Gravestone Marker

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The Nebraska Sandhills hold a dark secret from the Twenties. Two elderly women unknowingly share common bonds. Elma Slaymaker, living at Hidden Pines, still guards knowledge she can never reveal about Dile Hartgrave and Gladyce Hartgrave McFarland now a resident at the Ainsley nursing home, mourning her brother Dile’s death for years, is compelled to get a gravestone marker for him before she dies. Dile was killed in 1926 on a Sandhills homestead when he was eighteen picking corn in the late evening for the Slaymaker family under decidedly suspicious circumstances.

When the nursing home takes Gladyce to see about the marker, she is told there is no record of her brother’s burial in the family plot which holds eight. If Dile is there, there are nine bodies interred there. In the burial records, where his name should be is a stranger’s name that she does not recognize. Gladyce determines that he must have been a distant cousin. She realizes in horror that her suspicions of long ago may be correct. Her brother Dile was murdered.

They tell her she can put a marker up, but she cannot change the records. They will remain as they are. The courthouse burned down in the fifties, and there are no records there. Several newspapers state he was buried where Gladyce insists Dile was.

When Ann Marie and her husband Ed are summoned to her dying mother Gladyce’s bedside, they are concerned but find they are needed for much more. Gladyce wants them to “Dig the bodies up.” They visit the old homestead to investigate and to see where it happened. It appears they are hitting their heads against a stone wall. Still, Ann Marie promises her mother they will find out what they can and make sure Dile gets his headstone marker.

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About the author

Mary Vesta Nickerson was born and raised in the Nebraska Sandhills.  M. Nickerson attended elementary and secondary school at Johnstown and Ainsworth, and college at Lincoln and North Platte, Nebraska. She has lived in Nebraska her entire life. GRAVESTONE MARKER is her fourth and current novel and it takes place in the heart of the Sandhills, a place she loves. THE DECOY AND THE DOVE was published in 2002 and DOCTOR, DOCTOR was published in 2004. One novel  GARCO remains unpublished. M. Nickerson's next project is to publish GARCO.

Her first screenplay was done from her book THE DECOY AND THE DOVE, a tale of what happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in 1937 when her Lockheed Electra disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. The screenplay placed in the Quarterfinals of the 2003 International Screenplay Competition hosted by the American Screenwriters Association and Writer's Digest. Out of a field of 1200 entries, she placed in the top thirty-five.

She lives on a ranch in Cottonwood Canyon near Maxwell, Nebraska with her husband Ike since 1990. They have two horses their grandchildren love to ride, two cats, and a dog. As with the Sandhills, the canyons are a place that she loves.

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Author House
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Published on
Jun 12, 2009
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Fiction / General
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Eligible for Family Library

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