Sunday, April 14, 2013

Looking for Ed

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

In September of 2011, Joann and I were heading north at the start of our fall travels. We pulled off the highway at Plainfield for a couple of old signs, and then we headed into town. I had jokingly asked Joann if she wanted to hunt up the cemetery where Ed Gein was buried.

Ed Gein was an infamous Wisconsin murderer and grave robber who was arrested for his crimes in November 1957. Joann told me she had recently discussed Ed Gein with a person at work, and she thought it would be interesting to get a picture at the cemetery.

As she was photographing the Opera House in downtown Plainfield, a gentleman pulled up in his truck and she asked him if he knew the cemetery where Ed Gein was buried. He gave her directions, which didn’t match the directions I had found on the Internet, but we figured that a local would know, so we headed off following his directions.

We arrived at Spiritland Cemetery, and Joann gathered her equipment and headed towards the gravestones. I made a few notes about where we were, looked where we might head next, and then joined her to search for the gravestones of his family.

From pictures on the Internet, I knew what the grouping of the Gein gravestones should look like, and we walked around and around looking for them. We didn’t find them, although we did find some other interesting gravestones and footstones.

After we returned home, I looked up the information again, and found that my initial directions had been correct. We’re not sure why we were given wrong information by a local on our first try, but state newspaper articles reporting his death in 1984 also listed the wrong cemetery.

In September of 2012, we were heading north once again. As we neared Plainfield, I asked Joann if she wanted to try one more time to find the Gein gravestones. She’s always game for a little adventure, so we pulled off the highway. This time I directed us to the Plainfield Cemetery, which was just off the highway.

Following the directions I found online, we soon found the grouping for the Gein family. The headstones for both of his parents and his brother are there. Ed’s stone had been stolen years before. It was found, and is now in the possession of a museum. It is not currently on display and there are no plans for it to ever be displayed.

Ed Gein died July 26, 1984 at age 77 after spending his last 27 years in mental institutions. According to newspaper articles in 1984, he was buried at 3 a.m. in an unmarked grave between his mother and his brother. The only people in attendance were employees of the funeral home.

The Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho is said to be based on the life of Ed Gein. Ed was insane and the lovely little town of Plainfield had nothing to do with that. Who can blame them for not wanting to be remembered as being his hometown?

If you’re heading north on the interstate (I-39) and you pass the sign for Plainfield, pull off and enjoy this small, quiet Wisconsin town.

Happy Shunpiking!

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