The Sherman Museum gave people a local lesson on the past with its annual History Comes Alive event Saturday at West Hill Cemetery. As one of the primary fundraisers for the museum, Director Dan Steelman said the funds will go towards operational expenses and programming.
“Part of our mission is to help the public understand its heritage,” Steelman said. “That’s an important part of what we’re doing here by highlighting the lives of individuals who helped build the community. We’re helping the present generation to understand their heritage and where they come from.”
The event featured tours consisting of eight stops at the cemetery markers of selected individuals from Sherman’s history. The stops included a theatrical presentation designed to bring the individual’s story to life.
This year’s tour illuminated the lives of — the Rev. Jacob Monroe Binkley, Christopher Columbus Binkley, Marshall Lee Simmons, John O. Britton, John C. Dannel II, Charles Oliver Dannel II, Grace Dupree Ridings and Hope Dupree Ridings Miller. Sory Elementary Assistant Principal Ginger White said she attends the event every year.
“We’ve only ever missed maybe one year,” White said. “We come just to learn more of the history that we don’t even realize is right here.”
John Cartoln Dannel II and Charles Oliver Dannel II were highlighted as part of the John C. Dannel Funeral Home in Sherman. Charles Oliver Dannell II’s son Charles Oliver Dannell III, who now runs the funeral home with his mother Pat Dannel, presented the details of their family’s history in Sherman.
Attendees with mobility concerns were invited to join a special noon tour with a provided golf cart to assist with transportation to the eight tour stops. West Hill Cemetery spans 120 acres near Downtown Sherman. Steelman explained the cemetery was sold to the city in 1959 for $50.
“Prior to that time people were buried in a small cemetery on Rusk Street,” Steelman said. “The cemetery was almost destroyed in 1896 with a tornado that hit town. Many of the 66 people that were killed in the storm are buried there but their graves are mostly unmarked.”
Steelman went on to say the Sherman Mausoleum Association was formed to raise funds for building a mausoleum completed in 1923. It remained in private hands until 1952 when the mausoleum and the grounds around it were turned over to the city. The structure includes Tiffany stained glass windows. The mausoleum was the presentation location for information on Grace Dupree Ridings and Hope Dupree Ridings Miller who both rest within its walls.
Sory Elementary fourth grade teacher Stacy Branam said she turned out for the event because she is a big history buff.
“I never realized how many people from Sherman had such an impact on Texas history and beyond,” Branam. “So just learning about those figures is fascinating to me because I think cemeteries have so much to teach us. It’s been fascinating every year we learn about something new. “