Around 10 miles outside of the Lamar downtown square sits a local burial ground named Howell Cemetery. It is set in a wide-open scenery complete with trees and a beautiful entrance gate. The founding date is unknown, though it can be inferred that the site was probably used by locals for many years until it became an official cemetery. The graveyard was also previously known as Owens Cemetery.
Perhaps the most famous person laid to rest here was Urilla Sutherland Earp. Born in 1849, Urilla was the first wife of famous American lawman Wyatt Earp. They were married in 1870, when Urilla was 20 and Wyatt was 22. Tragically, Urilla passed away only about nine months later. There are debates over her cause of death, from childbirth, to typhus, to a combination of both.
An important local citizen buried in Howell Cemetery is Charles Marion Alexander. Born in Virginia in 1837, Charles and his family relocated to Platte County, Missouri. It was here that Charles grew up and decided he had a passion for teaching. He served as a schoolteacher at a few different small schools across the area, and was married here in 1856 to Ruth M. Broadhurst. In 1880, Charles and his family moved south to Barton County, near a village next to Lamar named Milford. Here he taught for 16 more years, until he retired in 1896 to become a small-scale farmer. He was said to have been well-loved by his community, who endearingly called him “Uncle Charley.” Charles died in 1928, aged 90, from pneumonia.
An unfortunate aspect of many 19th century cemeteries is an abundance of buried children. Infant and child mortality rates were much higher than when compared to today, with some estimates reporting two out of every ten children would die before reaching the age of five. As these were the conditions, one can see several gravestones dedicated to deceased children throughout Howell Cemetery.
Some of these buried children include Della and Ross Campbell, a sister and brother, respectively. Della made it to two years old, while Ross only lived for five days. They share a burial site and memorial. Their shared headstone is an engraved obelisk.
Even in death, there can be a reminder of life. Walking through cemeteries, you can see just how much this is true. Reading headstones, noting engraved designs, and taking in the serene atmosphere, you can feel the presence of what was. Don’t overlook these spots in small-towns –they carry the original community members who shaped the town, and our nation, into what it is today.