Thursday, September 22, 2022

Jennie Fay Rutherford - Elmwood Cemetery

 Hundreds of children are buried in Elmwood Cemetery in fact the very first burial was infant Sallie Ayers on July 5, 1872.  Jennie Fay was 11 years old when she passed.   This is her story.... as much as I have been able to find.  To lose a life so young is sad, to not be remembered is sadder. 

 Jennie Fay Rutherford was born on October 6th, 1885 probably here in Kansas City. No birth certificate exists for her but that was not particularly uncommon for the time. Her first home was at 3710 Roberts here in Northeast Kansas City living with her father Samuel L. Rutherford born 1843 in New Jersey moved to Macpherson, Kansas and her Mother Olinda born in 1855 in Ohio who met Samuel in Macpherson. Samuel may have apprenticed carpentry with Olinda's father and soon they moved to the house on Roberts with Samuel's brother-in-law and his family. (Picture below of the house... which, for once, is still standing.)

Jennie had one older sister Arkalena who was born in 1881, possibly in MacPherson. She was called "Lena" for short.

The families moved to 3225 Smart ( still standing, picture below) also in Northeast. Jennie probably attended Scarritt Elementary School which opened in 1891. It's just three blocks from her house.

Sometime toward the end of October, 1896, Jennie came down with the croup. Her physician, Dr. S. R. Stofer undoubtedly visited the home. His residence was not far away in the 400 Block of Indiana. 

Croup, today, is very treatable and almost never fatal. Not so in the 19th century. Jennie's croup advanced to membraneous croup which is a very serious version of the disease that causes constriction of the membranes that line the lungs and windpipes. 
I imagine that Jennie's bedroom was with her sister upstairs in the back... her parent's room nearby. Her uncle and aunt and cousins probably shared another room on the same floor. Everyone would have been aware of Jennie's illness and doing what they could to help.

Things never got better and she died on Halloween, October 31st, 1896... Jennie had just celebrated her 11th birthday on the 6th.

Jennie's funeral was held in the Smart home the next day. D.W. Newcomer's handled the details. The procession probably went up Smart to Benton continuing on to 15th Street and left to the Elmwood Cemetery entrance.

There is a chapel there now, built by the Armours in the early part of the next century. A beautiful stone church. Jennie's stone faces the road that runs by the Chapel.

Both her parents are buried in Elmwood too. Samuel died in March of 1926, but has no headstone. When he died he was living at 508 Wabash. Tragedy didn't end with Jennie for the family. Her mother was eventually committed to State Hospital No. 2 in St. Joseph where she died in 1911. Olinda does have a stone. (pictured below) Ironically, none of the family members are together.

Lena married William Andlauer president of the Andlauer film company which produced both shorts and feature length movies... some especially for the black community and one which featured Jack Johnson the boxer. William died in 1953. Lena survived him into the mid 1960s she and William had no children. Lena and Billy are both buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery. 

                                                                The house on Roberts.
                  The house on Smart where Jennie passed away. The funeral was held here. 
                                                                Jennie's death notice.
                                                Jennie's mother's grave also in Elmwood. 


  1. Interesting story, although a sad one.

    1. It broke my heart for some reason... so young

  2. Thank you for this bit of history. Sure helps envision what the times were like.

  3. I love these stories. My wife and I love old cemeteries and all the history there. I love that you are doing these and bringing these people back into remembrance. Thank you.

    Interesting that both houses are kind of the same color today.