Sunday, February 25, 2024

JCGHS meets in Vienna Fraternal Cemetery

By Dixie Terry

Gary Hacker as P. T. Chapman.

After a summer recess, the Johnson County Genealogical and Historical Society came together for their beginning of a new season on Sunday, September 15.  The gathering was quite a contrast to the usual meeting in the community room of the Vienna Carnegie Library.

The members and guests were requested to arrive at the Vienna Fraternal Cemetery at 2:30 p.m., for a cemetery walk.  JCGHS board member, Shirley Wolfe coordinated the program, which included bringing back four former county citizens to share of their lives, while standing beside their tombstone.

Flo Dunning as Jemima Clary Parker.

Among those who served as reenactors, was Max Hutchison, who wore a Civil War uniform, along with a pretend mustache, as Colonel Samuel Hess.  He fought for his country in the War Between the States, before becoming a respected businessman in the county.  Hess left his wife with his mercantile business, while he traveled to California during the Gold Rush of 1848.  He later returned to take up his profession as a tailor.

Gary Hacker, distinguished in his Sunday-go-to-meeting attire and also sporting a mustache, portrayed Pleasant Thomas Chapman.  P.T., as he was known, was the son of Daniel Chapman, who came to the county from New York state after being involved in the Revolutionary War.  As a very successful businessman, Chapman organized the first bank in Vienna, in 1883.  He later became well known as a politician.

Karen Choate became Sarah Whittenberg Cover, and wore an elegant ensemble, a reflection of her days in Vienna as one of the city’s socialites.

Jemima Jane Clary Parker, known as Jennie, was portrayed by Flo Dunning, who wore a floor-length frock from her time in Vienna.  She and her husband, Jack, were both from Mississippi, where he had been a member of the U.S. Cavalry.  They came to Johnson County as Union sympathizers.

Max Hutchison as Colonel Samuel Hess.

Those attending the reenactment program were quite impressed and some were heard to say they hoped to see it repeated, maybe in other county cemeteries.

Said Dunning, “It was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  We learned a lot of history of a few of the many who are buried there.”  She added that it was really hot in the bonnet and long dress, while portraying Mrs. Parker.

Said Helen Burke, via Facebook, “It was as though you could almost feel them thanking you for coming to visit.  The peace and quiet was amazing.”

Wolfe was commended for doing a great job of researching the historical data and convincing the four locals to be actors on a hot, late summer afternoon.

Karen Choate as Sarah Whittenberg Cover.

The next JCGHS meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 20, at the Carnegie Library, on the historic Vienna Public Square. The Pond Ladies Club, over one hundred years old, will be the program focus.

Everyone is welcome to attend and to become a member of the active JCGHS.