BY SABRINA LEE
PHOTOS BY DENIANE KARTCHNER
Cemeteries are for the living. It’s a place where we go to grieve, reminisce, research, or see the tangible representation of ancestors. For the historian, the long rows of headstones represent an endless amount of history, unknown and untold. I remember a conversation that was said on one of my favorite PBS shows, “Finding Your Roots.” The host, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, reminded his guest that the people they find and research are no longer forgotten—a cemetery can be seen as lost stories of those that have come before, and once retold, are remembered once more.
With that in mind, the Weber County Heritage Foundation has brought to the community a unique event that highlights those lost histories of those that lived and shaped Weber County. The idea had been floated around for years, but when COVID hit, the foundation needed alternative events that were outside and gave people some distance. And so, for one night only, the “ghosts” of those who have passed come back to tell their stories of life in Weber County.
The first year brought the community to Ogden City Cemetery. Burials have been taking place in this cemetery since 1851. Dwindling down who to feature is always a challenge, taking lots of time and research. The Foundation’s goal was to find a diverse set of peoples—after all, what makes our county so great is its diverse community.
With the Ogden Cemetery being so full with older burials and newer, people from all eras were represented: for example, Pioneer, Art Stone, was one of the first settlers at Bingham’s Fort. On 2nd Street, just below Wall Ave., his home still stands as the oldest in the city. Affectionally called Uncle Art, he befriended the native Shoshone and was a peer, often riding and playing games with them.
They couldn’t forget Flo, the little girl whose legend has been passed down for over 100 years. The legend says that if you flash your lights on her headstone, she will appear, as the story goes. So many versions of how she died have been told over the years, most of which involve her being the victim of a tragic accident. They are all far from the truth. She was born Florence Louise Grange in 1903 and went by her middle name, Louise. Her entire family contracted the Spanish Flu, and while her family had mild cases, Louise was not so lucky. She succumbed to the illness on December 29th, 1918, at the age of 15.
The second year, Leavitt’s Aultorest on 36th Street in Ogden was featured. From the street this memorial park looks quite modern; however, driving to the back where the cemetery first began, older headstones roll down those green hills. This cemetery has the only above-ground mausoleum north of Salt Lake. Among the featured personalities were the Kuhn brothers, Jewish immigrants from Weisenheim, Germany. As co-owners and operators of wholesale furnishings, the brothers were the first millionaires in Ogden by today’s standards.
In 2022, the Foundation partnered with the North Ogden Historical Museum. They were able to provide authentic period clothing donated to the museum for the actors. Some of the lives of the people that settled in the North Ogden area were extremely tragic. Martha Jane Alvord took ill and died on what was to be her wedding day, June 27th, 1892. Her bridegroom constructed a lavish monument for her grave in her honor, and she was buried in her wedding gown.
This year, Weber County Heritage Foundation will be bringing back “ghosts” from Lindquist’s Washington Heights Memorial Park located in South Ogden. On a what we can only hope will be a pleasantly cool fall evening, the tales of those dearly departed will come back for one night only to tell the story of their lives.
Although this may seem like just another fun fall event, for the Weber County Heritage Foundation it exemplifies their mission to educate the community about the diverse people that lived and shaped Weber County.
We hope that the community will join in this celebration of those lives on October 7th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lindquist’s Washington Heights Memorial Park on 4500 South Washington Blvd. When you look at a headstone, you know the basic facts lie forever engraved, but the actual history lies in the dash that lay between the date of birth and the date of death.
HISTORIC CEMETERY TOUR
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7TH, 4-7 P.M.
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS MEMORIAL PARK
4500 SOUTH WASHINGTON BLVD