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‘Voice from the Grave’ cemetery walk set for Oct. 29-30 in Sedona


Cooks reenactors at Sedona Schnebly’s grave. (Sedona Heritage Museum/ Courtesy)

Cooks reenactors at Sedona Schnebly’s grave. (Sedona Heritage Museum/ Courtesy)


Originally Published: October 12, 2021 3:47 p.m.

“Voices from the Grave” pioneer cemetery walk is back this fall in Sedona and will once again provide a fascinating, outdoor theatrical program with costumed spirits, history and fun, along with some new seraph surprises, according to a news release.

On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 29 and 30, a limited number of ticket holders will be going back in time to meet pioneers who lived and worked in red rock country, and who experienced triumph and tragedy trying to carve out a life and adventure in this place we call Sedona.

“I never thought a town would be named after me,” says the spirit of Sedona Schnebly, as she tells her story of frontier wife, mother and church founder.

These “Voices from the Grave” will be part of an open air “cemetery walk” with re-enactments by professional actors at the graveyard where many original pioneers are interred; the Cook Cedar Glade Cemetery off Airport Road.

Participants will be escorted from one pioneer grave site to another for history and some hilarious or heartbreaking story telling by select “ghosts” as they recount their lives and adventures in the Sedona of the past.

“I was tired of not having any say in how the local school was run, just because I lived on the wrong side of the county line!” states homesteader and school builder Jim Jackson, while he visits from the other side.

The cemetery walk provides a unique experience for visitors to meet the early citizens of Oak Creek Canyon, including a mother who taught the Sedona School teacher a thing or two about school ground punishment; Sedona’s first litter lifter and beloved town character; our town’s namesake; and members of other pioneer families such as road-builder and moonshiner Jesse Purtymun, school-builder James Jackson, homesteader Margaret Pirtle, and midwife Nettie Van Deren.

“Why, I delivered over 20 babies for my neighbors, usually riding my horse ‘Chipmunk’ through all kinds of weather. But, that’s just what you did back then,” quips midwife Nettie Van Deren in her presentation from beyond the grave.

This is not just a cemetery tour, but rather a step back in time with an opportunity to meet and learn from some of Cook Cemetery’s permanent residents. This second annual event has added to the show a lively new dead personality, additional music, and more friendly apparitions. Reno and Sheila McCormick will provide musical interludes, just to add to the moody atmosphere.

The event is hosted by the Sedona Historical Society as a fundraiser to further the preservation and maintenance of the two local historic cemeteries they own. It is also a way to introduce residents and visitors to the bravery and humor of Sedona area pioneers.

Professional actors portraying the pioneers are Shondra Jepperson, Dev Ross, Michael Peach, John Reynolds, Gary Glenn and Tricia Greer. They have decades of experience in the professional theater and awards for performance, writing and production.

To provide a COVID-safe experience, participants are limited for each show, one at 3 p.m. and another at 4:30 p.m. each day. Tickets are $25 per person and should be purchased in advance at sedonamuseum.org. Walk-ins will only be accepted if tickets remain. Tickets include trick and treat swag bags. As a fundraiser, tickets are not refundable and no rain date has been set. Tickets are now available online at SedonaMuseum.org. For more information, call 928-282-7038.

Information provided by the Sedona Heritage Museum.