Monday evening was filled with plenty of spooks for a large crowd that gathered for the haunting Halloween spirit at the Frontier Homestead Park.
Best known for its tours and train displays, the park saw patrons waiting in line to see what lay ahead of them on that cool October evening. The group was introduced to a tour consisting of the haunted side of the cemetery as well as stories of their lives before their burials.
Ryan Paul, the curator of Frontier Homestead Park, introduced himself to the crowd as the historian and discussed the stories behind the headstones and the people that were lying beneath them.
“Headstones have various ideas,” he said.
In addition to that interesting factoid, he stated that there were plenty of names on the stones that mean different things, including some biblical meanings.
He started off the tour by visiting the tomb of a man named Joseph Coslett who was a brick maker and musician with a very deep voice. Coslett opened the first music store in Cedar City where choirs started becoming competitive back in the day. They were grateful for his life of public service as he was very beloved in the community.
The group also crossed an old path that proved to be popular in the area because of how symbolic this was for the park.
Then he introduced the crowd to the headstone of Nellie Unthank, whom he said was a pioneer, and told the crowd of the tiny plaque the LDS church put on her stone. She pioneered two companies in Wyoming and belonged to the church of Latter-Day Saints in England before her legs deteriorated with no anesthetic. She would spend her time hopping all over the world and would have jobs including cleaning her church house.
Brigham Young recommended that Unthank should come down to Cedar City and start a family there. SUU has a statue of her on campus before she lost use of her legs. The carvings in her headstone were made by hand, which is impressive because it required great skill to build headstones.
Paul followed up with a story of the Chaffin twins who were members of the first church in history. Lewis Chaffin was involved with photography and took the first picture of the LDS temple in Nauvoo. He came down to Cedar to purchase a mill, which was later made into a museum.
Our last stop of the night was the first burial of the cemetery named Joseph Chatterley, an ironworker who stayed in Parowan for a time. He had plenty of roots in the town and was a prominent worker there. There is even a fort built by the bottling plant for his honor. Thus the history of what Chatterley did with the community making Chatterley was the first ever person to be buried in the cemetery.
Along with revisiting other tombstones in the area, the fellow curators and employees of the state park helped out with the event. The guests loved learning about the backstories of the people buried in the cemetery. The park also has other events during the month to keep the public interested in the history and the park itself. For more information on what is happening next, go on the park’s website at https://frontierhomestead.org/.
Dan Lauper for SUU News