Pioneer Family Grave Markers Desecrated
Photos and Story by Bob Walter...

Some of town founder's family tombstones were violated Christmas week.

      December 26, 2005

      Grave markers for the Town of Eatonville's oldest family ancestors were desecrated by vandals this past week. Tom Van Eaton, III, great grandson of town founder Thomas Cobb (T. C.) Van Eaton, discovered the damaged monuments on Tuesday, December 20, and reported the find to police. The Eatonville Police Report estimated the damage at over $500.  He gauged the vandalism was not more than a day old. Both the tall, marble monument at the left in the photo above, and the small marker lying in the foreground, far right, were desecrated. 
     They connect a pioneer mother-daughter relationship, the large marker being that of "Mary Jane, wife of T. C. Van Eaton," and the small, marble block that of her infant daughter, Annie. One side of Mary Jane's marker reads, "Little Annie lies on this side near her momma." Mary Jane Osborn was the second wife of T. C. Van Eaton. She was a woman who, it could be said, played an epic role in the story of Eatonville. 
      T. C.'s first wife was his fourth cousin, Lenora Van Eaton, whom he married in 1888. Their two children died in infancy, and Lenora died in 1991, not long after they arrived from Minnesota. He then married Mary Jane Osborn from the Ashford area. After her untimely death in 1894 of breast cancer at age 39, T.C. later married Nellie Appleby, whose name also adorns the white marble monument.
     Annie died in infancy. She is not mentioned in the "History of Tacoma Eastern Area," by Jeannette Hlavin and Pearl Engel along with her siblings Frank, Susie, Bessie and McKinley. (McKinley was not born in the Van Eaton Cabin.)
      Mary Jane's family had settled further up the line in the Ashford area, according to the book.  Though other early pioneers had children on their homesteads in the late 1800's, Jane, as she was called, gave birth to Frank, the first pioneer child born in Eatonville. The history book mentions Frank and three other children, "McKinley, Bessie Roeder...and Lucy Myrtle (Susie Wenk)." 
     The sphere atop the tall monument was struck hard enough to break it off. It appears that the heavy, marble ball was then hurled at another nearby monument, that of Frank Krones. The piece of marble chipped a piece off the granite base of the Krones marker where it landed, and shattered into several more pieces.
      Eatonville cemetery gates were not closed. Nor have they been since the vandalism. The Eatonville Municipal Code states 13.20.080 under "Visitors regulations. A. Visiting hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily in summer. Winter hours are 8:00 a.m. to dusk;..." Are these hours enforced? Had the gates been closed the vandalism may not have been prevented. But it might have been much more difficult. 


Baby's Tomb Marker Desecrated 

     This marker belonging to little Annie Van Eaton was damaged beyond repair when it was apparently pulled out of the ground and bashed onto the rocks propped against it. The old monument was broken into pieces at the top, and cracked lengthwise. Much of the material from the smaller pieces had crumbled into sand from the impact, rendering it nearly, if not completely, irreparable. 


Holding Broken Memories...

     Visible in the hands of Tom Van Eaton III, are the broken remains of the neck of the marble marker seen lying on the ground. The latter object had been smashed off the tall grave marker of Ashford/ Eatonville pioneer Mary Jane Osborn Van Eaton. 


Violent Vandalism Crosses Cemetery Road

     This view looking across the road shows the vandalized Van Eaton monuments of Mary Jane and little Annie, her infant daughter, and also Nellie Appleby. During the incident, the granite marker seen directly beyond them, with the red flower in front of it, sustained some damage when the large ball in the foreground was thrown at it. 
     At the far left is a marker sitting off of and next to its base. Interestingly, that is the marker for Eva May Osborn, the first person buried in this cemetery, in1899, and sister-in law to Mary Jane, having been married to her brother, Bill. On her marker are inscribed the words, "Sweet be thy peace, thy suffering is O'er." It is unclear whether the removal of this marker from its base is related to the vandalism in the Van Eaton plot in the foreground.


Marker Hit with Piece from Another

     To the right of the Frank Krones grave marker are a few of the shards found on the ground nearby, which broke off part of another monument, when it was hurled at this marker. Also found nearby was a small piece of the granite base you see here, which apparently was chipped off when the object struck it. 

More Mischief - Coincidence or Not?

     Just a few yards north of the Krones plot lies this grave, the first in the Eatonville Cemetery, that of Eva M. Osborn, buried in 1899. Pioneer Otto Haynes, whose family came to the area in the 1880s, helped dig Eva's burial plot. 
     When this tombstone was removed from its base is unknown. It could have been weeks before the December desecration, or at the same time. It was at least recent enough for the base to have no accumulation of dirt, dust or litter. (Photo taken December 24, 2005.)  


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