By: Tim Bean
The grave marker of Vivian Mae Allison should not be looked on as a morbid curiosity or the eccentricity of a distraught father. It should be seen for what it actually is…an embodiment of grief and love from a father to his daughter.
Vivian Mae Allison of Connersville, Indiana, died in 1899 at the age of six, breaking the hearts of her parents, Horace and Carrie Allison. At the time, Horace had been building a dollhouse as a Christmas present for Vivian, but his daughter passed away before receiving it. Instead, in his grief, he decided to place it over her grave, adding toys and trinkets his daughter loved in life.
For nearly seventy years, Vivian’s parents took care of the dollhouse’s upkeep. After her mother passed away, Vivian’s sister inherited the duty of watching over her sister’s grave. After she too passed, the house fell into disrepair. Vandals almost succeeded in ripping it from the gravesite.
Several volunteers in Connersville decided to do something about it. By that point, the tale of Vivian’s dollhouse had become a local legend, and its citizens considered her to be one of their own.
From the top down the house was renovated from ceiling to cellar. New toys, fresh paint and a new foundation refreshed its look, while several long bolts embedded in concrete held it firmly above the grave, making further vandalism almost impossible.
Over the decades, the house has become a frequent stop for visitors traveling along US-44 with thousands stopping by to see the tiny, heartbreaking grave of Vivian Mae Alison.
What keeps bringing people back to that small grave in Connersville, Indiana? The dollhouse grave of Vivian Mae Allison represents a kind of salient: before becoming a parent, you may look on the dollhouse grave and shiver. Wouldn’t it make an excellent premise for a horror movie? When you have children of your own, however, that particular fold of the imagination doesn’t disappear, but gets shouted down by empathy. What if that had been YOUR daughter? You may still look at the house and shiver, but with the anxiety of a parent in a hard world.
That, in my opinion, is a thousand times more frightening than the worst movie monster.