In Part II last week, I highlighted several of Wyuka’s outstanding memorials for 9/11, the Holocaust and Nebraska firefighters. Today, I’m going to stick with gravestones (and an airplane propeller, but more about that later).
Over in Section 5, this marker stood out.
Jane “Jennie” Bell married Frank Ringer, a veteran of the Spanish-American War and a prominent Lincoln businessman. After Frank died in 1920, she went back to school and got her Doctor of Chiropractic and Doctor of Chiropractic Philosophy degrees. Dr. Bell-Ringer practiced for several years before passing away in California.
The story goes that Jennie won a baby contest in the late 1870s. At her wedding, she learned something surprising from her new brother-in-law, John Dean Ringer. He teased her that the only fault he had to find with her is that she had taken first prize away from him at that baby contest, making him come in second.
In Section 17, I found the small marker for Helen Mary Sargent. Born in Massachusetts, she got her degree at the University of Nebraska and entered Army service as a Red Cross nurse September 4, 1918. She was assigned to Fort Slocum, N.Y., where she died of illness Oct. 23, 1918 (most likely the Spanish flu that was raging there at the time).
Another marker in Section 17 is for a young man who also lost his life during World War I. His grave is one of the handful at Wyuka that features a portrait on a porcelain plaque.
A native of Russia, Bohl enlisted in the Army and was placed with the 58th Infantry, Company H. Only 25, he was wounded in action in France and died post-Armistice on Christmas Eve 1918.
Up to this point, everything we’d seen at Wyuka had been fairly traditional in terms of style and materials. Corel Sherwood’s monument changed all that.
Sherwood befriended the legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh when they attended Lincoln Flight School together. Lindbergh often helped him work on building his airplane. They were such good friends that Sherwood loaned Lindbergh enough money to leave Lincoln when he was short of funds.
In 1925, Sherwood was a mechanic for Lincoln Aircraft Corporation, one of two airplane manufacturers in the area during the 1920s. One day while giving brief plane rides, Sherwood crashed in February 1925 near Ellis, Neb., killing his 50-year-old passenger, Dan Camp. Sherwood died the next day.
Mounted on a podium next to Sherwood’s unique marker is a copy of the letter Lindbergh wrote to him when he re-payed his loan.
Then we caught a glimpse of an eye-catching bronze not far away from Sherwood’s grave.
Unfortunately, I don’t know who created the bronze but I did find Lois “Toots” Pegram’s obituary. Twice widowed, Lois was a pioneer business woman in Lincoln, owning multiple businesses at one time while being active in local politics. She was a restaurateur, antique dealer and avid antique doll collector, and owner and operator of rental and farm properties. I wish I could have met her because she sounds like she was a real pistol.
Around this time, we were making our way into the center of the cemetery. It isn’t often I find a port-a-john ensconced in a PVC pipe arbor in a cemetery. I wish more cemeteries provided something like this, because both Christi and I were happy we didn’t have to drive back to the office to use the restroom there.
After our pit stop, we got back to business. Circled on the map by me was the Kimball monument.
The Kimball Brosthers were leading monument makers in Lincoln from the 1880s through the 1930s. William R. and Frank B. Kimball established the business in Lincoln in 1887, having come from Albia, Iowa.
By 1890, the Kimballs had installed more than 20 monuments the year before, averaging $1,500 each. Their own family plot features the pink granite seen in many of their major monuments.
Frank Kimball’s monument for the Thompson family is similar to the one made for his own family, although the Thompson one has a more ornate granite setting.
After Jeanee died and his term as U.S. ambassador was up, Thompson returned to Lincoln for a few years before moving to California, where he spent the rest of his life.
Here’s you one more example of Frank Kimball’s work. The monument for Swedish immigrants Olof (as the guide book spells it) and Clara Palm is not a bronze but it’s become one of my favorite monuments at Wyuka.
Olof and Clara Palm were Swedish immigrants who established an insurance agency in Lincoln, with Olof as the president and Clara as the vice-president. He helped found the North Star Relief Society, a Swedish fraternal group. Clara died in 1931 at 70, and Olof was 75 when he died eight years later.
Try as I could, I cannot finish my series on Wyuka with three parts. There’s simply too much beauty and history here that I have to keep going.
Next week, I’ll finish up with Part IV. I’ll be featuring more monuments along with the tragic story of a spree killer who is buried only a few hundred feet from some of his victims.