After finishing up at Greenwood Cemetery, Christi and I headed to downtown York to get lunch. I’d read about the culinary delights of the Chances “R” Restaurant and Lounge. And with a name like that, who can resist?
The Chances R lived up to its hype, happily. There was a piano sitting just outside the restrooms in the hall, so I forced Christi into playing an impromptu quick concert. I can’t remember if I made her play “Chanes Are” or not, but it would have been appropriate. Too bad we forgot to leave a tip jar on the piano lid!
Our next stop was Grand Island but as usual, I kept my eyes peeled for cemeteries along the way. We hadn’t gotten far when I spotted one and made Christi pull over.
Plainfield Cemetery is located in the tiny village of Bradshaw. That’s probably why it’s called Bradshaw Plainfield Cemetery on the directory. But the sign out front says Plainfield Cemetery so that’s how I’ll refer to it.
Bradshaw was platted in 1879 when the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad was extended to that point. With a current population of around 350, if you blink when you drive by, you might miss it entirely.
Sadly, Bradshaw is probably best known for the June 3, 1890 tornado that completely destroyed the town and killed 12 residents. The disaster spurred people from all over Nebraska to help Bradshaw residents to rebuild. Many traveled by train from Omaha to look over the wreckage. All businesses and houses had to be rebuilt.
I didn’t know about the Bradshaw tornado when we stopped by Plainfield Cemetery. None of the markers I photographed have a death date from around that time but it’s possible some of the victims are buried there.
A long, narrow strip of land nestled amid the fields, Plainfield Cemetery is well tended. It has a small shelter at the back with the names of everyone buried there, which is around 750. It’s still an active cemetery with plenty of space available.
None of the grave markers at Plainfield are out of the ordinary and the styles were familiar to me. But they are a good collection of the kinds of markers that were popular, especially during the late 19th century into the early 1900s.
The dual marker for Josiah and Eliza Lichtenberger is a good example of the “Holy Finger” motif. Notice the buttoned shirt cuff at the wrist. Because of their advanced ages, the finger is pointing up into the clouds above. The Lichtenbergers are notable as being the first interments in Plainfield Cemetery. They are two of the 14 Lichtenbergers buried here.
Josiah and Eliza (Schneider) Lichtenberger were natives of Somerset, Pa. and they spent most of their lives there. Josiah was a tanner, a trade he taught his son Samuel. Having served in the Union Army during the Civil War, Samuel made his way to York County, Neb. in 1872. According to the book “York County, Nebraska and Its People: Together With a Condensed History of the State”, Samuel eventually became proprietor of the Cottonwood Stock Farm.
I discovered that when Josiah died in 1880, he left no will. This situation apparently did not get resolved until 1934 when Josiah’s property was finally divided between his surviving children.
Not far from the Lichtenberger graves are two for Andrew and Almira Rhoads, both with pointing fingers. Unlike the Lichtenberger monument, the Rhoads markers have no clouds. The Rhoads, like the Lichtenbergers, did not arrive in Nebraska until much later in their lives and due to the movement of their children. New Yorkers Almira and Andrew moved to Illinois to farm before heading to Nebraska.
Andrew died first in April 1880. Interestingly, I found a record of his death and that the cause was dropsy. Today, it would be called congestive heart failure. I noticed that Josiah Lichtenberger was listed on the same page (having died in March of the same year). His cause of death was some form of inflammation.
You can see on Andrew’s marker the words “Father, There is Rest With Jesus” carved in a rather plain style. That’s a contrast to the other words on it. Perhaps it was done much later. You can also see on the wrist of the hand pointing up that there’s a buttoned cuff. Such small details are fascinating to me.
Almira died about 10 years after her husband, but her marker is quite similar to his. I don’t now what her cause of death was. She was living with her son, Henry, and his family at the time.
Notice that instead of a buttoned cuff, Almira’s marker has a frilly lace one at the wrist instead. Above the finger are the words: “Mother, There is Rest in Jesus”. This time the script looks much more in tune with the rest of the marker. I have no doubt they were purchased from the same person who made Andrew’s marker.
This next marker is notable for its simplicity. No elegant script or profound epitaphs here. I don’t know what type of stone it is.
A native of Paisley, Scotland, William Bunten Ronald worked as a handloom weaver. He sailed on the Jamestown from Liverpool, England to America in 1850 with a few of his brothers and cousins. They arrived in New York City and moved on to Wisconsin. More of his family emigrated soon after.
In 1870, at the age of 47, William married Margaret Ward. She was a widow with four children. He and Margaret purchased land in Palmyra, Neb. soon after and he operated a hardware store. His brother, Ronald, joined him in his business and they expanded it to sell furniture. They also provided undertaking services, a common practice in those days for the profession. In 1872, William became an American citizen.
William and Margaret had one daughter together, but divorced in 1881. He married Ellen Reynolds in 1882 but she died of tuberculosis in 1883. By this time, he was living in York County. He purchased a small store and opened a savings and loan.
In 1886, William married Mary Cutshall. He was 63 and she was 28 at the time, quite an age gap but not unheard of then. William developed kidney problems that led to his death in July 1988. Their only son, Orville, died in 1889 at the age of two. He is buried next to William in an unmarked grave.
Mary, a young widow, married Frank Frost in 1898. This union ended in divorce or annulment because by 1900 she is listed on the 1900 Census as living with her mother in Bradshaw as a widow. I learned that Frank Frost claimed to have been married seven times before his death in 1944. Mary wed again in 1902 to Frank Krier. She died in 1930 and is buried with him in Norcatur Cemetery in Kansas.
The last marker I’d like to point out is only a few years old, but I thought it was quite sweet. Donald Trim spent most of his life working in construction in Nebraska and Arizona, according to his obituary. The bulldozer in the corner of the marker is a reminder of that.
After an hour or so at Plainfield, we got back on the road to Grand Island. Not surprisingly, we made another impromptu stop on the way, which I’ll share with you next time.