A fun and unique alternative to the haunted houses typically reserved for this time of year was hosted by the Butler County Historical Center and Kansas Oil Museum and spearheaded by historical consultant to the museum, Ken Spurgeon.
On Saturday, October 26th, cemetery tours at Belle Vista were given. Complete with tour guides and re-enactors, early citizens of El Dorado and Butler County were brought to life.
General Alfred W. Ellet, brought to life by Randy Edens, shared his military history and how he came to El Dorado.
Nathan Frazier, whose storyteller was Tom Penning, told of his risk taking spirit and love for adventure that ultimately led him to become a leading banker of El Dorado, and one of the wealthiest and most influential citizens of Kansas
Matilda Friend, embodied by Debbie Edens, shared her harrowing story of bravery in the face of a Comanche attack, her survival and migration to El Dorado.
Charles Selig, brought to life by Mark Mannette, told of his experience of enlisting to fight in the Civil War at 11 years old. He made his home in El Dorado where he became a leading businessman and served as Mayor form 1907-1909.
Tour guides Deanna Bonn, Carol Turner, and Suzanne Walenta lead guests through the cemetery giving a brief history about its founding.
They shared local folklore regarding the cemetery’s haunting by a ghost named Too Moons, as well as stories of the famous, and infamous, citizens of Butler County’s early days.
The tours ended at the Belle Vista Mausoleum with stories of influential Butler County residents. Rolla Clymer, an El Dorado newspaper editor who was called “the Sage of the Flint Hills,” was the President of the Butler County Historical Society from 1959-1976.
Also buried in the mausoleum is Frank H. Cron, the first President of the Butler County Historical Society. In his will, Mr. Cron gave an endowment which made possible the establishment of the museum.
At the time of the writing of his will in 1957, he wanted to provide educational benefits to Butler County citizens in perpetuity and desired to preserve the heritage of Butler County by declaring in his will that “said institution shall be operated and maintained primarily as a museum or gallery devoted to the collection and exhibition of historical objects of particular interest to Butler County, Kansas.”
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