My brother, sister-in-law and I stopped by Fort Reno yesterday on our way to Enid and while there we drove to the Fort Reno Cemetery. The fort has been unused for many years and most of the people buried there died in the early part of the 20th century. There seemed to be an inordinate number of infant and young children’s tombstones; I suppose indicative of the precariousness of life for children during the pioneer era of our country.
A portion of the cemetery was separated by a stone wall with a metal stile inserted for access. We noted the names on the plain tombstones were all either Germanic or Italian in origin. A little Internet research indicated Fort Reno had been an internment camp during the World War II era. Although only one prisoner died while housed at Fort Reno, 62 Germans and 8 Italians from other such internment camps are buried along both inside walls of the stone barrier in the west section of the cemetery.
One of the more interesting tombstones I saw is the tombstone of Thomas F. Mulcahy who died February 15, 1881; his date of birth is not given and was perhaps not known. The tombstone is in the shape of a cross with the IHS [in His service] in a circle and has the expression “Resquiescat in pace” – in English expressed as rest in peace – carved in it. This Latin phrase, mostly seen at this time around Halloween (RIP) has been used on many, mostly Catholic, tombstone since the 8th century, gaining more use in the 18th century as a prayerful request that the deceased’s soul would find rest in the afterlife. But probably the most interesting aspect of the tombstone is the bottom phrase, “Erected by Comrades.”