Western history

A Victorian Funeral


Folks might think it a little strange that I would voluntarily spend a springtime Saturday enjoying a funeral. We drove down to Colorado Springs to watch a Victorian funeral procession, escorted across town by police cars, as it entered Evergreen Cemetery. A hearse and carriages were hitched to draft horses, with antique cars at the end of the parade. Local history experts portrayed General William Palmer’s family and friends 100 years after the fact.

Some special friends of mine, fellow members of Women Writing the West, participated in the enactment. Doris McCraw arrived in a white carriage accompanied by “Buffalo Bill”. Way to go, Doris! Dianne Hartshorn was prim and proper as one of the mourners in a black dress with shoulder cape and short veil. Guests were encouraged to place evergreen fronds on the gravestone, as was done at the original funeral, 100 years ago.

Portions of the crowd later adjourned to the Pioneers Museum for a splendid presentation about Palmer by archivist Leah Davis Witherow. It was a memorable day of honoring Palmer, a pioneer who built railroads and cities in Colorado. My biography of Palmer is scheduled for publication in April. “Legends, Labors, and Loves” from Pikes Peak Library District, which includes my work, is sold out, but is scheduled for another print run next month.

Joyce Lohse, 3/22/09