John A. Gibson, Sr. was a frequent in poker games at the Mullen Vets club, and at one point he had a run of good luck that helped fund the purchase of a ranch south of Mullen. The ranch consisted of 1,050 acres and had an irrigation well for alfalfa hay. After John, Sr. passed away the ranch was owned by siblings Bud, Barney, and Jeffie. The ranch was eventually sold around 1977.
This is part of the ranch owned by the Gibson family. The 1,050 acres also extended West of Highway 97.
In the early part of this century a great need was eventually felt for a church building at Eclipse Cemetery, especially since there were so many funerals and the distance to travel was so great. The various Tucker families were most gracious to lend the use of their home to those in sorrow, but still it was a distance to their place, and was a hardship in frigid weather.
Once a group of people built a little sod house for church purposes on the ranch of Judd Gragg, but money with which to pay a minster could not be raised, and before long the little undedicated building was being used as a granary by Mr. Gragg. So it too, did not fill the need for a community building.
Eventually there was money enough to build a church building, enough to match that coming from the Episcopal Church, and in 1916 the building was constructed. The Reverend George Ware was one of the the most encouraging forces behind it. In 1918 the church was dedicated, and in 1978, they celebrated their sixty year anniversary as an Episcopal Church.
After the erection of the church, Bishop Beecher made the trip to All Saints Church to hold Memorial Day service almost every year. Later the Rt. Reverend Howard R. Brinker. D.D. carried on the tradition.
The women of All Saints Guild was organized in 1910 with Mrs. A.J. gragg first president; Mrs. Placer Tucker, Treasurer; and Mrs. Thomas Quinn, Secretary. A few years after that the Helping Hand Community Club came into the picture. Both worked for the upkeep of cemetery and church.
On November 1, 1981, the Eclipse Church resumed regular church services as a non-denominational organization. We were blessed with John Gale as our first minister. he and his family came to use from Tryon for nine months and we were deeply saddened to lose them.
We continued having regular church services with the help of many wonderful guest speakers. During this three month interval we also began working on our badly deteriorated church walls. Dave Christensen did the carpenter work, which was quite a challenge with no electricity. The work was completed within a two week interval and we were so pleased to have John Gale and his family back to help us celebrate the completion.
On November 21, 1981, we were again blessed with a wonderful minister from the Arthur Baptist Church, Paul Kondy is still with us as we hope he will continue to be for a very long time.
As far as we know, there have been only two wedding in the church. The first was November 3, 1956 with Don Bullington and Bonnie Connell. Milt Seson and Laura (Davis) Sedlacek were married on January 28,1984.
With God’s help we know that our little country church will continue to grow and be a wonderful service to our fine community.
McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction
The following is written from an article by Mrs. Mabel Quinn who had corresponded with Mrs. Thomas P. Wood, Cressage, England. Mrs. Wood was the former Elvira (Vira) Tucker.
On a very hot July day in 1890, a man, woman and little baby drove into Tucker’s from the east, in a covered wagon. They asked for milk for the baby and a meal for themselves. The three month old baby was very ill with dysentery, and had been very badly neglected. Mrs. Tucker bathed the little girl in an effort to abate her fever.
The man and woman claimed that the baby’s mother had died and the woman was a sister of the man. They insisted that Mrs. Tucker keep the baby for awhile as they had no way to keep milk for it, as they traveled to Whitman. Mrs. Tucker had four little children and would soon have another. She felt she must decline but suggested they go see the Dave Edwards family who lived a half mile down the Dismal River on the Grant Keith homestead. They consented to keep the baby and the father agreed to return for it the first rainy day they could get time off from his hayfield job near Whitman. They never returned and nothing more was heard from them. They had given a false employer’s name and the address was fake as well.
The little girl had seemed to be getting stronger and nearly well when suddenly a few weeks later she fell into convulsions and died.
There was no cemetery near. Mr. Tucker made a little pine coffin. Mr. Edwards dug a grave on the northwest corner of Mr. Tucker’s tree claim, located thirty miles southwest of Mullen, Nebraska in Hooker County and the little unknown baby was laid to rest. Mr Tucker put a barbed wire fence around the grave. Some time later the Edwards lost a baby and soon after so did the Tyrrels, neighbors of the Edwards to the east.
Mr. Tucker eventually fenced a plot of land and said he wanted it used for a community cemetery. After the post office was established in the Tucker home and name Eclipse, the cemetery became known as “Eclipse Cemetery”.
Funerals were usually held at the home if a minster could be found but most time only a hymn was sung by the group of gathering neighbors and friends and the Lord’s Prayer said in unison at the gravesite. In summer, prairie flowers were gathered and used and in winter the flowers from the house plants that every pioneer mother grew in her sod house windows were offered. There was no embalming of a body, no telephone over which to call a doctor if one could be found. Many a saddle horse made its last trip whose rider was endeavoring to get a doctor “in time” or to order a casket from Alliance or Broken Bow. Baptism was often administered by Mrs. N.L. Reuter.
The Tucker’s hospitality was always extended to the funeral parties and the women of the community always brought food and prepared a meal for their comfort. The men dug the grave and acted as pallbearers. In bad weather, the trip to the cemetery was made one day and the burial the next.
Of the many “who have come to make their bed” are those of diverse faiths, Mormons, Roman Catholics and almost any Protestant denomination one can mention.
McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction
To organize a community cemetery, the families in the area met at the New Virginia school house on the 23rd of April 1887. The Otto Cemetery Association was organized, with Richard T. Payne elected as president. It was located in the northwest corner of section 34 and was called “Otto” cemetery, after the first name of Otto Skjelver. Following the land dispute the cemetery was called the “Payne” cemetery. On May 4, 1925, the name was officially changed to “New Virginia” cemetery.
Webster County: Visions of the Past
By Mabel Cooper Skjelver