Tickets available now for annual historic cemetery tour

Volunteer Shelia Hendershot portrays Reba Hutchison, wife of Kansas Supreme Court Justice William E. Hutchison, during the 2016 Historic Walking Tours of Valley View Cemetery. Tickets are available now at the Finney County Historical Museum. Courtesy photo.

By the FINNEY COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Tickets are on sale now for the Finney County Historical Society’s 2017 Walking Tours of Valley View Cemetery set for later this month.

At 6 and 8 p.m. on Oct. 26, 27 and 28, the fourth annual tour series offers a trove of historical information, as well as the chance to meet a few figures from the community’s 138-year past.

Established in 1883, the cemetery includes 13,000 to 14,000 graves and serves as the final resting place for many of the community’s founders, early leaders and citizens.

The tours are hosted in partnership by the cemetery and the FCHS.  They’re sponsored by Price and Sons Funeral Home, with support from the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Each will be led by Johnetta Hebrlee, Finney County Museum education coordinator.

Tickets are $10 per person, with cash or checks accepted. They will be sold in advance only and not at the site, and are available daily at the museum, 403 S. Fourth St. while they last.

The tours are geared primarily for adults, and each group is limited in size to enhance the experience. Tickets are sold first come-first served and have quickly sold out each previous year. Once all are taken, the museum staff will begin a waiting list.

Each tour will run 60 to 90 minutes, including stops at 10 to 12 gravesites and memorials, though the route changes annually. Volunteer re-enactors will emerge at certain points to portray figures from the 19th and 20th centuries.

While they’re taking place in October, the tours have nothing to do with ghosts or goblins. The emphasis is on history, not Halloween.

“There are a lot of stories to tell about the people who have made Finney County what it is today,” Hebrlee said. “You might not realize it, but a visit to the cemetery is great way to discover some of those stories.”

Established 134 years ago, the cemetery has been operated by the city since 1940. While not the first or only site for graves in Finney County, it is the largest, covering 40 acres with 40 more in reserve.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this without our sponsor’s support, the help of the CVB or Cemetery Director Kelly Stevenson and his staff,” said FCHS Executive Director Steve Quakenbush. The tour series is taking place not only as a fund-raising endeavor, but as a way to carry out the society’s mission of preserving the past to enlighten the future.

Ticket holders should gather at the cemetery office. Parking will be available east of the office, inside the cemetery fence off of north Third Street. Those who attend are welcome to bring flashlights.