Home News Local News Students, teachers use cemetery as stage to re-enact Roswell’s past

Students, teachers use cemetery as stage to re-enact Roswell’s past

The South Park Cemetery Historical Tour starts off with a cowboy on horseback riding up to the group to give a brief overview of how the cemetery started and its current operations. This year Jack Ferguson, president of the cemetery board, and his horse, Surprise, did the introductions. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The Dynamite Preacher and the King of the Cowboys came back to Roswell this weekend in a way.

Keaton Hartwell plays the role of Bob Crosby, “King of the Cowboys,” a rodeo champion in 1926 and 1928, who passed away in 1947. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Those memorable figures from Roswell’s past were given a voice again Saturday when students and instructors involved in the Kids Arts Program (KAPS) held a historical walking tour at South Park Cemetery to raise money for the program, which provides training in music, theater and visual arts in area public schools.

Youth and adults, stationed at various grave sites, represented historical figures over different periods in Roswell’s history and talked about the lives of their characters and the characters’ family and friends.

The brief monologues built on the work of Heidi Huckabee and Valarie Grant, now faculty at New Mexico Military Institute, and English students they worked with for a year at Mesa Middle School. The students and educators researched and wrote “South Park Cemetery: Exploring Roswell’s Roots” in 2002.

Tour participants also heard a bit about the history of the cemetery itself, which the city began to operate in 1915. Today, it occupies 210 acres and has about 31,000 graves.

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Some of the stories told during the tour included those of the nuns who worked at St. Mary’s Hospital; Roswell’s first mayor, James Fielding Hinkle; the Rev. Robert Lund, a lawyer and the “dynamite preacher,” so-named because some dynamite he used for mining exploded accidentally; and Bob Crosby, a rodeo champion named by Life magazine as the “King of the Cowboys.”

KAPS leaders, including treasurer Nancy Williams and instructors Lynetta Zuber and Alethea Hartwell, said they expect to hold the tour once a year, if not more frequently.

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