Skip the séance. These Tacoma spirits appear before your eyes.

I’m a sucker for stories, cemeteries and spirits in Tacoma.

Oh, and serendipitous crossings. But I step ahead of myself.

So it’s with anticipation and pleasure that I find myself again at the old Tacoma cemetery, this time to see the spirits in the flesh.


The Tacoma Cemetery Living History Tour is an annual  event put on by Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, Tacoma Historical Society and the Tacoma Cemetery, which, opened in 1875, is the resting place of many a resident and founding father.

Each year features a different theme and walking tour to the burial sites of significant figures. This year’s theme is the parks system. In every case save one, the re-enactors shared their stories alongside the graves of the genuine characters.

Meet Francis Cushman (1867-1909)


Cushman was a state Congressional representative whose bill brought Tacoma the glorious and spacious Point Defiance Park.

Meet Ebenezer Roberts (1854-1918)

Roberts, with shovel and lantern in hand, was the primo parks man whose significant handprints in the design and development of several parks, including my nearby Wright Park, remain visible today.

Meet Annie Brown (1869-1960)

Her husband, Oscar, ran Browns Point lighthouse. (Her husband’s headstone's up a steep hill and thus is bypassed on the tour.)

Meet Roger Peck (1896-1977)

Peck was all about baseball and sports. His baseball complex now in the hands of Metro Parks Tacoma is named in his honor.

Meet Aaron Titlow (1858-1923)

Titlow's claim to fame was a tidewater resort of grandeur and splendor called the Hotel Hesperides (now the lodge in Titlow Park). His legacy lives on at Titlow Beach.

Meet Nellie Alling (1842-1908)

With her husband, she bought a substantial piece of land that upon their passing was donated as parkland to preserve its beauty.

Meet Morton Matthew McCarver (1807-1875)

McCarver’s spirit lingers strong in this town and well it should. It is he who first recognized our area's potential as a western terminus for the Northern Pacific Raildroad and platted the place originally called Tacoma City.

Meet Job Carr (1813-1887)

Another man of significance whose contributions endure. He's the first permanent non-native settler of this soil beneath my feet.

Meet Edith May Ferris (1864-1949)

With her husband, Edwin, they constructed and operated the first permanent boathouse in Point Defiance Park. And her chowder with fresh clams was legendary!

The re-enactments bring the stories and characters to such life! I was reminded of how I adore and yearn for storytelling. The hour-plus journey into centuries past cost but $8, a pittance for the education and the dedicated and caring efforts of the re-enactors and sponsors.

The serendipitous crossing, ah yes, that.

An unknown local recently left comments at my old Tacoma cemetery post of May that included helping out with a name. Evidently the post had also generated some buzz amongst tonight's tour participants.

So just as I'd finished photographing the headstone and was drifting away, re-enactor Edith May Ferris, upon noting my camera, politely and quietly inquired whether I might be that blogger.

I replied yes. The dots suddenly connected. She was that unknown commenter! We had a brief and delightful chat before I returned to my vehicle of the 21st century and she Edith May Ferris of the 1900's.

Top hats off to the Walk with History Weekend of the Tacoma Cemetery Living History Tour and the upstanding re-enactors whose research, costumes and tales took us along the rails through time. A delightful and fine evening was had by all (dare I say living and otherwise).

A special nod to Edith May Ferris/Karen Haas for stepping forward from the pages of my blog. May your clam chowder always be piping hot and the oyster crackers crisp!

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