Visitors got a chance to peek into the past during the second Living History Cemetery Walk at Lehighton Cemetery, filled with interesting life stories ranging from noble neighbors to business magnates, and everything in between.

Organized by Lehighton Borough’s Parks and Recreation board, the tour explored the lives of notable residents from the 19th and 20th centuries, with volunteers conveying the stories at designated stops.

“Last year, we had it as part of our 150th anniversary celebration, and it went over very well, and everybody enjoyed it, so we decided to incorporate it again with five grave sites and five stories,” Parks and Recreation committee member Louise Christman said, pointing out that interest in the town’s history has spiked since the 150th anniversary.

“Everyone wants to learn more, find out more history, how the town was incorporated, how it started. It’s all about getting everyone in touch with their own town again.”

Donald “Jack” and Ruth Anthony

The first stop of the tour was the grave of Donald “Jack” and Ruth Anthony, a couple described as “two amiable souls who led different but compatible lives,” according to a pamphlet.

Jack, born in 1912, lived a somewhat eclectic life, working with the Civilian Conservation Corps, delivering ice, traveling with a circus, and taking up a job as a bingo caller before he joined the Army for World War II.

He returned from the European theater with numerous awards, eventually taking a job at the Willard Battery Company, where he worked for 35 years until retirement.

Ruth, born in 1914, grew up on a farm outside of town. Marrying young, she had a daughter before the couple divorced. During the war, Ruth worked at the East Penn Airport, training to repair and maintain aircraft.

After the end of the conflict, Ruth took a position as a presser in a garment factory, where she worked for 40 years. The two met during a Christmas party at the Carbon House, and were married shortly thereafter.

“Jack and Ruth, that is what everyone said, not one name without the other,” volunteer Lisa Hopstock said. “They were admired as the elders of the village referred to as ‘The Heights.’ They were ordinary people who had an extraordinary impact on all who met them. You wouldn’t find their names in the history books, and this brief history can hardly do them justice. We can only hope that future generations will provide us with more couples like Jack and Ruth.”

Marion Morthimer

Next came the story of Marion Morthimer, former owner of Lehighton’s Evening Leader newspaper, and somewhat of a divisive and misunderstood personality.

Raised by a succession of housekeepers in lieu of her alcoholic father, Morthimer would eventually work for a millinery in her hometown of Easton before joining another hatmaking shop in Lehighton.

Here, she met Guy Morthimer, the third-generation publisher of the local paper, and they married in 1911. Marion became enamored with New York City’s vibrant life, culture and shopping opportunities thanks to the couple’s business trips, and continued visiting for her entire life.

“On her first husband’s passing, she had inherited the newspaper business and become the owner and publisher of The Evening Leader,” volunteer Madison DeLuca said. “Even though she had no experience in running a newspaper, she hid her shortcomings very well, and relied upon her employees to keep the paper running in a finely tuned manner.”

Upon the death of her second husband, who had worked as the business manager for the paper, Morthimer required constant company to keep her from loneliness. She met yet another suitor, an owner of an Italian restaurant in New York, and was fit to marry him until he made the grave error of requesting a loan from her.

“Marion could be generous, yet stingy at the same time. Her generosity always had to be on her own terms. She bought gifts for children of employees, and always remembered them for Christmas,” DeLuca said. “Wages, on the other hand, were a different matter. Marion was tight with a dollar, and could get quite huffy if someone asked for a raise.”

This tight grip on finances resulted in the loss of workers to other publications, with the paper being sold eventually. Morthimer died practically penniless thanks to the agreement of the paper’s sale.

“I grew up in this town, and left when I was 13. When all the kids played in town, I used to come and play around this building, though I was never in the building,” Chris Parry said as he checked out the markers in the mausoleum. “I wanted to come and check out the inside. I always had a fascination with it.”

William Swartz

A quick trip from the mausoleum brought tour groups to the grave of William Swartz, the chief of police who died while on duty in 1917.

Swartz’s great-granddaughter Cindy Ritter read the story of the respected and beloved chief.

“Chief Swartz knew he had to keep an eye on those who became mean when liquored up. Leo Francis Clark, otherwise known as Frank Clark, was 22 years of age and unmarried.”

“He had few responsibilities to keep him from the bar after the hours on the railroad. He had a reputation in the Lehighton and Weissport area as one of the meanest and most quarrelsome of payday drunks,” Ritter said.

During one fateful night, Swartz ran into Clark and a group of drunken workers. Clark shot Swartz with a pistol before fleeing.

Stumbling into the Carbon House, Swartz declared to the owner that he had been shot.

Swartz was taken to the hospital in Palmerton, where they found via X-ray that the bullet had passed between two ribs and settled near the kidney.

Doctors said Swartz would recover completely, but they were wrong.

“Four days later, on May 3, 1917, he died of complications from the gunshot,” Ritter said. “The funeral of Chief Swartz was attended by thousands, and was a magnificent testimonial to the esteem in which he was held.”

Leo Francis Clark

The next stop concluded the tale of Clark, who was not, in fact, buried at the cemetery. At a small tent, James LeVan recounted the story of Clark and his unremarkable end.

Clark had fled the scene after the shooting, jumping on a train and heading to Hazleton. A $500 reward was offered for his capture, with the County Commissioners contributing an additional $200 to the bounty. He was found 10 days later in DuBois, Pennsylvania. Clark later confessed that he had no good reason for shooting Swartz, even calling him the best friend he had in Lehighton.

“The gun accidentally went off as I was putting it in my pocket. I had no intention of shooting Swartz,” LeVan said, recounting Clark’s statement to a local newspaper.

Clark pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 19 and a half to 20 years at Eastern State Penitentiary, where he was eventually declared insane and transferred to Fairview State Hospital.

“His death went unnoticed in local newspapers. He went unmourned in this community that he once called home,” LeVan said.

Joseph Obert

Rounding out the tour was the monumental grave of Joseph Obert, featuring an angelic figure gesturing toward the heavens. Obert left Germany for America in 1841, eventually settling in Lehighton.

“While he was here, he expanded his enterprises, not only in carpentry and cabinetry, but eventually in his most prominent business venture, the meat packing company on First Street,” volunteer Dave Hauser said.

Obert was well-renowned as an honest and respectable man, and incredibly successful in his business matters.

“By the time he passed away, his company was thought to be the largest industry of its kind, not just in our town, but in the greater Lehigh Valley/Pocono area. His was the most profitable business in this area for quite a few years,”

Despite the beating sun, people appeared to enjoy jumping into their town’s rich history, from the average citizen to the business mogul, present throughout the personal stories of past residents.

“It was interesting, there were a lot of things I learned,” Karen Klotz, whose stepfather’s grandfather was William Swartz, said. “The curiosity, the history of what’s right here in your backyard, the things you didn’t know, it’s all there.”