Visitors to Oakland Cemetery in Minnesota City on Saturday engaged perhaps the liveliest experiences they have had at the location. Impersonators’ presentations were enriched with appropriate décor and memorabilia, some narrative provided by guides, and with responses of laughter, questions, and earnest attention of visitors.
Although Minnesota City did not achieve its 1852 goal of becoming the capital of the state, the lives of characters portrayed on Saturday verified the physical and moral stamina that raised buildings, crops, governmental structures—and children—that inspired and was transmitted to the future residents. Four of the seven presenters on Saturday were descendants of featured personalities. Jack Stansfield, Pam Stansfield Aune , Kay Denzer Vanderzee, and Maxine Church Spaag voiced their ancestors. Guides, Lynda Brzezsinski, Rebecca Weiss, and Nora Butenhoff escorted groups to each of the five sites where the dramatic and sensitive skills of speakers impressed audiences. Frailties of health were revealed in the stories; Robert Pike (Walt Kelly), his wife Sarah (Dawn Church Webster) Samuel Loudon (Brian Tomashek) spoke of illness and injury. Lucy Church (Maxine Spaag) churned butter and cheese, Esther Denzer (Kay Vanderzee) made sauerkraut, Daniel Burley (Jack Stansfield) scythed hay.The beautiful weather and cemetery grounds on September 15 provided a peaceful backdrop for an afternoon of presentation and engagement that connected past, present, and future in Minnesota City.