Presented by Parnick Jennings Funeral Home and Cremation Services, the offering will feature actors from StageWorks Inc. portraying well-known residents who are buried at the Cartersville cemetery at the corner of Erwin Street and Cassville Road. While previous tours have highlighted a wide range of people from the county’s past, such as teachers, mill workers and soldiers, this year’s event will spotlight 10 memorable figures from past offerings.
“I think [the Bartow History Museum selected these 10] so that the show not only featured some of our favorites, but it would flow nicely,” said StageWorks co-founder Leslie McCrary, adding among those portrayed will include a renowned 1800s Methodist evangelist and a former editor-in-chief for Vogue magazine. “... And since we have done them before, some of the actors that portrayed them the first time around are with me again this time.
“One of my favorite [former residents] is Joe Ben Jenkins. He was the only law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty in Bartow County and he’s going to be portrayed by Kip Henderson. I like his story. I like how it’s done. I like the way the actor is able to bring to life someone who was important in the community for what he did.”
Along with Henderson’s portrayal of Jenkins, other actors who will don period attire for “An Evening in Oak Hill Cemetery” include Mallory Holder as Mary Parks Kennedy, who perished in a 1928 fire ignited by a fireworks explosion; Ann Burgess as Sallie Griffin Jones, mother of Talmadge R. Jones, who died from a lightning strike in 1897; Ginny Slifcak as Mrs. Lewis Tumlin, whose husband originally owned the land now referred to as the Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site; Ron Connell as Southern humorist Charles Smith “Bill Arp”; Teresa Harris as Smith’s wife, Octavia Smith; Mike Davis as the Rev. Samuel Porter Jones, Methodist evangelist; Corinne Scott as Rebecca Latimer Felton, who in 1922 became the first female U.S. Senator; Meghann Humphreys as Katherine Munford, who died in a car/train accident in 1918; Karen Ruetz as Jessica Daves Parker, editor-in-chief for Vogue magazine who died in 1974; Chuck Nida as Mark Cooper, a U.S. Congressman who founded the city of Etowah and the Etowah Manufacturing and Mining Co. south of Cartersville; and Yvonne Nida as Cooper’s wife, Sophronia Cooper.
“[The actors] are always asking me, ‘Are we doing the cemetery show again this year?’” McCrary said. “They love doing it because it’s a small amount of commitment for them.
“They commit to their job 100 percent, but it’s just maybe two or three paragraphs of lines that they have to learn and ... they do five shows in one evening, which satisfies their creative need for [acting]. And they just love to do it, because they are period pieces and they get to portray somebody from history that was important to Bartow.”
During “An Evening in Oak Hill Cemetery,” one-hour walking tours will begin at 5:30, 6, 6:30, 7 and 7:30 p.m. With tickets — $15 for BHM members and $20 for non-members — being in limited supply, interested individuals need to purchase them in advance at the museum gift shop at 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville or by calling 770-387-2774.
Along with sharing the stories of former Bartow residents, the event also will highlight Oak Hill Cemetery, which has been a part of Cartersville’s landscape for more than 170 years.
“Every year, people have been looking forward to [the tour] ... and enjoy the presentations by the actors. And I think [they] learn a lot about our history through those presentations,” BHM Director Trey Gaines said. “With the exception of this year, we [portray] new people every year where we just try to tell different stories and communicate different aspects of our history. So we hope people go away with a new appreciation of Bartow County history and a new appreciation of the cemetery and what all you can learn from the cemetery.
“This year because it is our 10th anniversary we’ve chosen some of the highlights of the past several years — some key figures that we’ve done over the past nine years that are really intriguing and have really great stories. ... I think it does give a new perspective or an alternate perspective when you can be in a setting, such as the cemetery where you’re at their final resting place, [and] there’s someone there dressed in period attire, dressed as that person would have been dressed and talking how that person would have been talking. So telling their story, I think it helps you remember it more and connect with it more.”
For more information about the walking tour, call 770-382-3818 or visit www.bartowhistorymuseum.org.