquet on the second one, and I’ve not been able to figure out which grave it marked.

Since then, I’ve been acutely aware of gravestones with photos on them. My interest was rekindled when I saw a photo of a young woman in her coffin on a stone in a church outside Gordonville.

Bollinger County Memorial Park Cemetery

Bollinger County Memorial Park Marble HillWhen Mother and I went down to the Bollinger County Memorial Park Cemetery outside Marble Hill looking for Veterans Day flag photos, I was amazed at how many graves were marked with pictures. This is the cemetery, by the way, that had the unusual shoe marker.

Some photos captured a tender moment in a pair of lives. Others were more formal. Some dated to the turn of the 20th Century, others had been taken in the past decade.

Toddler photo was hard to look at

Bollinger County Memorial Park Marble HillI had a hard time editing the photo of Ricky Dale Wiseman, who died in 1967. A bright-eyed one-year shouldn’t be beneath a tombstone. I didn’t feel floods of emotions like that until I had kids and grandsons. I guess you do acquire some wisdom with old age.


Bollinger County Memorial Park Marble HillOne large black stone had the photo of a young couple on it. (OK, RELATIVELY young: he was born two years after me.) Steve L. Chandler died in 2004; his wife, Julia M. is still living. At the bottom of the stone is a photo of “Lucky.” I have to wonder if Lucky is buried there.

Sometimes you should leave well enough alone and not do any more research. FindAGrave, carried Steve’s obit: “Steve L. Chandler, 55, of Marble Hill died Dec. 3, 2004, at his home, following an illness. He was born July 12, 1949 in Cape Girardeau, son of Lynn and Wanda (Ricketts) Chandler. He and Julia Johnson were married April 18, 1992 in Marble Hill. Mr. Chandler was a member of Lutesville Presbyterian Church and Marble Hill VFW Post 5900.

He was co-owner and pharmacy technician of the 103-year-old Chandler Drug Store in Marble Hill. He was a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War and was awarded a Purple Heart. Survivors include his wife. He was preceded in death by a son, Austin Lynn.”

Still curious about Lucky, I expanded my search. RootsWeb’s WorldConnect project had the same obit, but it also had a link about Austin Lynn. I wish I hadn’t clicked it.

The Southeast Missourian – July 30 1992 – Marble Hill–Austin Lynn Chandler, 5, was found dead Tuesday, July 28, 1992, in Crooked Creek near Marble Hill.”

I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. All thoughts of having a happy post about Lucky evaporated.

Photo gallery of grave photos

I don’t think I can handle any more obits for children tonight. Here’s a collection of some of the photos that appear on tombstones in the Bollinger County Memorial Park Cemetery. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery. I’ll post similar photos from other cemeteries from time to time.

Tower of Memories a Bird House

Tower of Memories - Memorial Park 06-27-2013When Friend Anne was in town, Buddy Bill invited us to lunch. His ulterior purpose was to determine if Anne was real or a figment of my imagination. Anne accepted the invitation because she wanted to find out the same thing about Bill.

After a nice lunch with Bill, his Wife Sharon and some other friends, Bill invited himself along for a tour of Cape. Along the way, Anne got thirsty and we ended up at Sonic, where they each ordered limeades. These were NOT the limeades we used to get at Pfister’s. Let’s just leave it at that.

Anne hears something inside the tower

I’ve always like the Tower of Memories at Memorial Garden, so we made a swing by there. (I covered the history of the tower and gardens in 2010.)

While we were walking around the landmark structure, Anne said, “There are noises coming from inside – and the door is screwed shut from the outside.” Anne isn’t the kind of person who spooks easily: she’s a Texan, after all, a fact she references frequently.

Bill and I crept closer and discovered that Anne was right. We COULD hear strange scratching and beating noises and something else coming from inside the sealed building.

I just have to outrun Bill

Tower of Memories - Memorial Park 06-27-2013

I took a close look at my two friends and calculated that I didn’t have to be faster than Anne; I just had to be faster than Bill if something came busting out like in a bad horror flick.

Anne, using her well-honed Texas tracking skills, figured out what was happening. She spotted some broken windows on the side of the tower that allowed birds to fly in and out. Based on the amount of bird – let’s say guano – on the window sill, it looks like they’ve been doing it for quite some time.

I waited to capture a photo of one of the winged invaders, but Bill’s choice of shirts kept the poor creatures cowering inside.