Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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May 7, 2013

Cemetery tour set for Saturday

Registration due today

BRISTOL — The Elkhart County Historical Museum and the Elkhart Civic Theatre will return to Grace Lawn Cemetery in Elkhart for the annual cemetery tour.

On Saturday, museum volunteers and staff will guide visitors to a series of grave markers where they will meet cemetery residents portrayed by actors from the Elkhart Civic Theatre. Two tours are offered, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The cost will be $5 per person.

“The outstanding historical resources and volunteers at the museum and the committed people who work with the Elkhart Civic Theatre make this event possible,” said museum manager Matthew Schuld. Cemetery historian Pat Johnson has compiled research for the actors to draw on to bring history to life. Johnson has been researching and writing about historic cemeteries for more than 20 years. The Elkhart Civic Theatre operates from the Bristol Opera House.

Many of Elkhart’s most well-known citizens were buried in Grace Lawn Cemetery, but the tour will focus on people of all classes and social ranks. Visitors will have an opportunity to meet a variety of Grace Lawn Cemetery’s residents, including a Civil War surgeon and two of Elkhart’s most well-known department store owners, Charles Drake and Edward Ziesel.

Grace Lawn Cemetery was dedicated in 1864, and it is one of the Elkhart County’s oldest and largest cemeteries.

The museum staff hopes that the cemetery tour raises awareness about the value of cemeteries to local heritage. “Cemeteries are vital to our history, and cemetery preservation is crucial to ensuring that the history of those who lived and died in our community is preserved for future generations,” Schuld said. Grace Lawn Cemetery has faced numerous threats, from vandalism to erosion. Schuld added, “Cemeteries don’t simply tell us about the dead, they provide us with a wealth of information about the time and culture in which former residents lived. They serve as places for reflection and remembrance.”

Registration for the cemetery tour is required by today. To register, call the Elkhart County Parks administration office at 574-535-6458.

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