Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kansas: Hiawatha: Davis Memorial




Davis Memorial, Mount Hope Cemetery. Hiawatha, Kansas. June 2016.


Years and years ago, I read about this little town of Hiawatha, Kansas, where a man - John Davis - had created a statuary garden that honored his late wife, Sarah Hart Davis. I imagined a large estate with a vast green lawn, dotted with white-white statues of Ms. Davis at various stages of her life.

Although it never quite worked out for me to visit that memorial, its presence remained filed in one of my brain cubbies.


Davis Memorial, Mount Hope Cemetery. Hiawatha, Kansas. June 2016.



But this year, this road trip, it would happen.


Davis Memorial, Mount Hope Cemetery. Hiawatha, Kansas. June 2016.


Upon researching my way there, my vision of a vast estate dissolved with the information that the Davis Memorial is actually in a cemetery, specifically, the Mount Hope Cemetery. It took me awhile to find the cemetery, but I did, at which point I discovered that the collection of statues that comprise the Davis Memorial are in a compact space.


Davis Memorial, Mount Hope Cemetery. Hiawatha, Kansas. June 2016.


The compactness of the space concentrated the impact of the statues. However, the author of this article disagrees.


Davis Memorial, Mount Hope Cemetery. Hiawatha, Kansas. June 2016.


Some Hiawatha residents questioned Mr. Davis' devotion to his wife while she lived. One wonders. Look at that side-eye below.


Davis Memorial, Mount Hope Cemetery. Hiawatha, Kansas. June 2016.


Mr. Davis' outlay of more than $200,000 on such frivolity provoked many Hiawatha citizens. It was during the Depression, after all, and Mr. Davis could have spent his wealth on communal amenities such as a pool or a hospital.


Davis Memorial, Mount Hope Cemetery. Hiawatha, Kansas. June 2016.


The Davises had no children, and evidently there was no love lost between Ms. Davis' family and Mr. Davis. Some community members whispered that Mr. Davis' memorials to his deceased wife was one way to deny her family members access to his money when he died.


Davis Memorial, Mount Hope Cemetery. Hiawatha, Kansas. June 2016.


Despite the rumors that spoke to Mr. Davis' motives and stinginess, apparently Mr. Davis regularly and anonymously gave money to people in need.

The author of this article recognizes the irony in the fact that the Davis Memorial attracts tourism dollars to Hiawatha.

Below is a video from Tales of the Midland Empire that tells the story. Or let's say, one of the stories, about the Davises and the Davis Memorial:






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