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Second Cemetery History Walk being planned

Elmwood-St. Joseph Municipal Cemetery is organizing a second History Walk ‘Visions of Historic Mason City’ to provide another opportunity for people to connect with the community’s history and realize a deeper appreciation for the cemetery.

An informational meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 26th at 6:30 PM in the classroom at the Mason City Public Library for people to learn more about the event and how they can get involved in this fun and fascinating event.

People interested in the cemetery, genealogy and historic preservation are needed to help put on the history walk. Volunteers help as tour guides and actors or with research, ticket sales, publicity, refreshments, set up, etc. Actors and actresses are especially needed to portray the people listed. If interested in helping and cannot make the meeting, please call Randy Opheim at the cemetery office # 421-3687 or email

This year’s portrayals tentatively include:
Minnie Melson, 1861-1915, schoolteacher and first wife of developer Joshua Melson;
Kirk ‘Burr’ Burrows, 1841-1918, established the first livery stable in Mason City;
Elizabeth Stanton, 1893-1944, operated the Stanton Hotel with husband John;
Anton T. ‘Tony’ Swartz, 1856-1943, Orphan Boy who came west from New York City;
J.C. ‘Chunk’ Williams, 1860-1941, old west horse trader and a reputed ‘dead’ shot;
Albert F. ‘Henry’ Chilson, 1846-1939, Civil War veteran and stagecoach driver;
Alonzo Willson, 1822-1912, grandfather of Meredith Willson;
Peter and Catherine Gribben, 1855-1944, Irish immigrants, parents of Leo Gribben.

Anyone with information, pictures or interesting stories about these people is asked to contact the cemetery office.
A Cemetery History Walk is a trip into the past where participants experience history with the help of costumed actors. The actors portray historic people buried in the cemetery, sharing highlights of their lives and contributions to the community, state and the nation. Elmwood-St. Joseph Municipal Cemetery is a fascinating place filled with majestic monuments and mausoleums honoring city founders, war veterans and famous citizens. It also reflects the cultural heritages and diverse religious faiths of the many families that have lived in Mason City and the surrounding area.

Last year’s History Walk was a big success, in spite of a drizzly rain during the event. Over 140 people attended, giving rave reviews and hoping it would be put on again. The proceeds of the event, totaling over $1,000, will assist with the restoration of the south limestone column at the original entrance on 10th Street SW and creating a tour guide map highlighting the historic aspects of the cemetery.

The mission of Elmwood-St. Joseph Municipal Cemetery is to provide our community, its citizens and their families exceptional cemetery services in a respectful, caring manner. With over 100 acres of grounds in the heart of Mason City, it continues to be an active cemetery while preserving its historic elements.

Contact Cemetery Manager Randy Opheim at 421-3687 for questions or more information about this news release.

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