Family legacy dwindles
May 30, 2007
At 71 years old, Harriet Doppler Burket realizes she might not have many more chances to visit Park City on Memorial Day.
Born in Miners Hospital, in the same room as her mother, she says, Burket lives in Lakeland, Fla., and travels back to Park City to visit her family’s graves at Glenwood Cemetery.
On Monday, Memorial Day, Burket and longtime friend Bill Gray, were at the cemetery, removing weeds and making her family’s plots pretty, two in a steady crowd of people seen at the Glenwood and at Park City Cemetery.
"It just means respect for family, seeing I’m the last one of the batch," Burket said during her visit, one of five or six she typically makes to the cemetery each year.
Eight of her relatives are buried there — a great-grandmother, a grandfather, a grandmother, four aunts and an uncle. It’s been 40 years, she estimates, since someone visited on Memorial Day, the holiday when the nation remembers its fallen soldiers and a day when regular Americans visit the graves of loved ones as well.
Locally, Park City was packed with people enjoying warm weather and a day off. Main Street bustled, there’s more traffic than a normal day in the offseason and the cemeteries are decorated.
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But in 2007, Parkites commemorated the day on their own. The local American Legion, which had organized formal ceremonies at the Park City Cemetery in the past, did not do so this year, leaving veterans and other Parkites without a community event.
At the Glenwood, Burket, who drove five days from Florida in April and plans to stay in the area until July 1, talked about her family’s days in Park City. Her father worked in the mines, eventually moving the family to Keetley, the abandoned small town that once stood in the Jordanelle basin. Keetley is now mainly remembered through passed-down stories in Park City and Wasatch County, where the Jordanelle Reservoir sits.
Part of the community was inundated when the reservoir filled and people moved out of the rest of Keetley. Burket grew up in the upper reaches of Keetley, away from the land that was flooded, but says nothing remains of her youth there. She remembers fondly Old Town in Park City, the original part of the community, but is hesitant to talk about the growth since then, when the city has expanded frenetically.
"Little Park City, Old Town, is my Park City," she says.
Burket explains her family tree. Her grandmother married twice, making two branches of the family, the Stines and Tuggles. She is a Tuggle.
At the grave of a half-uncle, John Elmer Stine, a small American flag decorates his resting place. Burket says he died in 1926 but no birth date is listed on the headstone. He was a veteran, she says, but she is unsure when he served. Maybe he fought in World War I, Burket surmises.
"Unfortunately I did not have enough curiosity as a kid to ask about family and now it’s too late," she says.
Elsewhere in the cemetery, a flag flew at half-staff and visitors quietly walked through the headstones, stopping occasionally to decorate them or study the names, the dates and the inscriptions. A person wearing a helmet and bicycling clothes slowly moved among the graves.
Burket’s family tree is endangered. She says she is the last remaining person in the two families.
"It’s going to end with me. It’s sort of sad," she says, adding, "I’m it. When I die, there are no more Tuggles left."