Friday, May 7, 2010

Graveyard Tales

"Tales of the Crypt" is an annual event in Fort Smith, Arkansas, when local actors portray a few of the individuals interred in Oak Cemetery. There is a lot of history in the Fort Smith area, from Indian conflicts to "Hangin' Judge" Isaac C. Parker to various war heroes and Old West events, natural disasters and fires, famous visitors and outlaws.

This year's "Tales" tour was held a couple weekends ago on a windy but sunny afternoon, and I snapped a few shots. Unfortunately, as I tried to avoid obstructions, other visitors' heads or hands in the shots, and obvious anachronisms, many of the photos are less than ideal. On the whole, the actors were excellent, and many of them injected humor into the history.

Harold Trisler as James Richardson (1849-1886)
US Deputy Marshal killed in the line of duty

Mike Richardson as S.A. Doran (1840-1886)
gambler shot on Garrison Avenue, confessed to 9 murders before he died

Susan Trisler as Sarah Jane Parke (1836-1918)
Confederate spy

Barbara Chatham as Mary Ingraham (1843-1929)
wife of Dr. Ingraham and daughter of John Arbuckle

Cliff Scott as August Krone (1859-1930)
respected businessman whose family provided fine tobacco products

Claude Legris as Ralph Howard (1878-1931)
policeman who died as a result of wounds received in a shootout in 1931

Mary Beth Kropovic as Nancy Wheeler (1810-1852)
wife of John Wheeler, editor of the first Fort Smith newspaper
sister of E.C. Bouidnot, Sr., and Stand Watie

unknown actor tells about Alfred Reynolds (1860-?)
personal bodyguard of General Bonneville

Reginald Moore as George Winston (1841-1919)
former slave who became bailiff for Judge Isaac C. Parker

Ethan Millard as Robert Kuhn (1885-1916)
fireman who died in the line of duty

As far as I know, Oak's the only site, but there are many other cemeteries in the city, including a National Cemetery. It's a huge task to research all the histories, but I'd like to know about other folks buried in the area. The stories I heard this year were inspiring and interesting. They're definitely rich in material, not only for biographers but also for curious fiction writers.

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