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Characters From Region's Past Will Be Remembered During 4th Annual Cemetery Tour

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
October 18, 2018
Posted in: Announcements

(Photo courtesy McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center)

William Sample, one of the soldiers who carried President Lincoln from Ford's Theater on the night he was shot, will receive a new headstone on Saturday morning.

During a ceremony at 11 a.m. at McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery, members of McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center also will dedicate a new headstone at the grave of George Simmons, the city's first African-American policeman.

The ceremonies, which will begin near the old mausoleum, will kick off the heritage center's fourth-annual cemetery tour. Actors will portray 10 prominent McKeesport-area residents of the past who are buried at the cemetery.

The heritage center placed temporary markers at Sample's and Simmons' graves in 2017, but the permanent headstones are new. Andi Luketic Cartwright, a member of the center's board of directors, said they were purchased at a reduced rate from Design Monuments, with the help of a grant from the Charles F. Peters Foundation.

Brenda Sawyer, McKeesport's first African-American female police officer, will help dedicate Simmons' headstone, Cartwright said.

"We feel it's a perfect fit for her to perform the dedication for this fellow ground-breaking officer," she said.

State Rep. Austin Davis will help dedicate the headstone for Sample, Cartwright said.

(Photo courtesy McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center)

The cemetery tour will be open from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and is self-guided.

The actors are located at different spot throughout the cemetery, and each does a 10- to 15-minute portrayal of an important or interesting McKeesporter of the past, Cartwright said.

Completing the full walk through the cemetery takes about 90 minutes.

There are several new people featured on this year's tour, Cartwright said.

"Without tipping our cards and ruining the surprise of learning of the subjects through the tour, I'll just say they include a film actress, Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War II soldiers, all with very interesting personal stories, along with a businessman who started a chain of very well-known stores," Cartwright said.

(Hint: The businessman's name rhymes with "C.G. Smurphy.")

Tickets for the tour are $13 for adults or $5 for children, Cartwright said. Proceeds help to support the heritage center. Refreshments also will be available at the site.

For people who want to see the actors' performances but are unable to do the walking tour, encore performances will be staged at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at the heritage center, 1832 Arboretum Drive, Renziehausen Park.

Sponsors of this year's event include McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, Ziebart, Sunray Electric, Frazier Construction, Robert and Anne Messner, Sue Striffler-Galaski, Gladys Hunt-Mason and Tube City Community Media Inc.

Tickets can be purchased in advance by visiting the center's website at www.mckeesportheritage.org

McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center is a non-profit museum dedicated to preserving the history of the McKeesport region, including the communities of White Oak, Versailles, North Versailles Twp., Glassport and Port Vue.

Originally published October 18, 2018.

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