|Birth: ||Oct., 1918|
|Death: ||Oct., 1918|
It was not until after this infant had been laid to rest that he or she became locally famous.
This child was the baby of Lillie (nee Gumpher) and Frederick Van Buskirk. The child's last address with them was 2917 Bank street in Penbrook, Pennsylvania.
His or her burial was part of an investigation into shoddy burial practices employed by Charles H Mauk and his funeral home. There were at least two such allegations made against Mauk in the newspapers that year.
The child died in October of 1918. At the time, the child's mother Lillie was sick, so the child's father Frederick selected a small white casket, and paid Mauk $18 for the child's arrangements which were left entirely to Mauk. The agreement was to inter the child with his or her maternal grandma's lot at a given date and time. We might surmise the child was a newborn or stillborn, and indeed, the state death index shows us that a still born (S.B.) Van Buskirk of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania was pronounced dead on October 14 of that year.
The newspapers said the child died on the 13th, and the mother's later court testimony indicated the child was to be buried at 1 o'clock in the afternoon on the 14th after earlier arrangements had been made, so perhaps this time the papers' info trumps that of the state. Whatever the case, the child was laid to rest. In fact, the father, Frederick, appeared 10 minutes early for the scheduled funeral and found the grave had been closed already.
Less than six months later, on March 1, 1919, this child's father Frederick died and was laid to rest in a new plot purchased by his wife. The child was exhumed to be reburied next to him. When this was done, it was discovered that the child had not been buried in the chosen casket, but had been laid to rest in pasteboard box tied with rope, and without a robe, uncovered.
Lillie was grieving, yet brave. She approached Mauk and without explaining the discovery, asked how the child had been laid to rest. He replied the child had been interred in a small white casket as Lillie's husband had chosen and laid to rest as planned. Lillie then told him of the child being exhumed and what had been found. Mauk replied that he could not take her mere word for it but needed to check with the cemetery employees who had raised the baby's body. Mauk's attitude later changed, Lillie testified, and he told her he was sorry such things happened, but that it was the fault of one of his men. Lillie informed Mauk she still had her receipt showing her husband had paid for the arrangements including robe and casket, and testified he laughed at her and said the receipt was worth nothing. Some of Lillie's friends told her the same, and that she could not pursue action against Mauk. As a result, when one of Mauk's men came to her door and offered her $10 for the receipt, she accepted, thereby losing proof of any case.
The fact the receipt was taken certainly suggests some shame and fear on Mauk's part. Nonetheless, a disposition of this particular case has not been found and it is assumed it was let go for lack of evidence. It seems instead, the case of Howard H. McCracken another, better documented case is what would bring Mauk to court.
Frederick E Van Buskirk (1886 - 1919)
Lillie M Gumpher Stager (1890 - 1979)
East Harrisburg Cemetery
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Feb 12, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 105082544
Added: Feb. 12, 2013