"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

The, well, next-to-last rites of the gloriously named Mr. Buffenbarger is possibly the most delightful funeral I've come across. From the "Muskogee Times Democrat," September 9, 1910:

Springfield, O., Sept. 9--The funeral of Francis Marion Buffenbarger was attended by 500 people who went to the Grape Grove cemetery led by the "corpse" (on foot,) listened to a funeral oration delivered by the "corpse" in person, and feasted on pies and such that the aforesaid "corpse" passed around with his own hands. But they were not clammy either. Gnarled and horny perhaps, but not clammy.

Francis Marion Buffenbarger, retired farmer, had been looking forward to his funeral for years. Finally, that there might be no hitch or untoward incident to mar the event he concluded to hold it under his own immediate supervision before it was too late for him to manage properly.

So he sent out invitations to hundreds of friends and relatives, and on the appointed day led the funeral cortege to the cemetery, where he dug his own grave and erected his own tombstone all ready for the last sad rites.

"Old Buff" himself made the speech of the day, advising everybody to be good and ever ready for the summons, and counseling especially against running the risk of sudden death. "Beware of automobiles and every other invention of the devil," he warned his auditors.

Then the "rites" being over, "Old Buff" passed out a wagon-load of pies and other edibles, gave all the children candy, each of the little girls a handkerchief and each of the men a cigar. Finally he invited everybody to come to his real funeral, warning them, however, that all the doings but the actual burial were already over, and that it would be a simple affair "with no undertaker around to make folks feel bad."

It seems that the Buffenbargers have ever taken delight in preparation for ringing down the curtain of life. "Old Buff" says that his grandfather kept his coffin in the house for years before he died, and had his grave clothes handy all the time.

"Old Buff" himself had a coffin ordered from a South Charleston undertaker, but it will remain in the undertaker's warerooms till it is needed.

Several years ago Mrs. Buffenbarger left "Old Buff" and ran away with  the hired man. That broke the old man's heart. He left his farm near South Charleston and came to live with friends near Grape Grove. The folks take good care of him and when the time comes for the final episode of the installment obsequies the funeral procession will not be one rig the less because all the speech-making and funeral baked meats and such are already consumed.

In an ironic touch, considering "Old Buff's" warnings against automobiles and the like, he was killed in a streetcar accident two years later. He was, of course, buried in the grave he himself had prepared.

1 comment:

  1. Mr Buffenbarger sounds like he had a few knocks but still delighted in friends and cheer. And if he was killed despite his own warnings, he was long-prepared for the event. Good show, 'Old Buff'.


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