The St. Helena Historical Society of St. Helena, California, will hold their annual “Spirits of St. Helena” cemetery tour this September. It makes use of historical reenactment as a means of teaching people about the lives of those who are buried in the cemetery.
The St. Helena Historical Society was founded in 2002 by a small group of local citizens led by former librarian Larry Hlavsa. The mission of the Society is to collect, preserve, exhibit, interpret, and provide access to the history of the St. Helena area from the ancient settlements of the first Native Americans until the present day.
St. Helena is located in the Napa Valley, and is known for being the center of the wine industry. In addition, St. Helena has a multifaceted history. The downtown core of St. Helena is a National Register Historic District. The land upon which their heritage stone buildings and cottage-lined neighborhoods rests hosted a “parade of pioneer-spirited” populations from around the globe. People came to St. Helena because of the richness of the land.
The 13th annual “Spirits of St. Helena” Discovery Walk will take place on September 10, 2016. It will include two guided tours through the St. Helena Cemetery – one starting at 1:00 and the other beginning at 2:00 in the afternoon. Admission is $10.00 per person.
This year, the St. Helena Historical Society has partnered with the St. Helena High School Drama Department. The local drama students will step into the 1860’s and portray the Civil War soldiers that are buried in the St. Helena Cemetery. This type of tour is often done by having the actors talk directly to the tourists about the life of the person they represent from his point of view.
The year 2016 marks 160 years since the first burial at the St. Helena Cemetery. The theme of this year’s cemetery tour is “Old Soldiers Go West”, as the graves of the St. Helenans who fought in the U.S. Civil War from 1861 – 1865 are visited. An additional bonus this year is the professional Civil War reenactor in full uniform who will impersonate Capt. Augustus Starr of the California Cavalry.
The St. Helena Cemetery was established in 1856 by Mr. William Hudson. It was a private cemetery where his wife, Sarah Hudson, was buried. In 1872, daughter Mary Hudson McCormick donated the original six acres for the purpose of a town cemetery. Citizens responded to a notice posted in the St. Helena Starr newspaper and formed a cemetery association.
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