‘Mausoleum Stories’ set for October 25-27

October 10, 2019

White Rose Cemetery will present “Mausoleum Stories 2019” Oct. 25-27, Cemetery Relations Coordinator Kim Inman said this week.

Shows will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, and Saturday, Oct. 26 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27, at the White Rose Mausoleum, located at 804 W. 11th Street. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the Bartlesville Public Library Circulation desk.

Arguably the most popular event hosted by the City of Bartlesville-owned White Rose Cemetery, Mausoleum Stories draws hundreds of spectators over the three-day presentation.

“It’s is an innovative way to tell the stories of some of the people who are buried at White Rose Cemetery and to allow their voices to be heard, in many cases, long after they’re gone,” Inman said. “These life stories are told by actors who wear period costume, representing the time that their person’ lived.”

Mausoleum Stories is researched by Inman and written by Marilyn Johnson.

“Marilyn is able to take the lives of very different people, who lived in different eras, and make us see how we’re all more connected than we are different,” Inman said.

Tom Mardis directs this year’s play. Money raised from the event funds cemetery beautification and maintenance projects.

Portrayals at this year’s event are:

Veshelo “Shela” Bitinis Ward

Bitinis Ward was born into a Greek immigrant family who owned various local businesses in town and lived in an area that would come to be known as “Bitinisville.” She was an activist, campaigned for, and knew John F. Kennedy.

Jesse Lee Overlees (1877-1950)

Overlees, along with his father and brother, were pioneers of early Bartlesville who became successful businessmen. He built several of the first downtown buildings and was instrumental in much of how the heart of the city was laid out. His brother, Frank, worked with William Johnstone in the Bartles store as chief clerk. Frank later opened his own store across from one opened by Johnstone and Keeler.

Dan Mitani (1885-1963)

Mitani was a Japanese immigrant and personal valet to Frank Phillips. He traveled everywhere with Phillips and was witness to Phillips’ business dealings as well as personal and family events. During WWII, when American aggression toward Japanese people was at its height, Phillips feared for Mitani’s life and was careful where he allowed Mitani to travel with him. With the Phillips stock that he was gifted by Phillips, Mitani became very wealthy but continued to work for his close friend until Franks death.

George Orloski (1891-1967)

Orloski, born in Warsaw, Poland, he along with his family came to the U.S. in 1910. Orloski loved this new country and so enlisted in the US Army infantry. At the end of WWI he, along with many Polish immigrants in the area, moved to Bartlesville to work for National Zinc, one of the several smelters then operating in this area. He lived and raised his family in Bartlesville’s tight-knit Polish community located near the smelter, then known as Smelter Town.

Mausoleum Stories 2019 will also reintroduce Nelson Carr, another of Bartlesville’s pioneers and founding fathers. Carr was born in New York on Sept. 2, 1844. He migrated west in 1859 and had a trading post in Oswego, Kan., in 1866. That year he married Sara Ann Rogers, a quarter-blood Cherokee, which enabled him to move into the Cherokee Nation in 1867. The couple established a small trading post along the Osage Indian trail on the Caney River at Black Dog ford, northwest of present-day Bartlesville.

After the trading post was destroyed during a skirmish between the Osage and a Cheyenne hunting party, the Carrs moved to Bartlesville, Indian Territory. Carr built a gristmill near present-day Johnstone Park, later purchased by Jacob Bartles in 1875. This local pioneer would also serve in the U.S. Secret Service before becoming involved in farming, ranching and working on over 100 producing oil wells on his family’s property.

Actors for this year’s event are:

Jason Elmore — The Guardian

Ronald Stotts — Nelson Carr

Joanie Elmore — Veshelo “Shela” Bitinis Ward

Bernie Meadows — Dan Mitani

Tyler Vaclaw — Jesse Lee Overlees

Chandler Smart —George Orloski

For more information, contact Inman at 918-338-4070.