First Annual Cemetery Crawl to raise funds for damaged headstones

Oct. 29, 2012

Samantha Morley
smorley2@uccs.edu

It’s the middle of the night. Traffic is dying down, allowing the soft hum of darkness to take over. A loud crack, followed by a dull thud, disturbs the evening’s peace.

The noises continue throughout the night. Come morning, family and friends enter the cemetery only to find several headstones scattered across the grass.

Between 12 and 24 grave markers were vandalized at the Fountain Fairview Cemetery on Aug. 13 and 14. Many of the stones date back to the late 1800s or early 1900s.

“This is really sad. They don’t have any more family to take care of the stones,” said Annette Saumure-Barnhart, a previous Fountain resident. Saumure-Barnhart is the daughter of George Saumure, a former Fountain city councilman.

Earlier in the summer, history instructor Barbara Headle’s UCCS class “Cemeteries, Legacies and American History” toured the cemetery. The group was studying the history of the gravestones.

Kimberly Sweetwood, one of the students, expressed indignation about the incident. “I was so angry,” she said.

Sweetwood channeled her anger into motivation and constructed a fundraiser. “A couple others [and I] immediately said, ‘OK, what are we going to do?'” she said.

The Cemetery Crawl – not literally a “crawl” but a guided tour – will take place Nov. 3 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Attendees will receive a one-hour tour through designated paths in the Fountain Fairview Cemetery. Some 20 UCCS students have volunteered to wear costumes and act out educational skits.

The slow-moving tour will provide guests with six stations that are “headstones and gravestones plots of people who were influential in the pioneering and settlement of Fountain,” Sweetwood explained.

Headle and Sweetwood teamed with the City of Fountain, the Fountain Valley Preservation Society, Fountain Valley Foundation, Fountain Valley Historical Society and Museum and many others to make this event possible.

Tickets are $10 per person, and children younger than 12 are free. The money will be put into a fund to restore the stones. “The goal is to raise $2,013 by 2013,” Sweetwood said.

Sweetwood is requesting donations of clothing for the volunteers from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Also, the group is in need of three additional male actors. If interested, contact Kimberly Sweetwood at ksignsasl@gmail.com.