Prairie View Cemetery - Good samaritans bring cemetery back to life

Prairie View Cemetery. Courtesy photo.
Prairie View Cemetery. Courtesy photo.

Henry Crabb was a well liked man, that donated the land for the cemetery. Courtesy Photo
Henry Crabb was a well liked man, that donated the land for the cemetery. Courtesy Photo



Last updated: September 1, 2015

The Lusk Herald
August 26, 2015

BY: Lacey Brott

135 years ago, railroad workers arrived in the area, now known as Lost Springs, Wyo. The name is derived from the men who could not find the springs shown on survey maps of the area. In 1911, the small community was incorporated, after pioneers traveled from Prairie View, KS, to work in the nearby Rosin coal mine, and for the railroad, which shipped supplies for mining, and the oil boom in Lance Creek, Wyo. Early settlers, arrived destined to also try their hand at dry farming. At it's peak, 150 residents called Lost Springs home. The community had many small amenities to offer, but by 1930, the Lance Creek oil boom was beginning to dwindle, and railroad mines were abandoned. The population suffered as well, and by 1940 just 38 people remained in Lost Springs.

Rewind back to 1913, in the community of Lost Springs, when a very well respected man, by the name of Henry Crabb, passed away. Before he died, he graciously donated vacant land that was located across from the then, Presbyterian Church, to embark a cemetery. Prairie View Cemetery, as it was called, to honor those early pioneers. Crabb was the very first person to be laid to rest there. By late spring of 1918, a great flu epidemic was sweeping across the land. It killed an estimated 50 million people in the world, and the people of Lost Springs, were no exception. Sources say, the first phase, known as the three day fever appeared without warning. Few deaths were reported, and victims recovered within a few days. When the disease surfaced again in the fall that same year, it was far worse. Scientists, doctors, and health officials could not identify the disease which was striking so fast. Some victims died just hours after their first symptoms, their lungs filling with fluid, suffocating them. Through the next several years, a total of 61 people were laid to rest in the small graveyard, many of them passing from influenza. Locals tended to the cemetery with weekly maintenance, up until about 15 years ago.

Last year, a new family arrived in the tiny town, now with a population of roughly four. Anngela and Buddy Starnes moved to Lost Springs, from Idaho Falls, ID. Early this spring, Anngela was out walking, when she noticed the nearly abandoned cemetery on the side of the road. "It was completely overgrown, and you could barely see any stones. I thought I needed something to do, so I decided to weed eat, and mow it once to make it look somewhat nice. Little did I know, that it would rain almost every day, and keep raining as much as it did. With help of several locals, we have taken care of it for about six months now," said Anngela. Along with their daughter, Nikki, Anngela, Buddy, Jan Bruegger, Shawn Bruegger, and Chuck and Mary Engebretsen, have been able to identify many gravesides in the cemetery, and locate some of their living family members, but there are some rested,that do not have headstones. "I need the community's help on any other information they may have or know about the individuals buried here. I would love to gather photos, and a picture of the church," said Anngela.

One story Anngela is particularly fond of, is about a young boy, by the name of Harold Ketcher. According to his obituary, Harold, who was just 13 years of age at the time, was out checking his family's cattle by horseback. Somehow, a rope got around the horse's neck, with the other end becoming entwined around Harold's foot, dragging him for a mile near the boy's home place. Harold did not survive the incident, and neighborhood rumors circulated that there was a possibility of foul play. Coroner Hofmann empaneled a jury, and through investigation, it was concluded the boy's death was merely an accident. Harold was never given a proper headstone, and through much searching, Anngela was able to find his brother, Raymond, who is 93 years of age, residing in Cheyenne. "Raymond told me, years ago, they traveled to Lost Springs, but were never able to find where Harold was buried, because everything was so overgrown. They are in the process of making him a headstone, and I am so beyond excited. I love these people, and this has become a part of my life," she said through her tears. "It's been very emotional for all of us, but so neat getting to learn all of this information. I want to compile these stories and place all the families on ancestors.com. Someone up above knew I needed something to do, so I wouldn't be lonely after moving here to the middle of the prairie. If there are families of the deceased, that are still in the area, I want them to know that they can come back and visit their family members. They can walk through the cemetery and see everything." If anyone has any information on people that are buried at the Prairie View Cemetery, Anngela can be reached by email at anngelastarnes@yahoo.com.




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