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Louisville Dum-Dum 2003 Gallery
12. Forest Hills Cemetery ~ Shelbyville, Indiana
Jim and Joan Burroughs Pierce Gravesite

An excerpt from
Dum-Dum Diary of a Crazed Canuck ~ Part 6

During one of our conversations at the Louisville Dum-Dum Bob Hyde had reminded us that Jim and Joan Burroughs Pierce were buried in Jim's hometown of Shelbyville, Indiana, just a short distance from the freeway, but we had no idea as to the cemetery's actual location. James H. Pierce had been discovered by Ed Burroughs himself while attending a party at Tarzana Ranch. At Ed's recommendation he had taken a screen test and was hired to play Tarzan in Tarzan and the Golden Lion -- the last "silent" Tarzan movie. He later married Ed's daughter Joan and the two of them had starred as Tarzan and Jane in the 1932 radio serial.

Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Rice Burroughs
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Mr. James Hubert Pierce
on Wednesday, the eighth of August
at half after five o'clock in the afternoon
Reseda, California

Wedding invitation from the Danton Burroughs Archive Collection
We had met the Pierces over 30 years ago in Tarzana, thanks to hospitality of Hulbert Burroughs, who had suggested that we spend an extra day in Tarzana so that he could set up a meeting between us. Although they were experiencing health problems, Jim and Joan were warm and gracious people. Joan had recently gone through cancer treatments and a mastectomy operation and Jim was recovering from a serious heart attack but they carried themselves with great poise. We promised to send them tape reels from our OTR collection: 77 episodes of the 1932 Tarzan radio serial they had starred in -- and they showed their appreciation by sending us a huge box of ERB, Inc. books and dust jackets.
As we approached the city we were diverted to sideroads by detours which led us past two country cemeteries. Although it was raining I couldn't resist stopping and doing a fruitless running search through the tombstones. Sue-On wisely stayed in the shelter of the car -- but I got wet.

Things started to look up, however, when we entered Shelbyville, a city of about 17,000.  A large unusual statue dominated the town square: a man in what appeared to be a buckskin outfit was holding two animals -- probably bear cubs -- aloft. Aha!  This must be a tribute to hometown boy Jim Pierce who had worked in many westerns after his Hollywood debut as Tarzan.  Alas, the accompanying plaque read: IN TRIBUTE TO CHARLES MAJOR ~ NATIVE SON ~ AUTHOR OF THE BEARS OF BLUE RIVER.

Since it was Sunday, most of the stores and businesses were closed but we remembered passing a hospital on the way in. After backtracking we got directions to the town's main cemetery -- Forest Hill Cemetery -- but no one had heard of James H. Pierce the actor. We followed Vine Street (an appropriate name) to the second of two neighboring cemeteries. We were slightly boggled by the sight that met us under the overcast, drizzling skies -- a huge sprawling tree-dotted field of stones with no sign of a gravesite map, anyone on duty or Sunday visitors. Our hopes soon rose, however, when we saw two very distinctive grave markers in the shape of trees near the gate -- but there was no indication that they had any connection with the Pierces.
When we looked again across the main grounds our hunt appeared to be a hopeless task since the cemetery was made up of acres of gravestones dating back through centuries, all  jumbled together with access by many winding and connecting roadways.  We knew that Jim and Joan's grave markers were side-by-side and were inscribed with "Tarzan" and "Jane" so we started a long slow drive around the grounds. We were about to give up when Sue-On's eagle eye spotted a large "PIERCE" tombstone.  Looking closer we discovered two small footstones between the roadway and the large Pierce family stone. An accompanying larger monument that had been planned obviously had never materialized.

What ensued was an exciting scurrying around the Pierce family plots, during which we took photos from every angle. Most of the photos are shared on this page and in the accompanying Dum-Dum 2003 Diary.  Realizing that we still had a long way to travel we found our way back out through the labyrinth of stones and connecting roadways and settled in for an afternoon of rainy freeway driving -- next stop: Oak Park.


Shelbyville Town Square




1. House of Greystoke
2. Nite Life
3. Huckster Row
4. Mingling of the Bibliophiles
5. Ekstrom Library & Auditorium
6. McWhorter ERB Collection
7. Events: Bibliophiles ~ Auction ~ Boris & Julie
8. Banquet
9. Head Table ~ Speeches ~ Awards
10. Post Banquet Photos and Group Photos Shots
11. The Last Breakfast
12. Jim and Joan Burroughs Pierce Gravesite
13. Homeward Bound
14. Mary and Stacy Burroughs I
15. Mary and Stacy Burroughs II

16. Danton Burroughs I
17. Danton Burroughs II
18. THB Members Invade Louisville
19. ERBzine Contributors at Louisville

1. Intro ~ Arrival ~ Galt House
2. Nightlife ~ Blues Club
3. Huckster Room
4. Gathering of the BBs
5. Ekstrom Wine & Cheese
6. ERB Collections
7. Events: Bibliophiles & Auction
8. Banquet
9. Head Table ~ Speakers ~ Awards
10. After Dinner Photos
11. Farewell Breakfast I
12. Farewell Breakfast II

1. Gallery I
2. Gallery II

Diary 1:
Diary 2
Diary 3
Diary 4:
Diary 5:
Diary 6:

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Back to the Dum-Dum 2003 Features


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