From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
Henry and Mary Ziegler Koerner lived across the road from the Delaware Indian Cemetery. With family ties drawn from the Germans and the Delawares, the couple raised seven children, lived through hard times and flood. They are buried near the cemetery gate.
Located at the southern most point of Leavenworth County in what was once known as the Fall Leaf bottoms, Delaware Indian Cemetery was visited by Louie and Wilma Longacre Koerner. Louie Koerner has both sets of his great-grandparents and grandparents buried there.
Mary Koerner was a tall woman, her son said. She got her height from the Indian side of her family.
"She was taller than Dad, over six foot," Louie Koerner remembers. "I would walk over here to the cemetery when I was a boy and watch her put flowers on the graves, especially her father's."
Logan Ziegler was born to parents living the pioneer experience in western Missouri and later the Kansas Territory. He was born in 1825 at St. Joseph, Mo. His father, Phillip, was German. His mother, Betsy Taylor, was a full blooded Delaware Indian. Their great-grandson says by the mid-century mark they were living in Leavenworth County, not far from Stranger Creek.
"When the war came, they had settled down here in the Fall Leaf bottoms. Logan Ziegler was a young man then and the story goes that he exchanged fire with Quantrill's Raiders when they were on their way to Lawrence."
The family property and the cemetery are located on County Road 2 several hundred yards from the Kaw River. Louie Koerner's research of the area, especially the Delawares, resulted in a better understanding of his ancestors and their struggles, he explains.
"Most of the Indians had moved away from here after the Civil War, mostly because by then they had lost their lands. Some went to Oklahoma, but they had to renounce their Delaware heritage and become Shawnees. Many didn't like that."
Few remained in the Fall Leaf bottoms. Those that did, however, gained the sympathy of the Retsinger family. They donated about a half acre in the late 1870s for Indian burials. Louie Koerner says Indians are buried in the northeast quarter of the cemetery, but headstones never mark the graves.
By this time, Logan Ziegler had married in 1861 and settled into the farm across from the cemetery. He lived in Leavenworth for several months learning the blacksmith trade. When his father died, he came home to take over the farm.
The Zieglers' daughter married the son of August and Christina Koerner. Henry and Mary Ziegler had seven children. Louis Koerner was their youngest.
"Dad worried so about flooding in the area and he was afraid his headstone would wash away. When the 1951 flood came, some of the stones were washed off their bases, but not Dad's.
That flood took away the fence surrounding the cemetery. Some say the area was under 10 feet of water, he recalls. After the cleanup was completed, Louie Koerner says Indians from Haskell Indian Junior College made a large metal sign to hang over the cemetery's entrance. About two years ago, they made another one.