Cemetery Crawl characters: Hughes becomes Schmidt, Shepard takes on Bott
There's been a change at the top for this year's Cemetery Crawl by the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS).
The 11th annual opportunity to see historical figures return “from the grave” will be Sunday, Aug. 10 at Fairview Cemetery from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The OCCHS is selling advance tickets for $6 at the History Center, 1 S. 24th St.; they'll be $8 on the day of the event.
The change is in who's playing the character of Anthony Bott, a Colorado City founder and developer who in 1895 donated the 33 acres for the cemetery at 1000 S. 26th St.. His tomb is prominent at the northeast corner of Fairview.
Dave Hughes, who has been playing Bott, has decided to take on a new personna this year - that of Jacob Schmidt, an Old Colorado City saloon keeper whose full history was learned only this year when an out-of-state family descendant contacted OCCHS.
The new “Bott” will be Paul Shepard, a Widefield schoolteacher who has several family members buried in the cemetery. On visits to those graves, he noted, “I always see Anthony Bott. It's a prime location.” As for the founder himself, “he sounded like a real mover and shaker getting Colorado City going.” But Shepard has no illusions of bettering Hughes' version, (although he's never been to a Crawl before). “I'm sure I won't measure up to his bravado,” Shepard said.
The Crawl is part of an OCCHS historical weekend that will begin with the annual Founders' Day Saturday, Aug. 9 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m, commemorating the start of Old Colorado City in 1859. Featuring live music, guided historic walks, a gunslinger show and a craft fair, the free event in Bancroft Park is mostly synchronized with “Carnegie Day” activities the same day at the Old Colorado City library, 2418 W. Colorado Ave.
Hughes said he had gotten a little “bored” doing Bott every year. He likes presenting a new character whose life had intriguing twists and ended tragically. He and his wife Bertha had owned a bakery in Old Colorado City, but when he bought a saloon in 1896 she was so opposed on religious principles that she refused to take any money from it, according to the family's story. Still, she stayed with her husband, and Hughes' research indicates that the business also sold baked goods.
The Cripple Creek Gold Rush of the 1890s brought money to Old Colorado City, and by 1904 Schmidt had erected the two-story brick building for his business that still stands at 2611 W. Colorado Ave. But the good times ended when Colorado City voted dry in 1913, according to Hughes' account. An ensuing family effort to grow fruit in Penrose went awry, and Schmidt killed himself with a pistol in 1914. He was buried at Fairview.
“This is a natural,” Hughes said of playing the man. “I also don't have to rent as expensive a costume.” Based on photos, the outfit will include a vest, flat cap and apron, and Hughes will be holding one of the souvenir wooden mugs that Schmidt's bar used to offer at Christmas.
Another plus is that Schmidt's grave is near Laura Belle's, so Hughes will be closer to his granddaughter, Jennifer Tilton, who will again be playing the famous Colorado City madame, Laura Belle.
In all, eight costumed personages during the Crawl will stand at their characters' graves and tell their stories.
The list of actors appear at the top of Page 11, along with the schedule for Founders' and Carnegie days.
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