Nevada native seeks acknowledgement of her grandfather's burial site

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A search for her grandfather's eternal resting place led a Nevada native, Gloria (Shopper) Lundy to take on city hall in Kansas City, and win as noted in the Kansas City Star May 24. Lundy was a 1964 graduate of Nevada High School and her brother John Shopper still lives in town.

Lundy said she had tried to find out where her grandfather was buried but all she could find was that he was buried at "Leeds."

After some digging in the genealogy center at the Mid-Continent Library in Independence, Lundy found references to a potter's field called the Municipal Farm Cemetery, or Leeds Farm, where her grandfather's grave is located.

"They built this cemetery in 1911, the potter's field then was called Union Hill Cemetery but it closed because it was full," Lundy said. "They built this one and it operated for many years until they opened the new section. There are 2,000 to 3,000 buried in the east and 1,200 in the second section."

Lundy also discovered that the field was abandoned and overgrown, the city wasn't maintaining it and many of the records that could help find a particular grave were lost. Lundy has been working to get recognition for the cemetery so families of those buried there can know where their relatives lie.

"I got hold of an archeological group and they helped me get state and federal historic recognition for it," Lundy said. "That gives it some protection."

It was an uphill battle for recognition, at first the city didn't even acknowledge it's existence.

"The archeology group was wonderful," Lundy said. "At first the city said we had to prove the cemetery was there and they did that. Now it's registered with federal and state protection. We wanted to save and preserve this."

Lundy said she was motivated to act because the people buried in the cemetery were denied the recognition any person deserves when they die and are buried.

"We're going to have a memorial service for these folks because they never had one when they were buried," Lundy said. "They were buried in cigar-box strength boxes that quickly fell apart and buried one on top of another."

Lundy quoted an old saying to explain why the project holds sway over her right now.

"They say you can judge the character of a country by how it treats its dead," Lundy said. " These people were treated poorly."

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