• Frank Haight: Frontier characters come to life April 27

  • Personalities from the past are returning to the National Frontier Trails Museum on April 27 for “Night at the Museum 2.”

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  • Personalities from the past are returning to the National Frontier Trails Museum on April 27 for “Night at the Museum 2.”
    Friends of the National Frontier Trails Museum are bringing back this popular event – where the past comes alive – with new characters telling new stories.
    So enjoyable was last year’s first “Night at the Museum” event that many attendees requested a repeat performance.
    “So we are back by popular demand,” says NFTM Friends Board President Kathy Vest, noting the idea behind the family-friendly fundraiser is that “people from the past have come out of the woodwork for a night to tell their stories.”
    When the museum opens at 6:30 p.m. for the 2 1/2-hour fun-filled event, re-enactors Mike and Jill Schumacher will greet guests and give them a brief orientation. The Schumachers are portraying Mr. and Mrs. John Smith. John Smith was one of the original trustees of Independence during its first incorporation.
    Once inside, there are no restrictions. Guests can do what they want to do when they want to do it.
    “They could perhaps go and get some food, visit some re-enactors and then go back and get some more food,” says NFTM Administrator Dave Aamodt.
    Scattered throughout the museum will be such re-enactors as Joel Sapp, a Truman High School history teacher, and 9-year-old Tom Beem, a fourth grader at Bryant Elementary School.
    Joel, who portrays a mountain man, and Josh Bond, his Native American friend, will be at a campsite by the Pioneer Woman statue just outside the museum.
    “We will act like we are trading,” he says. “So we are going to sit out there and talk about the things of the day and let the folks look at the traps and furs and different items in the camp. It will be like a mini-rendezvous.”
    At another re-enactment site, Tom Beem, son of Matt and Kate Beem, portrays Jesse Applegate, who was 7 when he traveled the Oregon Trail with his family.
    “(Jesse) kind of reminds me of myself,” says 9-year-old Tom, explaining that Jesse “tells stories, and in the stories, he sounds like me.”
    Says Kathy Vest: “His recollections about that adventure are quite interesting, amusing and also sad.”
    Dressed in period attire, re-enactors at each of the 11 stations won’t be giving memorized speeches, Kathy says. They will open with a monologue, explaining who they are, then interact with the guests.
    “Each monologue is a capsule in time,” she says. “(The re-enactors) are like they are in this particular time in their lives, and they are telling pretty much what is happening at that time.”
    For example, Kathy says, President Thomas Jefferson, played by Chris Earley, explains in his vignette why he wants Lewis and Clark to lead the Corps of Discovery and open a trade route to the Pacific Ocean.
    Page 2 of 2 - Says Kathy: “He’s not talking about his presidency or anything else. He’s just focusing on one vignette in time.”
    Other re-enactors will be:
    • Henry Grubb as Francis Parkman. He traveled the Oregon Trail in 1846 and later wrote a book entitled the “Oregon Trail.”
    • Nicole Gaulden as Narcissa Whitman. She was the first white woman to go on the Oregon Trail with her husband.
    • Andrea Calvert as Susan Shelby Magoffin. This young bride traveled the Santa Fe Trail with her husband.
    • Nancy Harris as Charlotte Green. Responsible for cooking food at Bent’s Fort, her stories give an inside view of life at the fort.
    • Mike Calvert as Capt. Daniel Whittenhall. He shares his adventures while stationed at Fort Larned.
    • Nina Falls as Jane Elizabeth Manning. This African-American Mormon traveled from Connecticut to Nauvoo where she lived with the Joseph Smith family.
    • Gary Walker as Sgt. Patrick Gass. A Corps of Discovery member, he will share stories about the adventures of Seaman, the Newfoundland dog, portrayed by Walker’s dog, Pherghus.
    The festive event also offers a large appetizer buffet, violin and dulcimer music performed by Ann Mallinson and others, as well as a gift certificate raffle, featuring numerous certificates valued at $20 or more. Each certificate will be drawn separately. Raffle tickets are $5 for three or $10 for eight.
    Tickets for the event are $25 for adults and $5 for students 17 and younger. For reservations, call the museum at 816-325-7575 by April 24, or send check to: Friends of the NFTM, 318 W. Pacific Ave., Independence, Mo.. 64050.
    Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.