Speaking From Their Graves
Chaska’s graveyards are more than just a final place of rest for those in our community who have died. For Chaska Historical Society volunteer Connie Jacobs, and those who walk with her on her Graveyard Tours, our cemeteries become very personal tributes to people who once lived in Chaska.
In conjunction with the Chaska History Center’s 2019 exhibit on the World Wars, Connie researched the lives behind the gravestones. She chose veterans at each of Chaska’s four cemeteries and created brief biographies that highlighted the sacrifices made and the “normal” lives led by our service men and women. Starting with the History Center’s Gold Star Roll that lists those known to have died in military service, Connie used genealogical resources to illuminate the details of how the veteran lived in our community and what they did in their military role. She developed scripts for each individual, and volunteers leading the tour narrated the details or went to more personal level and “became” the veteran telling their own story.
Partial script for Arthur G. Buschkowsky ~
"I enjoyed experimenting with my bees and learning how to develop more productive bees and better honey yields. Folks in town began buying some of my extra honey. I guess people thought of me as a being a rather quiet boy. "I was drafted that summer. There was quite a bit of excitement, bravado and dread. I had never been outside of Chaska. I hoped I would be brave and do my duty."
Going into 2020, Connie wants to point out that each of the gravestones in Mount Pleasant Cemetery represents a person with a unique and interesting narrative. When tour participants hear some of those details, perhaps they will appreciate the diversity of individual lives and realize that we don’t have to be famous to have a story that deserves to be told.
Connie Jacobs is looking for community members who are interested in providing these tours or bringing them to a more robust experience with role-play. Looking past the gravestones and the sadness of family and friends, our cemeteries can remind us of the selfless devotion of our neighbors who might otherwise have gone unrecognized. Moving the presentation indoors, Connie and other volunteers may also provide these portrayals to elder-care residents or in other community venues.
Please contact Connie through the History Center if you want to help with these efforts.
By Neil Wingert for the Chaska Historical Society