Stories from Aspen’s Ancestors’ museum-theatre tour returns next week with Aspen Historical Society

Red Butte Cemetery will come alive with “Twilight in the Cemetery: Stories from Aspen’s Ancestors”

Davis Hanson Waite, the eighth Governor of Colorado and founding owner of The Aspen Daily Times, performed by Mike Monroney.
Courtesy photo

On Tuesday, Aug. 30, Aspen Historical Society is presenting its annual museum-theatre tour at Red Butte Cemetery: “Twilight in the Cemetery: Stories from Aspen’s Ancestors.”

Winding through the cemetery, the audience will learn about Aspen’s history, hearing from well-known “ghosts” of Aspen’s near and distant past. The tour includes portrayals of seven influential Aspenites throughout history.

The portrayals include: David Stapleton, a third generation Aspenite and ski racing legend; Mary Ella Stallard, longtime owner of the Wheeler/Stallard house; Hildur Anderson, a beloved local school teacher and well-known accordionist; Davis Hanson Waite, the eighth governor of Colorado and founding owner of The Aspen Daily Times; Ella Elisha, a daughter of the family who ran and owned the Hotel Jerome for decades, Nick DeWolf, a renowned artist and influential community member; and Rufus Reeves, a local ranch foreman who died from the Spanish flu in 1920.

Guests will be guided through different grave sites where performers will share personal narratives in first-person. The late Aspen residents’ characters will be performed by Aspen Historical Society actors, volunteers and interns — some of who are descendants of their characters, offering a sentimental touch to the tour.

David Stapleton, who died in 2020 after contracting COVID-19, will be played by his son, Dean Stapleton. Rufus Reeves’ character will be played by his grandson, Dan Reeves.

“I think portraying someone of your ancestry is a different story than someone who does the research to prepare the first-person narrative to deliver,” said Nina Gabianelli, Aspen Historical Society’s vice president of education and programming. “The relatives have more of a connection, more of a story to their family.”

The performance offers an interactive experience, as well. Attendees may ask questions to “cemetery ghosts” to learn more about the residents and Aspen’s history.

If you go…

What: Twilight in the Cemetery: Stories from Aspen’s Ancestors

Where: Red Butte Cemetery, Cemetery Lane

When: Tuesday, August 30. Time slots (1 ½ hour tours): 6 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

More Info: To register, visit

“We very clearly say, ‘Oh, my goodness, it’s so nice to see people. I rarely come up above the ground, and it’s so nice to have you here,'” Gabianelli said.

You can register to attend the tour by visiting Aspen Historical Society website or by calling 970.925.3721. Advanced registration is required to attend. Gabianelli warns that, in previous years, the tour has sold out, which they are anticipating will happen this year.

Additionally, there is limited parking available. Gabianelli suggests taking the RFTA Cemetery Lane shuttle or walking.

This museum-theatre tour only happens once a year, offering attendees an in-depth and unique learning experience, according to the society.

“I just guarantee attendees are going to learn something new that they didn’t know,” Gabianelli said. “They’re going to learn many different things.”

The Aspen Historical Society also offers a downtown walking tour that focuses on exploring what the business district was like during the mining era every Wednesday and Friday until Sept. 30.

For more information, go to

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