Have you ever wondered what it might be like to hear someone talk to you who lived on this earth 50 to 100 to 150 years ago?
If you come to the Ephraim Moravian Cemetery on September 14, you will have the opportunity to do just that.
For the last several years the Ephraim Historical Foundation, in conjunction with the Ephraim Moravian Church, has presented a cemetery walk called the DEARLY DEPARTED.
Each year several people agree to enact the part of a specific person from Ephraim’s past, while wearing appropriate costuming. An effort is made to portray both men and women, and to choose personalities who have been gone from Ephraim for various lengths of time.
One of the first characters to be portrayed was Ole Larson, who aided Reverend Iverson in the choosing of the land which became the village of Ephraim. Reverend and Mrs. Iverson have also been portrayed.
In order to give you a hint of what you might expect if you attend this event next week, we reprint here some of the words spoken by a participant several years ago, well-known hotel owner, Kittie Valentine, describing her life in Ephraim during the last century.
Hello! My name is Kittie Corrine Nebel Valentine, and I was born in the summer of 1889 in Sturgeon Bay. That’s the same year Tillie Valentine, my future mother-in-law came to Ephraim with her 7-year-old son. Her husband, Edward Valentine, had recently passed away, and she wanted to live near her sister-in-law, Hannah Valentine. She bought a house on Moravia Street, built a pretty stone wall in front of it, named it Stonewall Cottage, and began renting rooms.
There was only one hotel in Ephraim at that time, the Evergreen Beach, and there were many tourists who wanted to vacation here. Tillie was a hard worker, and she was very successful.
In 1906 she married her second husband, Adolph Anderson, and with his blessing they built the second hotel in Ephraim, the 21-room Anderson Hotel, right next door to Stonewall Cottage. There was a big dining room, and being a wonderful cook, Tillie made her guests very happy.
The hotel was so busy that soon they tore down Stonewall Cottage, and built a 3-story addition to the hotel.
When I was in school I learned to play the piano, and after I was grown, I was often asked to accompany singers and instrumentalists. One evening a young man named Everett Valentine came to Sturgeon Bay to sing, and his accompanist didn’t show up! I was asked to fill in, and besides realizing that Everett had a wonderful voice, I liked the whole person! He was very engaging, and soon we were married. He often called me Kitten instead of Kitty, and I liked it! I never allowed anyone else to call me that.
Marrying Everett and living in Ephraim meant that we both worked at the Anderson Hotel, with and for his mother. She eventually became very arthritic, and passed away in 1936. We were happy to take over, and both our children helped whenever they could.
In those days there weren’t very many amusements available to guests, so we began to plan fun-filled evenings for them about once a week. Sometimes they were musical performances, with Everett singing, sometimes instrumentalists would play. I was usually the accompanist. Sometimes we had a costume party, or a skit night and the guests were required to participate wearing costumes of course! They seemed to love it.
I was always a bit of a ham, and I often wore a Groucho Marx-type mustache as I played. All our waitresses learned to sing and dance, so did our children, and even the guests were encouraged to try. Some people made their reservations after inquiring what sort of entertainment would be planned when they were with us!
Our hotel closed on Labor Day, and that’s when we could take up our lives as Ephraim residents. There was always plenty to do, as both Everett and I sang in the Moravian Church choir, and we were members of many organizations within the church, the village, and the county. One of the things I hope to do this fall or winter is to put together a cookbook of all the recipes we have used at the Anderson Hotel. Our guests ask me for recipes all the time, but I suppose the all-time favorite is Steamed Cherry Pudding! I know you would like it!
We hope this blog information will whet your appetite to learn more about Ephraim’s ancestors. Please come to the Ephraim Moravian Cemetery, on the corner of Norway Street and Willow Street, on Monday, September 14, from 1:30 to 3:30.
There will be 6 presenters there to talk about their lives in Ephraim and two of them will be ancestors of Kittie Valentine!
Parking is available at the Ephraim Moravian Church, on Moravia Street. The event is free, although donations are appreciated. We will hold the Cemetery walk, rain or shine!