Elmwood Champion Cucumber Magnolia Tree
Cucumber Magnolia Tree


Contact Us
Elmwood Cemetery: Stories of Kansas City
Volunteer Work Days
Help Preserve A Landmark
Armour Chapel Doors
Where Did I Come From?
Elmwood Gives Back
New Elmwood Cemetery Board Members
From the Archives

QUICK LINKS  _______________

Please visit our website here




IF YOU NEED HELP with cemetery operations or funeral arrangements, please contact  John Weilert at 816-213-4750 or john.weilert@comcast.net.
If you need help with archives, locating a grave site, family history or volunteering, please contact
Bruce Mathews
at 816-868-1392

leave a message at the Elmwood Cemetery Office, please call 816-231-0373.

If you would like to make
a donation
, please make it out to Elmwood Cemetery Society and send it to our P.O. Box.
(see below)

4900 E. Truman Road
P.O. Box 270255
Kansas City, MO





John Weilert 


Ed Matheny III

1st Vice President

Hal Lowenstein

2nd Vice President/Counsel   

Paul Benson


Nancy Elder





Bob Denzel

Andrew Kaplan 

DJ Hyde Matheny

Bruce Mathews

Bill McCollum 

Aggie Stackhaus 

Fred Truog





Anita Gorman 



Shawsie Branton

Mary Davidson Cohen 

Shirley Helzberg

Mary Hunkeler

Barbara Potts

Barbara Unell


Elmwood Cemetery: Stories of Kansas City book cover


Stories of Kansas City



Copies of the award winning book, Elmwood Cemetery: Stories of Kansas City, are still available for purchase.  All proceeds go to Elmwood Cemetery for  its continued upkeep.


This unique look at the history of Kansas City, as told through the lives of those buried in Elmwood (many who contributed to give us "The Kansas City Spirit") has been honored with two prestigious awards. One came from the Jackson County Historical Society which named the book as its historical book of the year for 2010.  Another award was recently received from the Historic Kansas City Foundation.


To purchase a copy, contact 

Bruce Mathews at bmathews2@kc.rr.com 





Nick Eckert - Eagle Scout



24 August
28 September   

Volunteer work days 

are held the fourth
of every month, 

March thru October, 

from 9:00 a.m. to noon.


The Elmwood newsletter is published by Elmwood trustee, Bruce Mathews and designed by Elmwood trustee, DJ Hyde Matheny.


If you have questions about content, or suggestions for topics to include in future issues, 

please contact Bruce at bmathews2@kc.rr.org.

If you have comments or suggestions about the design, please contact DJ at  djmatheny@ 







The Kansas City Spirit  


THERE HAVE BEEN MANY defining moments which have shaped The Kansas City Spirit. Following the flood of 1951, Joyce C. Hall, founder of Hallmark Cards, commissioned Norman Rockwell to paint this spirit. His words to the artist were: "Paint a picture of The Kansas City Spirit that will forever symbolize the thing in good men's hearts that makes them put service above self and accomplish the impossible."


This book, The Kansas City Spirit: Stories of Service Above Self, not only recalls some of these defining moments, it examines the contributions and personal stories of a few of those whose lives exemplified that Spirit.


The Kansas City Spirit: Stories of Service Above Self should not be read merely as a history book (although that it is). It is a how-to book for future generations of Kansas Citians... how to give back and make this community a better place in which to live. Example is a powerful force. The people profiled in this book are testimony to the fact that it does not matter whether you are rich or poor, woman or man, white or black, American Indian or Latino, young or old, Protestant, Jewish or Catholic, we all have a role to play in lifting up even the least among us.



Bruce Mathews, with Mamie Hughes, Andrew Kaplan, Christopher Leitch,
Lynn Mackle and Carol Powers    


Foreword by:  R. Crosby Kemper III

Publisher:   Kansas City Star Books, Doug Weaver

Designer: DJ Hyde Matheny

Editor: Carol Powers

Associate Editor: Judy Pearlstein

Specifications: 240 pages, hard cover, 4 color

Retail price: $27.95, plus tax


To order: contact Bruce Mathews, bmathews2@kc.rr.com  


A portion of the proceeds from the sale of The Kansas City Spirit will be donated for the betterment of Elmwood Cemetery.








Chas Hopkins

 The Memorial to
Charles Grandison Hopkins.
It is 28 feet tall
and weighs 56 tons. 


ELMWOOD CEMETERY has no paid staff. It is preserved by a dedicated group of volunteers, but volunteers alone cannot totally maintain this rich piece of history. There are many expenses necessary to maintain this beautiful landmark and to honor those buried in it with dignity and respect.


Please consider supporting Elmwood Cemetery in any way you can. Donations can be sent to The Elmwood Cemetery Society, 4900 E. Truman Road, Kansas City, Missouri, 64127. Donations using PayPal can be made online at the cemetery's website, www.ElmwoodCem-KC.com.


The Elmwood Cemetery Society is a non-profit 501(c)13 entity. Donations are tax deductible. However, donations that must be made to a 501(c)3 can be made through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, c/o The Elmwood Cemetery Preservation Fund.


Thank you for your support.









A substantial amount of stone work is needed to repair retaining walls, mausoleums and the beautiful Armour Chapel. 


Tree Experts:

Elmwood is full of beautiful, but old, trees. After years of neglect these centerpieces of the beautiful grounds need a lot of TLC. There are also a lot of stumps that need to be ground up.


Monument Conservators:

Many of the beautiful, but old, gravestones in Elmwood need immediate conservation to preserve them for future generations.  


Painters & Carpenters:

The Elmwood office and Armour Memorial Chapel are in great need of care. The office needs to be spruced up inside and out. The chapel needs conservators to aid in its historic preservation.





Brown Mausoleum
Brown Mausoleum

WALKING TOURS have been scheduled by organizations  

closely allied with Elmwood Cemetery.


The Kansas City Museum will  

host a walking tour on Sunday, September 15. For further details, please contact Andrew Mouzin, Community Relations Manager, Kansas City Museum at amouzin@unionstation.org.


Powell Gardens will be hosting a walking tour on Sunday, October 27. This tour will focus on the beautiful trees in Elmwood, with special attention given to soon to be designated "Champion" trees. For further details, please contact Alan Branhagen, Director of Horticulture, Powell Gardens at abranhagen@powellgardens.org.




by Bruce Mathews


Many of the homes of the people buried in Elmwood Cemetery at the turn of the 20th century still stand today as a testament to life in Kansas City. Some are grand, some are modest, but they all bear witness to what life was like in another era.


Burris Home

Burris home staircase

The home of
Rev. Burris A. & Martha Jenkins

3529 Charlotte

Kansas City, Missouri


The Rev. Burris Atkins Jenkins was a man for all seasons. He was an educator, a college president, an author, but most of all he was minister with a following reaching far beyond his congregation. He aired radio broadcasts that were heard by thousands. When his church in Kansas City, the Linwood Boulevard Christian Church was destroyed by fire in 1939, it was Jenkins who commissioned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design his new church, The Community Christian Church, located on the Country Club Plaza. (The author will not go into it here, but the design, building, the white paint, and Wright's antagonistic feelings could fill a volume themselves.) Burris Jenkins was such a free spirit that it was from his pulpit the writer Sinclair Lewis dared God to strike him down, leading to his publication of the book "Elmer Gantry." "Live dangerously," Jenkins himself would proclaim.


The Jenkins home at 36th & Charlotte embodied the spirit of the man. Nothing in the home is uniform. It is an absolute delight. No two windows are the same size or height from the floor. Each was designed to fit around a desk, a book case, or whatever else he might have had in mind to fit into the room. It has wonderfully shaped staircases and rooms, no two of which are the same size. In some ways it is as much of a puzzle as was the man.


As Gretchen Wildrick, the current owner of the Jenkins home states: "My husband and I feel that we are stewards of this historic home and consider it an honor to be able to live in it and preserve its heritage. And while we did not design or build it, we hope that the updates we make are in keeping with its age and looks. We hope that we leave our lasting mark on the house just as it has made a last mark on us."





By Bruce Mathews



WE RECENTLY SAT DOWN in their apartment in Liberty to pour over the Kubis/Spangler family history. They wanted to make sure it found its way into the Elmwood Family History Project. I was just thrilled.


Glenn with his sisters Maxine and Bernice
Glenn, age 3, with his sisters Maxine, age 6, and Bernice
Bernice Lela Kubis
Bernice Lela Kubis (1916-1917)


After a bit, Nadine left the room. When she returned she had a stack of fifteen glass plate negatives, each measuring about 5 inches by 7 inches. They were images taken by a Glenn's father who was an excellent photographer. They were of Glenn and his family between 1910-1920. They were very personal to them. Just as importantly they were a true slice of Americana at the time. The sad part was that since they were glass plates, Glenn had never had the opportunity to see them as positive prints. And so, Glenn had a good idea of who was in the photos, but he was not really sure.


Leap forward to the technology of 2013. We were able to scan them to create high res digital files from which we could easily make 8x10 prints. It was the first time either Glenn or Nadine could positively make out who was in the photos, identify the homes and porches and recall days almost a century past. In one of the photos, taken in 1917, there is Glenn, age 3, with his sisters Maxine, age 6, and Bernice, age 1. The significance of this photo was not lost on Glenn as he broke down in tears. Bernice, you see, died of Diptheria on December 3 of that same year before reaching her second birthday.


Glenn and Nadine spent a couple of weeks studying over these treasures from Glenn's childhood. Remarkably Glenn was able to identify every person in each of the 15 images, and identify each house by address where the photos were taken.


The impression each of us should be left with is, what images of an enduring legacy would have been wasted if these priceless images had been lost to future generations? So, as you are going through your own family archives and run across photos from your past, turn them over and make sure they are properly identified. And, no, writing just "grandma" doesn't do it. Really identify them.


Fortunately these 15 treasures have found a new home where they can live on. They have been donated to the Kansas City Public Library and are now a part of the Missouri Valley Special Collections. They will now be ours, as part of the American fabric, forever.

Photos courtesy of Glenn & Nadine Kubis

"Somewhere beyond the sink hole,

past the magnolia, under the live oaks,

a boy and a yearling

run side by side,

and are gone forever."   


-   Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling


Ella, up close  



By John Weilert 


EVERY SO OFTEN, Elmwood Cemetery is privileged to host a variety of educational projects for young people. One that's always interesting goes like this: the kids are taken on a tour of the grounds for the purpose of reading epitaphs on the gravestones. These inscribed tributes to the dead can reveal quite a lot. After the tour the students gather in Armour Chapel, and the project moderator leads a discussion about what these epitaphs say. The exercise eventually beckons each student to consider "What would you want your epitaph to say?"


This week we are doing it for real.


Sunday evening, August 4, Elmwood's beloved mascot, Ella the deer, was found dead. Ella had been shot, her body lying near Armour Chapel.


Ella was an improbable gift to us. During Memorial Day weekend of 2011 we discovered her as a newborn, curled up in the courtyard of a family mausoleum. Her mother had wandered into Elmwood from who knows where, and given birth. Several months on, the mother deer was killed by a car outside the cemetery. The fawn was left on her own. We were profoundly lucky to have Anita Gorman to turn to. Anita has been a long-time friend of Elmwood, and she wasted no time getting us the advice of wildlife biologists. Their conclusion was that we had two choices, both fraught with risks. First, we could try to relocate her to the wild. The problem with that, they explained, was deer are not easily transportable, and are subject to dying from fright. Moreover, the chances of survival in the wild for this young orphan were quite small. The second choice was to keep her at Elmwood, and let her adapt to the 43 acres of habitat. There was plenty to eat in the way of grass and leaves, and we were cautioned to avoid trying to tame her. Even then, they warned, the Elmwood option involved the hazards of traffic, feral animals, and interference by people. Her chance for survival was probably better than in the wild, but still --- improbable.


Elmwood has always had something of a flair for the improbable. After our cemetery was organized in 1872, it became the second non-sectarian graveyard in the city. Elmwood opened its grounds for families of different faiths and ethnicities at a time when such tolerance was not widespread. That policy flourished. And a century later, when Elmwood was close to being full, and income from the sale of graves dropped to a trickle, keeping the gates open appeared improbable. Thanks to the hard work and generosity of Elmwood's families and friends, the gates stayed open. So, what would we choose for our newly found fawn?

We chose Elmwood. She was a perfect fit!


Our new resident was dubbed Ella, which just sounded right. She adapted well to her home, and her innate ability to live off the land kicked right in. But she was alone, and it wasn't long before she took an interest in humans. She'd stand at a distance, her curiosity about us evident. When we moved about the grounds, she'd follow. We let her take it at her own pace, and the distance she kept began to shorten. Ella was growing to love people. and they loved her back. As she grew from fawn to doe her people skills grew right along with her.


Ella knew her priorities. She stayed close, comforting the bereaved at graveside, celebrating weddings in Armour Chapel, sharing company with military honor guards at veterans' burials, and always welcoming officers of KCPD East Patrol when they dropped by. It wasn't long before news of our skinny little inner-city deer began to get around. People came just to see her, take her photo, and maybe even get a chance to touch her. Art classes sought her out as a subject for paintings or drawings. She basked in the glow of attention.


One fine autumn day Ella raised the improbability bar. She was grazing peacefully, yet only a few feet away sat a small golden dog. Ella greeted us as usual, but the dog was fearful of humans, and retreated. Ella sensed her fear, and moved back to comfort her. It was clear that Ella had taken the bewildered dog under her wing.   The two became inseparable. Ella seemed to take this extraordinary friendship as if it were the most natural thing in the world. But winter was coming, and we knew the little dog could not survive living outside in the months ahead. At our request, our friends at Wayside Waifs intervened, and found the dog a loving home. Ella remained at her friend's side until the moment the dog was rescued.


And now we must write her epitaph. Ella has earned her place of rest at Elmwood, the only world she knew. Her wonderfully improbable life becomes a worthy chapter in the narrative that is our cemetery.


For the countless ways in which so many reciprocated Ella's goodness, we thank you.


To Elmwood's families and friends, we will continue to take the improbable in stride, and together we will keep the gates open.


And, to the shooter: How will you be remembered?


Ella in the snow  


John Weilert

President, Board of Trustees

Elmwood Cemetery Society







By Bruce Mathews


chapel doors
Armour Chapel Restored Doors


doors and doorknob
Detail of restored door and handle

FINALLY, through the generosity of Elmwood friends Mary Davidson Cohen and Jim Bernard, and the expert craftsmanship of Eric Haynes with Superior Woodcraft, the main doors to the Armour Memorial Chapel have been restored to their original grandeur. The result, as shown in these photos, is more than could have been expected. Not only has the woodwork been completely restored, but the beautiful hardware as well. The original lock has been rebuilt and for the first time in who knows how long, we can actually lock and unlock the chapel with a key that does not work a padlock. How cool is that?


Eric has now taken the side doors, leading to the lower level of the chapel, into his shop where he is hard at work on them.


Next up, the roof, which by the way, we have reached the halfway mark toward our fundraising goal. So, if you would like to help, donations are always welcome. Just designate your donation to help fund the new roof for the Kirkland B. Armour Memorial Chapel.






If you have an ancestor buried in Elmwood Cemetery, we would like to hear from you. The Elmwood Cemetery Family History Project has been created to share information and perpetuate the life stories of those buried here. Family histories, stories, biographies, family photos are treasures meant to be shared.

Kubis Spangler Family
The Kubis-Spangler Familt, circa 1915
Courtesy of Glenn & Nadine Kubis



Elmwood Cemetery



TO ASSIST GENEOLOGISTS, family members and historians, the Elmwood Cemetery Society is compiling a family history project. The project includes information on the more than 36,000 individuals buried in Elmwood, along with their ancestors/descendants who are not. The family history project includes birth, marriage, death and burial dates/locations, biographies, family genealogies, and sources of information. It is, like all genealogical undertakings, a work in progress. You can view the project at www.ElmwoodCem-KC.org.


If you have information, photos, etc. on family members buried in Elmwood, or their ancestors, and you would like to have it included in this family history project, your participation will be greatly appreciated.

To submit materials, or if you have any questions about this project, please email Elmwood Cemetery Society board member, Bruce Mathews, bmathews2@kc.rr.com.





By Bruce Mathews



IF YOU THINK that Elmwood owes its current state of beauty to the scores of volunteers who offer their toil and sweat each month you are absolutely correct. But, from another perspective, in its own unique way Elmwood is able to give back to the community. The lives of each person who contributes their time and energy is enriched by their volunteerism. This collection of images from just one of the monthly volunteer work days this summer illustrate the many ways the lives of Elmwood's friends are touched.



Faculty adviser Judi Wollenziehn from Bishop Miege High School, along with student members of "The Graveyard Shift", place yet another new marker on the grave of a child which had not been marked in almost 100 years. When a student or Boy Scout can play a role in helping to perpetuate the memory of complete stranger, especially a child, their lives are changed forever.  



Volunteers Randy and Leslie High pick up limbs from a dead and dangerous tree which had to be removed.


volunteers 2

Regular volunteers David "Pete" Petersen, Jim Taylor, Loxie Stock, and Richard DeHart assist ECS board members Paul Benson and Bruce Mathews clear away debris from dead and dangerous trees that had recently been cut down by Mike Mathews, assistant golf course superintendent at Mission Hills Country Club.


Boy Scout Phillip Maggio, Troop 262, becomes the 29th scout to earn his Eagle rank by completing his service project in Elmwood. Phillip was aided by other members of the troop as well as his parents, friends and scout leaders.

Of course, Ella was on hand to sidewalk superintend.



Aggie Stackhaus 

Aggie Stackhaus


Aggie Stackhaus has been a fixture in Kansas City Civic and political circles for nearly 35 years.  She and her husband Jim restored an 1896 Victorian in 1980 and she became active in neighborhood issues.  In 1982 then Mayor Dick Berkley appointed her to the Landmarks Commission.  She fell in love with all things historic.


She served on the Public Improvements Advisory Committee and became an expert on the deferred maintenance of the city's infrastructure.  She and her husband founded Stackhaus Enterprises, Inc. in 1896 and have had a successful heating and cooling business.  She served on the City Council for the Fourth District from 1995-1999.


She  became the Chairman of Jackson County Land Trust in 2000 and successfully reformed that agency.  As a founding member and first President she helped start the Kessler Society and in 2007 was appointed a Commissioner to the Kansas City Missouri Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners.  During her tenure as a Commissioner Aggie was introduced to Elmwood Cemetery and has been a staunch supporter and volunteer.  She believes that Elmwood is not only a treasure and special place to the families of those who rest at Elmwood but is a treasure that should be loved and nurtured by the entire region.



  Andrew Kaplan

Andrew Kaplan


Andrew Kaplan is involved in the management of the commercial line of business for Commerce Bancshares, Inc. His primary responsibilities include oversight of the commercial line of business and small business banking.  


A graduate of the University of Missouri with a BSBA-Finance and the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University, Kaplan is a frequent speaker at various banking and financial management forums and presents regularly overseas working (India, Jordan, South Africa, Russia) with various international and governmental aid organizations promoting the virtues of small business formation and development.


In addition to his responsibilities at the Bank, he recently served as President of The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah which is a 1,000+ family reform Jewish congregation as well as serves on the Board of the Jewish Heritage Foundation. Additionally, he is a past board chairman of the Learning Exchange/Exchange City as well as having served on the boards of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, Jewish Community Relations Bureau and Jewish Family Services.  


In addition to his board involvement, he was part of a group of individuals which founded the Mitzvah Garden which is an urban agricultural cooperative growing produce in the city for the benefit of those less fortunate as well as advises the boards of Elmwood Cemetery Society and the Greater Kansas City Community Gardens on issues relating to grant and charitable contributions.


Bill McCollum


In addition to the two new board members, after a brief absence, attorney Bill McCollum has retaken his position on the Elmwood Cemetery Society Board of Trustees. Welcome back, Bill!




by Bruce Mathews

WHILE RUMMAGING through Elmwood records awhile back, I came across this document measuring 3-1/2" x 9". I had to gently unfold it to get at what it was.To my delight it was the "Consecration Hymn," sung at the dedication of Elmwood Cemetery on September 28, 1872. What a find! I didn't even know there was a hymn of consecration for the cemetery.


The hymn indicates it was written for the occasion by H. S. Millett, with the arrangement by Boylston. For all of you musical historians out there, I ask: Who was H.S. Millett, and what exactly would the arrangement have been?  

(Send your thoughts to Bruce Mathews, bmathews2@kc.rr.com.


The words contained in the verses are reflective of the culture of 1872. I particularly enjoy the last verse:


Elmwood, we charge thee keep

Watch o'er thy coffined clay;

Protect, with your outspreading arms,

Till Time shall pass away.


To me, this verse speaks to the beauty of its trees and the canopy watching over and protecting this sacred place.  It also speaks to our challenge to act as stewards of this hallowed ground.



4900 E. Truman Road  |  P. O. Box 270255  |  Kansas City, MO 64127-0225
www.ElmwoodCem-KC.org | 816.231.0373

Copyright  2013 by Elmwood Cemetery Society. All rights reserved.

No photography or other part of this newsletter may be reproduced
in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Design: DJ Hyde Matheny | www.thepingpongstudio.com