Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Three Funerals and a Movie

As would be the case in towns across the Midwest, hundreds of people, some of them family and friends, gathered at the morgue to watch the coffins be loaded into the hearse and follow the procession to the cemetery. It was the afternoon of September 21, 1911 and drama ensued when Arthur Burnham’s mother-in-law “threw her arms about Burnham’s neck and sobbed, ‘He’s innocent! Oh, I know he’s innocent!’” The cemetery was crowded by morbid onlookers as the caskets were lowered into the ground. Nellie and John were placed in a single, white casket and buried next to their mother. Arthur Burnham was still in police custody and was allowed to attend his family’s funeral but was returned to his cell that evening.

Perhaps while the Burnham funeral was taking place the battered bodies of the Wayne family were loaded on a train and shipped east and arrived in Medaryville, Indiana Saturday evening, the 23rd. The caskets were opened for an informal viewing that night and on the following morning the Wayne family was laid to rest in the Medaryville Cemetery with a slightly smaller crowd in attendance. I am having a bit of trouble locating the actual graves so any help is appreciated.

Arthur Burnham was admitted to St. Francis Hospital in November of 1911 suffering from the late stages of TB. While there, he received a telegram from his father-in-law who was working in Mexico at the time. Mr. Hill had just heard about his daughter and grandchildren’s fates and offered any assistance he could. On January 26, 1912, Arthur J. Burnham was re-admitted and knew he was going to die soon. He died alone at St. Francis Hospital. Ultimately it was TB and asthma that killed him but he also suffered from Bright’s disease which hastened it along. He reportedly died at 7:00 in the morning as the nurse entered his room. He was buried near his family on February 7, 1912. I have entered the burials of the two families at Find-A-Grave and you can use the search box at the bottom of the page to view those entries. I haven’t any photos of the graves themselves and if anyone would like to assist with that, I would be grateful.

I am also scouring and scraping for a lost film. In November of 1911, residents of Colorado Springs who had visited Chicago, which at the time was the movie making capital of the world, reported seeing film about the Springs murders. Apparently film crews arrived on the scene shortly after the murders were discovered and these films were shown in Chicago. The films were reported to show Arthur Burnham leaving his house escorted by police and showed the throngs of spectators around the two little cottages. It appears this was an actual film and not just a newsreel as those who saw it reported the film to “realistic in the extreme.” There were so many Chicago based film companies in 1911 that it’s hard to know where to start. My first guess is the legendary Essanay Studios who made a LOT of Westerns in the Colorado Springs area and may have had cameras in the area already. While this film may not be all that important for investigative purposes it might quite an interesting thing to see.

Special thanks to Thomas VanCamp for the Colorado Springs Gazette article about the film.

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