Runkle Cemetery, Uniontown, Bourbon, Kansas, USA

3 Nov 2016; Laurel Montana;, viewed 9 Nov 2016
Burton Mitchell has thought about his great, great-grandmother Ellan Mitchell countless times. Many years ago his father mentioned that after she died, she had been buried in a cemetery near Union Town, Kansas, shortly after the start of the Civil War. He hoped to someday see where she was buried. That chance came in late April of this year when Mitchell traveled south to visit his grandson who is in the Army and stationed in Georgia. Mitchell was also going to see a cousin in South Carolina. On his journey home Mitchell stopped in Fort Scott and Union Town. While there he decided to see if he could find the cemetery where Ellan was buried. His father had mentioned the name of the cemetery in one of their talks. It was Runkle, also known as Old Turkey Creek Cemetery, which was just outside of Union Town. Upon searching, Mitchell and his wife Sharon did find a Turkey Creek Cemetery. It had been established in 1871. “This didn’t seem like it was the right one,” Mitchell said. There were stones with old dates, but it was hard to identify the names on them. Next they went to a local farmer named Ed Hartman and borrowed a tool to try and clear the graves. After doing some work, they determined this wasn’t where Ellan was buried. The cemetery they were looking for had been abandoned, as they later found out. Hartman told Mitchell that there were several other cemeteries in the area. The farmer took them to see other burial sites that he was aware of, but none were the one Mitchell had hoped to find. Hartman couldn’t recall the name Runkle as a cemetery, but did mention there were people by that name in the area. He told Mitchell of a man in Union Town named Ken Holt that might know where the cemetery was. Holt wasn’t in when Mitchell went to meet with him, but was expected back later that day. In the meantime Mitchell asked other people if they might know where this old cemetery was. He was directed to a different area where there were quite a few burial plots. Mitchell searched each graveyard and had no luck finding Ellan. No one seemed to know of a cemetery called Runkle. After more searching, Mitchell returned to Union Town and met with Holt at the local bank which had been in the Holt family since 1901. Mitchell told him who he was and what he was looking for. In his files, Holt had a list and notes concerning the old cemetery Mitchell was looking for. “I couldn’t hardly believe that the list contained all the people who were buried there. Here was my great, great grandmother’s name and the name of her daughter on this list of thirty-something people who were buried there,” Mitchell said. “They were among the first ones to have been buried there in 1862. The last person buried there was in 1884.” The cemetery was abandoned the following year and was relocated closer to Union Town. Some of the bodies were moved during this time. Mitchell continued to read the notes concerning the cemetery and found that it had fallen into disrepair many years before. Some of the head stones had been overturned over time, many were broken and buried, and many were not legible at all. The land sitting on the edge of the cemetery is farmed presently. Being a friendly host, Holt drove Mitchell out to the cemetery, as it was only a short distance from his home. Across a field and toward a groove of trees a cemetery could be spotted. “I didn’t know what lie ahead but was pretty anxious to find out,” Mitchell said. After getting out of his vehicle, Mitchell noticed some headstones and foot stones lying on the ground in nearly knee-high grass alongside trees and lilies that had probably been there as long as the graves. Holt and Sharon spotted the headstone Mitchell was looking for propped up against a tree. “The moment was very special. Here was my great, great, grandmother’s headstone that had been in this cemetery for 154 years. She died Oct. 18, 1862, and had nine children in the short 52 years she lived,” Mitchell said. The year after Ellan’s death, her fourth child William L.C. Mitchell, (W.L.C.) Mitchell’s great grandfather, migrated to the Virginia City and Bannack, Mont., areas. The following year some other family members left Union Town having migrated to the Bitterroot as well. By 1869 the whole family was lived in the Bitterroot. That is everyone except for Ellan’s 10-year-old daughter and a son who died on Donner Pass in 1864. Mitchell decided he wasn’t going to leave Ellan’s headstone in the abandoned cemetery any longer so he packed it up along with a antique garden tractor that his cousin in South Carolina had given him and brought it home. “It was quite a treasure to bring home,” Mitchell said. Mitchell wanted to put the stone in the Corvallis Cemetery in Corvallis, Mont. or in the Park City Cemetery where W.L.C. and his descendants are buried. W.L.C. has 118 living and deceased decedents. After speaking with the director of the Corvallis Cemetery and paying a fee, Ellan’s recovered headstone was placed in between those of her husband and her son who are also buried there. An engraving on Ellan’s headstone reads, “Meet me in the morning of the resurrection.”