First ‘cemetery walk’ planned for Oct. 5 in Jefferson

Come meet Robert M. Rippey, who’s been dead since 1863

Special to The Jefferson Herald
The Greene County Historical Society will have a weekend doubleheader of programs on Oct. 3 and Oct. 5.

The Friday program will be in Paton, beginning with a lunch at noon in the meeting room at the 209 Main restaurant.

At 1 p.m., just up the street, the free public program will be the fascinating story of the town’s William Paton Public Library.

On Oct. 5, the historical society will host its first ever “Cemetery Walk” in the Jefferson Cemetery on the east edge of town on Lincoln Way.

Six notable figures in Greene County history will be portrayed at their gravesites by local actors.

That begins at 3 p.m. with people gathering at the historical group’s building at the Greene County Fairgrounds, where there will be plenty of parking.  

There will be bus transportation for people to and from the cemetery, and little walking will be required, as the graves of the historical figures are close together.

As the portrayals at the cemetery are concluding, a chili feed and live music will begin at 5 p.m. in the fairgrounds building.

In Paton, one story that librarian Joleen Allen will tell is of the surprise visit in August of a Mrs. William Paton, of New York City, who wanted to see the town and library founded in the late 1800s by members of her family.

Part of the surprise, said Allen, “was that they have always pronounced their name ‘PAT-ton’ and not ‘PAY-ton’ like we do here now.”

The town’s founder was another William Paton, a businessman from New York state, who died in 1890. He also made plans for a library there, but it was his son, William A. Paton, who saw those plans become reality in 1899.

The local Presbyterian minister served as interim librarian until a fully trained librarian from New York City was hired and moved to the Iowa prairie.

Lunch at 209 Main is $10 and will be a pre-selected soup, sandwich and beverage.

Reservations must be made with historical society community contacts by Wednesday. Newcomers are welcome and can reserve with historical society vice-president Mary Weaver at 515-360-8046.

In Jefferson, the cemetery walk “allows us to follow our mission of ‘Keeping Greene County History Alive,’ and we also want individuals to see what we have on exhibit in our fairgrounds building,” said Ces Brunow, historical society president.

Tickets for the special event are $10 and are available from all members of the board of directors. Included in the price are the bus transportation, portrayals at the cemetery and the chili and entertainment afterward.

Mikki Schwarzkopf researched the following early settlers who will be featured at the cemetery:

• Judge Robert M. Rippey, who surveyed the town of Jefferson, built the first frame house in town and ordered the building of the first county courthouse.  

He was born in 1828 and died 1863 in the Civil War.

He will be portrayed by Curt Nelson.

• Azor Mills was the county’s first teacher, served in the state legislature representing four counties and helped expose a whiskey scandal.

Born 1827, died 1901.

Portrayed by Rob Hoyt.

• Miranda Mills raised nine daughters and was the long-time president of the Women’s Relief Corps which assisted Civil War veterans, orphans and widows.

Born 1844, died 1901.

Portrayed by Emily Hoyt.

• David Milligan formed a large grain and lumber business in the county, which expanded to several other counties with the help of his sons.

Born 1840, died 1919.

Portrayed by Darren Jackson.

• Addie Milligan was very active in Friday Club, and was involved in the infamous Friday Club “fountain controversy.”

Born 1847, died 1920 on a Pullman train in Montana.

Portrayed by Nicole Friess Schilling.

• Capt. Albert Head was a true Civil War hero, lawyer, banker, state legislator, president of Drake University and major landowner.

Born 1838, died 1922.

Portrayed by Alan Robinson.

In case of rain or cold weather, the cemetery portrayals will be performed in the historical society’s fairgrounds building.

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