Eshom Valley Public Cemetery
October 16, 2010

In October 2000, Tales From the Tomb debuted at the Visalia Cemetery. We had no idea it would become a high-spirited, eagerly anticipated TCHS annual autumn event so enthusiastically embraced by our audiences.

Every year we strive to improve upon this living history presentation, which now has a following throughout Tulare County and beyond. We are humbled by the success of this program. While it began at the Visalia Cemetery, we then moved to the beautiful Smith Mountain Cemetery east of Dinuba; and today we find ourselves in the Sierra at the historic Eshom Valley Cemetery.

The personal stories of the pioneers presented today are a result of extensive research, cautious speculation, and a certain degree of creativity necessary to weave facts and conjecture into the dramatic readings performed by our awesome actors.

-Dallas Pattee















Cast and Characters

Portraying John Breckenridge was Steve LaMar

John Breckenridge (?-1864)

The bulk of John’s life is shrouded in mystery. His death however, was the beginning of the Eshom Valley Cemetery. Was he a chivalrous man trying to protect a woman – or a bad neighbor whose violent act resulted in his own demise?

Steve has been involved in theatre for over 30 years, including over 20 years as Technical Director, Teacher and Theatre Manager at College of the Sequoias in Visalia. This veteran has starred in productions at Fresno State University, Roger Rocka’s Music Hall and COS.

Steve was a professional performer and stage technician in Southern California before relocation home to Three Rivers in 1986. Locally, Steve has had lead roles in various theatre productions including: Kismet, 1776, Annie, Oliver, Sweet Charity, Man of La Mancha, Camelot and Guys and Dolls, as well as our Tales From the Tomb. Steve is also the President/CEO of the Three Rivers Players














Elizabeth LaMar played Sally Mitchell

Sally Mosher Mitchell (1826-1906)

Sally, in her later years and a widow, moved to the Camp Badger-Eshom Valley area to be with her grown children. She was embraced by the mountain community, where she lived for nearly a quarter century. Her life is a testament of a pioneer woman.

Elizabeth and Steve met at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Bird Cage Theatre, where she was the heroine and Steve was the hero for their famed melodramas. Elizabeth has been involved in theatre for over 25 years, most recently as Lily in Annie and the Reverend Mother in Nunsense. She is currently preparing to direct Fiddler on the Roof for the League of Christian Actors. Elizabeth has given many riveting performances as Mary Graves Clarke for our Tales From the Tomb. Her latest adventure is the launch of her new business, JEST4Fun! Innovations and Adventures – helping non-profit and educational organizations raise funds through innovative projects and events












Michael Hart was played by Larry Keim

Michael Hart (1829-1908)

Michael did not hail from California; but once he set foot in Eshom Valley, he knew he was home. There he homesteaded with his wife and five children from 1865 until his passing in 1908. Hart generously donated the land that became the Eshom Valley Cemetery, where he reposes with his kinfolk and Sierra neighbors.

Larry moved to Visalia from Los Angeles three years ago. He had performed in various college and community theatre productions in the Los Angeles area, but left the stage to focus on his career. He is service manager in industrial technologies. After 29 years, he returned to the stage and was most recently seen in the Ice House Theatre production of On Borrowed Time, for which he won the Lizzie Award for best supporting actor in a minor role.












Jackie Weiner as Maria Curtis

Maria Dewey Curtis (1864-1932)

Maria was a rare woman who lived a rare life. She ran a millenary shop, yet detested wearing hats. She lived in a tent at Kaweah Colony, as well as a house atop a giant sequoia stump at a logging mill. Yet in her day, Maria was simply known as Mrs. Curtis, wife of C.C. Curtis, the photographer.

Jackie has been calling these mountains home since the day she first laid eyes on them in 1995. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, her professional life has been diverse: teacher, business owner, dean of academic affairs, artist, motivational speaker, and corporate trainer. At the age of 48 Jackie found herself in a national park for the very first time. Working the concessionaire and then later for the National Park Service, her background in sociology drove her to rediscover a vital story that had been lost for decades. Her passion has resulted in her recent book, Timely Exposures, The Life and Images of C.C. Curtis, Pioneer California Photographer, for which she received a grant in 2009 from the Tulare County Historical Society to help with the project. Today she and her husband divide their time between Pinehurst, California, where she continues as a Family Liaison with Search and Rescue at Sequoia and Kings National Parks, and Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.