History class gives tours through Fountain Fairview Cemetery to raise funds for repairs

October 17, 2016

Anne Stewart

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     Spending the evening in a cemetery seems to be the perfect activity as Halloween approaches, especially when it’s for a good cause.

     Students in HIST 4580: American West led informational tours through Fountain Fairview Cemetery on Oct. 1.

     The tours were part of a mid-term project where the students researched residents of the cemetery from 1871-1946. The tours serve as an effort to raise funds not only for the preservation and restoration of historic graves, but as a response to vandalism in the cemetery.

     The purpose of the project was to give the students a greater understanding of who they were learning about, along with how to create a narrative for the person they studied through primary and secondary resources, according to Amy Haines, American West and history lecturer.

     This is the first semester that this class has incorporated this kind of work and participation, according to Haines.

     “Two people from my class chose to be historical interpreters, which meant that they had to embody the resident as best they could, from a prepared script, read about this person, embody this person and give this person a voice,” said Haines.

     Other students had options to help with ticket sales and the overall running and overseeing of the tours.

     “It’s important to get into the actual, tangible work of primary resources,” said Haines.

     The first tour raised over $3,000 with strong support from the community, according to Barbara Headle, history instructor. The funds were used to help purchase security cameras for the protection of the site.

     “We’ve had good years, and we’ve had not-so-great years. But we’re dedicated to one headstone at a time, one resident at a time,” said Headle.

     The Fountain Fairview Cemetery Benevolent Society, which hosts the annual historic cemetery tour, has 10 members on the board, according to Headle, who also serves as a co-founder of the FFCBS.

     The society was founded as a response to vandalism within the cemetery.

     Haines, who has been involved with the FFCBS for three years, said that she still sees positive reactions from the Fountain community and that residents appreciate seeing that people outside of Fountain care.

     The cemetery was vandalized in August 2012, one month after a cemeteries class went to document historic grave sites, according to Headle.

     She asked for pictures of the gravesites that had been ruined and intended to give the pictures to the community in Fountain.

     Students responded and wanted to raise funds for damage done to 12 headstones that date back to 1871, said Headle.

     Sarah Wilson, president of the Fountain Valley Historical Society, said that the community supports the efforts of the FFCBS and the cemetery tour.

     “(The tour) has been something that we needed. It brings focus to the town’s history, and (the participants) stay true to the story, and I like that about it,” said Wilson.