By Jim Misunas
LARNED — Telling a good story delights local historian David Clapsaddle. When Clapsaddle tells his next story, he will be joined by three other people telling stories about Pawnee County historical figures.
Four early Pawnee County citizens will be featured in “Talking Tombstones,” starting at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Larned Cemetery. The program will feature four Larned citizens who were on hand for the organization of Pawnee County in November 1872 and the city of Larned in the following year. Those prominent people are all buried in the Larned Cemetery.
Local citizens received a sneak preview during Thursday’s Chamber of Commerce coffee hour at the Chamber office.
The event is sponsored by the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association in conjunction with the Larned Convention and Tourism Committee. Reservations will be required, but the event is free. Starting times will be at sunset. Attendees should park near the cemetery’s east entrance. Pawnee County Sheriff’s personnel will assist with parking.
There are about 100 spots guaranteed. To reserve a spot, call the Larned Area Chamber of Commerce at 620-285-6916.
“It’s a very interesting presentation because each character has a unique story to tell,” Clapsaddle said. “Please join our re-enactors of the life and history of Larned’s founders.”
Attendees will be escorted in small groups from tombstone to tombstone to hear the presentation of the above named re-enactors. The groups will be scheduled at 15-minute intervals. Following each tour, refreshments will be served. Each tour will last 45 minutes. As the grave sites area in close proximity, about 10 minutes of walking will be required.
David Clapsaddle, president of the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter, will portray Union veteran, James P. Worrell.
Worrell arrived in the infant city of Larned by wagon from Illinois in the spring of 1873. Worrell was an attorney, but his claim to fame comes from his daughter Isabel who at age 16, became Larned’s first school teacher.
At that time, the Worrell family was living in the converted mess hall which had been moved to the town site in 1872 from Fort Larned. The little building, in addition to a residence, served as a saloon, dance hall, and post office.
The resourceful Miss Worrell, overnight, transformed the saloon room into a classroom where she welcomed thirteen smiling faces in September, 1873. Much later in life, Isabel, writing of her early days in Larned, fondly recalled that the old mess hall came to be known as the Little Red House.
Ed Jumper, a retired minister, will portray Wesley Adams, who came to Larned in 1873.
A Union veteran who had escaped the infamous Libby Prison, he quickly assumed places of leadership, President of the Larned Town Company and the School Board. A successful realtor, he developed the Adams Addition, extending the boundaries of early Larned. In times past, Jumper has appeared in the pulpit, costumed as a biblical character to present a sermon in first person.
Alice Clapsaddle will present the story of Sarah Sturdevant, the mother-in-law of Wesley Adams. Adams arrived at Larned in 1873.
As the wife of one of Larned’s first Presbyterian ministers, she played an active role in the city’s religious and social life. Of special interest, she was the niece of Zebulon Pike, the famous explorer of the Southwest, Mrs. Clapsaddle has carefully researched Sturdevant’s life while updating the history of Larned’s Presbyterian Church.
Tom Seltmann, a member of a pioneer Pawnee County family, will tell the tale of Sanford Arnold.
Arnold came to Pawnee County in 1875 to purchase a claim 11 miles west of Larned. He was eventually responsible for founding the community of Sanford where he built an elevator.
When a post office was established at the settlement, the hope was to name it Arnold. However, another post office so named was already established in Ness County. Consequently Arnold’s first name was chosen to identify the post office.