‘Echoes from the Past’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 13, 2003

Re-enactors will again be reviving are history at Albert Lea’s Graceland Cemetery from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21, with the third annual &uot;cemetery walk.&uot; And again this year the prior lives of a different group of people buried in Graceland Cemetery will be portrayed by a cast of local re-enactors.

&uot;The third annual ‘Echoes From the Past’ is an unusual approach to history. It is your opportunity to meet some of the unique people who contributed to the development of Freeborn County. Spend a beautiful fall afternoon under stately oak trees, listening to the stories told by early settlers and later community leaders. You may not recognize their names, but each person will ‘come alive” through (next Sunday’s) re-enactments,&uot; explained Bev Jackson, executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum.

Jackson lists the following re-enactors and the roles they will be portraying in this &uot;walk into the past&uot; at Graceland.

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Don Wedge will assume the character of Helmer Myre (1891-1951), the light heavyweight wrestling champion of the world in 1921-1922. Myre also served as the Freeborn County sheriff and as a state representative and state senator. His name is now being perpetuated with Myre-Big Island State Park.

This will be the third appearance by Wedge. In the first event he assumed the character of Henry Kreigler, who hanged in 1861. Last year Wedge became the Rev. Russell Bigelow Abbott for the afternoon.

Clint Luce will be portrayed by Mark Jones, another veteran of the Echoes From the Past presentations. Luce (1854-1914) was the part owner and editor of the Albert Lea Enterprise weekly newspaper. He was also involved as an investor in the Albert Lea Packing Co., Luce Corset Co., and Skinner, Chamberlain department store.

Kelly Schultz will be assuming the character of Sarah Edwards (1824-1906). This immigrant from England was a pioneer resident of Freeborn County. Her son-in-law, H. A. Paine, built several now historic structures in Albert Lea, Forest City and other localities. Paine’s former home, the Victorian Rose Inn on West Fountain Street, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The role of Peter Clausen will be re-enacted by David Paschka. A Danish immigrant, Clausen was a pioneer undertaker and furniture store owner in Albert Lea. In 1884 he started the Lakeshore Greenhouse on the city’s north side. His name is still on the city map for Clausen’s First and Second Additions.

Jonathon Green will be depicting the life of Frank Fobes (1839-1901). Fobes came to

Albert Lea in 1861, served as a soldier during the Civil War, and later became a local businessman. Fobes is credited for organizing the first automatic telephone system in the western part of the nation.

Again this year a family member will be representing an ancestor or relative in Echoes From the Past. This year that honor goes to Mike Murtaugh. He’ll be assuming the character of his great-uncle, John Edwin Murtaugh (1874-1969), who gained fame for three reasons. First, he was a local historian and a founder of the Freeborn County Historical Society. Second, he was the owner of the Casino, a popular lakeside pavilion and boat rental service. And third, J. E. Murtaugh started the yearly recording of ice-out dates for Fountain Lake in 1912.

Bev Jackson has accepted the challenge of assuming the character of a member of the Twist family. The parents, Sylvanus (1835-88) and Zura (1833-81) Twist, were pioneer settlers in Carlston Township during 1859. They were the parents of nine children. Zura was originally buried in the Alden Cemetery and later reburied in Graceland Cemetery. Jackson will use a daughter, Lula, as the focus of her presentation.

&uot;So many people will never be really known for what they contributed. Maybe they didn’t make a big impact, but they certainly contributed to the foundations of our community,&uot; Jackson said.

Tom Ehrhardt, president of the Graceland Cemetery Association, will be presenting information about this 128-year-old burial place for so many area citizens as part of the Echoes From the Past event.

&uot;Please use the Clark Street entrance to the cemetery and look for the welcome tent. Admission will be $4 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under. Thanks to Graceland Cemetery, Bayview/Freeborn Funeral Home, the Boy Scouts, and Thrivent – Albert Lea Chapter for making this unusual experience possible,&uot; Jackson added.

(Contact Ed Shannon at ed.shannon@albertleatribune.com or call 379-3434.)