Missouri women preserve past with cemetery tour

Thursday, May 27, 2010 | 6:04 p.m. CDT; updated 9:05 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 27, 2010

HANNIBAL — Judy Schmidt and Ann Handford are steadfast about giving the past a future.

The Louisiana, Mo., women are part of a new generation of pioneers that's making sure no one forgets some of the city's more intriguing former residents.

For the second year, the Louisiana Historic Preservation Association is sponsoring a cemetery tour.

The event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 5 and from noon to 4 p.m. June 6 at Riverview Cemetery. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the gate, which is near B Street off of Highway 79.

Visitors will watch portrayals of nine former Louisiana, Mo., residents beside their graves.

"People need to know what happened before and what we can do to preserve what we have," Schmidt said. "We're trying to feature a wide variety from all walks of life."

"We're trying to resurrect the town," Handford said. "You've got to love the past to foretell the future."

The characters and their portrayers are:

  • William Henry Harrison Glenn, a former sheriff, by Dr. Ned Glenn, his great-grandson.
  • Lafayette Tinsley, a tobacco merchant, by Carl Schmidt, Judy's husband.
  • Susannah Barr, hospital benefactor, by Paulette Powelson.
  • Dr. Eric Cunningham, Louisiana Medical Society founder, by Joe Siefkas.
  • Col. Clarence Buell, opera house owner, by Chuck Hoffman.
  • Gussie Buell, socialite, by Handford.
  • Mary Elizabeth Irwin, first librarian, by Sue Warzocha.
  • Margaret Irwin, library supporter, by Julie Stephens.

Daniel Boone's cousin, Ratliff, a fierce anti-slavery proponent, also will be portrayed.

"Some were known nationally and some were locally known," Schmidt said. "If there's someone alive who is related, we try to get them (to do a portrayal)."

Last year's characters included a Confederate spy, a nationally known geologist, a famous botanist and a film star.

Among this year's group are a man who brought a show featuring Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley to town, a man who Handford said was "adored" by the city's ladies and a guy who liked to shoot wolves.

The tour hopes to capture the imaginations of local residents and visitors.

"There are so many people here in town who don't know what a rich heritage we have," Schmidt said. "So often, we don't remember that."

''They did something for the community, and they were very interesting people on their own," Handford said.

Last year's event, held during Labor Day weekend, was plagued by rain. The Historic Association still managed a slight profit. All proceeds this year will go toward sponsoring seminars about preserving a home's historic attributes and sponsoring a visit by a state architecture specialist.

Unlike last year, most of the graves are concentrated within about 200 feet of each other near the entrance of the cemetery, but shuttles will take people to the scenic overlook of the Mississippi River.

Meanwhile, a list of potential portrayals already is being put together for next year, and organizers say help is always welcome.

"There are many famous names in that cemetery that we wish we knew more about," Schmidt said.

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