Historical society planning new Ghost Walk format

Females only to be portrayed

By Juliane Cartaino - For The Times-Gazette

Debbie Williams performs at last year’s HCHS Ghost Walk.

Debbie Williams performs at last year’s HCHS Ghost Walk.

The Ghost Walk, the popular historical dramatization event presented annually at the Hillsboro Cemetery by the Highland County Historical Society, will have a unique twist this fall, according to coordinator and historian John Glaze, in that all of the profiled decedents will be women.

Glaze said that having an all-female lineup of historical characters this year, “just seemed like a good idea.”

Though the event is still months away, Glaze described the copious research that is needed to prepare accurate dramatic biographies for the “ghosts” as being particularly time-consuming, and commented that each year, “I start shortly after the walks to begin building the next year’s bevy of ghosts.”

Glaze explained that the selection process each year isn’t cut and dry but, “all the ghosts must be buried in Hillsboro Cemetery, aka Greenwood Cemetery.”

Beyond that defining criterion, Glaze said that sources of inspiration often emanate from, “our list of hall of fame recipients.” Other sources, he said, include the archives of, “the collection of Highland House.”

Glaze remarked that the historical society’s Highland House, the society’s headquarters and museum, is a helpful community resource.

Regarding local history, Glaze said, “the Highland House Museum maintains many records and sources for research. The museum shop at Highland House sells many books on local history as well as maps, books by local authors, and more.”

He said that research can often take a serendipitous turn, such as when, “sometimes just a blip appearing in the story of another person,” can provide further inspiration, “as curiosity takes over,” to delve further into somebody else’s story.

Because of gender role expectations in prior centuries that often resulted in systemic exclusion of women from many public affairs; such as leadership positions in government and politics, or other professions such as business or sports, “It isn’t always easy coming up with women” to biography for the event, though Glaze mentioned that Emma Detwiler, Hazel Durnell, Sarah Ella “Byrde” Ayres, Virginia Bell, Mourning Emma Neal and Anna Catherine “Kitty” Newby, who was portrayed by her own great-great-granddaughter, local historical novelist Debbie Newby Williams, last year, are some of the local female historical figures who have been included in past years’ iterations of the event.

While Glaze said that the names of the local historical women and their corresponding contemporary interpreters have not yet been announced, “I think you’ll enjoy the stories on which I’m working.”

Telling these stories is something that Glaze said isn’t always easy, but is ultimately rewarding.

“I look for individuals who are interesting in one way or another,” he said.

Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.

Debbie Williams performs at last year’s HCHS Ghost Walk.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/02/web1_Debbie-Williams-pic.jpegDebbie Williams performs at last year’s HCHS Ghost Walk.
Females only to be portrayed

By Juliane Cartaino

For The Times-Gazette