There are moments in history that shape the people who live it, and a century ago that moment lasted four years with the war to end all wars, World War I.
This Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18, the Fort Nisqually Time Travelers, a select group of living history re-enactors, will be visiting Tacoma Cemetery to bring that era to life for the seventh annual Living History Cemetery Tour.
The tour will feature Tacomans who are an important part of the City of Destiny, and who were all affected by World War I in one way or another.
“We’re not all completely focusing on World War I but World War I affected them all in their own way,” Fort Nisqually Time Traveler Karen Haas said.
The re-enactors have been studying their counterparts for months, and will have an informative speech prepared for groups, all while wearing authentic outfits and channeling their subjects.
“It’s a challenge. You’re literally standing on that person’s grave, so you jolly well better get that person right,” Haas said.
The full list of subjects on the tour is as follows:
Alexander Baillie, portrayed by Lawrence Bradley was the founder of Tacoma Country & Golf Club.
Annie Brown, portrayed by Victoria Pann, was the wife of the lighthouse keeper at Brown’s Point during the war.
Ada Bel Tutton Gifford, portrayed by Karen Haas, owned a millinery shop on Broadway Avenue.
Chester Thorne, portrayed by Mike Preston, was a local businessman who built Thornewood Manor.
Peter Wallerich, portrayed by Walter Neary, was a South Tacoma businessman and German immigrant.
Hugh and Mildred Wallace, portrayed by Patrick Haas and Dana Repp, moved in high social circles, were friends of Presidents and were instrumental in the Treaty of Versailles.
W.F. Sheard, portrayed by Richard Repp, was a fur trapper, gun designer and the man responsible for the Tacoma totem pole.
“Tacoma isn’t all the big names. It’s you and me, the average people who make Tacoma the wonderful place it is,” Haas said.
The Fort Nisqually Time Travelers have been digging up info on these men and women for months. Though it can be difficult to find information for the “everyman” in history, with some help from the Tacoma Public Library a narrative was prepared for everyone showcased in the tour.
“God bless the Northwest Room at the Tacoma library. They have helped all of us immensely in the research,” Haas said.
While spending your weekend strolling through a cemetery may seem a little morbid, the group promises that not only is the walk informative, but also gorgeous.
“It’s a chance to walk through one of the prettiest places in Tacoma. It’s like a beautiful park,” Haas said of the Tacoma Cemetery, “a way to see history in a way you don’t usually. You get to meet some of the mover and shakers from Tacoma history.”
Each graveside stop on the tour will last about five minutes, meaning the tour will be a little over half an hour. While the walk is beautiful, there are some hilly areas so there may be some difficulty in walking from site to site, however, seating will be provided at each location to give tour walkers a break.