History Comes Alive: Victor Barth & John Lange, Sr.

Posted on Friday, May 4, 2018 by Tim

Columbia Cemetery in fallHave Memorial Day plans? Mark your calendar to spend time with us as some old faces of Columbia come to life at the Columbia Cemetery. On Monday, May 28, the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery will be hosting their second annual History Comes Alive tour of notable people buried in the cemetery. This free event will have local actors portraying the lives of seven of the citizens who helped make Columbia the community it is.

Last year’s event was very successful — many enjoyed the sunshine while re-enactors explained their lives and what they did to become a “notable” in their lifetimes. This year should be just as great! Below are highlights of just a couple of the citizens being featured.

Victor Barth was a merchant who came to America as a boy and started his mercantile store in downtown Columbia. He was not only successful in Columbia but in many surrounding towns as well. He would go back east to the markets and purchase all the goods he thought locals would want. He also bartered with local farmers for their goods. He stayed open until 10 p.m. to make sure the public had time to come to his downtown storefront.  Barth’s family business included his brother Joseph and uncle Moses, all from Germany. The store began in Columbia around 1868 and stayed in business long after his death. At first he was a full service mercantile, but eventually he specialized in men’s and boy’s clothing. He stayed in the business until the day he died.

John Lange, Sr., another early merchant in downtown Columbia, will also be featured. Light will be shed on his tenure as a successful business man and entrepreneur, one of the first in Columbia. He was not only known for his mercantile, but for owning the first dairy that delivered to customers’ homes. Lange was of Mexican and Creole descent and came from Louisiana before he called Columbia home. He married a local African-American woman and helped start the first school for the black community in Columbia.

By attending this event you will learn more about these “famous” people buried in the Columbia Cemetery. Watch here on our adults blog for more information on the other five who will be portrayed. We hope you will plan to attend this truly fun event and learn about local history!

The Columbia Cemetery is the oldest continuously-operated business in the city, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery was founded in 2016 to support it. This marks the second year they have put on History Comes Alive which is sponsored in partnership with the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department and the Daniel Boone Regional Library. Admission is free and off-site parking will be available.