Fayette Lantern Tour brings past alive

By David J. Coehrs - dcoehrs@fcnews.org

Some interesting stories have been laid to rest in Pleasant View Union Cemetery in Fayette. At 7 p.m. Thursday several of them will be unearthed.

The Second Annual Historical Lantern Tour, a collaboration between Fayette’s Normal Memorial Library and Bean Creek Valley History Center, will be held in the cemetery at 300 Walnut St. Part reenactment, part history lesson, the tour will give Fulton County residents the opportunity to learn about six former residents who played a part in shaping the modern village.

Lit only by a lantern carried by host Barb Wixom, and lanterns or flashlights participants are encouraged to bring, the hour-long tour will wend its way past the graves of six members of Fayette’s past: Civil War soldier Ambrose Hollington; grief-stricken mother Louisa Moody, who lost two young daughters; President James Garfield’s aunt, Polly Garfield Letcher; farmers Jacob and Jerome Mattern; and early village settler Rensselear Humphrey.

The dearly departed will recount their stories at their resting places, respectively, through costumed actors Pastor Paul Baker, Wendy Adams, Susan Stuckey, Steve Snider, Christopher Jensen, and Jerry VanZile.

The tone will be set by bagpipe music played by Julie Cochran, who will appear in full kilt.

Afterward, participants will find repose, as well as cider and doughnuts furnished by Normal Memorial Library, at the barn of Fayette resident Ruth Marlatt, who lives adjacent to the cemetery.

In the event of rain, the entire event will be held in Marlatt’s barn.

The $5 admission will benefit the Bean Creek Valley History Center, located at 118 W. Main St. in the village. The center is an archival institution mainly covering the histories of Chesterfield, Gorham, and Franklin townships in Fulton County, although information from other townships in the county is readily accepted.

Last year’s inaugural Lantern Tour drew 40 people, and History Center President Colleen Rufenacht anticipates more this year.

Many of those whose stories will be told were prominent Fayette citizens, Rufenacht said. They were thoroughly researched “to try to bring them back to life, to bring a story to their (grave) stone, to the dash between the birth and the death date,” she said.

Some of the decedents to be profiled have been researched previously by the History Center. “We have come to know them. You become ingrained in their life,” Rufenacht said.

Normal Memorial librarian Susan Stuckey said the library uses the tour as one of its adult programs. “It’s to introduce people to the past residents who lived here in Fayette, to learn more about their community and what’s involved in it,” she said.

Rufenacht hopes local history buffs from all corners of the county will attend the tour. She said everyone can relate to the tales that will be told.

“This was created to bring more interest in local history and to share the stories of our ancestors lives,” she said.

By David J. Coehrs


Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.