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By Taylor Wren
Jersey Community Historical Society has brought back the Dearly Departed Tour at the Cheney Mansion for a third season and needless to say, it definitely belongs in spooky season. The home is set up to resemble the way it would have looked after Prentiss Dana Cheney I passed away inside the home in July 1900.
As the tour begins you notice all the decor of a mourning family. Artifacts from the Historical Society and the Goobster Family Collection fill the house to help give the authentic look of a grieving home from the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. The mourning customs and traditions were not anything like they are now in the sense that they were very extensive and unfrivolous. The superstitions alone left an eerie feeling shivering down my spine.
Viewings were also held at a different level than now. Everything seemed so traditional and almost more personable in their own unique way. There were many components that went into the viewings that I was shocked they were held in the home. Cemeteries even had a different feel and seemingly, a different value.
While walking through the house you also get to see what would now be considered indecent and unsanitary. Embalming the deceased family member inside the home. Almost everything needed to execute the embalming process, including the tools and liquids, are laid out for all to see and question. Learning the history of it extends all the way from George Washington to the Civil War where it starts to become a little shocking.
If you want to take a walk through history there is no better place to go than the Cheney Mansion. This piece of history we have been lucky enough to house in our town is an eye opener in many ways. The Dearly Departed tour allows you to see the spooky, shocking, detailed and meaningful change in history from how things were to how they are now. Were all of the changes for the best?
This year the tours are dedicated to the memory of Larry Joe Alexander and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Larry and Julie Alexander Memorial Scholarship. Tours will begin this weekend on Saturday, Oct. 16 and they will also be held on Oct. 23, 30 and Nov. 6. They run all day beginning at 10 a.m. and will last about 45 minutes. The last tour of the day will begin at 4 p.m. You can also snag a tour on Thursday Oct. 21 and 28 at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Entrance fee of $10 can be paid by cash or check at the door. Masks are required and don’t forget to bring in your cameras!