Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

Living History Tour reveals stories of Allegan’s residents

These clues have been made available on the Friends of Allegan’s Oakwood Cemetery Facebook page. Audience members on Fri., June 2 or Sat., June 3, 2023 will learn about cemetery residents who have contributed to the history of Allegan.

By Gari Voss

The actors are ready, the stage is set, and the tickets are going fast for the 10th Annual Living History Cemetery Tour at Allegan’s Oakwood Cemetery. Those interested in taking a fascinating walk can choose Friday, June 2, 2023 or Saturday, June 3, 2023. The next decision will be to choose a time slot between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Tickets for $10 are available online at or visit Hathaway Cottage & Gifts on Locust St. in Downtown Allegan.
Tour organizer Amanda Strickfaden historically holds close to her heart the major characters introduced during the tour. Those following the 10th Annual Tour on Facebook know that the highly respected Dr. James Mahan will hold a prominent place this year. Other visual clues were shared to wet the curiosity of people hoping to obtain tickets for this year’s production.
Strickfaden gives much credit to the volunteers who have assisted in researching the lives of those who reside in Oakwood Cemetery and those who guide tours around the cemetery.
Through careful research, scripts were created by Sue Buese, Linda Havens, Ann Hodge and Angela Emmons. To obtain a deeper understanding of Dr. Mahan, his daughter was interviewed to learn what it was like living with a father who was dedicated servant to the community. Past records were scoured which recorded the many activities Dr. Mahan assisted in implementing, like the polio vaccines, blood drives, and organizing other doctors.
Also included on the walk will be two Civil War Veterans, one who came from Illinois and had a tie to the Great Chicago Fire. In addition, a woman who devoted time researching childhood education will be unveiled, along with a prominent woman who left her money to her church family, and a young man who died tragically in an accident.
“There will be several new actors along with some familiar faces,” stated Strickfaden. “By having some of the lady actors who had been in previous casts conduct the research and write the scripts and David Hodge coordinate the tour guides, a great burden was taken off me.”
Strickfaden continued, “People don’t understand how much history is here. We are not a Boston, Washington, DC or Philadelphia, but we obviously have history here from General Pritchett to Clare Chandler to the Winchesters to the workers and farmers who were the backbone of the community from its inception.”
Strickfaden explained, “I never go by a theme, but as the research unfolds, there are connecting threads.”
“It is coming together well,” quipped Strickfaden. “The proceeds go to the Friends [of Oakwood Cemetery] while they support the team in creating the event.”
The Friends of Allegan’s Oakwood Cemetery is a group of individuals who truly C.A.R.E. about the preservation of the beauty of sacred places. C.A.R.E. stands for conservation, appreciation, restoration and education.
In living their goals, members assist in rehabilitating headstones, preserving not only the physical grounds but the history of the residents, and improving Oakwood Cemetery through cleanup activities, gravestone restoration workshops and work, and conducting tours for visitors and schools groups.
Past Living History Tours have introduced visitors to cemetery residents like Women’s Army Corp member Alice Meiser, Detroit Tiger pitcher Ray L. Hale, WWII glider pilot Douglas Bloomfield, and cigar maker Charles Morse.
The 2023, 10th Annual Tour will bring to light another cohort of individuals who left their mark on Allegan’s past. The experience will bring tidbits of knowledge and a desire to dig deeper into Allegan’s residents of the past.

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