EC students to portray figures from Eureka’s past in May 4 cemetery walk

Apr 21 2014


The Eureka College Theatre Department and the Woodford County Historical Society will host their sixth annual cemetery walk from 2 to 4 p.m. May 4 at Olio Township Cemetery, 1015 S. Main St., Eureka.

Eureka College students will portray citizens from Eureka’s past. The students have researched the people’s lives and will be wearing costumes indicative of the time periods.

The student actors are Kristen Franz of Metamora, Kirsti McDonnell of Washington, Hannah Lane of Trivoli, Joel Shoemaker of Mahomet and Tim Jenkins of Watseka.

Cemetery Walk 2014 citizens
Burrus Dickinson, Michael Pifer, Josephine “Sis” Klopfenstein, Sara Jane Davidson, Anna Smith

The historical figures who will be portrayed are:

  • Burrus Dickinson, who was born in 1905 in Eureka to Eugene and May Swinford Dickinson. His great-grandfather, Elijah, was an early settler and a founder of Eureka College. His uncle, Richard Dickinson, served 26 years on the Eureka College Board of Trustees. After the Depression, Burrus Dickinson served 15 years as president of the college, using his own wealth to help keep the institution open. In 1937 he purchased The Woodford County Journal, which he operated for almost 50 years. At his death in 1991, he bequeathed to Eureka College a portion of his estate. Dickinson will be portrayed by Jenkins.
  • Michael Pifer, who was born in 1816 in Ohio and was trained as a tinsmith. When he came to Eureka in 1858 his first job was as manager of the Eureka College boarding hall for two seasons. For the next 32 years he operated a hardware and tinsmithing business in downtown Eureka. He died in 1913. Pifer will be portrayed by Shoemaker.
  • Josephine “Sis” Klopfenstein was born in 1868, a daughter of Mary and Christian Klopfenstein, who was a butcher and merchant in Eureka’s early years. She married James Longstreet Carney, known as “Lon.” They lived away from Eureka for many years, but in 1910 they returned, and “Sis” eventually took over the operation of the small family grocery store that was a meeting point for farm families on Saturday nights. She died in 1939. Carney will be portrayed by Lane.
  • Sarah Jane Davidson was born in 1843 to Caleb and Martha Davidson, who were among the earliest settlers in the Walnut Creek area. Sarah Jane and her twin, Mary, were the last of 10 children born to the couple. She married Napoleon Bonaparte Crawford M.D. in 1868, and he built her a beautiful house on Darst Street that still stands, one of very few mansions in Eureka. As a young woman she was instrumental in forming the Ladies Literary and Social Club that became the Eureka Woman’s Club. Crawford will be portrayed by Franz.
  • Anna Smith was born in Nebraska in 1892 and married George Ludwig in 1908. George was a farmer who was business-minded and, as such, he was instrumental in the growth of the Farm Bureau. Anna was among the local women who got tired of driving a horse and buggy to Secor to attend church. The women argued successfully for Eureka to have its own Lutheran Church, and their determination culminated in the founding of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. She died in 1991. Ludwig will be portrayed by McDonnell.

Members of the Eureka College Circle K Club will be greeters at the cemetery gates and will distribute programs and maps to the grave sites. There is no admission fee, but donations to the historical society will be accepted. For more information, contact theater professor Holly Rocke at 467-6580 or historical society member Karen Fyke at 467-4525.