LARNED — Four early Pawnee County citizens will be featured in “Talking Tombstones,” September 17 at the Larned Cemetery, west 8th Street.
Talking Tombstones is scheduled for September 17 at the Larned Cemetery. Starting times will be at sunset. Reservations are required but the event is free to the public. To preregister, call the Larned Area Chamber of Commerce at 620-285-6916.
The weekly Chamber of Commerce Coffee Hour, at the Jordaan Room, will feature Talking Tombstones at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 8. On hand will be the interpreters for Talking Tombstones to give brief previews of their presentations.
A Union veteran, James P. Worell 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 sixteen 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, Worrell will be portrayed by David Clapsaddle, president of the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter.
Wesley Adams also 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. Adams will be interpreted by Ed Jumper, a retired minister. In times past, Ed has appeared in the pulpit, costumed as a biblical character to present a sermon in first person.
Sarah Sturdevant, the mother-in-law of Wesley Adams, arrived at Larned also 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, She will be portrayed by Alice Clapsaddle. Clapsaddle has carefully researched Sturdevant’s life while updating the history of Larned’s Presbyterian Church.
Sanford Arnold came to Pawnee County in 1875 to purchase a claim eleven 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. Arnold will be presented by Tom Seltman, a member of a pioneer Pawnee County family.