----- ............Cemetery Walk: An afternoon of discovery! Every stone has a story. And they are waiting to be told........... -----

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tombstones used in construction of new home

Pooh, Poohs Ghosts
Missourian Uses Tombstones in New Home
Bolivar, MO

Ghosts don't worry Frank Karpek, ozark stonemason, who is using tombstones in the construction of his new farm home.

Karpek and his three sons moulded concrete bricks for the house and fashioned gravestones from an abandoned cemetery into ornamental arches above the windows and doors. The few remaining markers at the neglected graves will be laid as flagstones around the house. Karpek plans to clear the cemetery of weeping willow trees and sow the land in clover.

Hutchinson News
12/17/ 1936, Page 15

WHAT!!! How could that happen? Did it being reported cause any concern or outrage by the locals? Is the farm house still standing?

A neglected and / or abandoned cemetery does not mean that the people buried there deserve to have their tombstones removed and their resting places lost. I think that stonemason was cheap in using them instead of crafting what he needed from another source. Shame on you Frank Karpek!


  1. Oh my gosh! I am so angry that this man did that! It makes me want to cry. How could he be so insensitive? What a terrible thing.

  2. Wonder if the local genealogy society knows about this? Perhaps you could send them a copy so they can find out if there is some record of the cemetery & its inhabitants. Hate to see their identities/location possibly lost to time...

  3. Thats horrible! And so sad. How could anyone think that's an acceptible thing to do.

  4. Let me preface my comments with I get the shock that we in this date and place that someone would remove tombstones/headstones. The general thought of burial sites having the tombstones removed, stones that identify by name, possibly dates of birth/death...also, possibly a short bit of information that gives those who read it some history of something of their life or even death. I have always loved visiting older grave sites because it was more common to see cause of death, or something they did in their life that shaped who they were/became/etc. You all are probably familiar with what I am commenting on here. Nothing wrong with loving mother,devoted wife. But in particular when the deceased had a significantly shorter life span I am curious as to what happened. Small Pox, Hung for stealing cattle. As the world populations grow, more and more people have more and more curious nature to learn of their ancestors. And the removal of those stones definitely creates more obstacles. Also, majority of people want to believe that although unavoidable death doesn't end everything. I am not even referring to religious beliefs, a literal knowledge of leaving their mark on earth, and gone but not forgotten.

    However, it was 1936, 7 tears into the depression. I have researched and found no laws regarding what he did. Even the article itself is more of a story of interest. Where is the sense of disdain towards the people who abandoned it, lost to overgrowth, neglected, no maintenance. Was this a private family cemetery who several years prior to 1936, either died off without making plans to maintain the grounds? Or simply moved away without making those plans? Or just stopped going, just abandoned it? Even if not a private family it was most likely from first burial to abandonment would have been privately owned and maintained,property of a churchyard cemetery, church closed down and no contingency.

    Their is no report of for instance digging up the graves to pillage for jewelery, gold fillings, etc.

    They removed the tombstones and used them to fashion a beautiful arches over the doors and windows. The remaining ones were going to be used as flagstones around the house. Which actually seems respectful and memorializing to those who were forgotten, abandoned, neglected. The state of the cemetery in 1936 well that isn't for example 'the grass hasn't been mowed in over a week. That is years. Years of no one visiting a loved one's grave site. Years since the last burial, the last time maintained. Also removing the weeping willows and sowing the ground with clover. I personally love weeping willows, but they shouldn't be in a cemetery unless placed at least 50 plus feet away from any graves. Their short living trees (relatively speaking) with very far reaching and invasive root systems. Either not known or if known not concerned.

    In summary from my point of view applied to this time, horrific. But in 36 with no law against it, the fact it was abandoned and overgrown = no one who had any interest in the cemetery (loved one(s) buried there, owned it, worked there, etc) In my mind that is worse than what he did. Even then, that was not uncommon.

    Like I said I completely understand the opinion of today (and pretty sure there are laws in effect today). But I also take all factors into consideration and don't think that what he did at that point and time was not illegal, or even shameful when taking all things into consideration. I find it interesting and actually would love to see the house if it still exists. He actually their "mark" which had been lost and abandoned for years and brought their "mark" back into the light


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