Historic Fort Reno

 


Historic Fort Reno, Inc.
7107 W. Cheyenne St.
El Reno, OK 73036
405-262-3987 phone fax 405-422-4917

Press Release

Life Returns to Historic Fort Reno Post Cemetery during Tombstone Tales

Tombstone Tales is an event that appeals to people of all ages. Historic Fort Reno's Fort Reno Visitor Center will sponsor the event with financial support from the Oklahoma Arts Council. Historic Re-enactors portray individuals interred between 1874 and 1947 at the Post Cemetery at Fort Reno. The twelve individuals are portrayed at each performance usually include Indian Scouts, Buffalo Soldiers, Children, Civilian Women, Enlisted Men, and German Prisoners of War. There are 257 different stories that could be told at the Fort Reno Post Cemetery. The burials began in 1874, ended in 1948 and include: 64 Infants and Children; 36 Civilians; 6 Indians & Indian Scouts; 2 Black Women; 1 Chinese Man; 8 Unknowns; 70 U.S. Military; and 70 Prisoners of War. Each re-enactor is dressed in clothing appropriate to the time period. The characters tell descriptive tales about the events occurring during the life of the individual portrayed. Named the Best Event by the Governor's Conference on Tourism in 1998, as well as best new event in 1996, the event is as fun as it is educational.

The Historic Re-enactors who volunteer their time and energy to the event helps promote the historic site are real heros. The two educational days held prior to the Public Performance accommodate 1,800 area 4th, 5th and 6th graders whose teachers have made reservations to attend one of the performances. The folks at the Fort Reno Visitor Center deserve a round applause for maintaining order during the two educational days. It is something to see the buses arriving with over 300 people for the first performance and then leaving while another 300 people are arriving on buses for second performance, and then having the remaining 300 students arrive for the third performance. The stamina of the re-enactors at Historic Fort Reno resembles that of our predecessors who lived in this area without comfortable amenities as running water, electricity and air conditioning.

Prior to or after each performance on Saturday, spectators can take the time to view the historic camps set up around a perimeter of the Post Cemetery. The camps feature an accurate display of items used in the 1800's. The historic camps featured at past events have included Mountain Man, A '49er on the California Road, Howell's 11th Texas Light Artillery, Buffalo Hunter Camp, Cheyenne re-enactor Tepee Camps, Cowboy Camp, Chuckwagon Camp, Miss Lillie's Dress Shop, Campfire Boys & Girls of America's Rootbeer Saloon. This year an additional camp will feature spinning and weaving demonstrations.

Tombstone Tales Performances begin at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 27, 2003. Tickets are $10.00 for Adults and $5.00 for Youth ages 6-15. The ticket price includes a chuckwagon meal of ham & beans, cornbread and a choice of tea or lemonade. Children 5 and under are admitted free to the performance. For those of us who need more nourishment that the basic chuckwagon meal of the 1800's, non-profit groups sell other food and drink items throughout the day. If you need to schedule your attendance at Tombstone Tales around a collegiate football game or attending an activity at the Oklahoma State Fair, contact the Visitor Center to purchase your ticket in advance by calling 405-262-3987.

Some of the Individuals Portrayed at past Tombstone Tales have included:
Clark Young, a "Buffalo Soldier" of the 10th U.S. Cavalry who died in 1875
William C. Beecham, of the 2nd U.S. Artillery who died in 1876
Corporal Patrick Lynch, 4th U.S. Cavalry who died in 1878
Frank Staud, 4th U.S. Cavalry who died in 1878
Annie Mason, a refined woman from the East who died in 1879
Fred McNeil, the son of the Quartermaster Commissary Sergeant who died in 1881
Chalk, an Arapaho Scout who died in 1881
James Coleman, a "Buffalo Soldier" of the 9th U.S. Cavalry who died in 1884
Mrs. Mary Elliott, a civilian employee who died in 1884
Viola Mocker, an 12 year old girl who died in 1890
Katherine Holmes, one of two African American women buried at Fort Reno who died in 1890
Susie Auten, a school teacher who is in an unknown grave who died in the 1890's
Lizzie Glaser, the daughter of Commander of Company "B" 5th U.S. Cavalry who died in 1891
Rev. Robert C. St. Clair, the circuit riding preacher who died in 1894
William Blake, the outlaw known as Tulsa Jack in an unknown grave who died in 1895
Tim O'Connel, a wagon team master who died in 1899
Maria Wheeler, a young girl who died in 1900
Edward Lee, a "Walk-a-Heap" of the 25th U.S. Infantry who died in 1903
Philip Wetzel, a German émigré and civilian employee who died in 1907
Moka Clark, Ben's Cheyenne wife who died in 1913
Ben Clark, General Sheridan's favorite Scout who died in 1914
Major Henry Weeks, the Fort Reno Commander who died in 1931
Johannes Kunze, a German POW at the Tonkawa Camp who died in 1943
Han Seifert, a German POW at the Fort Reno Camp who died in 1945

True Confessions:

My first time at Tombstone Tales is when I was two years old and I am now 9 years old. I have attended this event for almost every year of my life. Each year there is something new to see. I like watching the Chuckwagon cooks make the food and seeing the camps with old time tents. I also like seeing the ladies in their big dresses with big hats. Sometimes there are Indian tepees and we can look inside and see how they lived a long time ago. They had nice tepee houses. One time the soldiers had a stagecoach and my friends and I got to sit inside. It is sad that so many of the people buried there are children. If you come, bring some flowers and give them to the ladies at the Visitor Center so we can put them on the children's graves next spring.

My favorite school trip was when I was in the 5th grade and our class went to Fort Reno for Tombstone Tales. I heard a lot of great stories by people who looked pretty good for being dead for so long. I know they were actors and it was the best play I ever saw. It almost made school fun later that year when we studied about some of the things that happened like the land run where the black lady staked a claim and World War II where the German soldier got captured in Europe and brought here to Oklahoma.


Please email info@fortreno.org to receive the press release in digital form with digital images.

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