WILMINGTON — Local residents are set to bring local historical residents of Sugar Grove Cemetery to life Saturday for the first Talking Tombstones cemetery walk.
These short character descriptions are only a piece of what visitors can learn about each dearly departed community member during the Talking Tombstones tour. Character actors will share a 5- to 10-minute story of each local individual’s history.
The historical figures and those portraying them:
• Catharine Kline was the first person buried at Sugar Grove Cemetery; she died of tuberculosis at the age of 18 or 19. Catharine is being portrayed by Lucy Enge.
• Lt. Dan of the Co. C. 48th OVVI Reenactment Troop will be joining us at Soldier’s Point to remember the many Civil War veterans buried there.
• Mary Taylor Adams was the first Civil War nurse to enlist from Clinton County, serving at Camp Dennison near what is now Milford, Ohio. Mary is being portrayed by Emilia Knisley.
• Charles Webb Murphy, the famous Chicago Cubs owner and financier of the historic Murphy Theatre, is being portrayed by Bryan Wallingford.
• General James Denver and Louise Rombach Denver were wed in 1856 and took up residence at Rombach Place — now the History Center’s museum home. James Denver received his military commission during the Civil War in 1861. Louise was the daughter of Matthew and Catherine Rombach, both immigrants from Germany. General Denver will be portrayed by Jonathan McKay and Louise Rombach Denver will be portrayed by Molly Boatman.
• Azariah Doan was originally a law clerk and attorney at the start of the Civil War. He mustered a local troop to fight in the war and eventually moved up in rank from 1st Lieutenant to Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General. Azariah is being portrayed by Andrew McCoy.
• The history of Sugar Grove Cemetery has spanned the timeline of Clinton County for over 160 years. Developed in a Rural Romantic style layout, the cemetery eliminated nearly 100 small, often neglected burial sites across the county. Originally designed and layout by Prussian-born immigrant, Leo Weltz, it was dedicated in 1858. The history of Sugar Grove will be shared by Fred and Susan Ertel.
• Marshal John Todd Van Doren was a local elected police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty, in 1884, at the age of 73 while attempting to calm an intoxicated man in the city. Van Doren will be portrayed by Dave Lieurance.
• Sarah Shields-Foland married Daniel J. Foland, who was commissioned a Captain in the Civil War and later gained his medical degree and owned his own pharmacy. Sarah and DJ had one son, John, whom they raised at the Foland House, now affectionately recognized as The Pattery. Sarah is being portrayed by Nancy Foland McKay.
• Robert Wickersham, originally from Pennsylvania, was a Clinton County home builder in his early life. One of his most recognizable structures still stands today, almost 200 years later, as the History Center’s museum. Robert is being portrayed by Ethan Powles.
All characters are being historically costumed and outfitted by Linda Rinehart.
To purchase pre-sale tickets, please visit https://talking-tombstones-tour2021.eventbrite.com or call the History Center at 937-382-4684. Day-of tickets will be available for purchase at the gates of Sugar Grove Cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 23.
Self-guided walking tours begin every half hour between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. A variety of additional cemetery history and symbolism will also be shared in each participant’s event brochure.
Due to COVID-19, this is the Center’s only in-person event for the year — it will serve as their main fundraiser in 2021.