17 June 2013

We Lost One

During the summer months, I am pleased to serve as a tour guide for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. We offer historical tours of town, mining sites, museums, and my personal favorite and area of expertise, the Valley Brook Cemetery.

From the day we moved here, I have loved Valley Brook. It is peaceful, beautiful and at the same time, alive with history and stories of our past. Here you will find many of the Breckenridge "great's", like Edwin Carter, Robert Foote, and the Detweiler family. You will find hundreds, however, whose stories have yet to be told. I am working to change that; trying to tell their stories, one person at a time. You have seen some of those stories here, on this blog.

This past weekend I was scheduled to conduct the Tombstone Tales at Twilight Tour on both Friday and Sunday. I had been in the cemetery more than once in the past few days, and had already conducted the tour a couple of times this spring, so I was more than prepared for the anticipated busy weekend. Breckenridge celebrated our "Kingdom Days" event over Saturday and Sunday, and our tours are typically at capacity while residents and tourists alike submerge themselves in the history of our community.

Two of my favorite people to talk about while we explore the vast grounds are the last two: Bertha Welch and Robert "Bob" Lott. I've talked about Bob before, so we'll leave that be. This post is about Bertha.

© Jen Baldwin, Ancestral Journeys

It is a wooden marker, with a significant crack down the middle.

"Bertha Welch, Born Jan 9 1883, Died Feb 12 1903."

Her death was recorded in the local newspaper, telling a sad story of a young bride, neglected and physically abused by her husband, who finally abandoned her while pregnant. She gave birth to a little boy, who at the time of publishing at least, had survived. Bertha, however, passed within days of the delivery, and was buried far from her family in California. A tragic ending to a tragic story.

 I know, without any doubt, that the marker was in its proper place at the head of Bertha's grave on 7 June 2013. I know, without any doubt, that the marker was discovered missing on 14 June 2013, just one week later. Sadly, this was the last remaining wooden marker in Valley Brook Cemetery that you could still read. As far as I am aware, the marker sat undisturbed for 110 years. And now its gone.

It saddens me, to the very depths, that this poor woman; young and alone in death, will now sit unmarked and forgotten by most in her final resting place. I am one that will never forget.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Bertha Welch's wooden grave marker, please contact the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.