The Highland County Historical Society is planning several events in the upcoming months.
On Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m., the annual Ghost Walk returns to the Hillsboro Cemetery. This popular event showcases historical figures who are buried in the cemetery through dramatic narrative. This year’s lineup will feature a bevy of notable female historical figures. For the first time in the event’s history, no men will be portrayed in the show.
According to coordinator John Glaze, the following decedents will have their respective stories retold by live actors:
* Clara Clark, “who died as a toddler,” according to Glaze, who said Clark’s dramatic interpreter, Carolyn Hastings, “will be telling why we have so many children buried in our cemetery.” There are more children buried in the cemetery than adults, Glaze said.
A statue has been recently placed on the Hillsboro Cemetery grounds, in front of the chapel, to commemorate child and infant mortality.
* Catherine Collins, wife of William Oliver Collins, will be portrayed by Helen Ford, and will be reminiscing about “her life and times.”
* Violet Morgan, who will be portrayed by Dr. Tara Beery, “was a writer of local history as well as a schoolteacher,” according to Glaze. He said, “She was a great friend to the ‘Carmelites’ or ‘Carmel Hill People’, population”, and was regarded to be, “the foremost authority on their culture and lives.”
* Anna Titoff, was a U.S. Marines veteran, according to Glaze. He said, “She had an extraordinarily interesting life, beginning as a child, and living in many parts of the USA, working for the Federal government in Washington, married Russian-born. Grisha Titoff, playing the balalaika with her husband and so much more. She will be portrayed by Debbie Williams.
* “Mary Thompson Tuttle was the daughter of famed temperance crusader and Prohibition activist Eliza Thompson,” according to Glaze. “Her interesting life included being an artist, a lecturer, an illustrator, and an author, not to mention a world traveler,” explained Glaze. She will be played by Ann Throckmorton.
* Carrie Lee Finnell (Morris), “who is arguably the most famous person buried in our cemetery,” Glaze said, “was a Ziegfeld girl in the early 1900s, and later a striptease artist, her art taking her to much of Europe and The United States.” She will be played by Liz Odland.
John T. Willis will be hosting and emceeing the event. Glaze said Willis, “will be giving very short snippets informing the audience of the very famous people buried in the cemetery.”
In additional cemetery news, the volunteer group FOG (Friends of Greenwood), is named after the Hillsboro Cemetery’s original name and, according to Glaze, “is working to repair, restore, and clean the older stones.” To that end, on Thursday, Sept. 29, the conservationists who have been restoring gravestones at the cemetery will conduct an informative demonstration of the work that they do.
Glaze said that he and Willis, “have taken training offered by CCUS (Cemetery Conservators for United Standards).
Another Highland County Historical Society volunteer, Jean Fawley, said that in addition to those activities, the historical society has a variety of other events scheduled throughout the upcoming months in Hillsboro.
On Friday, Oct. 14, Haunted Hillsboro will be taking place at the Highland House Museum, according to Fawley, who said the event will provide some opportunities to share and hear about local paranormal experiences.
Jennifer Jenkins, a historical society volunteer who for the past several years has coordinated the popular Highland County Historical Society Tour of Homes, said that the event is biennial. While it won’t be presented this year, Jenkins said that planning for the following year’s tour takes quite a while to complete. The upcoming year’s planning is already underway with several private residences’ participation already confirmed.
“People who put that much time and effort” into maintaining their historic property, Jenkins said, often enjoy showing off their efforts to an appreciative and intrigued public.
Jenkins also spoke of the importance of the local historical preservation that the historical society does through its extensive network of volunteers, as well as the need for new perspectives and volunteers to do the same.
She talked about how “we have such rich and interesting history” all around us that is, “right at our feet” that people don’t always know about, and the excitement of bringing those stories to life, especially through the curation of the home tours, is part of what motivates her volunteer work for the historical society.
“Life is very fragile,” she said. “If we don’t preserve our history, what is the coming generation going to do?”
For more information about the Highland County Historical Society, or to inquire as to how you might volunteer, call 937-393-3392.
Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.