Somewhere, in the Great American Prairie, on land that belonged to a town that no longer exists, you will find a small cemetery. Be sure you close the gates. You don’t want to chase the cows out, and the volunteer who mows doesn’t want to clean up after them.
Now and then, a new grave goes in–someone old enough and local enough to own a plot–but for the most part, you’re the only living person there. All the rest–the pioneers and cowboys, the homesteaders and farmers, even your own great-something-great grandfather, who used to deliver the mail a couple of times a month… they’re stories from before your time.
And if you went there often enough, you still know those stories by heart.
And you know the family names, of course. The families are still around. Mixed into bigger towns, more successful towns.
Seven children died, once. One after another, from whatever the disease was at the time. Typhoid, maybe. Cholera. Something we cure with antibiotics if modern water systems even let it through.
And their father had to bury each one, himself.
Carry the bodies out to the cemetery, tuck them into the ground, and cover them with dirt.
Their neighbors told the parents they had sinned, and judged harshly, as if they, themselves would be immune.
But, not quite sure, they made him bury his own children.