November 8, 2006 Shreveport Times News
Ghost Walk to offer living history lessons in Old Minden Cemetery
Nationally known folk artist Cora Lou Robinson will portray author
Ada Jack Carver Snell, whose “A Pink Inheritance” short story was
published in 1915 in The Designer magazine, during Ghost Walk on
Saturday in Old Minden Cemetery. (Special to The Times)
Sandy Corley, a former drama teacher at Minden High School, will
portray Alma Tompkins, wife of Dr. Rutledge Tompkins.
By Vickie Welborn
MINDEN -- You are invited to hang out in Old
Minden Cemetery on Saturday as this Webster Parish city's past emerges from
But there are no ghosts or goblins here. Only present-day citizens donning
clothing and personalities of the past and sharing tidbits of what it took
to make Minden what it is today.
The idea for this living history lesson referred to as a Ghost Walk came
about three years ago when Schelley Brown and local historian John Agan,
both members of the Minden Cemetery Association, decided something was
needed to assist in funding the upkeep and repairs of the grounds and
Brown and Agan relied upon Earlene Mendenhall Lyle and her book, "The Minden
Cemetery: A Peaceful Resting Place," and decided to tie the event to
The response has been overwhelming, Brown said, as people from as far away
as Nebraska, New Mexico and Florida are making plans to attend this year.
"We already have one group of 90 coming from all over the country. It
surprises more than a few to find out some of the interesting facts abut the
people in Minden's history. We have people buried here that made huge
impacts on Louisiana and Arkansas."
Mystery surrounds history
The beginning of the Minden Cemetery cannot be precisely pinpointed as
traditional sources provide contradictory information. The centennial
edition of the former Minden Signal-Tribune and Springhill Journal published
in 1934 credits the first burial in 1840. The newspaper account also states
that in 1854, after the incorporation of Minden, Col. John Langdon Lewis and
his wife deeded the cemetery to the town.
Many of the oldest markers in the cemetery were destroyed when a tornado
devastated the town on May 1, 1933. The tornado, estimated as a F-3
strength, killed 28 people and injured 400.
Upkeep of the cemetery was problematic even before the natural disaster,
however. Its condition had deteriorated so much that Mayor Pankary W. Paul
on May 17, 1883, published a letter to the editor urging Minden citizens to
clean the graveyard of the "leaves, limbs and debris that have accumulated
there in past year."
Paul references the soldiers of the Civil War whose graves were hidden from
sight. Surely, Paul said, one day a year could be set aside for "loving
hearts and willing hands" to come together to clean the evidence of
His request worked, as a May 31, 1883, story in the Tribune indicated, "The
people, in obedience to the call of the mayor, turned out on the 21st "» and
greatly improved the cemetery."
Another cleanup was necessary by 1890, which is when the Minden Cemetery
Association was formed and someone was hired to maintain the grounds.
"Today, the Minden Cemetery is a physical reminder of those that created the
echoes of our past. Maintaining the cemetery is still the task of the Minden
Cemetery Association, and now, as in 1883, they can always use financial
assistance to preserve and protect this hallowed ground," Brown said.
Voices of the past
It's appropriate that this year's annual Ghost Walk actually falls on
Veterans Day, Brown said, as special recognition is always given to veterans
who are buried in the cemetery. Veterans from as far back as the War of
1812, the Civil War, World War I and World War II will be the focus of this
Local bagpiper Vernon Love will make his third appearance for this special
tribute, Brown said. He'll be positioned in the cemetery, with his bagpipe
music providing a backdrop to the 13 tour stops.
Several husband and wife ghosts will bring the soldiers' stories to life,
complete with personal belongings and photographs from home.
"Hello there. My name is Alberta Glass, I ran a store in downtown Minden for
nearly 50 years, but most folks remember me for another reason. I was the
last veteran of the War Between the States in Minden. I was born in old
Claiborne Parish in 1845. When I was 15 years old my parents sent me down to
a new school in Pineville called the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning
and Military Institute (you probably know it better by the name it got later
"There was a really tough soldier as superintendent at the school, his name
was William Tecumseh Sherman "" yep, the famous General Sherman. I had only
been at the school a little while when The War Between The States broke out.
I went back home and in March 1862, I joined Company G of the 12th Louisiana
Infantry in the Confederate Army. We went to the east and fought quite a bit
in Georgia and Tennessee. I even got wounded once at the Battle of Atlanta.
When it came time for us to surrender in May 1865, I bet you can guess who
our unit surrendered to. It was the Army of that same General Sherman who'd
been head of my school.
"I came back to Minden after the war and went to work as a store clerk.
Eventually I owned that store. By 1933, I was 88 years old and the last
Confederate veteran still living in Minden. They had a big ceremony to
dedicate that statue in the park over on the next hill south of this
cemetery. Had a band and everything, they let me unveil the statue. I only
lived 4 years after that. I was going on 92 when I finally died. I tell you,
I saw a lot of things change here in Minden and this country."
Glass' words, to be spoken by Joe Luck, offer a small sample of the history
of the cemetery, which is not widely known for its small connection with the
Battle of Mansfield.
In an area known as the "trench," the remains of 21 Confederate soldiers are
buried. All died of wounds received at the Battle of Mansfield, which was
fought in April 1864.
The Minden Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a
monument to these men in 1936. Recently, a single individual tombstone was
erected marking the burial place of Pvt. Thomas L. Anderson of the 31st
The tour is not all about war, though. Jacqueline Ward Taylor, another of
Minden's residents, will be introduced by Martha Belton. Taylor, known as
Aunt Jack, was a well-known operator of a Minden hotel for many years. She
died in 1930 at the age of 90.
Belton, a retired school teacher, has portrayed Taylor for three years, and
does so because of her love of history and desire to see that the Minden
Cemetery is maintained for generations to come. "I just love encouraging
people to remember our past.
""» I ran the hotel up on Broadway; oh, I forget you call it Main Street
today, for 40 years. The old hotel is the building where Roberts Music store
is today. I just wanted to please my customers, but they tell me I showed
the most hospitality to guests of anybody in these parts. I guess there was
something to it. When they had my funeral in 1931, all the stores in town
closed down and the people came to the cemetery. Makes you feel good to know
that the folks appreciated what you did while you were among the living.
"It's been nice to meet all of you, and I want you to always think of me
when you see that park they named after me, you know the one with the
bandstand downtown, well y'all call it a gazebo. You did know that's
Jacqueline Park? Named after me, and it's sure nice to know my town thought
so much of me to preserve my memory."
This year is Chris Broussard's first for participation. She jumped at the
chance to portray Mary Fuller Moess, grandmother of Zenobia West, a
descendant of Frederick J. Moess, for whom The Farm, the future site of The
Moess Center for the Arts, is named.
"I'll tell you how I'm proud of my great-granddaughter and her contribution
to the community," said Broussard, founder of Cultural Crossroads Inc., a
nonprofit arts agency that is leading a fundraising effort to build the
cultural arts center.
The romance between Frederick Moess, a German immigrant, and his first wife,
Mary Mackey, led to marriage and his acquisition of a piece of property. His
second marriage to Mary Fuller Moess produced several children, including a
daughter, Dora, whose daughter Zenobia, "out of her love for the community
and concern for the children of Minden, donated that piece of land to become
an arts center," Broussard said.
Another of Minden's well-known is author Ada Jack Carver. Lifelong Minden
resident Cora Lou Robinson has assumed Carver's identity for the past three
years. Originally from Natchitoches, Carver moved to Minden and in the 1920s
and 1930s wrote a series of short stories that drew national acclaim. Her
son, David Snell, followed in her footsteps as a writer for Life magazine.
Robinson remembers Carver. "She was a character and she was known for being
eccentric. I just love playing her. I wouldn't dare let anybody else have
that part," the schoolteacher said with a laugh.
Brown encourages anyone with family buried in the Minden Cemetery to take
part in the Ghost Walk, which she promises is done with "great respect."
"This is a way to honor and pay tribute to those men and women that worked
so hard to make Minden the community that we love," Brown said.
Daniel and Alice Stewart
Dr. Albert G. Harper
Rutledge C. & Alma Thompkins
On the left is an unknown grave
George, William and their mother Mary Ann Crichton
George Carroll Hunter and Larry Hunter
Frederick J. Moess & his two wives Mary Mackey & Mary Fuller Moess
THE CIVIL WAR TRENCH
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest.
Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise, For our days,
'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.
N. J. Sandlin
John and Ada Jack Carver Snell
Mrs. Mary Smith was the
first person buried in the Minden cemetery. Her grave is unmarked.
BAYOU INN DINNER
Photographed by Sam Cheatham
Drew Chreene and Ann Mays Harlan signing people in for
the Bayou Inn dinner. Behind Ann
you will see Roy Baggett who welcomed our guest and gave the invocation.
Earlene Mendenhall Lyle and Bob Lyle
Jim and Sherry Gresham Gritzbaugh
Cortez David Cupples, Douglas "Red" Cupples, Charlie "Hoss" Hennigan and
Kathleen Hortman Bryan
I see Jean Morgan Griffin and maybe Billy Weaver behind Kathleen.
Bobby Wise, Judy Barron Wise, Catsy Harper Schneider and Roland Schneider
Nellie Lunsford Martin behind Catsy?
Janet Weaver, Tommy Weaver, Betty Jean Jones Palmer,
Jean Morgan Griffin,
and Vera Wood Weaver. Missing is Billy Weaver.
Carroll Gay Hardy, Rose Rabb Hardy, Ruth and Neil Baker
Sandra Tubberville Moorehead, Bobby Moorehead, Roy & Mary Baggett,
Karen Dulany at the head of the table.
L-R, Pat Irby?, David Bailey, Bob & Judy Crayton, Jack and Jimmie Lou
Voorhries & Virginia Bailey
Jimmie Lou Voorhries, Virginia Bailey?, Bob Craton, Judy Craton and Jack Voorhries
Behind Judy, I see Thomas Sharpling
Rowland and Dottie Ivy, Lani and Richard Thrash
Carroll Gay Hardy, Rose Rabb Hardy, Ruth and Neil Baker, Douglas "Red"
Robinson Culpepper Pictured here
with Judy Spitzfaden Craton, and Bobby Craton
Jeanette Gipson Baker
Catsy Harper Schneider