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Murray sesquicentennial cemetery walk offers historic walk-through experience for visitors

Max Flaherty, left, and Dick Davidson greet each other during Murray's sesquicentennial cemetery walk Saturday.The friends go back to high school. Flaherty graduated from Murray Community Schools in 1952 and Davidson was two years ahead of him. Davidson lives on the east coast now but the two usually see each other during the annual Lions Club Jamboree.
Max Flaherty, left, and Dick Davidson greet each other during Murray's sesquicentennial cemetery walk Saturday.The friends go back to high school. Flaherty graduated from Murray Community Schools in 1952 and Davidson was two years ahead of him. Davidson lives on the east coast now but the two usually see each other during the annual Lions Club Jamboree.

MURRAY – Murray’s sesquicentennial and jamboree included many new activities this year, but a unique event that took visitors on a trip was the cemetery walk.

The cemetery walk was Diana Moffitt-Robins’ idea. Moffitt-Robins was on the 150th planning committee and thought of the idea while brainstorming on how to get people to attend the sesquicentennial.

Moffitt-Robins began the planning process three years ago and teamed up with Jordon Grove and Joan Callison to put the event together for Saturday.

Grove, who is an English teacher at Murray Community Schools and drama department director, assisted by incorporating the drama club members from the school to be guides for the walk. Grove also assisted by writing a few of the scripts.

Callison gathered information about those who were buried in the cemetery.

The cemetery walk included 10 people who were from Murray or came to Murray during their lifetimes.

Guests were welcomed by a drama student and given historic information about the cemetery.

The first small burial ground was located about 2 1/2 miles east of Murray, which quickly became overcrowded in the 1850s. The need for a new cemetery with more land became apparent to the community. William Bell, along with organized trustees, paid $100 to William and Jannette Ward for four acres of land. That section of land is currently the north section of the cemetery.

Many of those who are buried in the cemetery have been recorded and are now in an online database. Many of those include bibliographies that their family has written to honor them. Some of the people who were included in the walk do not have bibliographies which is why they are there.

“Murray has a very rich history and a cemetery walk is one of the best ways to learn about our past, through the voices of the people who created our past,” said Alyssa Martin, a drama volunteer for the walk.

Initially, Grove was going to have the drama club be the actors, but decided it would be best to find people who were related or who may have known the person.

William Lochrie was one of the 10 individuals whose bibliography was read and performed by volunteer Eric Hammer.

Lochre was born in Murray in 1892. He became a member of the national guard in Kansas and, upon a trip back to Murray in the spring of 1917, enlisted with Company L, the third Regiment of the Iowa National Guard. When the guard was activated, he became a Private in 168th Company of the Rainbow Division, the 42nd Infantry Division.

Lochre was killed in action while bravely attacking enemy lines during the battle of Chateau Thrierry in July of 1918. He was 25 years old. His body was returned to Murray in September of that year and his funeral was held in the Methodist church. His funeral was attended by so many people that the building was not large enough to hold them all. To honor his sacrifice, the American Legion Post in Murray was named after him.

“This year was the 100th anniversary of his death, so that’s why it was really important to me to recognize him this year,” said Moffitt-Robins.

The event had more than 100 people participate on Saturday evening.

“My favorite part was when we actually ran out of guides and I ended up taking one group around,” said Grove. “It was also a great opportunity to honor some of the people who lived in Murray and their families.”

Donations were accepted during the event and the proceeds were donated to the Murray Drama Club in order to help them create a new space for their costumes.

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