Agnes City, Kansas Cemetery History
1872 to Present
by Betty Rose Shellenberger Mason

     It has been written by several that the oldest stone in the Agnes City, Kansas Cemetery is that of Elizabeth Wilsey. She was the wife of David Wilsey. The death date is written as March 7, 1872, on a stone in the cemetery. This date appears on a stone that it is assumed was erected after the death of her husband David Wilsey in 1909. The original stone marking Elizabethís death was broken. When it was cemented back together the dates almost completely disappeared. Research produced a record of her death in a newspaper dated 1882. Further research found her on the 1875 Kansas Census with her husband David living at Agnes City and again on the 1880 U. S. Federal Census living in Agnes City with her husband David.

     Agnes City Cemetery was laid out and the first stone erected in 1880 according to cemetery records. This stone marks the grave of Mary C. Williams, wife of W. H. Williams, member of the first Agnes City School Board. Gertrude Croyle Reaka recalled that her mother took the new baby and kept him for nine months because the other children in the Williams family were too young for the responsibility of caring for a baby.

     Two newspaper items reported her death as did the 1880 Federal Mortality Schedules Index, 1850-1885 as February 1880. Her life in Kansas can be documented in Kansas Census records and U. S. Federal Census records beginning in 1865 through 1880 when she passed.

     According to "old timers" of the Agnes City Community, there are unmarked graves in the cemetery. They always had to be very careful when opening new grave sites because of unmarked graves in the cemetery. The identity of the first person buried in Agnes City Cemetery might be unknown.

     The Agnes City Cemetery is located a short distance north of the Agnes City School foundation. This would be one and one half mile north on road 360 and road E, GPS N 38.68806 and W -96.28028, in Section 3, Township 16, Range 10 of Lyon County. People were buried in the cemetery before the cemetery was plotted. The Santa Fe Trail ruts are still visible just a short distance across the fence to the north of the cemetery.

     Today Agnes City Cemetery is a well-kept and attractive country cemetery. The newest burial in the cemetery as of this writing is that of Dorothy Carmen Marcella Stuewe Schlesener who passed away December 17, 2015.

     The above information was gathered from the cemetery plot records, county records, Gertrude Croyle Reaka (daughter of Daniel Croyle who was the Justice of Peace at Agnes City as well as a farmer/stock raiser and Lucinda Shoup Croyle), Ellen Jane "Jennie" Henderson Eckel (daughter of Daniel a farmer/stockman and Sarah J. Eckel), Alice Jennings Gray (daughter of Ira an Agnes City postmaster for some years and a farmer and Martha Jennings) and my father Virgil Roosevelt Shellenberger Sr. (son of George a farmer/rancher and Emma Yahn Shellenberger). All of these people lived in the Agnes City Community.

     In 1953 I researched the history of the Agnes City Community with my teacher Susie Biggerstaff and my father. I did extensive interviews with people in the Agnes City Community in 1953 and again in 1960 while working on a local history assignment in college. Gertrude Croyle Reaka was still living and so was my father. I also visited with children of the other original contributors in 1960 but did not gain a lot of new information. I still have my notes. I have since continued to research local history on the internet (newspapers, state, and federal records), at the State Historical Society, Lyon County Courthouse and cemetery records. The cemetery information is just a small part of the information I have gathered.

A Bit About Elizabeth and David Wilsey
     Elizabeth Wilsey and David Wilsey have stones in Agnes City cemetery. Two stones are present. One very old looking stone with just Elizabeth Wilsey on it is broken and has been cemented back together. The repair has almost completely removed the death date. The newer looking stone has David Wilsey and Elizabeth Wilsey both on it. It is assumed this stone was added when David passed. The date of March 7, 1872, for her death on the newer stone is not correct. Her age as 45 years is correct.

     Elizabeth Wilsey is listed on the 1875 Kansas Census and on the 1880 U. S. Federal Census as Davidís wife. The census also says she keeps house and that she was born in New York. Location of residence is Agnes City. Notice of her death appears in a paper in 1882. Cemetery records also list 1882 as the year of her death.

     The 1875, 1885 and 1895 Kansas Census records and the 1880 and 1900 U. S. Federal Census records say David Wilsey was a farmer in Agnes City. After 1880 he is listed by himself and the U. S. Federal Census records show he is widowed. All records indicate he was born in New York. There is a newspaper obituary of his death. No records indicate that David and Elizabeth had any children.

     Articles written about the Agnes City Community and old time residents reported that David lived quite alone after Elizabethís death and even wore her coats (She was said to be a large woman.) as he could not bear to part with her belongings.

A Bit About The Williams Family
     Mary C. Williams [abt 1845 ---Feb. 5, 1880] is buried in Agnes City Cemetery. Her grave appears to be the first Marked grave after cemetery was plotted. Her age on stone is 35 years, 8 months 27 days. The following are also on the stone: William H. Williams [Mar. 27, 1896] her husband and their daughter Mary Williams [Feb. 17, 1880]. Maryís age on stone is 8 years 3 months 11days.

     Mary C. Williams is first found living in Kansas on the 1865 Kansas Census in Wyandotte, Wyandotte County Kansas. She is married and has two children ages three years and eight months. She is in the U.S Federal Census in 1870 and the Kansas Census in l875 still in Wyandotte, Wyandotte County Kansas. By this time she has six children listed. Their ages are twelve years, eleven years, eight years, five years, three years and one month. Notice of her death appears in a paper in 1882. By this time the family was part of the Agnes City Community. She is listed in the U. S. Federal Mortality Schedules 1850 --- 1888. She is living in Agnes City, Lyon County Kansas. She is a housewife and cause of death is pleural pneumonia. She is not on the U. S. Federal Census in 1880 as she passed away a month before the census was taken. Her grave is thought to be the first marked grave in the Agnes City Cemetery.

     Mary Williams [daughter of William Henry and Mary C. Williams] was a little past 8 years of age when she passed away just a short time after her motherís death. According to her obituary she died from diphtheria. It also notes that the rest of the family was recovering from the disease. She is buried in the Agnes City Cemetery.

     William Henry Williams was the husband of Mary C. Williams. He was first located in 1865 Kansas Census with Mary C. and two children ages two years and eight months at Wyandotte, Wyandotte Kansas. He is with the family on the 1870 census in the same location. They now have six children. He is on the 1880 Federal Census with his seven living children (wife Mary C. and daughter Mary had died prior to the census in 1880). He is listed as a farmer living at Agnes City, Lyon County Kansas. He appears in Kansas Enrollment of Civil War Veterans --- Book 37: Kansas Calvary [Regiments 2-7] --- Enrollment OF Ex-Soldiers and Sailors in 1889. It shows he was a private in F Company, Regiment 7th in Kansas. It said he was in the cavalry and was a volunteer and that his present address in 1889 was Agnes City, Lyon County. His obituary in a local paper states he died in Perry, Oklahoma. He is buried in the Agnes City Cemetery.

Oral History Contributors
     Ellen Jane "Jennie" Henderson Eckel [February 11, 1871 - June 19, 1956] was the daughter of Robert C. and Sarah J. Henderson. Jennie came to Kansas from New York with her parents, one sister and three brothers in 1878. She lived on the family farm all of her life except for two years that she lived in Emporia. She married Daniel C. Eckel [1863 - 1936] in 1902. They had one daughter and three sons. The farm was about one mile from where I grew up on the Shellenberger home place. I visited at her home many times while growing up and she often spoke of her life. She is buried in the Agnes City Cemetery.

     Alice Jennings Gray [May 7, 1874 - May 3, 1958] was the daughter of Ira and Martha Jennings and was born in Cloud County Kansas. When she was six she moved to the Agnes City Community. Her parent ran a store at Agnes City (on Bluff Creek). Her father Ira Jennings was appointed postmaster February 5, 1883. He was also a farmer/stockman. She married Warren F. Gray [Oct. 10, 1864 - Nov. 27, 1954] May 10, 1892. She was his second wife. He had two small children when they married and they later had a child. I knew her as a child through my teen years. She loved to talk about the "old times". She is buried in the Agnes City Cemetery and he is buried in Bushong Cemetery where his first wife is buried.

     Virgil Roosevelt Shellenberger Sr. [June 6, 1907 - October 9, 1992] was my father. He was a farmer/rancher. His parents George and Emma Shellenberger bought the land settled by Henry Clousing (early settler of Agnes City) from his wife Elizabeth who had married Richard Eden in 1903. My father was born in the farmhouse and grew up there, moving to Allen, Kansas, at age thirteen when his parents retired. He returned to the land when he married my mother Flora Rose Leffler Shellenberger in 1931. They had four children, one being stillborn. My parents lived on the land where my father was born until his death in 1992. He loved history and was the "local historian" of the area. My father is buried in the Agnes City Cemetery which is about one and one-half miles from where he lived most of his life.

     Gertrude Adell Croyle Reaka [July 3, 1873 - Feb. 24, 1964] was the daughter of Daniel and Lucinda Shoup Croyle. They married April 2, 1857, in Pennsylvania and came to Wyandotte County Kansas. They moved to the Agnes City Community in September of 1872. Gertrude was born there. She was the youngest of eight children. She married Dolph Augustus Reaka [1870 - 1957] October 2, 1893, in Abilene. They lived on the family farm in the Agnes City Community for 46 years before moving to Emporia in 1956. They were the parents of three children. I knew her when I was a child and young adult. She is buried in the Bushong Cemetery.




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