13 becomes lucky number for OCCHS’ Cemetery Crawl

       The 13th year of the Cemetery Crawl was no horror story for the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS).

New actors at this year's Cemetery Crawl in Fairview Cemetery... Missie Trenary, as Catherine Amsler.
Westside Pioneer photo

New actors at this year's Cemetery Crawl in Fairview Cemetery... Fred Frey, portraying his great-great grandfather Solomon High. Dressed in a Civil War uniform of a style his ancestor could have worn, he's holding an 1863 muzzle-loader and standing between the gravestones of Solomon (left) and his wife Sarah.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “We sold about 165 tickets and grossed about $1,400,” reported Jo Cervone, one of the OCCHS organizers.
       Tied in with Colorado City Founders' Day every August, the annual event at Fairview Cemetery is one of the nonprofit organization's major fundraisers every year. Groups of people pay admission to enter the cemetery and listen to the stories of historically garbed volunteers standing near the graves of notable individuals they are portraying from Colorado City's past.
       Exact attendance tallies are unavailable for all 13 years, but the 2009 Crawl, which was part of the highly publicized 150th anniversary of Colorado City's founding, is believed to have set the record with nearly 200 attendees and a gross of $1,467. So this year's event may have been the second most profitable ever.
       Most encouraging, the paying customers seemed happy. “The people who came through had only positive comments about the actors and the stories they told,” Cervone said.
       Three new players were among the eight presenters this year. These were Fred Frey, Missy Trenary and Jeep White.
       Frey, a Castle Rock resident who had discovered the OCCHS through the Internet, portrayed his great-great grandfather, Solomon High (1836-1916). High lived much of his life in Colorado City, including Civil War service in the 3rd Colorado Cavalary. Frey was dressed in a Civil War uniform, with the extra touch of an 1863 muzzle-loader (called a “Souave,” loaned to him by OCCHS member and fellow Crawl actor Dave Hughes) that could have been used in that war.

New actors at this year's Cemetery Crawl in Fairview Cemetery... Jeep White, as Mrs. Lou Ross. (Note the long train from her hat, which she made herself.)
Westside Pioneer photo

       Trenary and White were recruited through an OCCHS member who's involved with the Cripple Creek Museum, in which both are active and have reenacted characters before, Cervone said.
       Trenary played a new character - Catherine Amsler, whose young husband Oscar died in 1918 in the Spanish Flu epidemic. Catherine herself was stricken but was one of few who recovered. In her presentation, Trenary/Amsler described it as a terrible era, with vaccines not working, businesses shutting down and people being told not to shake hands or even to kiss one another. By 1919, the affliction went away, with no certainty about its cause or even how the flu chose its victims. “To this day, it is still a mystery to doctors why some got it and some didn't,” recalled Trenary, who had researched the deadly flu even before taking on the Amsler role.
       White reenacted Mrs. Lou Ross, the grief-stricken mother of Harrell Ross, who at age 13 drowned in a pool of water in an abandoned quarry at Red Rock Canyon. White's historic-style hat, which she'd made herself, drew compliments, with its “train” carrying almost all the way down her back.
       The other new character this year (along with Amsler) was Alex Taws, Colorado City police chief from 1910 to 1913. He was also a Civil War veteran, a bartender and an engineer, recounted Phil McDonald, the OCCHS president, who played him.
       Also this year, Jennifer Tilton and Dave Hughes returned to previous roles as Laura Belle McDaniel and Anthony Bott, respectively. Reprising parts from last year were Kathy McBride (Katherine Lamont) and Mayor Oliver Ingraham (Stephen Lebel).

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