Keith County, NEGenWeb
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Resume of Deaths and Burials Notes

There are several items that I think are important to know when using this document as a resource. You should know who wrote it, how they wrote it, and why they wrote it. I am going to try to answer those questions for you.

*****First, you should know that there are two notes from the original transcriptionist in my copy. The first note reads:

August 13, 1998
This list was given to me by Emil Elmhauser, Ogallala Historian. He salvaged it from the back of a pickup following a fire at the Keith County Courthouse. It was being hauled to the dump at that time. How good it was that he saved it.
Fae Christensen, Paxton, Nebraska
The second note says:
Wherever the name Pleasant Hill Cemetery appears remember, that name has been changed to Frontier Cemetery somehow, down through the years. It is located in Lincoln County: 2.3 miles south and 5.5 miles east of Paxton, Nebraska.

*****Second, this document is titled "Resume of Deaths and Burials as Recorded by C.C. Arrowsmith - Undertaker at Ogallala, Nebraska." While there is no doubt in my mind that "Doc" Arrowsmith did record some of the entries--particularly the latter ones--I don't believe he made all of them. Below is an excerpt from "Ogallala: A Century On The Trail" by Elaine Nielson. This book is better known as "The Ogallala Centennial Book," and the passage comes from pages 66 and 67:

"The Daugherty ranch played an important role in the life of an Ogallala newcomer, Clarence Arrowsmith, who arrived in 1900. Arrowsmith was a native of New Jersey who came west for his health. He was suffering from a combination of tuberculosis, alcoholism, and some kind of opiate addiction. When he got off the train at Ogallala, his money had run out. He was soon offered a job riding fences for the Daugherty ranch. Arrowsmith took the job even though he was a trained pharmacist and did not know how to ride a horse.

The next few months were critical ones for the easterner. He learned to ride horses of all persuasions while stoically enduring drug withdrawl symptoms and the ravages of tuberculosis. Somehow he survived and regained his health completely over the next two years. During that time he became a "hand" and was accepted by his cowboy associates as few outsiders from the east ever were. The cowboys called him "Doc" and it was a title he retained for the rest of his life.

In 1902 Arrowsmith returned to his profession of pharmacy and began to work in Barnard's drug store. In 1907 he became a partner in the Ogallala Drug COmpany. He began to work with Henry Webber, Ogallala's undertaker at the time. Arrowsmith soon bought out Webber and was Ogallala's chief mortician for many years. One of his first tasks was to assist in the removal of some graves from Boot Hill to the Ogallala Cemetery west of town. This process was never completed because of local fears that a cholera epidemic might result from opening a grave of a victim of that dread disease."

This passage explains how a document could be written by a man who didn't even arrive in town until 14 years after the document was begun. This also accounts for three other oddities in the document. First, If you read through the whole list in chronological order, you see that the "style" changes, particularly in the method that the information is entered. Second, there are gaps in the list, with the most notable begining in March 1890 and ending in January 1897. This leads me to believe that the list was started by another person or persons unknown, was then taken over by Mr. Webber, and then handed on to "Doc" Arrowsmith. If you have any names and dates of undertakers or morticians in Ogallala before Mr. Webber, please email me so that we may solve this mystery. Third, there are several instances in the "Other Notes" section that refer not to the original death and burial, but to a body being moved to the Ogallala Cemetery from a residential burial. In fact, there are some listed where the original death information is not part of the document at all.

*****Finally, I have made every effort to transcribe this document exactly as I have it on paper. This includes spelling, dates, place names, etcetera. You will find blanks within the lists as well as items like "not given" or "unknown." I have used these terms because they are used in the document, ie. "cause of death unknown" or "age not given." If I have left the space blank, its because the item was not mentioned at all. You will also find several anomalies in the way places are named, especially different names for the same cemetery. I believe that this can be attributed both to the multiple document authors, as well as to the fact that some local cemeteries, like the Ogallala Cemetery, were only just founded about the time this list was halfway completed.

This completes the Notes. I hope that you have gained some insight into the "Resume" from this companion information. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me and I will do my best to answer them, or at the very least point you in the right direction.

I hope you find who or what you are looking for here, and if you're searching or not, enjoy!

Susan Anderson
Keith County Nebraska Volunteer Coordinator


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Page Design and Text © S.M. Anderson, 2000-2002
except for "Ogallala: A Century on the Trail" excerpt © Elaine Nielson and Keith County Historical Society, 1984