The 11th annual Tales of the Crypt will be Sunday, Oct. 16, from 2 to 5 p.m. at historic Fairview Cemetery in Van Buren.
Students from Tom Wing’s historical interpretation program at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith will portray six historical figures buried at Fairview Cemetery, which was established in 1837 when John Drennen donated 10 acres to establish the cemetery.
This year’s portrayals will be:
• Margaret Wood was born in 1857 and died in 1936. She was a teacher for the Fort Smith and Van Buren public schools and was the founder of the Van Buren Women’s Literary Club. Margaret Wood is being portrayed by Jennifer Dossett of Lamar, a UAFS history major with a minor in resource interpretation. Dossett will graduate in December.
• Lucy Ames Butler was the second wife of Dr. Elizur Butler, trusted missionary to the Cherokee people. He was incarcerated for traveling into Indian territory without proper authorization. Lucy Butler was a Presbyterian missionary and that is how she met the reverend. Dr. Butler would become the first religion teacher at the Cherokee Female Seminary in Oklahoma and his wife Lucy would help to advocate his release from prison. Lucy Butler will be portrayed by Jennifer Hardaway, a UAFS senior from West Fork. She is majoring in history and minoring in resource interpretation.
• Mary Beckel Willhaf was a loving wife and devoted mother. She was born on Feb. 27, 1824, in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. She met her husband Leonard Willhaf, who was originally from Württemberg, Germany, and they moved to the United States. They were eventually married in Fort Smith. The Willhafs settled down in Van Buren, where Mr. Willhaf was considered one of the first merchants of the town. He started the first bakery, “The Old Established Bakery,” in 1840. About eight years later, Mary gave birth to their only child, a boy named Charles. Sara Kincannon of Fort Smith will portray Mary Wilhaf. She is 21 years old and a senior at UAFS, graduating in the spring of 2017. She is a theater major with a resource interpretation minor.
• Jane (Sibley) Ogden was born in 1817. She was the wife of Judge John B. Ogden. He was a lawyer, judge and court clerk during his time in Van Buren. Judge Ogden presided over the case against Parley Pratt. Jane Ogden died in February 1866, shortly after the Civil War. She was a mother of five children. Mrs. Ogden will be portrayed by Laura Perryman, a senior majoring in history with a minor in resource interpretation. She collects vintage sewing patterns, Halloween decor and photo booth photos.
• Phineas H. White’s birthdate is unknown. The year of his death is 1856. While these facts are in dispute, his friendship and business partnerships with some of the most powerful men of 19th century Arkansas is not. White and his wife were originally from Massachusetts as was their close friend, Albert Pike, who, along with them, made Arkansas their home. White was partners with Phillip Pennywitt, John Drennen and Charles G. Scott. The Whites are buried in the Drennen-Scott family plot. Greg Hall, volunteer par excellence at Drennen-Scott Hisoric Site, will portray P.H. White.
• Henry Conrad Faber was born March 20, 1868. Faber was a respected businessman, owning and operating a shoe store and grocery store. He is also the “mystery man” on the cover of Tom Wing’s new book about the history of Van Buren. He was known as a loving husband and devoted family man who was also a devout Episcopalian. Nealson Lowe of Fort Smith, historian, Drennen-Scott volunteer and numismatist, will portray Faber.
Proceeds from Tales of the Crypt are used for preservation of historic monuments at Fairview Cemetery.
More than 2,000 of the burials at Fairview Cemetery are historical. There are more than 1,000 sites available at the cemetery, which was accorded National Register of Historic Places on June 1, 2005.
Tales of the Crypt is sponsored in part by the City of Van Buren, the Van Buren Historic District Commission and the Van Buren Advertising and Promotion Commission.
Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children. Entry to the cemetery will be on the McKibben Street gate with only handicapped parking permitted inside the cemetery. All other parking will be on the McKibben Street side.