It is the grave of Diana Whitney, a member of a wagon train headed west, who died of cholera
The stone marker is simple: “In memory of Diana, Daughter of Lemuel & Sarah Whitney, who died
I stop by to visit now and then, when I remember, when I can find the time, when I’m not in too much of a hurry to get where I’m going. I stop to commune with Diana, and to wonder about her. She and her party traveled these same paths as the truckers and travelers, the carpoolers and commuters, but at such a different pace. With the wagons laden with equipment essential for a new life and precious few personal possessions, Diana and her companions probably spent a good part of the trip walking to save the beasts. I imagine she thought about their destination while she walked, making plans for her future in this strange new world. What were her dreams, her aspirations? Did she have a sweetheart? How did she feel about this journey that took her from her home to a lonely grave so far away?
Others must think about her, too. People bring her flowers and talismans; hearts, angels, smooth pebbles, stuffed animals and toys. People remember her, nearly two centuries after her death. Her grave site is neat and well cared for. Litter is not allowed to accumulate around her. Flowers are replaced as they fade, gifts are left, and the little spot is never defaced.
I find it fascinating that these personal tributes keep appearing . Why do we care so much about someone so long gone? What draws us to Diana and her tale?
Perhaps the answer is on the historical marker, which reads in part:“Diana Whitney, sleeping where the morning sun paints with strange scarlets and magic golds the surface of the river was 16 years old on that summer’s day long ago. In a later summer, this tablet was placed … to remind those who pause to read of a humble sacrifice woven into our country’s greatness.”
Sleep well, Diana.