Kiwanis 'Dining with the Dead' event returns to a graveyard near you

Sold out event always draws a (living) crowd

Jill McQueary
Special to the Daily Times
Dr. Eugene and Wendy Schmidt portray Farmington pioneers A.F. and Lucy Stump.

FARMINGTON — Dining With the Dead returns for the sixth year to Greenlawn Cemetery on Saturday, Sept. 8. Folks who were lucky enough to get tickets will hear stories from early pioneers about what brought them to this area when President Ulysses Grant opened it for settlement in March 1874. 

There were disputes between early settlers and Navajo Indians, the Stockton Cattle War, a failed attempt of a town settlement and a bitter conflict over the location of the county seat.

Tickets for the event have sold out.

Visitors who bought tickets will enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner and take a guided tour to meet: 

♦ Bell Hudson portrayed by Chuck Holmes. Bell lived much of his life in southern New Mexico; his stories include his friendship with Billy the Kid and riding with Pat Garrett’s posse.

Judy Castleberry portrays her great-great grandmother, Suzanna Rhoades, who came west with five kids in a covered wagon.

♦ Judy Castleberry portrays her great great grandmother, Suzanna Rhoades. She tells her story about her husband’s early death and coming west with 5 children in a covered wagon – the youngest was just a baby.  

♦ Wash Cox, portrayed by Charley Tyler, was the area’s largest cattle baron. He came from Texas where the Stockton Brothers worked for him as cowboys. Wash convinced Territorial Governor, Lew Wallace, that this area needed to be ‘cleaned up’ because of the lawlessness, and the San Juan Guard was formed in the 1880’s. 

♦ Rebecca Morgan portrays Agnes Miller Furman.  Agnes was the daughter of A.F. and Julia Miller who opened the first general store in Farmington. Julia was the town historian and Agnes later took all her journals and wrote a book about the early history of the area.

♦ Lauren Harris portrays Ada Ivie Burdick. Shortly after moving to Farmington as a young woman, she married Frank Burdick and worked in his law office.  Ada held in many political offices.  She retired as a United States Commissioner in 1936, an office that she held for 22 years.

♦ C.H. McHenry, portrayed by Steve Clark, arrived here in early 1880’s. Farmington was a pretty wild place and for a while his family and others were forced to leave as they were in fear of their lives. C. H. tells about the shenanigans that take place over the location of the county seat.

♦ Scott Michlin portrays Frank Pierce. He arrived in 1879 and established Pierce Mercantile in a two-story building at 122 E Main. Frank’s business was involved in Farmington’s worst fire of 1914.

Farmington's Dustin Street was named after Almon (Al) Dustin, an early lawman in a lawless area portrayed by Bob Lehrer.

♦ Almon (Al) Dustin, portrayed by Dr. Bob Lehmer, came to this area in 1881. Al has some interesting stories he will share about riding out to Port Stockton’s cabin in Flora Vista, becoming one of Farmington’s earliest sheriffs, and the part he played in Farmington’s first robbery at the Bowman Brothers Drugstore. Dustin Street is named for him.

♦ Dr. Eugene and Wendy Schmidt portray A.F. and Lucy Stump. Lucy owned a ladies hat shop and A. F. was the area’s first brick maker who came to this area in 1878. He was among the town fathers who selected the name ‘Farmington.’ 

♦ Alice Smith, portrayed by D’Ann Waters, moved to the Northwest New Mexico Territory in 1891 and settled in Junction City. Visitors will hear about the hardships of being a pioneer woman.

♦ Ike Stockton, portrayed by Tony DiGiacomo, visits Dining With the Dead each year. Even though Ike was one of the most famous cattle rustlers in the west, he still counted many lawmen among his friends. He and his brother Port supplied much of the beef to the cavalry at Ft. Lewis – all stolen of course!

The Farmington Museum, San Juan County Historical Society, and pioneer families help provide the historical information. 

Dining With the Dead is sponsored by Rio del Sol Kiwanis. 

Call 505-325-5931 for more information.