There is so much fascinating history to be found around Dripping Springs, the City’s Mayor Todd Purcell has proclaimed the month of April as Dripping Springs History Month. The resolution was approved by City Council, and signed by the mayor on March 3rd. The first event to kickoff the month-long celebration of hyperlocal history is “Tombstone Tales” in historic Phillips Cemetery on Saturday, April 5th, when costumed actors bring pioneers and settlers to life to the delight of local residents and families.
The family-friendly Tombstone Tales walking tours are presented by Heritage Circle, a non-profit auxiliary of the Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead, aka “Pound House.” Programs Director Lisa Chaffin shares more about this fun, informative event in her own words:
I’m the Vice President of the Heritage Circle and the Programs Committee Chair. I have lived in Dripping Springs for a short seven years but was immediately drawn to the local history. I was thrilled to find the Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead in my own community, and to now be serving on the board of the auxiliary Heritage Circle organization. Our Heritage Circle program committee has dedicated many hours to bring this wonderful Tombstone Tales walking tour program together at Phillips Cemetery.
Our first cemetery tour took place on Wallace Mountain. Next, we hosted a tour at Driftwood Cemetery in 2012. The Heritage Circle has decided to continue the cemetery
tours because they are such an interesting way to learn about the local past, to hear the stories of people who came before us to pioneer our lives here today. The unique thing about the Phillips cemetery tour is that some of the people we have chosen to portray have not been gone from us for very long. We hope to capture the essence of those interesting people and tell just a bit of their unique role in history.
Phillips Cemetery is the largest cemetery serving the Dripping Springs area and it holds a lot of history. The first burial was in 1880, and if you walk around, you will see lots of familiar family names from our town. The mission of the Heritage Circle is to preserve the past for the future. All of our programs are designed to share our local history in engaging and thought-provoking ways. Our hope is that by introducing the historical places and historical people from our community, people will become curious about the rest of the story.
In this program, we are portraying people who span a time period of 160 years (1843-2003). Our historians, Marie Bassett and Janie Botkin, have done extensive research to learn how just a few of the people in the cemetery have impacted our town, our politics, and our way of living. There are so many others with a history just as important, and realizing that helps us acknowledge that we, too, have a significant role to play in our current times.
The cemetery tour this year features another cast of very fascinating people to re-enact historical residents and their lifestyles. Our costumed actors use authentic and reproduced artifacts and costumes to portray local ranchers and farmers, early settlers – men and women, Civil War soldiers and survivors, a Texas Ranger, and a descendant of Dr. Pound, and family members who were the backbone of Dripping Springs as the community took hold and grew.
Award-winning local musician, Alex Dormont, will be on site to play his wonderful fiddle strains in the background, to help transport visitors into the past. Visitors are guided to the starting burial site, with tour guides on hand to share additional and fascinating tidbits about the cemetery itself.
I love any program that involves bringing history to life. Seeing a person in period clothing and hearing stories told in a first person manner really transports me back to that time and place. I’m fascinated to think about how things must have been and how challenging life was and I am amazed that those who came before us had such courage and hardiness. Learning our history from an individual’s viewpoint means so much more to me than reading about a general time or event in a history book.
This event is historical in nature and while it does take place in a cemetery, it is not about being spooky or scary. It is appropriate for all ages so we hope families will come and enjoy a bit of their afternoon with us.
Our guides will lead groups to our ten highlighted residents as well as point out a few interesting spots in the cemetery. Each tour will run approximately 30 minutes. While the ground is flat, it would be best to wear comfortable, closed shoes. There is not much shade through many parts of the cemetery so depending on the weather, hats and sunscreen is advised. Feel free to take as many pictures as you like and at the end of the tour, we hope you will spend a few minutes enjoying some refreshments provided by the Heritage Circle. Our historians on hand will also be happy to answer any questions.
ADMISSION IS FREE TO HERITAGE CIRCLE MEMBERS?
Yes, and visitors can join Heritage Circle at the event for free admission as well. Heritage Circle is an Auxiliary to the Friends of the Pound House. We use membership funds to promote the preservation of history in our community and to support the museum at the Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead as well as the ongoing efforts to restore and preserve the Dr. Pound home and grounds. Again, membership forms will be available at the event and we always love to meet people who enjoy history as much as we do! For non-members, admission is free for age 15 and under, and $5.00 per adult.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
We would like to especially thank Carolyn Gully, Treasurer of the Phillips Cemetery Association for giving us permission to have the tour and to Lila Gillespie for the wealth of information she shared with us. To find our actors we have reached into the community and found CSA re-enactors, Toastmasters, folks involved with scouting, local family members and people who love history.
This event truly is an example of our community coming together to share our vibrant past. The live re-enactment will be recorded as a method of preserving history and a cemetery book will be published containing all those buried in the cemetery to date. The DVD recording and the book and will be donated to historical receptacles throughout the community as a service of the Heritage Circle. These items will also be available for purchase.