“Voices from the Grave” Pioneer Cemetery Walk at Red Rock Cemetery


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The Sedona Historical Society invites everyone to travel back in time to meet some of Sedona’s earliest pioneers at a cemetery walk at Sedona’s oldest cemetery on April 29 and 30. The Schuerman Red Rock Cemetery on the Upper Red Rock Loop Road will be the site of this cemetery walk, introducing attendees to some of the brave souls who experienced triumph and tragedy while carving out a life in Red Rock country.


“Voices from the Grave-Spring Spirits Rising” is an open-air cemetery tour with re-enactments by professional actors where original pioneers are interred. This cemetery dates from 1893 and was founded when the Schuerman family’s four-year old daughter Clara died of cholera. With no cemetery nearby, family friend Dr. Myron Carrier from Jerome selected this panoramic site for her interment. After that, pioneer descendants began using this as a final resting place.


The second burial here was yet another child, Katie Owenby, who was born and died the same day in 1894. Her parents were nearby ranchers and the first to patent on a homestead inside what we know as the City of Sedona today. As time passed, the primitive cemetery filled slowly with homesteaders and neighbors, including members of our early Hispanic families. The wife of John James THompson is buried here, mother of the first Euro-American child born in Oak Creek Canyon., along with 13 other Thompsons, including 8 of their 9 children, an infant grandchild and numerous Thompson descendants with different last names.


The historic pioneers expected to ‘share’ their stories will be Jim Thompson, Oak Creek Canyon’s first permanent Anglo settler, Jesse Elmer, a homesteader and namesake of Elmersville, and Dorette Schuerman who established the cemetery with the burial of her little daughter, Clara in 1893. Guests will also meet members of the Kurtz and Jones families, along with hearing history about the earliest Hispanic families – the Chavezes and Armijos.


Professional actors portraying the pioneers are Tom Jepperson of Blazin’ M Ranch fame and recently named to the Arizona Country Music Hall of Fame; Gerard Maquire with a lengthy TV series and film pedigree in both Australia and the US; Mindy Mendelsohn who has 35 years as an actress, director and filmmaker; Joan Westmoreland who has appeared in many community theater productions; Jawn McKinley with experience in musicals, film, TV and theater in NYC and other venues; and finally, John Neville an actor with regional theater background.


This has become a popular show for locals and visitors, and an attraction to those who love history and those who just like to be entertained. The show will include musical interludes and all ticket holders will receive a ‘swag’ bag of gifts and treats.


Sponsors for this season’s performances are Sefton Engineering Consultants, Sedona New Day Spa, The Artists’ Kitchen Shop, El Portal Hotel, Steakhouse 89 and Toni Holtzman-Berkshire Hathaway Realty.


Tickets are $25/person, can be purchased in advance, and are now available on the Society’s website SedonaMuseum.org. Tickets may be available on-site if the shows don’t sell out. This program is not recommended for children under 13 years of age.


Proceeds will benefit care and maintenance of the Society’s two historic cemeteries. For more information, call 928-282-7038.

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