THE BUTTE EVENING NEWS, DECEMBER 18, 1905
The records begin halfway down the hillside for the graves were put here in rows as one might plant potatoes. Oh, there was no choice of graves or plots among the men and women who died unmourned at the county poor house. There were no spaces reserved for mothers or sisters or children. When one dies he is put beside the last one who died, and his grave is dug days before the end comes. 

For it is nice and handy to have the grave already dug, for the friendless often die suddenly and it is bothersome to have the body of a friendless one lying around. They keep a stock of graves on hand, a dozen or so ready.

Where Butte's Unmourned Dead Keep Lonely Vigil

(Written For the Christmas EVENING NEWS, December 18, 1905.)

 
  Once the cemetery lay open on the hillside, but it is marked now. A trim citified fence surrounds the plot of the graves of the unmourned dead. 
 When the North Coast Limited thunders along the mountain wall people look from the windows and see what a small girl called " a funny old graveyard." It is rarely seen by any of Butte's thousands of citizens as it is off the main road. It lies between the mountain wall hemmed in by the railroad and the foothills. It is a silent little city of the dead that worries along without storied urn or animated bust. 
TIME DESTROYS EPITAPHS  
 They put a fence around it a year ago, a neat well-pulled wire fence which keeps the vagrant cows from scratching from the grave posts and trampling them under foot. To the north time has done its deadly work. The mounds are faint, rising slightly above the ground level and the head boards are rotted away and long since gone. 
 So the records begin halfway down the hillside for the graves were put here in rows as one might plant potatoes. Oh, there was no choice of graves or plots among the men and women who died unmourned at the county poor house. There were no spaces reserved for mothers or sisters or children. When one dies he is put beside the last one who died, and his grave is dug days before the end comes. 
  For it is nice and handy to have the grave already dug, for the friendless often die suddenly and it is bothersome to have the body of a friendless one lying around. They keep a stock of graves on hand, a dozen or so ready.
A DREARY SPECTACLE  
 The wind sweeps down through Horse canyon and fills the empty graves with snow and thaws, sometimes with ice.
 This isn't pleasant to put a human body into. Somehow the snow has a friendly way of curling about the grave posts and topping them with ermine, white as the purest Vermont marble. 
 Casually one can see that of the hundreds buried here headboards remain only over the last 250 or so. 
 "We're the only company they have at the end," said the one-legged inmate of the poor house who digs graves for his fellows and tries to stay 12 ahead of the job. 
  "I get $1.50 a grave. Thankee for the cigars. I'll smoke 'em tonight. I got a friend, an old Grand army man, I'll give him one. He's bad with the Bright's disease.  This big, roomy graves for him.  He'll go in a week or so."  
GHOSTLY FIRES BURN
 The old man pothered away with pick and shovel. He had four graves laid out in his mind's eye and on each a fire burned. The fire melted the Christmas frost beneath, and at night from the car windows, the lights burned about the headboards, weird and ghastly, making the railroad travelers wonder what stage scene was this - something that might have been snatched from Hans Christian Anderson's story of a graveyard.  'Welcome to Butte' was what the flames may have said to some.  To all, the flames of the graveyard are a sobering sight. 
NAMES OBLITERATED, BOARDS REMAIN
 They made very poor headboards in the old days but in the year 1896 there was a change and someone began making good, substantial boards, which stand today.  On the upper slope of the hill the names are all eaten away by the weather, but down where the boards are sheltered, the names remain. 
 The oldest date discernible is that of Fred Muller, who died in 1892 at the age of 45.  Friends placed a strong heavy cross above the grave and so it stands, where all its fellows have rotted away. 
A SHRUB, A ROCK, A NAMELESS CROSS
 There is one other grave in this section marked by an alder shrub, a piece of rock and a low, coarse wooden cross, but the name on the second cross is indiscernible. This shrub is the only one in the cemetery.
 There is a ghastly hole where one mound should be.  Some underflow of water gutted away the grave. The headboard totters drunkenwise, ready to fall into the hole.  On this is carved "Jennie Wells, Oct. 13, 1898," and underneath, carved in small letters is "Baby Is at 318 S. Arizona." One may speculate in vain.  Whatever the mission of that line might have been, it tells its tale now to empty air, after seven years.
 The headboards of 1897 tell of much work and endeavors of someone of artistic frame of mind to perpetuate the memory of the friendless dead.  Crude flowers are graven on the boards, vines carved across the woodwork. In some cases the names are burned into the wood. 
LITTLE BABY GRAVES
 Three recent graves in the county graveyard contain victims of smallpox. Above the graves of Ed Wolcott and Mrs. Adams are headboards painted by Dr. Sullivan.  After all it does not matter much about a man.  He was made to fight the battle of the world. Those here lost. Their cell is as roomy as the magnate, but oh, there are tiny graves at the foot of the mountain wall - little baby graves, just the length of the dearest baby you ever knew. It is such a cold place for a tiny baby - such a lonely dark place where the night comes early. Little babies, meant to nestle in the hollow of an arm, left out here all alone with no lullaby but the night wind shuddering through the dry stalks of dead weeds.
 What wonder if, when shadows fall and night winds send their human-like cries across the barren flat if shades of dead mothers flit to this garden searching for children poverty and death tore from their breasts.
TWO BABES IN ONE GRAVE
   One board, on which the inscription is almost illegible, reads "Two Babies Here.  Baby Clark and One Unknown."  Here is food for the thinker, material for the misanthrope.  Poor Baby Clark!  What was your hurry? Who was your mother? Yet so much richer are you then your tiny companion of your narrow cell who cannot even boast of a name. 
  And Baby Clark - death and a paupers grave was your portion.  Another Baby Clark has millions, nurses, doctors, teachers. If a window carelessly left open, should allow a zephr to waft cold over the downy couch, consternation would reign among the guardians of the infant. 
 Poor little Baby Clark lying in a pauper's grave with a frozen crust of earth for a blanket, an unlined box for a cot, no lullabys for your slumber but the voice of a merciless wind.  Were they glad when you closed your little eyes, sent up your last feeble cry, struggled and gasped for the life God gave you, and then went back whence you came, leaving only the morsel of cold humanity they brought out here? Was there a tear for you, Baby Clark? Is there anyone today who cares that you lie in the pauper's cemetery?
"BABETTE"
 A t the end of a ridge of leaning and falling headboards, one stronger then the rest, lies the simple epitaph, "Babette, died Sept. 16, 1900." Babette, that's all.  One can fancy the shrug of the shoulder to accompany the mention of "Babette."
 Above these moldering bones who would analyze the life that one name relates in full?  Had Babette virtues? Surely the worst must have some virtues.  Would she feed the hungry?  Would she weep for a crying child? Surely then - Babette - crime-cursed and sin-stained, if you will - Babette had virtues, Christlike virtues even in this dissipated death.
END OF THE TINSEL LIFE
  Poor Babette! You were pretty once? A laughing, full-breasted girl from sunny France.  Innocent? Yes, all are innocent sometime.  Accident made your fate perhaps, surely not design.  Will all be counted, pro and con - the sufferings that followed, the price you paid for the joyless life you lived? If all is weighed, you paid for all you lost. Ah, Babette, who would not hope for you now when even death refused you a burial place of respectability.
"C. SING"
 "C. Sing" is all that marks the headboard of a Chinaman's grave.  C. Sing died of cancer.  He came to Butte with money, but opium, taken without regard to health, broke him down.  Gambling left him penniless and the Chinese, with their horror of the maimed and invalided, shunned him.  Almost rotting away, C. Sing went to the poorhouse and for days lay dying, the stench of his malady keeping everybody at a distance.  Then kind death ended C. Sing's sufferings and the bones care not whether they lie here or in China and the Butte Chinese do not go near the grave or raise their incantations over the sunken mound.  
UNKNOWN MAN 
 "Unknown man died at 240 East Park, May 18, 1896; unknown here." There was no further legend.
  Burned to death was the fate of Lena Olson.  She had no friends.  What little was left of the charred form was put in a little box and given a regulation sized grave.   
 A badger had made a home in the grave of Charles Wood, died Dec. 12, 1896, aged 61.  He lived here two years in peace and prosperity, the badger did, so the grave digger said, until some mischievous boys discovered him. Setting with a wire snare on the grave of Charles Wood, they snared the badger and ended his career in a dog fight.  So badgers, like men, may have ignominious endings.  Now only the big hole in the grave remains. 
THE MARBLE HEADSTONE 
  There is in this pauper's cemetery one marble headstone, and the story that it tells no man can write.  "In memory of John Downie, Beloved Son of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Downie, Vancouver, Wash. 
  Johnnie Downie, aged 21 years, died of black smallpox; Dr. Sullivan found him dying in the Cash Lodging house, where for three days he had lain unattended.  He had the proverbial 30 cents.  At first he refused to give his name when he found he had been taken to the poorhouse.  Finally, in delirium, he told of his home and aged parents, for whom he had started out to make a home.  But Butte had been too fast for poor, weak Johnnie Downie, prided as he was by his fond Irish parents.  Work was hard to find, he was qualified for few positions and made no friends.  He washed dishes, swamped in saloons. Finally his environment overcame him as did the germs of a dreaded disease. 
  The slums became his home.  His parents lost track of him.  The day he died Dr. Sullivan sent word to them that he was dying. His mother wired that she was coming but the word went back that her boy was dead. 
  She wrote a letter such as the doctor, accustomed to heart rending appeals, had never read before.  He was such a good boy her Johnnie, he was working so hard for them.  Oh, he was never careless to her when he was home, Johnnie never missed mass. She had prayed for him night and day, watched every mail for the letter that came not.  Page after page of letters came, written in the heart's blood of a mother.  
 When Dr. Sullivan put the blanket over the wasted frame of the dissipated boy, who for three months had been little better then a vagrant, he sat down and wrote the mother a letter that would bring tears to her eyes and happiness to her heart. 
  "Yes John had been a good boy," he wrote. He had had the priest and died happy.  He sent her his love and told them not to worry as he was leaving for a better life.
  Such a stone represents months of saving and self-denial for the old couple. But, somehow, they think of Johnnie's death with strange satisfaction which demonstrates sorrow is not always unhappiness. Looking over the pauper's cemetery one recalls the words of a man who saw humanity from the pinnacle and wrote:
 Oh, yet we trust that somehow good shall be the final goal of ill: That not one life shall be destroyed or cast as rubbish to the void, when God has made his pile complete.  

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