Friday, September 13, 2013

Chariton Cemetery Heritage Tour Sunday, Sept. 22


The stories of four Lucas Countyans moved from their original burial places under varying circumstances in order to come home to Chariton will be told on Sunday, Sept. 22, during the 10th annual Chariton Cemetery Heritage Tour, sponsored by the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission. The theme will be, “Homecomings.” .

The event will begin at 2 p.m. at the Larry J. Clark Memorial Gazebo on the courthouse lawn. Buses will take participants from there to the cemetery for the tour and refreshments at the Shelter House, then return them to the square. Tickets are $5 per person. 

This annual tour is the commission’s only source of funding. Advance tickets are available at Piper’s, Ben Franklin, the Chariton Chamber/Main Street office, Clark’s Greenhouse and City Hall. Tickets also may be purchased at the gazebo Sunday.

This year’s tour will include a special tribute to Carl L. Caviness, who was the first Lucas Countyan to die in World War I and is the namesake of the Carl L. Caviness American Legion Post. Caviness, who first enlisted in the military at age 17, died from a sniper’s bullet in France on May 20, 1918, and was buried near where he fell. During 1921, his body was repatriated to his hometown and buried in the Chariton Cemetery. Caviness will be portrayed by Patrick Dittmer, a cousin who himself is a veteran of more recent wars.


Also featured will be Maggie Corbett, whose remains were involved in Lucas County’s only known case of grave robbing. Her body was stolen from the Chariton Cemetery a day after its 1887 burial and sold to a young medical student, who shipped it to Des Moines. The body was discovered en route, however, and returned to Chariton a day later on the same train as the alleged grave-robber and reburied. Ruth Comer will portray Mrs. Corbett.


Marko “Chicago Mike” Vucicic was a legendary gambling man and purveyor of illegally brewed liquor who worked the old Lucas County mining towns, including Tipperary and Olmitz, during the teens and 1920s. Killed at age 34 in a car crash in Des Moines, his body was taken by family to Chicago for burial. Many years later, Chicago Mike’s brother, John Vucich, commissioned Mosher Funeral Home to bring his remains back to Chariton so that the two could be buried together here.


Rene Julien was a North Carolina native who accompanied family members from Indiana to Lucas County by covered wagon during 1853 and lived in areas west and northwest of Chariton until his death in 1861, age 77. He was buried first in a cemetery west of Chariton, near the crest of the White Breast hill, called Watson. During 1936, workers destroyed the cemetery while rebuilding railroad lines in the area. As many bodies as could be found were reboxed, loaded on a flatcar and brought to the Chariton Cemetery for reburial. Only two of the fourteen, one of whom was Rene, could be identified.


The Chariton Cemetery is a National Historic District, listed as such on the National Register of Historic Places. Successful application for that status was a project of the Historic Preservation Commission and one reason for its continuing interest in the cemetery. The “English Cottage” shelter house, where refreshments will be served Sunday, is a contributing structure in the district.

2 comments:

Tim Shepperd said...

Nice to see another relative!

René Julien is my great-great-great grandfather.

His daughter, Leannah Julian, married Thompson Woody and their daughter, Rutha Jane, married George Washington Shepperd (son of John Wesley Shepperd and Clarinda Jane Sanderson) in Chariton in 1876 before they moved to Idaho. Their son, Warren Thompson Shepperd, was my grandfather.

Though I've never been to Chariton, I do enjoy reading about its history. It was home to my family for over half a century. Thank you for the glimpses of the past.

Frank D. Myers said...

A familiar face on the profile, too. It's high time you came "home" for a visit. Just finished the Rene Julien script, playing a little fast and loose with the Rene St. Julien legend, and will try to post it after the cemetery tour (can't give the game away so long as we're trying to attract attendees!).

Frank