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John Denton’s Day of the Dead Altar

by Shelly Tucker on November 1, 2013©

I cleaned the grave on the courthouse lawn in Denton today. In that “bone-yard-for-one” I placed an offering for John B. Denton in honor of el Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead).

day of the dead offering

I expect squirrels to eat the bread, nuts, and apple that I left. Vandals will probably take the tiny skulls. But, I felt the need to decorate for this man who is so neglected.

John B. Denton is not one of my kinfolk, but I pay my respects at his grave nearly every doggone day. In fact, when I give a Ghosts of Denton haunted tour, I point it out to people! We gather around him to talk about him (he is said to be one of the ghosts who haunt the square). It is located smack dab in the center of the courthouse lawn here in Denton, Texas … and it is a disgrace.

J.B.Denton grave 2013

I’ve talked about it before: the only person who ever cleans it up seems to be me. I’ve tried to find out who is responsible for maintaining it, but all I get is, “You should contact so and so.” I was told by the historical society that plans were in the works to get a new fence around it and clean it up. They said that at the first of the summer, and so far nothing has happened.

I got inside that nasty looking fence to clean it back on Memorial Day. To get on the other side I have to put folding steps on each side of the fence as a makeshift fence style, which is pretty precarious for a little old lady. One of these days, y’all are going to find me impaled on the spikes! When I went down this morning to spruce it up, the trees growing out of the cracks on the slab were BIG.

trees in the grave

I just don’t get it. In 1901, the Old Settler’s Association brought him to the Courthouse Square to honor him.

Old Settlers Association in Denton

They viewed him as a hero, and wanted to bury him in the town that bears his name. Those folks unearthed him from where he was resting, and had a huge funeral service for him to sing his praises when they planted him on the courthouse lawn. People came from all over Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana to pay tribute to him, and they filled up the entire square.

Funeral of John B. Denton

I realize that the old-timers are long gone … but can’t somebody take responsibility for that poor man’s grave?

And, another thing, while I am ranting:

PARENTS: Teach your children to have respect for the dead!

I can’t tell you how often I see children weaving between the fence posts and playing on that grave. Sure, it’s cute … but if you don’t teach them to be respectful of graves when they are little, then they might grow up to be the teenagers that vandalize cemeteries.

I’ll tell you right now that I’ve considered giving urchins nightmares! I have wanted to say, “Do you know that you are standing on a dead man’s grave? Do you know his ghost haunts the square with a gun? He might not like it that you walk on his grave, so I’d keep a watch for that ghost if I were you!” So far, I haven’t accosted any children, but you never know when I might snap.

As I’ve written this, something has occurred to me: I always contend that John Denton’s ghost walks the square because he is protecting the town that bears his name, but I might be wrong! John could be haunting the square because he is ticked off that the county doesn’t tend his grave!

Well, John, leave me alone … because I did my part. If you are in town this weekend, and feel the urge, you can add some flowers, too. Don’t worry I will clean it up in a week or two.

day of the dead altar for John

{ 5 comments }

Jamie November 1, 2013 at 10:02 am

Obviously this needs to be posted around town, hung on the fence surrounding the grave and turned into whatever may exist as a local visit. I would suggest starting with the window of the local historical society. In the meantime, good on you for caring.

Shelly Kneupper Tucker November 1, 2013 at 11:37 am

I’m still trying to find who is actually in charge, Jamie. It really doesn’t speak well of the town to have that grave there in a place of honor, and have it so unkempt.

Jamie November 1, 2013 at 10:04 am

Meant to type “newspaper” instead of “visit”. Sometimes my brain leaves on vacation.

Shelly Kneupper Tucker November 1, 2013 at 11:38 am

I feel your pain.

Cindee Denton January 19, 2014 at 9:02 am

I saw this post title on my blog and the name caught my eye. Why you ask…??? because my Sons name is John Denton(-: No relation that I know of but who knows?(-:
My brother in law was also named John Denton and that is who we named our son after. My brother in law was electrocuted on the job a year before my son was born. Not sure if he is a ghost but we do have plenty of ghosts around us here. My daughter has seen them and I have too. We love ghosts(-:
So anyhow had to say hi and leave you a comment. Hope you are doing well(-: Life has been very busy these last few years and I have not had a lot of time to visit my blogging friends, but I see your blog posts and think of you.(-:

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