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LITTLE FELLERS GRAVE

 

Clark County South Dakota

 

This Grave is located one and one half  miles west of Elrod

 

Send additions or corrections to Gordon C. Meyer gmeyer@itctel.com

Copyrighted 2009 for Clark county South Dakota and Gordon Meyer

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This grave is located one and one half miles west of what used to be the town of Elrod along the Chicago Northwestern Railroad right of way, in the Elrod Township, Section six. Each Memorial Day, a wreath of flowers, or a bouquet of lilacs has been placed there in living tribute to the “Little Fellow”

 

In 1889when a railroad construction gang was working in the area, a little boy whose parents were the cooks for this crew would race from his home every time the train went by to wave welcome and goodbye to the conductor “Big Bill” Chambers. This went on every day for two years until one day when the Little Fellow hadn’t appeared, Chambers stopped the train and found out that the little boy had died and was buried along the tracks. Shortly after this his family went back east .

 

The railroad men had set a prairie stone to mark the site and from then on for twenty-five years Bill Chambers placed flowers on his little friend’s grave. Sometime during those years a Cross was set to replace the prairie stone.

 

After Chambers retired from service, his friend Conductor Redmond, carried on for him. After Chamber’s death in 1939 the train crew and conductor, John Coon, had a special memorial service there to honor him and his dedication to the love he shared with a little boy, as requested by his sister Miss Lydia Chambers.

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Little fellers grave

This is some added information that has been sent to me by Karen Ober (thank you Karen)

Big Bill Chambers took care of the Grave by the Right of Way for 42 years after the young boy's death.  Bill Chambers didn't retire.  He became very ill from diabetes.  While ill, he told his friend Conductor Redmond, "I don't know how this illness will go, It's like an old clock, the pendulum swinging back and forth, who knows when it will stop.  Martin, if it stops, will you care for The Grave by the Right of Way."  Assurred that he would,  Martin Redmond left to catch the train at the depot across the street from Big Bill's house.  At the time the train was pulling out and blowing it's whistle, Big Bill, rolled over on his side and took his last breath.
                                               
Big Bill's daughters, Elizabeth Chambers Benson and Lydia Chambers Ford, and his wife Mary Catherine Keely Chambers were present at his bedside when this occurred.  This story was told to Susan Benson Ober, daughter of Elizabeth Chambers Benson. I just received this added information from Karen Ober. There was another person present bedside. It was Aunt
Lydia, Big Bill's sister. She lived in Watertown and was a midwife

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The Rotary club members now continue the custom and have also put up a permanent stone marker, a tribute to the mutual love of a man and boy.

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Copyrighted 2009 for Clark county South Dakota and Gordon Meyer

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