Graceland Cemetery to feature echoes from the past

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2002

Re-enactors will again be bringing history to life at Albert Lea’s Graceland Cemetery from 12:30-4 p.m. on Sunday, June 30, with the second annual &uot;cemetery walk.&uot; And this year the prior lives of a different group of people buried at Graceland Cemetery will be portrayed by the cast of re-enactors.

Bev Jackson, executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum., lists the following re-enactors and the roles they will be assuming to revive portions of the area’s history.

For Glenn Ruble, there’s a real family connection with the person he’ll be portraying next Sunday afternoon. He will be assuming the role of John Ruble (1827-1891), his great-grandfather. John came to Freeborn County in 1856, settled on a farm three miles west of Albert Lea, and became one of the earliest residents of Pickerel Lake Township. John was the younger brother of George S. Ruble, who is considered to be the founder of Albert Lea.

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There’s also another family connection for two people who will be representing their grandfather, Frank Faville (1867-1947). Dr. Ralph Faville of St. Paul and Pat Zimmerman of Minnetonka will honor the memory of the man who served as Albert Lea’s mayor from 1923 to 1929. Mayor Faville also donated the land for the small park at the corner of Lakeview Boulevard and Grace Street to the city, plus the park’s small fountain and statue which is now a part of the Historical Village at the fairgrounds.

Don Wedge will be portraying the character of the Rev. Russell Bigelow Abbott (1823-1917). The Abbott name is still a part of Albert Lea life as a street designation and as the name of an apartment house (which was previously the Abbott Elementary School). The Rev. Abbott was the first pastor of Albert Lea’s First Presbyterian Church and founder and president (for 18 years) of the Albert Lea College for Women.

At last year’s &uot;cemetery walk,&uot; Ann Ehrhardt and Joan Muschler portrayed the roles of the Christensen sisters. This year the talented duo will become the Simms sisters for the afternoon. They’ll tell about Jessie and Mildred Simms who had outstanding musical careers and spent the last part of their lives in a home on Park Avenue.

Jonathon Green will be assuming the role of Augustus Armstrong (1834-1873) who was an attorney, surveyor, county official, state representative, state senator, and U.S. Marshal for the District of Minnesota.

David Paschka will be depicting the life of Isaac Botsford (1836-1892) who was associated with several weekly newspapers in Itasca and Albert Lea. Botsford served with Brackett’s Battalion, a Minnesota cavalry unit during the Civil War, and was a pioneer leader in the county’s agricultural society. The Botsford name, incidentally, is presently used to designate an Albert Lea street.

Kelly Schultz will be assuming the character of Margaret Godley, a member of a pioneer family, a school teacher, and a one time resident of the Linden Terrace residence on East Park Avenue.

Mark Jones will be presenting the local life of Hans &uot;Gas&uot; Hanson (1870-1934), a Danish immigrant who was the founder and president of Albert Lea’s American Gas Machine Co.

Bev Jackson has accepted the challenge of assuming the character of Dr. Elizabeth Stacy. This particular doctor is considered to be the first woman physician to practice in Minnesota. She lived in Geneva, then Albert Lea, and was the area’s only doctor during the Civil War as a result of the other doctors going into the military service. Dr. Stacy lived from 1817 to 1896 and is buried in Graceland Cemetery.

Tom Ehrhardt of the Graceland Cemetery Association will be presenting information about this final resting place for so many area citizens during the past 127 years.

This event, based on an idea used in other parts of the Midwest and known as a &uot;cemetery walk,&uot; is sponsored by the Freeborn County Historical Museum. Graceland Cemetery Association, and Lutheran Brotherhood Branch 8482.

Bayview/Freeborn Funeral Home will be providing the canopy, table and chairs at the gate, plus coffee and lemonade for refreshments during the tours.

Boy Scout Troop #40 from Sale Lutheran Church, under the direction of Scoutmaster Dick Dahlen, will direct parking.

Rosemary Wulff, and John and Charlotte Leininger will handle the sales of tickets and assemble the tour groups. Members of the Lutheran Brotherhood will serve as guides as there groups go from gravesite to gravesite to hear the historical information furnished by the re-enactors.