Solved! The Mystery of Kate King's Two Graves.

The most mysterious of all Quantrill's relationships was the story of his wife Sarah Catherine King most commonly known as Kate. During and after the war Kate used the name Kate Clarke taking Quantrill's middle name as her own for her personal safety. When Kansas Jayhawkers and Union militia discovered any Southern women sympathizers they were either insulted, abused or in many cases raped. Such was the case with Cole and Jim Younger's sister, Isaac, James and Dick Berry's sisters, two sisters of Isaac, Thomas and Robert Hall, two of Buck Fields' cousins, and the sisters of John and Joseph Hall, all guerrillas who rode with Quantrill. Female Negro slaves that refused to go back to Kansas with the Jayhawkers during their depredatory raids were raped in the presence of their owners. Quantrill greatly feared for his wife's safety especially after the August 1863 women's prison collapse in Kansas City where a number of women relatives of Quantrill's men were rounded up, put in a three story brick building then undermined by soldiers of the 9th and 11th Kansas Jayhawker Regiment causing its collapse killing five young women and maiming several more.                  

After Quantrill's death at the end of the war his wife Kate continued to be extremely cautious about keeping her identity secret because of her husband’s old enemies. As a result, not much is known about her between the post war years and the time she allegedly returned to Jackson County shortly before going to live in the Jackson County Home for the Aged, which was situated on land owned by the Younger family before the war. Very few knew her true identity. Suse Younger, the Younger's’ former slave, worked at the home, which was run by Emma Younger and her husband Kit Rose around the time that Kate was probably living there. Two newspaper articles of the time give us some clues as to her life during and after the war.                                                                        

Even the site of Kate's grave is a mystery. A newspaper article mentioned that she was buried in an unmarked grave in the Maple Hill  Cemetery in Kansas, and only recently a marker was erected by well-intentioned persons.          

Another marker placed many years ago that has the inscription, “Kate King Quantrill, 1848–1930, age 82,” erected by Fred Ford and Arthur Dealy in the Slaughter Cemetery in Blue Springs is part of another story. Ford was a neighbor of Kate’s nephew, Arthur Dealy. Kate stayed with Dealy until she was quite elderly, before she was put in the Jackson County Home for the Aged, commonly known as the Old Folks Home or the Poor Farm. When Kate died in 1930, a local mortician with the Ketterlin Funeral Home had the contract to bury paupers from the Jackson County Home in the Maple Hill Cemetery. The body was embalmed at Ketterlin, but the mortician suddenly moved to the Ozarks and left the funeral home full of embalmed bodies. A month passed before Kate’s relatives were notified. When Dealy learned that she had not been buried, he and Ford retrieved her body and brought it to the Slaughter Cemetery close to the family farm in Blue Springs, Missouri. There she was quietly laid to rest next to the graves of her parents and siblings without notice being given to the newspapers.

The mystery concerning the life and times of Kate King Quantrill has yet to be told. Researchers are even now diligently searching public records to ascertain the true story of Quantrill's wife. Born Sarah Catherine King, but affectionately known as Kate and known by various names throughout the years her life story has been unknown to even those who were closest to her. The person who probably knows more about Kate's story than any other living person is noted author Paul R. Petersen whose research for the past twenty years has culminated in three books on Quantrill. Unfortunately we will have to wait on Petersen's upcoming book about Quantrill's last campaign in Kentucky where he promises to divulge his findings in the final chapter devoted to the one person connected closest to Quantrill that has raised so much controversy and mystique.

What has caused the most recent controversy is the mystery of Quantrill's wife's two graves. When Kate died a pauper in the Jackson County Missouri Home for the Aged at age 82 in 1930 her body was taken to the Ketterlin Funeral Home in Kansas City for embalming and later burial. It was her last wish to be buried in an unmarked grave. From this point on the mystery begins. A local newspaper stated that she was buried in the Maple Hill Cemetery in Wyandotte County, Kansas over 15 miles from the funeral home. The skeptics claim this to be the end of the controversy but what Petersen has found is that Kate's death certificate only has Ketterlin Funeral Home and Maple Hill Cemetery written lightly in pencil as if to show that the actual place of burial had yet to be determined. In 1997 two well intentioned individuals collaborated to place a stone on Kate's grave at Maple Hill based solely on the questionable facts offered in the local newspaper. Newspapers of the time were notoriously inaccurate.                                                         

Another story told by Kate's surviving relatives state that the funeral director at the Ketterlin Funeral Home was an alcoholic and after receiving Kate's body left for the Ozarks never to return. In the funeral parlor scores of bodies were discovered. Kate's body was there for a month before relatives were notified. Kate's nephew, Arthur Dealy, and her neighbor, Fred Ford, when she lived in Blue Springs, retrieved her body and brought it back to the Slaughter Cemetery in Blue Springs, a mile from her childhood home, and quietly laid her to rest beside her parents and siblings in the King family plot. In 1971 these two men finally arranged to place a marker on her grave. Some skeptics claim this was only a memorial stone placed out of respect and honor but the preponderance of evidence would support the account of neighbors and blood relations.

Seeking to put the controversy to rest and to solve this very old mystery Mr. Petersen acquired the skills of Roger Douthit to travel with him to both grave sites and determine by dowsing exactly where Kate was buried. Mr. Douthit is a well-respected historian and researcher and has worked at historic Elmwood Cemetery to find and identify period graves by dowsing. Mr. Douthit has demonstrated the art of dowsing to over 4,000 individuals. Grave dowsing cannot give us the name of the person buried in any un-marked grave, but it can identify the locations of unmarked graves within a cemetery or lot and also provide some clues to their gender and age. This age old technique does work and has been proven. Dowsing has been shown over and over to be an effective way of locating unmarked graves, and it is an inexpensive alternative to the more expensive and often ineffective geophysical methods such as radar or magnetometer survey. Mr. Douthit has the respect of the William Clarke Quantrill Society and has aided them in finding and determining the exact location of bodies buried in the historic Smith Cemetery near Raytown which contains the remains of four of Quantrill's guerrillas and at least one Revolutionary War soldier. The Smith Cemetery is also the resting place of three of the young Southern girls, relatives of Quantrill's men who were murdered by Kansas Jayhawkers in the August 1863 Kansas City Jail Collapse which precipitated the Lawrence raid.

On October 12, 2010 Mr. Douthit along with Mr. Petersen conducted a thorough examination of Kate King Quantrill's two grave sites both at the Maple Hill Cemetery and the Slaughter Cemetery. By the use of dowsing rods Mr. Douthit's findings have determined that at the Maple Hill Cemetery, at the location identified as grave 6, lot 63, block 5, and with a head stone marked Kate King - Wife of William Clarke Quantrill, there is a female buried there with an approximate height between 4' 9" and 5' 1" inches tall. The next stop was at the Slaughter Cemetery where Mr. Douthit concluded without doubt by the use of dowsing rods and probes that the grave marked as Kate King Quantrill contains no human remains. The graves to this stone's left containing remains of Kate's parents shows positive results as does the plot on the stone's right which shows positive results of an infant grave. Further collaborating evidence of Kate's actual burial in the Maple Hill Cemetery shows that her last husband Walter Head is also buried nearby in an unmarked grave located at grave 1, lot 53, block 7. The owner of Maple Hill assured us that the Ketterlin Funeral Home would not have had a contract with Jackson County to bury their indignants. These findings effectively counter those who in the past have made idle speculation and masquerade as competent historians. The only question that remains of which Maple Hill Cemetery is unable to answer is who paid for the plot where Kate was finally laid to rest? Kate's last days were spent in the Jackson County Home for the Aged located on 100 acres donated by the Younger family. Ironically, Cole Younger's sister is also buried in Maple Hill Cemetery. Kate, wherever you are, God Bless You.

Paul R. Petersen © Quantrillsguerrillas.com."Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay and/or image."                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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