Mount Hope Cemetery

Hiawatha, Kansas

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Mount Hope Cemetery is located at 606 Iowa Street in Hiawatha, Kansas (Brown County). The coordinates are 39° 50' 59" N, 95° 30' 57" W.

Mount Hope Cemetery is still active. While there are many impressive gravestones, one monument has made this cemetery famous: The Davis Memorial. John Milburn Davis had this memorial erected in memory of his wife, Sarah, beginning after her death in 1930. But to backtrack a little...

John Davis moved from Kentucky to Brown County, Kansas in 1878. It was there that he met Sarah, and they married and lived on a farm north of Hiawatha. They did not have any children, and lived a frugal lifestyle. They later moved to Hiawatha in 1915, and lived a normal, quiet life. However, when Sarah passed away, this all changed.

John Davis removed the simple headstone at his wife's grave shortly after her death to erect a much larger, impressive memorial. Underneath a large granite canopy are eleven marble and granite statues of him and his wife at various ages, as well as a vacant chair. The statues are very detailed, and in some his left hand is missing, just as it was after being removed due to infection later in life. The cost for the memorial was around $200,000 - an especially staggering amount during the time it was built. John Davis watched over the tomb until his death in 1947. He would greet visitors and tourists, and made sure they did not walk among the statues. He even had a granite wall erected around them to prevent people from doing so. After his death, he was buried next to Sarah.

People in Hiawatha did not especially like the memorial. The town needed financial help during the depression, and John Davis would not give them money; instead he spent it on the memorial to his wife. His funeral was poorly attended as a result.

Today visitors stop by the tiny town of Hiawatha to see the Davis Memorial - thousands of visitors. There is even a guestbook at the site.

For more information, please see the official City of Hiawatha website.

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