Save the Graves – 2022

Honoring Main Street Merchants of the Past

Save the Graves returned to Placerville Union Cemetery on October 15, 2022. Guests enjoyed portrayals of eight notable Placerville entrepreneurs. Performances were repeated throughout the day.

WILLIAM COMBELLACK
1853 – 1929

William Combellack was a native of Cornwall, England. He arrived in Placerville in 1884 with his wife Mary Ellen Dunston Combellack. In 1888, he opened his own store of fine men's wear with a partner, James Rickards, on Main Street called Richards and Combellack's. He soon bought out Richards and the store became Combellack's. Four generations owned and operated this landmark on Main Street until it closed in 2019 after 131 years in business.
Portrayed by Jim Last

GERTRUDE KIRK CORNELISON
1889 – 1974

Gertrude was the only daughter of William S. Kirk and Annie Summers Graft. Born in Pennsylvania, she came to El Dorado County with her parents in 1899. In 1912, at the age of 22 she was the first woman to register to vote in El Dorado County. Gertrude worked at her father's car dealership as a young woman teaching prospective car owners how to drive. She soon owned the first Dodge dealership in the region located on Main Street. Gertrude married Richard Cornelison in 1921.
Portrayed by Lori Whittle

Margaret “Maggie” Akins O’Keefe

Margaret, known as Maggie, Akins O'Keefe was born to Franciska Wax Akins and James Akins in Placerville. James died when Maggie was just four months old. Her mother married Michael O'Keefe when Maggie was seven. She worked in her stepfather’s business, O’Keefe Furniture and Undertaking until his death in 1905 when she and her half-brother Francis took over the business. They ran it together until his death in 1926. Maggie managed the business alone for 17 years with the assistance of Henry Steitz, a former mining associate of O'Keefe. She never married.
Portrayed by Ronnie Duska Fowler

HENRY S. MOREY

Henry S. Morey arrived in Placerville after serving in the Civil War. He arrived in Placerville via stagecoach with his wife Ellen Maria Snow Morey. Morey eventually purchased a foundry from H.L. Hinds located on Main Street and Canal. The Foundry became a vital part of the local economy providing parts, wheels, engines and other equipment for many of the mines, lumber mills, bridges and railroads in the region. The Morey Home is currently a popular Bed and Breakfast in Placerville.
Portrayed by Tom Loeprich, owner of Glen Morey B&B located in the original Morey mansion.

Mary “Mollie” Sophia Reynolds
1853 – 1944

Mary Sophia Reynolds was born in 1853 in Wisconsin. At five years old she and her mother traveled to California by boat where her father had gone ahead of them to secure a job as one of Placerville's early police officers. Mollie, as she preferred to be called, opened her Millinery Shop, with her sister Grace, on Main Street in 1910 across from the Post Office. Mollie retired at 80 after building up her successful millinery business, earning the respect of the rest of the merchant class in Placerville.
Portrayed by Darcy Phillips

JOE RUPLEY
1858 – 1922

Joe Rupley was the youngest of seven born to John Wesley and Jane McNeil Rupley in 1858. His parents came to California in search of gold but fell back on a trade well known to them, horse breeding. Joe married four times in his life and had eight children. Joe's career as a stage and wagon driver was legendary. He and his sons operated up to eight stage lines at one time along with a freight business, mining concerns, timberland, a sawmill, and cattle. Joe's freight wagon business was housed on Center Street just off Main Street.
Portrayed by Joseph Tandy

HENRY NUMBERS TRACY
1836 – 1900

Henry came to El Dorado County in 1859. He soon learned how to repair shoes and went into business for himself in Placerville. Henry soon had enough money saved to purchase the building that still bears his name. Henry married Margaret Hardie in 1872. It is said of Henry that he had no interest in any other line of business. He was renowned for his shoemaking skills.
Portrayed by Dan Trainor

DOROTHEA ZEISZ
1841 - 1919

Dorothea Hartman, originally from Alsace-Lorraine, married Jacob Zeisz of Bavaria in Placerville in 1859. Jacob had come to Placerville in search of gold but when that failed, he built a large brewery on Upper Main in 1862. The family home was in the very same building. The couple had 10 children over the span of 20 years. Shortly after their last child was born Jacob returned to Bavaria and was never heard from again. Dorothea continued the brewery for a time with her older sons helping, eventually opening a boarding house, and then a card room. She retired in 1915 and died four years later at home.
Portrayed by Erika Maruri