Tacoma Cemetery Living History Tour Provides Glimpse Into Our Past

This week, re-enactors portrayed famous figures from the region's past. Their words offered an oral history of South Sound lore.

Once a year, history enthusiasts spend the weekend offering tours of the Tacoma Cemetery to interested citizens. The highlight of the tours are the hosts, dressed and acting as famous figures from the region's past. The event is co-sponsored by the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, the Tacoma Cemetery and the Tacoma Historical Society.

In the Tacoma Cemetery Living History Tour, each tour group moves from lot to lot to listen to individual reenactors tell the stories of those who lived before. All the figures represented shaped Tacoma and the surrounding region.

For the tour's fourth year, the theme is “Rails, Trails and Sails”.


Henry Hewitt, Jr. (1840-1918)

Hewitt was businessman and a philanthropist. He was a major force in the region's lumber and banking.

Portrayed by Mike Preston

Asahal Denman (1859-1940)

Denman was a Midwest lawyer who came to Tacoma and fell in love with the outdoors. He became a mountain climber and fiercely supported the idea that Mt. Rainier should be called Mt. Tacoma. Denman was also instrumental in establishing the Tacoma Mountaineers.

Portrayed by Patrick Haas

Dr. B. Elizabeth Drake (1882-1978)

Drake was a physician when women doctors were a rarity. She also blazed trails for women in boating, horseback riding and driving fast cars. She named Lakewood's Wildaire Road.

Portrayed by Karen Haas

George B. Kandle (1851-1926)

Kandle was an early public servant and career politician. Among other positions, he served in his district's first legislature of the new state of Washington in 1889. He was also Tacoma's mayor from 1890 to 1892.

Portrayed by Joseph Govednik

Ruth Alexander (1880-1964)

Ruth Alexander was the wife of shipping magnate H.F. Alexander. A passionate horticulturist, her home and garden on Gravelly Lake is now the Lakewold Gardens. Her extensive collection of family memorabilia provides insight into early Northwest society.

Portrayed by Jill Weatherford

H.F. Alexander (1879-1952)

Alexander dropped out of school to support his family as a longshoreman on the docks of Tacoma. He grew up to own the largest and fastest fleet of coastal-going oceanliners in the world.

Portrayed by Walter Neary

Mildred Fuller Wallace (1869-1937)

Wallace was a daughter of the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She married Tacoma's Hugh C. Wallace, a wealthy businessman and civic benefactor. After World War I, she traveled widely by rail and oceanliner for 40 years. Her life of privilege belied the tragedies of her life. Mrs. Wallace outlived her children, and later her husband.

Portrayed by Doreen Simpkins

John W. Sprague (1813-1887)

Sprague was a war hero, politician and a businessman. He served during the Civil War and was later the general manager of the Northern Pacific Railroad. He was also Tacoma's first mayor.

Portrayed by Ken Morgan


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