The monument erected in the Chariton Cemetery by Benjamin Franklin Bates not long after the 1883 death of his wife, Emma, is near the top of the finalists list for Best Tombstone in Lucas County. The maiden sculpted of white marble also holds pride of place because of its location on the highest point in the cemetery.
Bates built the Bates House hotel during the 1870s a block west of the northwest corner of the square on the north side of Braden Avenue just before what now is the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe crossing. The Bates home was west of hotel, sandwiched between it and the railroad tracks.
I remember both well, but they were demolished when what then was known as First National Bank abandoned its old home in the historic Union Block and built the structure that now houses its successor on the former Bates property. Lordy, lordy, that's an ugly building! The new bank, that is.
Here's a full view of the Bates tombstone taken during the spring.
The Bates tombstone bears two inscriptions. On sculpted parchment on the east face of the stone's base is inscribed, "Emma A., Wife of B. F. Bates, Dau. of Stephen & Sallie Lounsbury, Born Stamford, Conn., June 25, 1830, Died June 27, 1883."
Within a shield on the south face of the base is inscribed, "B. F. Bates, Born Feb. 26, 1828, Died Oct. 20, 1911." Note that the inscribed death date is inaccurate. Both newspaper reports and Lucas County death records state that he died Oct. 24, 1910. Death records identify his parents as Nehemiah and Elizabeth (Baines) Bates.
Also buried on the Bates lot is the couple's adopted daughter, Augusta (Bates) Buchanan, whose grave is marked by a small modern stone inscribed, "Augusta Bates Buchanan, 1877-1950."
Sadly, the days of the giant Cottonwood that towers over the Bates graves are numbered. It is very old, in bad shape and marked with a giant red "x," signaling that it's going to taken down before it comes crashing down and damages the monuments it shades.
Here is B. F. Bates' obituary from The Chariton Herald Patriot of Oct. 27, 1910:
DEATH OF B. F. BATES
The many friends of the family will learn with heartfelt sorrow of the death of Mr. B.F. Bates, of this city, which occurred at his home on west Braden avenue on Monday morning, October 24, 1910, at nine o'clock. He had been ill for two years with the infirmities of old age, and death was not unexpected. Largely attended funeral services, conducted by Rev. W.G. Hohansheit, of the M.E. church, under the auspices of the Masonic Order, were held at the family residence yesterday afternoon at two o'clock, after which interment took place in the Chariton cemetery.
Benjamin Franklin Bates was born in Stamford, Connecticut, on February 26, 1828. He was married at that place on May 14, 1849, to Miss Emma Augusta Lounsbury, who passed away in Chariton on June 27, 1883. He was again married at this place on Feb. 12, 1885, to Mrs. Mary H. Robison, who died on Feb. 17, 1905. He came to Chariton soon after the close of the Civil War and for some time conducted the Hatcher House, which was located where the postoffice now stands. About 1875 he built the Bates House, which still bears his name, and which he conducted until 1883, when he leased it to the present landlord, B. R. Van Dyke, who has since purchased it. Mr. Bates united with the M.E. church at this place last winter. He was also a member of the Masonic and I.O.O.F. orders. He was an exemplary citizen and possessed many admirable traits of character. He was quiet and unassuming in manner, but always ready to assist in any good cause. He was ever performing deeds of kindness, which will be remembered by the hosts of warm friends he made during his long residence in Chariton. He is survived by an adopted daughter, Mrs. Gussie Buchanan, of this city, also by two step children, Chas. Jay, of Gravette, Arkansas, and Mrs. Mamie Kuhns, of Chicago, all of whom were present at the last said rites, and who will have the sympathy of the entire community in their sorrow.
This is a colorized post card view of the Bates House hotel as it appeared during the late 19th century. It was located a block west of the northwest corner of the square.