First sunrise Easter service held in 1951

East Sweden The East Sweden Cemetery was originated in the spring of 1891. C.C. Johanson donated the northwest half, while the northeast half was given by S.L. (Lee) Hurd. People in the community kept up the cemetery by donations and cemetery workdays. On August 1, 1968, The East Sweden Cemetery Association was organized with elected officers and trustees to take care of the donations and funds, and make rules and regulations for the burials and maintenance. Members are Louise Passmore, and trustees, Lindsey Passmore, Carol Johnson, and Dixie Pitcox. Graves being dug by hand have given way to backhoe digging. Burial spaces are reserved for those who have lived in the community or have family ties; this ruling is due to limited space. The first burial in the cemetery was Clara G. Johnson on July 29, 1901. As of April 1, 2001, there were approximately 200 graves in the cemetery. Fifteen of these known burials have a lost location of burial because no identification was left on the graves. These fifteen lost known burials are six Caucasians and nine Hispanics. There are about sixteen unknown graves with no identification but are known to be three Caucasians and about 13 Hispanics. There are two African Americans buried in the northeast part by the center roadway. Buried there are: two Civil War veterans, John W. Jones and J.F. Self; one Union Civil War veteran, John Peter Samuelson; eight World War II veterans, Jeff Albritton, Pat Bannister, Valton Cates, Cecil Nelin, Charles Nelin, Harold Engdahl, William (Bill) Galaway, Jack Galaway, George Hurd and Harold Wilson. Lindsey and Louise Passmore of East Sweden put an American flag on the graves twice a year. J.F. Self (Civil War Veteran) had nothing but a sandstone rock for identification placed there by Alvin Bolton, cemetery historian. The Passmores and Bolton agreed that a Civil war Veteran that had been dead since 1900 deserved better remembrance. When cemetery trustees Carol Johnson and Dixie Pitcox (who were unaware they even had Civil War veterans buried in the cemetery) were told about J.F. Self, they said “Go for it!” In early March we went to Brady Monument Co. and asked if they had a very small stone that we could buy. They found one about 14″ X 8″ and engraved his name, birth and death dates and Civil War veteran on the stone. “We picked it up and are very pleased with it,” stated, Louise Passmore. Thank you Louise for your letter. Rochelle On main street Rochelle at Barrtiques Antique Store I saw two different butter churns. One was a crock one that sits on the floor. The other churn was a glass jar churn with wooden paddles inside and a metal lid with crank handle. My mother (Peggy Coffey) told me, that after her mother died when she was 13 years old, that she had to milk the cow, gather the eggs, do all the house chores and care for her 3 year old brother Terry too! Anyway, making and selling one pound molds of butter for a nickel each made her only spending money. In today’s world children will not volunteer to do anything for a nickel. Making butter was hard work, but a nickel would buy a whole sack of candy or get you into a movie back then. I talked with Precinct 4, county commissioner Jerry Tedder about the once a month Country Music Festival held in Rochelle the third Saturday of each month at the Rochelle school cafeteria. Jerry said everyone brings a covered dish. Admission is free and if you have country or gospel music talent you could even do a number. Music starts at about 6 p.m., everyone takes a break to eat about 7:30 p.m., then they play on until 10 or 10:30 p.m. Jerry Tedder is the ramrod and the house band is Country From the Heart starring Terry on rhythm guitar, Rev. Keith Simpson on Mandolin, Rick Tracker plays the electric bass and guitar, Elmer Ray’s on the steel guitar, and Melanie Reeves on the drums. All of them sing as well as play. On the first Saturday of each month Country From the Heart gives a performance at the Sunset Center on Lockhart Street in Brady. It’s sort of like the McCulloch County Opera. No one sits in with the band at this one but the times and foods are the same as Rochelle’s Country Music Festival. Country From the Heart will again play for us at the Elm Grove Homecoming Reunion Picnic the third Saturday in May. It would hardly be old home week without them. Correction: last week I didn’t properly name a teacher from East Sweden. Pauline Roberts (maiden name) married Robert Lawell Smith and retired from teaching after a number of years at Rochelle school. Mercury In 1951, the first sunrise Easter Service was held on Mercury Mountain. East out of Mercury on the right is the mountain amphitheater on the hillside ranch owned at that time by Fred Thormann. Missouri Synod Lutheran Churches, Mt. Calvary Lutheran of Brady and Grace Lutheran of Brownwood sponsored the service. Pastor John Roock was pastor for both the Brownwood and Brady churches. Hilmer Kruckemeyer of Mercury tells me that the men from both churches wanted a place halfway between Brady and Brownwood to hold Easter Services. When the location had been established, then men from both churches did many hours of hard work on the Thormann place to get it ready for services each year. They would dig and fill and carry rocks to enhance the natural amphitheater, with as much rock free for sitting as possible. That effort took many, many man hours. They also built a building for the equipment and for services to be held in. They cleared two acres or so for a parking lot. There was a lot of publicity for the first service in 1951, because the Lutheran Hour Choir from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis Mo. was coming to perform along with two bus loads of choir members. Dr. Eugene Bertermann was the speaker. The first service was even broadcast nationwide on radio. The National Guard was called upon to direct traffic the first couple of years when attendance was 2500 to 3000 people! In 1958 Pastor Virgil Schuelein came to the church at Brady. They had the Easter Sunrise Service one more year. The Easter Sunrise Pageant began in 1960. That took a lot more work. Besides the work on the Thormann Ranch property of clean up and construction at the outdoor theater, there were costumes for the ladies to make and then there were rehearsals. A group of volunteer workmen, under the direction of pageant director Cecil Schill of Brady, cleared the parking area and smoothed the hillside where the audience would bring blankets and quilts to sit on (and coats too because it was usually cold) to view the pageant. A large earthen tank dam served as the stage for many scenes. Special lighting and sound effects along with an audiotape narration of the pageant and authentic period costumes gave the story a very real effect. Many were brought to tears as Jesus died on the cross. Jesus was played by Hilmer Kruckemeyer and Cecil Schill, director, also played the disciple Peter. In the latter part of 1961 Pastor Schuelein left to be a chaplain in the military service. Pastor Charles Rathgeber continued the pageant. Then only the Brady Church sponsored it, and after about three years it became too much for just one church to handle and the service was discontinued. During the years from 1955 until almost 1960 when Karl Otte went off to college, Karl’s dad, Ernst Otte, a member of the Brady Church, helped move the organ to Mercury Mountain for the service. Karl’s mother, Ivyll Otte was a member of the First Christian Church in Brady and church organist. She played the organ for the Sunrise Service. As the sun came up Karl Otte would play “The Holy City” by Stephen Adams on the trumpet with his mother accompanying him on the organ. That began the service. I wish I could have seen that. Rev. Keith Simpson of the Mercury Baptist Church wants to make Mercury Sunrise Easter Service again a reality. Last year was their first sunrise service. At 7 a.m. Sunday, April 15 Mercury Baptist Church will hold its 2nd annual Sunrise Easter Service. There will be a short service at 7 a.m. on the church parking lot. After which they will serve coffee and donuts or cookies for refreshments in the fellowship hall. You will still have time to make it back to town for services at your own church. There will be no Sunday school, but there will be church services after the refreshments. Pastor Simpson told me he hopes, maybe as soon as next year, to be able to hold an Easter Pageant at Mercury. We’re all rooting for you pastor! Mildred Weatherman tells me that Linda Miller had an MRI done as a prelude to hip surgery last week. She will undergo both hip and knee surgery. You are still in our prayers. Our sincere condolences go out to the family of Mrs. Barney Edmondson, of the Locker community. She passed away Sunday in a San Antonio hospital. Her husband Barney died a number of years ago. He was one of the founders of the Elm Grove Rodeo Association. Mrs. Edmonson is the grandmother of Scott Edmondson. Scott married Monica Weatherman and both are teachers, living in the Milburn area. I hope that you all will make plans to take your family to church this Easter. It’s the least we can do for the One who did so much for us. Please send me news and memories to SOUTH OF THE RIVER, c/o Mary Coffey Mitchel, Rt. 1 Box 148, Rochelle, TX 76872. If you want this column to continue tell James Stewart at the paper (597-2959). Mercury Store will only carry five copies of the Brady Standard-Herald so get yours fast!

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