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Headstones from Old Kinsley Cemetery, Edwards County, Kansas


First Kinsley was the first cemetery for Kinsley and Edwards County. Over 125 people are known to be buried here. They were the early pioneers of the area. It was discontinued in 1886 and Hillside Cemetery was established. About two dozen graves were removed to Hillside. Many graves could not be moved because the interred had died of typhoid fever. This is the story of a mother and son who are still buried there.


There is no headstone for Ellen Bertholf, nor her son, Charles, but they do have a story. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1837. At the age of 20, she married Benjamin Bertholf (b. 1833). A total of five children were born to the couple. Two sons were born before Benjamin enlisted in the Civil War. The oldest was Charles.


After the war, Benjamin returned home where two more children were born. However, one daughter and one son passed away in 1875 (causes unknown). The last of their five children was born in 1878 a few months before leaving for Kinsley, Kansas.


Benjamin purchased a hotel in Kinsley. The family had only been in town for six months when Ellen and their son, Charles, contracted typhoid fever. They died approximately three weeks apart in the fall of 1878. Charles was a newlywed and was preparing to bring his new bride out to Kansas to join him.


Facing much unhappiness in Kansas, Benjamin went back to Pennsylvania taking his 10-year-old son and infant daughter with him. He did remarry and had two more daughters. He died in 1893 and is buried in East Rush Cemetery in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.


Note: Typhoid fever can be contracted by eating and/or drinking contaminated food and water. It can also spread through close contact with someone who has been infected.


Note: Benjamin served as a private in Co. B, 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry. He only served two years before being discharged with rheumatism in his back. It was caused by a fall from a horse.



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