Prairie Center Cemetery

About this Cemetery

The Prairie Center Cemetery helps to tell the story of an old Kansas town that no longer exists. The old town of Prairie Center was once located in the vicinity of 135th St between Sunflower and Edgerton Rds. The 1874 Johnson County Atlas shows a church and a school at Prairie Center.

The cemetery was officially establied in 1885, although we find headstones with death dates beginning in the 1860s. Joseph Hale, d. 6 Sep 1861 is the oldest indexed death date, with Annabelle Oshel, d. 28 Sep 1868 the next oldest date, and there are 8 other death dates before 1885.

The 1874 and the 1886 Atlases do not show a cemetery in the Prairie Center area, however it does show us that Michael Hale owned the land where this cemetery is located, and with a little research we find that the oldest dated stone belongs to Michael's older brother, Joseph. Melissa, Michael's first wife, was interred in 1875, so it would seem the cemetery was in use, and likely started, by the Hale family's unfortunate needs.

In 1885 Michael Hale and is second wife, Harriet (Hattie) sold 1 acre of land for use as a cemetery to the Trustees for the Prairie Centery Union Cemetery and the cemetery was officially established. On 8 Dec 1886, Michael and Harriet sold an additional acre of land to the cemetery. The 1902 and 1922 Atlases show the Garratt family owned the land surrounding the cemetery, and in 1911 the Garratts sold an additional acre of land to the Prairie Center Union Cemetery. Finally, on 28 May, 1934, the land for the Prairie Center Union Cemetery was deeded to the Prairie Center Cemetery Association of Lexington and McCamish Townships.

In the mid-1940s, during World War II, the Sunflower Ordinance Plant to a large area south of De Soto, encompassing the towns of Lexington and Prairie Center. As a result, the residents had to abandon their homes, and the towns were deconstructed. As a result the Lexington Cemetery was removed to De Soto's cemetery, but fortunately the Prairie Center Cemetery was not directly impacted. We can see, by the chart of Interments by Decade below, that burials at the cemetery were declining. In the 1940s we see a large drop in usage, but by the 1950s the number rises, however still shows a steady decline. And today, due to the land owned by the Sunflower plant, one must take an indirect route to get to the rather isolated cemetery.

Interments by Decade chart