The Richmond Area Historical and Genealogical Society will celebrate the triumph of lives and legacies over death at the City of Richmond Cemetery with a walk through the Living History Cemetery.
RAHGS will host the fifth annual Living History Cemetery Walk from 1-3 p.m. on September 24. Costumed re-enactors will highlight the area’s history by portraying members of prominent Richmond families now buried in the cemetery. The cemetery is located in the far north of the city, next to the M-19. A bad weather date for the event will be September 25th.
Mary Ellen Shepherd-Logan is a former Vice President and Program Coordinator for RAHGS, as well as the Cemetery Walk Co-Chair. She said funds raised from the walk will support RAHGS’s restoration and education efforts in the historic village.
“The Cemetery Walk brings to life events and people who helped shape and build our community,” Shepherd-Logan said. “They help us see how far we’ve come as a city and help us recognize not only their efforts and contributions, but perhaps how each of us can help the city move into the future.”
Some of the prominent Richmond citizens of the past who will be represented at the march will be:
• Clarence Flowers, one of the city’s first photographers. Clarence Flowers will be portrayed by RAHGS Foundation Board Member Dr. Patrick McClellan. McClellan is a resident of Richmond and has experience in community theater. Clarence Flowers lived from 1872 to 1939 and worked as a painter, radio repairman and amateur radio operator in addition to his photography work.
“His photographs of Richmond were used on postcards and he also documented the buildings, homes and landscape of Richmond in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He opened a gallery in Lenox in 1903” , said Shepherd-Logan.
• Eva Sitzer Flowers, wife of Clarence Flowers. Lucia Marshall will play Eva Sitzer Flowers. Marshall currently lives in St. Clair Shores but was previously from Richmond and has experience in community theater. Eva Sitzer Flowers lived from 1874 to 1935. She and her husband Clarence Flowers had three children, and Eva Sitzer Flowers supported Clarence’s business ventures.
• OB Evans, who was president of the village for 25 years. RAHGS member Richard Ren will play Evans. Evans lived from 1859 to 1948.
“Under his leadership the village was deleveraged, a new high school was built, Main Street was paved, and he engineered the combination of two school districts into one,” Shepherd-Logan said.
• Lettie Claggett Bailey, daughter of the pioneer family James and Jemima Claggett. Bailey will be played by Karen Spenser Johnson-Arel. She has experience in community theatre. Bailey lived from 1878 to 1967, marrying into the family for which Richmond’s Bailey Park was named. Shepherd-Logan said Bailey was involved with many city organizations, such as the school board.
• Louise Springborn, co-founder of the hotel. Springborn lived from 1866 to 1923. She married Ferdinand Springborn, who built the Lenox Hotel, Shepherd-Logan said. Shepherd-Logan, a current resident of St. Clair and former resident of Richmond, will portray Springborn.
• George Weston of the Richmond Lumber Company, founded in 1875. Weston lived from 1846 to 1911. RAHGS board member Norman Gibson will portray Weston. Weston and his brother started a planing mill and sawmill business together. Shepherd-Logan said when a fire broke out at the business and in the nearby neighborhood, a passing fire truck was able to help save the buildings. This fire truck will be on display during the walk, according to Shepherd-Logan.
“All the actors are volunteers. All of this year’s cast, except for Richard Ren, have performed on previous graveyard walks,” Shepherd-Logan said. “This is Richard’s first performance.”
RAHGS began conducting cemetery walks in 2017. New historical and significant families are selected to be represented by re-enactors on the walk each year. Walks traditionally take place at the City of Richmond Cemetery, which is approximately 18.5 acres in size. The cemetery land was first purchased in 1850.
The cost to attend the Cemetery Walk is $15 per person. Children 5 and under can participate for free. Walking times are assigned when purchasing tickets. Walks are scheduled every 30 minutes, starting at 1 p.m. Tickets can be obtained Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Historic Village, located at 36045 Park St., or in the Village on September 10 and 11 during the Richmond Good Old Days Feast. Tickets can also be obtained by calling 586-808-2953 or 586-727-7755.
The walk is sponsored by Rewalt-Peshek Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
Nicole Tuttle is a freelance journalist for MediaNews Group.