The City of West Plains and the West Plains Council on the Arts are proud to announce the installation of a Legends & Lore Marker honoring Polly the Parrot in Oak Lawn Cemetery. The marker was made possible by a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, the nation’s leading funder of roadside markers.
A dedication ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 9, at 10:00 a.m. at Oak Lawn Cemetery in West Plains. The marker is closest to the entrance at the intersection of Amyx Street and Evans Street. All are invited to attend.
Polly, the only known non-human buried in the cemetery, was the pet of Dr. Thomas and Laura Bradford of Marshfield, Mo. On April 18, 1880, a tornado killed nearly 100 people in Marshfield, including Dr. Bradford. Following his death, Polly would often ask, “Hey Ma, where’s Pa?” This question was asked so often, that the grief-stricken widow sent the parrot to live with her daughter, Sallie Bradford Langston, in West Plains where Polly lived out her days as a well-known, local “celebrity.”
Polly, who spoke both Spanish and English with rare fluency, had a long and eventful life. She loved to sing, especially church hymns, and when company visited, she would encourage someone to play the piano so she could sing. She was born (or hatched) in 1867 and died in 1920. For almost 53 years, she lived with the Bradford and Langston family.
The Pomeroy Foundation, which is based in Syracuse, NY, is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history; and working to improve the probability of finding appropriate donor matches or other life-saving treatments for blood cancer patients.