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History brought to life during cemetery walk

Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:34 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 12:05 p.m. CST
(Submitted Photo)
Dick Mckleeven, in coveralls, portrayed James Elliott, the founder of Prairie City, during the Prairie City Cemetery Walk.

On Saturday, June 28, during Prairie City’s Prairie Days celebration, the Prairie City Historical Society, in cooperation with the Jasper County Historical Society, celebrated its first cemetery walk.

The weather was perfect, the predicted rain held off, and the people who portrayed the pioneers and the large crowd that participated had an enjoyable and informative experience. The visitors were sent around to the various stops in groups as soon as enough were in attendance.

The walk started off at the Military Monument, where Betty Buckingham, in period costume, gave the history of the Waveland Cemetery.

The first stop on the tour was with James Elliott, 1820-1921, who founded Prairie City in 1851. The city was originally named “Elliott” but was changed to Prairie City in 1864 when it was found out there was already an Elliott in Iowa. Mr. Elliott was portrayed by Dick McKlveen.

The next stop was with John Brewin, 1818-1894. He was born in England and was a farmer, honored citizen and pioneer. Mr. Brewin was portrayed by Lonnie Appleby.  

The next station was with Vivian Wilson, 1893-1980. Vivian was the wife of Wilmer Willson. She loved to ride horses, and she was a beloved teacher and China Painter. Vivian was portrayed by Rachel Peter.

The next stop was with Dr. Ella Johnson 1891-1972. She was a family doctor and the wife of Kress Johnson, veterinarian. Together they treated all of Prairie City’s residents both human and animal. Her osteopath office was on the north side of the city square. She was also a member of the Eastern Star Lodge. Dr. Ella was portrayed by Linda Perrenoud.

Next was Robert Thompson, 1879-1953. He was a immigrant from Ireland and a farmer. He settled in Gilman, Iowa, later moved to Prairie City. Mr. Thompson was portrayed by Graham Davis.

The next historical figure was Ashford Dowden, 1847-1901. He was a inventor and farmer, and “The Golden Rule” was his rule for life. Ashford was portrayed by Alex Fraker.

The last stop on the tour was with Eliza Blee Zachary, 1819-1900. Eliza was the wife of L. E. Zachary, banker. She was the mother of seven children, and the family lived in the three story white French-Renaissance house on the south side of the old Stage Road west of Prairie City. Eliza was portrayed by Mary Ann Nevins.