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OCCHS pleased with inaugural 'Haunted Histories' event at Fairview Cemetery

Roberta Hardy (as madam Laura Bell McDaniel) and Leo Knudson (as preacher Duncan Lamont) portrayed contrasting historical characters at one of the stations for the Haunted Histories event, organized by the Old Colorado City Historical Society at Fairview Cemetery Sept. 26.
Westside Pioneer photo
The first-time “Haunted Histories” at Fairview Cemetery Sept. 26 turned out to be a major success for the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS).
       Although the volunteer organization is still tallying its net earnings, board members stated that the tours were almost completely sold out in advance, with about 100 people who paid admission.
       Haunted Histories was similar to its 17-year predecessor, the Cemetery Crawl, which also featured people reenacting Westside figures buried in Fairview. But the new event was held at night, with candles at the gravestones while the actors portrayed the characters as ghosts while still imparting historical knowledge.
       There were nine characters in all, plus seven “ghost hosts” who led the attendees from one character station to another in the cemetery on South 26th Street. Even the event program got in the spirit of things, by
William Kirby, as opium-overdosing journalist Edward Baxter, strikes a dissolute pose for Haunted Histories.
Westside Pioneer photo
including an essay about how people dealt with death during Victorian times.
       William Kirby played Edward Baxter, a one-time reputable journalist who died in a Colorado City opium den in 1897, leaving a wife and 10-year-old son. His pallid facial makeup made him look the part - “strung out or dead,” as Kirby put it. He admitted that Baxter's sad and inexplicable demise “shocks me.”
       In researching Baxter, Kirby also found a curious coincidence: The Chinese laundry along Colorado Avenue where the man overdosed, between 21st and 22nd streets, is the block where Kirby now lives.
       Two familiar past characters, popular in the Crawl, were brought back for Haunted Histories: freewheeling madam Laura Bell McDaniel and stern preacher Duncan Lamont. The twist for the new event was pairing them at the same station. That way, Lamont could accuse her directly of offenses against public morality while she could claim he did not understand “beauty and art,” as noted Roberta Hardy, the OCCHS board secretary who played Laura Bell.
       She said her take on the contrary characters was that “both of us wanted to improve Colorado City,” but in different ways.
       Leo Knudson, an OCCHS volunteer who played Lamont, pointed out that he was only in the town for about seven years (1902-1909) at the same time as Laura Bell and went on to become a state senator.
       The OCCHS hopes to make Haunted Histories an annual event, serving as a major fundraiser for the all-volunteer organization that also owns and operates the Old Colorado City History Center at 1 S. 24th St.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 10/7/15; Community: Old Colorado City History Center)

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