Get to know who you owe. That’s the premise behind the Cemetery Walk, an event put on in the Galion, Bucyrus and Crestline communities.
Galion’s third annual event was presented by the Galion Historical Society and Fairview Cemetery on May 4. Attendees had an opportunity to stroll through Fairview and learn about eight individuals from Galion’s history.
First up on the tour was Clara Manzer (Amber Wertman), who was the personal secretary to Bishop William Brown. She wrote letters for him and scheduled all of his appointments. When Brown’s wife, Ella, died in 1935, Manzer made all of the funeral arrangements.
The next stop on the walk was John Kraft (Dan Brown). He opened Galion’s first brewery, which was located where the City Building now stands. Kraft said the expansion of the railways doomed small breweries, because cold cars allowed the big breweries to ship their product across the country.
Fortunately the recipe for the “beer that made Milwalkee jealous” still exists. Kraft had some of it for patrons (of legal drinking age) to sample.
Even the “Father of Galion” made an appearance. Asa Hosford (Kit Walter) stood by his gravestone at the front of the cemetery and reminisced about Galion’s early days, including settling at the Four Corners and feuding over a name for the town. As a state legislator, Hosford brought the railroads through Galion, dramatically changing the community’s future.
While the Cemetery Walk boasts historical significance, it was personally significant to others: Rich Henry portrayed his real-life grandfather, Oscar Wisler. The Wisler family has strong ties to Galion, and many of the gravestones are located in the same area within the Mt. Calvary section of Fairview.
Oscar worked for his father at Wisler’s Grocery Store, then at the age of 21 he purchased 120 acres of land in Montana. The love of his life, Jeanette, was forbidden to go with him, so he came back to Galion and married her at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. He bought the building at 130 Harding Way East and opened a butcher shop.
Also included on the tour was Harriet Markey (Nancy Green). A teacher for 52 years, Markey spent the last three years of her career at Galion. On her very first day of teaching, she started with 19 students and ended the day with just five.
Emma Colburn Lee (Jackie Smith) is remembered as one of Galion’s most eccentric residents. She spent her money shopping and was a hoarder. In fact, when she died her home was so full of hoarded items the coroner could not carry her out on a stretcher. She had no children and did not leave a will, so her belongings were auctioned off, a task that took two weeks.
Lee’s husband, Henry D. Lee (Larry Smith), also stopped by. He was involved with the oil industry and eventually sold it to Standard Oil. After his marriage to Emma was annulled, he moved to Kansas and founded the Lee Jeans Company.
Attendees made their way to the mausoleum for the final stop. Dr. Samuel D. Wagner (Dick Ramsdell) was a local dentist. He said one of the most important experiences of his life was when he was 25 years old and watched President Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address. Wagner came to Galion later in life and lived on Gill Avenue. He lived to be 99 years old, the oldest resident in Galion at the time.
Sponsors of this year’s Cemetery Walk were Longstreth Memorials, Mark A. Schneider Funeral Home, Snyder Funeral Home - Richardson-Davis Chapel and Crawford 20/20 Vision. Actors’ costumes were provided by Galion Community Theatre, with special assistance from Nancy Herman.
For more information about Fairview Cemetery, call the office at 419-468-5390 or visit www.fairviewcemeterygalion.org. To get involved with Galion history and preservation, contact the Historical Society at 419-468-9338 or visit www.galionhistory.com.
Bucyrus will hold its Cemetery Walk at Oakwood Cemetery on July 27. Crestline will hold its Walk on Sept. 29 at Greenwood Cemetery.