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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

Take a walk on the historic side

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hi neighbors. For the next two Saturdays you will have a rare opportunity to see “real” ghosts in Deepwood Cemetery! Better grab your hats and jackets and go take a peek.

No need to be afraid " these are young ghosts, most only 17 years old to be exact, and all as friendly as Casper.

OK, so they aren’t real see-through ghosts; but other than degree of density, they might as well be, for they represent actual once-living people.

What am I talking about? The Cemetery Walk of course. The Bushwhacker Museum and Lois Pendrak’s Advanced History Classes of Nevada High School have teamed up to produce this glimpse into the past.

Terry Ramsey and Patrick Brophy, both notable researchers and historians associated with the Bushwhacker Museum, selected a list of notable people from Vernon County and Nevada’s past that are buried in Deepwood Cemetery.

Of the 43 Advanced History students, 40 determined which characters they wanted to portray (20 in all.) They did the research, wrote a lengthy report and came up with a five-minute first-person speech about the person they chose. They will be in period clothing typical of what the person they represent might have worn.

The other three students have been busy creating an introductory narrative and a brochure with a map to hand out to visitors showing the location of the graves and a short introduction to the persons buried there. They will be the first people you will meet when you enter Deepwood Cemetery.

Map in hand, (and a lawn chair if you want to take one) you will locate one of the tombstones and listen to the student depicting the deceased tell about their life and accomplishments. It will be almost like seeing the person alive and (ghost-buster alert!) clearly visible.

You can then move freely from one selected tombstone to the next at your leisure. The entire event will take only about an hour.

The Cemetery Walk starts at 3:30 p.m. This is a premier event and with enough public attendance, could be the first of many such historical tours.

Although it is close to Halloween, the Cemetery Walk isn’t intended as a ‘spook house’ or any other form of ghostly entertainment. The intention is purely historical and persons represented will be portrayed in a dignified and proper manner, telling via the student researchers, their life story.

To paraphrase one student’s comments, there were lots of interesting people around here.

If you want to take your toddlers Trick-or-Treating, this isn’t for them. But, if you want to get a rare view into the lives of notable people from Vernon County and Nevada’s past, this walk will be a delight.

You will definitely be entertained, you most likely will learn something you didn’t know about Nevada and Vernon County citizens, and you will even get in a little easy exercise.

During the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, cemeteries were viewed as and designed to be, public parks. To see young couples walking leisurely about was a common occurrence.

The presence of the stone monuments was comforting, not frightening. Participating in moments of life’s joy among monuments to the dead seemed very appropriate. Cemeteries were created with this in mind and many were very elaborate with fountains, benches and landscaped terraces.

With the interests in history and genealogy at such peaks these days, I think we should reconsider our modern cemeteries and our view of respect for the dead.

History is, after all, about people and how they lived their lives.

In a fast-paced, technological world where everything changes almost daily, it might do us all some good to spend more time among the etched rocks. They offer a sense of continuance and proof of a common thread that units all of us today with all of those who lived those many yesterdays ago.

Until the next time friends consider this often used epitaph, “Remember Friend, as you pass by, as you are now so once was I.”