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W.D. Silver – Pawnee County

The following article comes from the Larned Chronoscope May 6, 1915, p. [1]

Found Headstone Marked 1841.

While digging post holes last week on the Line place on Ash Creek [sic] north of Larned, Cliff and E.E. Line dug up the headstone of a grave. The inscription on the sone was as follows:

June 4, A.D. 1841

W. D. Silver


Shot With

Beneath the stone was etched the image of an arrow

The stone was found just a short distance from the bank of Ash creek,and is undoubtedly the headstone from the grave of some frontiersman who was slain by the Indians, and buried there by his companions seventy-four years ago.

The stone is of hard native kind, and is about eight inches wide and a foot high. It shows that some efforts had been made to smooth the face of it and to square it up. The lettering is crude and uneven, but was plainly legible when the dirt was scratched from the inscription of the word “die”, which no doubt had been originally “died,” the final letter having been effaced during the years since it was cut.

This gravestone antedates any authentic relic ever found in the county. It was placed there in 1841, when the expeditions across the great plains were very few. That was before the days of the “Forty-niners,” and twenty years before the Civil War [sic] began.

The stone was brought to town by Eb Row last Saturday and may be seen in the window of the Row Bakery. The stone is in two pieces, it having been broken when it was struck by the spade while digging a post hole.

It is a valuable relic, and Mr. Row, who is president of the Cummins Memorial Library board, hopes to place it in the library building as the foundation for a collection of historical relics of Pawnee County [sic]. Many of the early settlers have relics picked up along the Santa Fe Trail which they would no doubt be glad to place in some permanent collection of this sort for the benefit of posterity.

The 1931 edition of the Larned Tiller and Toiler provides more information. The site of the stone is 30 miles from the Santa Fe Trail and the man could have been hunting before he was attacked. The Arlington & Northern Railway laid tracks through that part of Pawnee County in 1917 and erected a monument that still stands today along the former railroad line. Company officials ordered the erection of the monument on the right-of-way line mile east of Ely, later named Ash Valley.

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