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"It was embarrassing. It looked terrible," said Sarah McNeive, a member of the board of directors at Topeka Cemetery, where the Curtis' are buried. "It did not benefit the grave, the stature of a Vice President of the United States.
So, a fund-raising effort began to upgrade the burial site of Curtis, who was Vice President from 1929 to 1933 during the administration of President Herbert Hoover, and his wife. The couple is buried at "Curtis Corner" in Section 80 of the eastern section of Topeka, Cemetery.
Annie Baird Curtis died of pneumonia on June 20, 1924, at age 63. Charles Curtis died on Feb. 8, 1936, after he suffered a heart attack in Washington D.C.
Curtis has a large granite head stone engraved with his name, his title of vice president and the dates of the four-year term he served. Two foot stones mark the specific graves of Curtis and his wife.
A tree had buckled the curbing, it was difficult to get mowers to the site and the area had been generally neglected, said McNeive and Lowell Manis, cemetery manager and superintendent.
In the past few weeks, the old curbing has been removed, new curbing has been built, a patterned concrete cover has been laid over the Curtis' grave and around the head stone and foot stones, and the base of a new flag pole awaits installation of a 20-foot stainless steel staff.
The project to enhance the grave site also includes engraving the vice presidential seal on the head stone, as well as the phrase, "Son of the Kanza Nation," a reference to Curtis' Indian heritage. He was one-eighth Kaw Indian.
Curtis' other elected positions are to be engraved in the granite. Curtis was elected as:
- Shawnee County attorney, now called district attorney, for two terms and was known for his vigorous enforcement of prohibition laws.
- U.S. congressman for eight terms starting in 1892.
- U.S. senator for 20 years and majority leader of the U.S. Senate.
Buried in an adjacent lot to the north of the vice president are his sister, Elizabeth Curtis Layton Colvin, who died in 1943, and her husband, Jerome A. Colvin, who died in 1932.
Several of Curtis' ancestors are buried in the tiny Curtis Family Cemetery in about the 1400 block of N.W. Topeka Boulevard on the west bank of Soldier Creek, including his father, Orren Curtis, and grandparents, William and Permelia Curtis. The one-acre cemetery, which was founded in the 1860s, has about 11 markers and about 15 graves.
Manis said he hopes sufficient funds are raised to pay for the construction of a border, made of chain suspended from posts, around the graves at Topeka Cemetery.
The Curtis' grave don't have endowed care, which is a fund to guarantee future care of gravesites at the cemetery. No members of the Curtis family are known to live in Topeka or visit the grave sites, McNeive said. Manis said here members that a woman who identified herself as a cousin of Curtis, brought flowers to the grave in 1971.
Plans for the dedication of the restored grave sites are being made but aren't firm.
The restoration project would cost about $6,000, Manis and McNeive estimated.
The first donation came from the Pottawatomie Nation. So far, there have been donations from the Sac and Fox Nation, the John Haupt chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Delta Theta Chi sorority and Alan Russ, a local historian.
Return to Home Page http://www.vpcharlescurtis.net/index.html
Overview of Charles Curtis life
Site History/the designer
Timeline A: The Indians in Kansas
Timeline B : The timelines of Kansas and the USA
Timeline C - Major events and Famous Firsts
Biography A : Charles Curtis and his extended family genealogy.
Biography B : Charles Curtis (before going into Politics)
Politics and Beliefs of Charles Curtis
Legacy left by Charles Curtis
Memorials and donations
Charles Curtis home in Topeka, Kansas
Signature Bldg. New Kansas State Office Building named for Charles Curtis
Resources and recommended books for reading.
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