Hatteberg's People - Ed Schoenberger

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On Hatteberg’s People, in Greensburg, KS, at the Fairview cemetery, Ed Schoenberger has taken up a lonely, but historical task -- remembering those who time forgot.

“It’s very nice and quiet with the animals and the birds, and also full of history”

And it is history that Ed Schoenberger loves. As Sexton of Greensburg Fairview Cemetery, Ed is in the perfect job. All around him are the remains of not only the history of the area, but the history of America.

“This is a Civil War hard-tack biscuit that was brought back by Joseph Dudley Mitchell as a souvenir. He wanted it put in his headstone after he died. It’s been here since 1916.”

His official job is to keep the cemetery beautiful and to make sure all the rules are followed. But over the years he has begun a one-man task of remembering. For many buried here, headstones were lost over time or perhaps never existed.

“It’s very interesting, fascinating.”

So, he began doing research and when he found someone without a stone or marker, he made one. All are made from recycled material, material that finds a new use in a quiet place.

“That was a little boy that died of ‘dust’ pneumonia in the ‘30’s. I made the marker out of pipe and the little curley-que’s on top are from a gate from the Eagle Canyon Ranch South of Mullinville.”

Nearby another gravestone redone by Ed. It is the grave of the first baby born in Kiowa County when the country reformed in 1886.

“I made it out of concrete. I used a piece of tin ceiling tile to get this design. And this is a horn off the top of a cement truck.

These two graves are also redone by Ed. This one was originally on a farm and had to be removed. Ed used part of the original fence that surrounded the grave to make the headstone.

“Sometimes I have to work at it, but sometimes I just see it and know what I want in it immediately.”

Like this, that began with a holder for a farm bell.

“And this was the centerpiece from a ’55 Chrysler hubcap. And the glass is from an oil-field drip-oiler.”

This one was special to Ed. It is a marker for his mother who was cremated. Again, the cross made from recycled material.

“If the people like it OK, if they don’t, that’s ok too.”

Throughout the cemetery, Ed Schoenberger’s work is monumental. He wants everyone to be remembered. That’s why he makes these unique original grave markers. His motto is simple:

“Whether you were here ten seconds or one hundred-ten years, you were important to somebody and you were here and it is important you be remembered.”

(Bird Sings)

Before the tornado hit Greensburg in 2007, Ed was the historian for the Kiowa County Historical Museum there.

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