Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- June 10, 2015

Honoring the Pioneers -- Part 2

Box Elder/ Alder Clump wasn't simply a place to camp.  It was also a place for pioneers to bury their dead.  And there were, unfortunately, all too many of them.  While the journey west promised a better life, it was a perilous one, with an estimated 10% of the pioneers dying along the way from injuries and diseases like cholera. This particular site became a well-known graveyard.

Though no one knows how many pioneers were buried here, between 1974 and 2005 remains of three pioneers were uncovered.  These bones and artifacts were subsequently studied by the University of Wyoming's Anthropology Department, and -- thanks to modern forensic science -- the researchers were able to determine the three pioneers' approximate ages, gender and racial background.

This year the remains were returned to the Platte County Historical Society for reburial at the site.  Though the pioneers rarely had coffins for their loved ones, the PCHS and the Daughters of the American Revolution wanted to honor these three pioneers.  The local high school constructed sturdy wooden boxes for each of the deceased, and members donated antique quilts to wrap the bones.

If you look closely, you can see there are three boxes and three different quilts.  The plastic bags in front of the boxes contain artifacts found with the skeletons.  These included buttons and beads.

Prior to the memorial service, the public was invited to view the remains at the Glendo Town Hall, then travel twenty miles to the reburial site.  As you can imagine, it was a somber occasion but one I'll never forget.

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