Comstock history told through lives of departed residents | NevadaAppeal.com

Comstock history told through lives of departed residents

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

photos by Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Paul Dancer plays Thomas Wilson, a funeral director and furnituremaker during the Comstock era. "The Living Tour: Voices From the Past" historical presentation will be held at the Virginia City Silver Terrace Cemetery, starting Saturday at 10 a.m. and noon.

Haunting tales from the grave will be told at Virginia City’s Silver Terrace Cemetery as a few of the Comstock’s dearly departed will offer the details of their lives and deaths.

Actors from Reno’s Funtime Theater will portray these real residents of the past as the “Living Tour: Voices From the Past” is performed in two shows for the next three weekends.

The 90-minute tour of the cemeteries is guided by the Widow of the Silver Terrace, played by Kathy Easly of Reno, the director of the show, who assures visitors the current residents don’t mind their presence.

“I’ve had a long talk with many of the residents, and they like us coming,” she said.

The tour visits residents of the Masonic, Knights of Pythias and Fireman’s cemeteries.

The stories told are of two women, a funeral director, a railroader, a fireman, a miner and more as the actors present the mining town’s history through the lives of its earliest residents.

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“The cemeteries were beautiful back then and were used as a meditative garden and place of contemplation,” said Paul Dancer of Virginia City, who portrays Thomas Wilson, a funeral director and furnituremaker on the Comstock. “They were once described as the most beautiful burial grounds in Nevada.”

Hannah Sanders, portrayed by Malary Engstrom of Reno, was bitter at her life and death, especially talking about her son, Lee, 6 months, who was buried with her.

She spoke of a woman who hanged herself from a chandelier, saying it was good to go quickly, adding “Most women didn’t.” She told of her marriage and divorce, and how she hated Virginia City.

Charlotte Kruttschnitt, played by Giana DeGeiso of Reno, had a good life on the Comstock. She was the first woman buried in the Masonic section, after being killed in a stagecoach accident during a trip to San Francisco. She was the wife of an influential Storey County official and the mother of three, who admitted her life was better than most women’s.

George Anbridge, played by Patrick Hughes of Sparks, was a fireman. He gave a vivid account of the great fires of the Comstock, as well as the rivalries of various fire companies.

The tale of a miner killed in the Gould and Curry Mine fire in 1877 and another story of a railroader run over by a railcar are also part of the show.

All of the stories are based on real people of that era, researched by cemetery director Candace Wheeler, according to Easly.

Proceeds from the performances will benefit both the cemetery and the theater.

n Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@ nevadaappeal.com.

If you go

WHAT: “The Living Tour: Voices From the Past”

WHEN: 10 a.m. and noon Saturday, Sunday, Sept. 10, 11, 17 and 18

WHERE: Virginia City Silver Terrace Cemetery, north end of town off Carson Street

TICKETS: $20 general, $10 children under 12 and senior citizens

RESERVATIONS: Required

CALL: (775) 240-5762