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.
Wild roses filled the Starns Cemetery this summer. Now that it's fall, only the briers remain. Long forgotten, never visited and overgrown with weeds, the pioneer cemetery of the Fairmount Township holds the remains of the once well-known Starns family.
When the first burial occurred in 1857, the Starns were considered old-timers in the Kansas territory. Two Starns brothers moved from Platte County, Mo., soon after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. They chose the fertile land of eastern Leavenworth County to homestead in 1854.
Mary Ellen Starns was 2 years old when she died Oct. 16, 1857. George and Abigail Livengood Starns found a small clump of trees on the highest elevation of their property to bury their eighth child.
George Starns served seven weeks in the Kansas Militia during the Civil War. History passed down through the family indicates he was allowed to return home because of his large family.
His brother, Charles, made a name for himself during the early years of the war. He was one of the few Democrats in the Kansas Legislature when statehood came in 1861. Besides being one of the largest land owners in the county at that time, he was in the freighting business.
Charles Starns contracted with the government to move freight along the Santa Fe Trail, a branch of which was not far from his farm in the Fairmount Township.
The two brothers are buried near their sister, Margaret Starns Allen, in the Starns Cemetery. She and husband John Allen, followed the brothers from the family's original home in Greenville, Tenn. Two of Mrs. Allen's great-grandchildren walked through the briers Thanksgiving Day to revisit the graves of their ancesters.
"When I would ask my Dad about these people, he said they weren't on either side of the Civil War," Charles H. Allen said. "they tried to stay kind of neutral. It must have been easier that way."
Margaret Gallagher remembers her mother visiting the Allen graves as late as 1980. Allen and Mrs. Gallagher are first cousins. He lives in Bowling, Texas, and she lives in Tonganoxie.
"They tell me Orval Starns put up the fence that surrounds the cemetery now. People say he tried to take care of it the best he could," Allen said.
Orval Starns died a few weeks ago.
The cemetery was often used in the last century. Eighteen members of the Starns family are buried there as well as Allens, Bettis, Perkins and Witsons. No road leads to the pioneer cemetery now located on a private farm south of Lansing.
"These people were the pioneers of this community. I just wish this old cemetery was kept up better," Allen said.
Article donated by Debra Graden, President
Leavenworth County Genealogical Society, 1998