Monday, September 14, 2015

Secrets of the Stanton Vault to be revealed Sunday

Trae Hall will portray Andrew Swan, a prominent Chariton-area farmer and immigrant from Sweden, whose remains were placed in the vault during 1903.

Dr. James Eddington Stanton (left) will introduce permanent residents of his 30-crypt mausoleum --- the 1887 Stanton Vault --- during the annual Chariton Cemetery Heritage Tour on Sunday, Sept. 20.

The event will begin at 4 p.m. at the vault site, where 16 people, including Dr. Stanton, were reinterred during 1959 when the mausoleum was demolished. Those who attend are asked to enter the cemetery’s main gate, then drive straight west to the vault site, parking along the drive. Admission, $5 per person, will be collected upon arrival. This annual tour is the commission’s only source of funding. Advance tickets are available at Piper’s, the Chariton Chamber/Main Street office, Clark’s Greenhouse and City Hall.

This year’s program will be held entirely at the vault site, where seating will be provided. After the program, refreshments will be served in the cemetery’s “English Cottage” shelter house. In case of rain, the program will be moved to the shelter, too.

Patti Bisgard will portray Minnie Gray Kirk, one of Chariton's most popular young matrons during the 1890s, clamed by tuberculosis in 1896. Gayle Bortz will portray Jessie Mallory Thayer O'Neal, but I was so involved in watching practice Sunday that I forgot I was there to take photos, too, until after her performance was finished.

Dr. Stanton, who was among the original 1864 shareholders who founded the cemetery and its sole owner from ca. 1890 until his death in 1908, will discuss the history of the cemetery and the mausoleum, then introduce four of the 16 people who either occupied crypts in it until immediately prior to demolition or had loved ones there.

These special guests will be Prof. John W. Perry, interred as the vault was being completed and its first occupant; Jessie Mallory Thayer O’Neal, of the Mallory’s Castle Mallorys, whose stillborn daughter was interred here in 1888; Minnie Day Kirk, one of Chariton’s most popular young women when tuberculosis claimed her in 1896; and Andrew Swan, a prominent farmer and immigrant from Sweden who died in 1903.

The Chariton Cemetery was founded in 1864 to replace a small burial ground on the current site of Columbus School as well as what now is known as Douglass Pioneer Cemetery. Dr. Stanton had acquired a majority of the cemetery shares by 1890 and managed it until his death. His son-in-law, Dr. John H. Stanton, inherited the cemetery. The city of Chariton purchased it from his widow, Gertrude, for $10,000 in 1924. The mausoleum served as cemetery receiving vault, a burial place for the Stanton family and crypts were sold to others who wished “above-ground” interment.

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