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Mary Wilberding and Family – St. John’s Cemetery, Spearville, Ford, Kansas


The headstone reads:

Here Rest In Christ Mary Wilberding Born Jan 23 1882 Died May 27 1909


Mary’s story begins with her birth to John and Madegline Riedl. She was the third of ten children. On the 15th of April 1902, Mary married Joseph Wilberding. Joseph was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States as a young child.


Joseph was a tailor. The couple took up residence in Ellinwood, Barton County. The couple had three children. Agnes (b. 1903) was the oldest, Leonard (b. 1905) was the first son and Francis Leo (b. 1909) the baby.

Having been stricken with pneumonia, Mary passed away in 1909 at the young age of 27. She left behind her husband of seven years and three young children.

There is more to the story and it is tragic.

Their firstborn, Agnes passed away at a hospital in Winfield, Kansas on March 28, 1909 at the age of 5 1/2.


Joseph and his two sons established a home and a tailoring business in Dodge City. The Dodge City Daily Globe reported on the morning of January 6, 1916 . . . “his twelve-year-old son Leonard was unable to awaken his father . . .” He hailed down the milkman who provided assistance. Mr. Wilberding died of a heart ailment. His death left Leonard and 7-year-old Francis orphans. Reports have indicated that the boys were taken in by Martin Riedl a relative.


Three years later, the oldest son Leonard became ill with influenza and died on March 27, 1919 on his 14th birthday. A moving tribute was published in the Spearville News. At the time, Francis was attending school at Winfield Kansas. He was “the only survivor of the Wilberding family.”

Courtesy of The Catholic Advance, “Francis was two months old when his mother died. He was six years old when his father died. At the age of nine, Francis was the only living member of his immediate family. He then made his home with his aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Dulac. He moved to California with them in 1938.


On 21st of February 1959, Francis was struck by a car in Whittier, California. His body was delivered back to Spearville and is buried with the rest of his family.

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