Historical walking tours set for area cemeteries
by Marie Nesmith
Sep 27, 2011 | 1855 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With two cemetery tours scheduled in October, the lives of more than 20 of Bartow County's departed residents will be brought to the forefront.

On Saturday, the eighth annual "An Evening in Oak Hill Cemetery" will be presented by the Bartow History Museum and StageWorks Inc. The event will offer the public one-hour guided walking tours at the historic site, while StageWorks actors portray some of its most notable inhabitants in period attire.

The actors will include Kip Henderson as Lt. Col. William Wofford Rich, Chris Bern as Judge Jacob Augustus Marcellus Foute, Karen Ruetz as Mary Montcastle, Stacey Bern as Mrs. Col. Robert Wellington Murphey (Georgia Russell), Corinne Scott as Mrs. Dr. Joel Garnett Greene (Marion Buford Greene), Wanda Cagle Gray as Mrs. Colonel James Bennett Conyers (Eliza Newton Conyers), Morgan McCrary as Mrs. Dr. Robert Irving Battle (Mary Frances Gibbons), Bill Brown as George Seaborn Cobb, Ron Connell as George Sanford Crouch, Stacy Vaccaro as Louisa Cecilia Stovall Shelman, Charles Nida as Col. Francis Marion Ford, Parris Sarter as Mrs. Rev. Charles Moore (Amanda) and Robert Trammell as Haynes Milner. Starting at 5:30 p.m., tours will continue at 319 N. Erwin St. in Cartersville every half hour until the last group departs at 7:30 p.m.

"Because of the [150th] anniversary of the Civil War this year, all of our characters in some way [will share] their experiences [relating to] the Civil War," said Leslie McCrary, co-founder of the community theater organization StageWorks. "Each person being portrayed is actually [buried] in the cemetery and our actor is stationed at their gravesite. ... There's 13 actors and [an example of who they will portray is] Francis Ford [who] was a lieutenant colonel in the military but then he also went on to be the mayor of Cartersville twice. So we have someone like him.

"We have one actor that's portraying [Haynes Milner], the first African-American blacksmith to own his own business in Cartersville. Morgan, my daughter, she is portraying [Mary Frances Gibbons Battle], a young woman whose time frame is the 1860s. Her fiancé and his best friend had just snuck through the battle lines for them to get married. They got married in the woods out by Cassville at midnight. Then he snuck back across the lines."

Tickets for "An Evening in Oak Hill Cemetery" -- $13 for BHM members and $17 for non-members -- need to be purchased in advance by calling 770-387-2774 or visiting the museum's Gift Shop, 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville.

While Oak Hill Cemetery will serve as the backdrop for Saturday's offering, Old Cassville Cemetery at the corner of Cass-White Road and Shinall Gaines Road will be the setting for the second cemetery tour of the month.

Starting at 3 p.m. on Oct. 8, Dale Black will lead a free walking tour of the cemetery, discussing the history of Cassville and its historic venue.

After incorporating in the early 1830s, Cassville became the most prominent town in northwest Georgia, featuring a courthouse, merchants, hotels and two colleges. The town never rebuilt after the Civil War, leaving only three houses and three churches as reminders of the once flourishing community.

During the tour, Cassville Historical Society members, who will be donned in period clothing, will portray at least 10 area residents who are buried at the cemetery. Among those laid to rest at the site are nearly 300 unknown Confederate soldiers, who received headstones in May 1899 courtesy of the Cassville Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

"There's history in the cemetery," said Black, a member of Cassville Historical Society and CEO of Cassville Cemetery Association. "The people that are buried in the Cassville Cemetery helped settle the town and the county. Cassville was the seat of government. A lot of these people were representatives, were businessmen in the county. And [I want] to let [the public] know that there's still history in Cassville because there's nothing else left except the cemetery and a couple of old buildings in town. That's it.

"It was a big place [once, but now] there's nothing there. We want people to know that there was a Cassville and that it was an important part of this county's history and part of the state because the first four cases of Georgia's Supreme Court were in Cassville's courthouse."

Among the individuals that will be highlighted during the tour include lawyer and politician Warren Akin Sr., Gen. William Tatum Wofford and Sheriff A. M. Linn.

Lucinda Milhollin's story also will be shared with attendees. As the Fifth Ohio Regiment of the Federal Army set fire to her residence and hometown on Nov. 5, 1864, Milhollin and her children took refuge near her husband's grave in the Cassville Cemetery.

For information, call Black at 678-322-6967.