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Funeral Reenactment of Dexter Village Founder Set for Feb. 24

The Dexter Area Historical Society & Museum will reenact the funeral of Judge Samuel Dexter at the village library.

Area residents will receive a rare glimpse of life during the 1860s with a reenactment of Dexter Village founder Judge Samuel Dexter's funeral on Feb. 24.

The reenactment is being organized by the Dexter Area Historical Society & Museum in honor of the 150th anniversary of Dexter's death.

In order to authenticate the funeral, Historian Nancy Van Blaricum spent the past several months scouring books and newspapers to find details of funeral proceedings during 1863.

"There's no official record of Judge Dexter's death because he died six years before the village's newspaper was founded," Van Blaricum said. "We're basing our reenactment on common sense and who we believe might have attended."

The funeral will feature actors throughout Washtenaw County portraying family and friends of Samuel and Millicent Bond Dexter. Through eulogy, the tale of the land prospector who arrived in Michigan in the 1820s will be shared with audience members, including Dexter’s involvement with the Civil War, and his anti-slavery stance.

Van Blaricum said the actors will stage the service using documents from the 1860s Methodist Church for reference. Some of the speakers will include Wirt Dexter, Judge Dexter's oldest son; Rev. Parke Shattuck Donnelson, who was married to Katherine Harris Dexter; and Rev. Elijah Harris Pilcher, the founder of the Methodist Church in Michigan.

"It'll be similar to the 1950s television show You Were There, with Walter Cronkite," she said. "We'll have a narrator introduce each of the characters."

Following the service, a small reception will be held at the library. The reenactment will be held in the lower level meeting room of the library at 2 p.m. Feb. 24 and is free to the public. James B. Parker will be present to sign his book “Voices of the Past: Gordon Hall,” which will be on sale for $25, with proceeds for the Gordon Hall mortgage.

Those who attend are encouraged to make a donation to support the Dexter Area Historical Society & Museum.

For more information, call 734-426-2519.

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