Monday, August 11, 2014

The truncated splendor of John Warrington

I've wondered sometimes while wandering through the Chariton Cemetery about this tombstone, marking the graves of John and Ruth Warrington. It seems like there should be more to it. Substantial hunks of marble with squared off tops like this generally were designed to support something else, most frequently in the 1870s, when the monument was placed, a towering obelisk.

John, born July 6, 1797, in Accomack County, Virginia, arrived in Lucas County rather late --- some time between 1860 and 1870 when by standards of those days he was elderly --- with his wife, Ruth. John and Ruth Hamilton Moore had married on Sept. 22, 1825, in Mason County, Kentucky, then raised a large family in Delaware County, Ohio. The late-in-life move west probably was encouraged by children who already had settled in Lucas County, perhaps son George.

In any case, John and Ruth settled on a farm in White Breast Township, west of Chariton. According to the federal census of 1870, their net worth that year included real estate valued at $7,600 and personal property valued at $900. While not wealthy, they were prosperous.

John died at the farm on Jan. 8, 1872, aged 74 years, and was buried along the south side of the main driveway of the new Chariton Cemetery, then less than 10 years old, not too far inside the front gate.

Most likely Ruth and son George commissioned the aspirational tombstone that was installed during August of 1874 to mark his grave --- and as it turns out there was indeed more to it at the time. Here's a report from The Chariton Patriot of Aug. 19, 1874:

Fine monument --- the finest marble work in our cemetery is a monument recently erected to the memory of Mr. John Warrington by F.W. McCall of Oskaloosa. It is of clouded Italian marble and stands about 10 feet high, and is quite a handsome ornament to our burying ground as well as a good advertisement for the maker. The cost we believe was about $350.

Without a doubt, it would have been an obelisk that towered initially and probably for many years over the heads of passers by, but what became of it I can't say. A tree might have fallen on it, vandals might have toppled it, even lightning might have struck it. Or perhaps it started to tilt, was declared a hazard and taken down. All of the Warrington family had moved west from Lucas County by the early 1880s, so most likely there was no one to advocate for the tombstone --- or to pay the cost of mending it.

Most likely it was Ruth Warrington who decided to add to the stone's east face memorial inscriptions for two of her daughters, Mary and Lydia, who had predeceased John, in Ohio. These daughters died in Delaware County and repose in marked graves in Mill Creek Cemetery, near Ostrander.

Mary Jane Warrington, who had married William Said, died March 11, 1851, at the age of 24; and Lydia T. Warrington, married to Samuel Guy, died Sept. 25, 1870, age 28.

Ruth Warrington outlived her husband by many years and eventually moved west to Kansas to make her home with children. She died in Washington, Kansas, on March 10, 1889, and although her remains were returned to Chariton for burial, no arrangements were made to have her death date inscribed on the grand monument. Here is a report of her death and burial from The Chariton Herald of March 14, 1889:

Mrs. Ruth H. Warrington, a former resident of White Breast Township, this couty, died at the home of her daughter in Washington, Kansas, March 10, 1889, aged 85 years. Her remains were brought to Chariton for interment, the funeral taking place at the Christian Church last Tuesday at 3 o'clock p.m.


Charles M. Wright said...

Hi Frank,

Frank, is there a typo in this story? When exactly did Ruth die?

I often wonder why I am attracted to wandering in old graveyards, studying gravestones and reading obits. An old friend who refuses to go with me to visit old cemeteries once referred to me as a melancholic Werther. That sent me to a library to read about Werther. I'm not him.

Frank D. Myers said...

March 10 is the correct date. Thanks for the correction! Werther? My goodness. I should hope not.