Hot Sulphur Springs: Tombstone Tales: If the dead could talk
August 29, 2008
Miners, ranchers, adventurers, hunters, pioneers, and just plain interesting people ” they helped shape the Three Lakes Area into the thriving resort community it is today. The curious will have a chance to hear about their intriguing lives during the Grand Arts Council’s 11th Annual Tombstone Tales event.
Volunteers will be leading tours around the historical Grand Lake Cemetery, with stops at gravesites to hear a “visiting spirit” tell the tale of the person (usually) buried at their feet. The event is not only a chance to hear their stories, but to see the cemetery, which started in 1875 and is the only active cemetery in a national forest.
Tours begin with the resident “undertaker” sharing the special history of the cemetery. Darin Foran has been in the business for about 12 years and owns the Foran-Schoenfeld Mortuary in Hot Sulphur Springs. His debut as the undertaker has allowed Jim Cervenka, who has played that role for the event’s 10-year history, to branch out into a character role this year.
Cervenka will portray Henry Schnoor, skilled carpenter and builder in Grand Lake. Born in Europe in 1864, Schnoor moved to Grand Lake in 1897, and died in 1943. He worked on the Green Mountain Ranch and at one point was supposed to marry Harbison ranch, neighbor Kitty. He and his first wife had two girls and Cervenka said “there’s a story there as well.”
“Marko” and Annie Ginsberg also return for the event to deliver the story of James Washington Jr. and Polly Ann Yarger Mitchell. “J.W.” was born in 1830 in Illinois and Polly was born in 1835. The couple married and had seven kids (four survived) ” all grown before the Mitchells moved to Grand Lake in 1880.
J.W., his son and brother were famous fiddlers in the area. He also hunted, trapped, and was a prospector, living in the area until he died in 1901. Polly, said to be a buxom beauty in her day, married J.W. in 1856. She died in 1911.
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Jim Bianco will share the history on E.R. “Doc” Duty, a miner from Indiana who was killed in a snow slide at the Toponis Mine in February 1883. Arriving in 1879, he was called one of the Old Timers of Grand Lake and was considered among the most promising young men of the area.
Kathleen Means plays Caroline Pratt Holzwarth, born in Sept. 1907. Caroline married Johnnie Holzwarth, made her home and managed the staff at the Holzwarth Ranch, and died from a stroke in Nov. 1965.
Rounding out the list is Carolyn Alcorn who will be featuring the life of Teina (Bruen) Lehman. Born in Illinois in 1876, she was hired to work at the Lehman guest and dude ranch and married Edward Lehman. She died in 1939 and was buried in the family plot which was moved to the Grand Lake Cemetery when the valley floor was flooded during the Big Thompson Project.
Tombstone Tales tickets are available at the school Sunday, or stop by the Grand Lake Art Gallery.