Headle to lead cemetery tour


Students in Barbara Headle’s “The Last Great Necessity: Cemeteries, Memory and American History” course will team with faculty, former students and returning volunteers to lead tours of the Fountain Fairview Cemetery on Oct. 18.

After extensive research, students will don period dress and relate the stories of the people who settled and developed the Fountain Valley during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This year’s emphasis is on children. Proceeds from the tour and a concurrent silent auction at the Fountain Public Library will fund the repair of damaged headstones in the cemetery and future installation of a video surveillance system.

“Children have always been full participants in the unfolding of human history,” Headle said. “However, sometimes the vacant chair or the empty child’s bed is all that remains after a child is gone. Their experiences are important. When we exclude them from the historical narrative, we leave a void in our history that is, at best, difficult to recover.”

In one instance, the students will research and tell the story of a 14-year-old girl buried at Fairview. While her life was short, her story tells the travails of a community ravished by Spanish Influenza, a pandemic of 1918-19. Her father also perished as a result of the illness. That child’s headstone, a 150-pound marble block shaped in the form of a tree stump with an inscription “a life cut short” was recently toppled by vandals.

“Some of the children may have passed away too early to have had a voice from themselves,” Kim Sweetwood, a history graduate student, said. Sweetwood is also a sign language interpreter at many UCCS events and works as a student assistant in the Department of History.

Sweetwood presented invitations to the tour to members of the Fountain City Council. The council recently authorized additional funding for a video surveillance system, an issue that Headle and her students brought forward when they began the project three years ago. Since then, the project has raised about $5,500.

Headle said the cemetery tours bring together the research and presentation skills necessary for academic and career success. Cemeteries offer a unique peek into a community’s past, she said, becoming mirrors of the living community by reflecting group cultural values. Making community history more realistic by focusing on an individual, and for the benefit of a near-to-campus community, are added benefits.

For more information about the event, contact Sweetwood, 719-433-4597, or or visit