Lights, Camera, Action! Sunday evening in Greenlawn Cemetery, it was all action. “The Story of Us,” A lamplight tour was held for a sold out crowd, who witnessed a truly wonderful night of the reenactment of some our area’s local history.
The Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery brought to Portsmouth a marvelous program that was like no other. The Lamplight Tour was well organized one of the finest programs, one could find anywhere. History of some of the most well-known names in Portsmouth, was brought to life in the two hour tour.
The tour was broken up in groups and the groups moved from stop to stop throughout the cemetery. Each stop had something to peak the interest of the viewer and led them back to a time, when times were different, yet tough in its own way.
The tour began with all the spectators being greeted by Amanda Pursell’s portrayal of Mary Baughman, who was the only woman known to have hired a man to serve in the war in place of her late husband. She paid $800 for his service and never knew the soldier.
After the beginning, each group was led by their own tour guide, throughout the display encompassed within the cemetery. While walking along with their tour guides, the guides told delightful stories of other famous folks that were buried in the cemetery, but not being displayed on this tour.
One of the reenactments was that of Bessie Tomlin being played by Aundrea Drea Perkins. Tomlin was the only person who was killed during the 1937 flood in Portsmouth, while in a rescue boat, a giant wave hit the boat and startled Bessie and she proceeded to stand up, where she was plunged into the water. Holding her baby as high as she could, she kept yelling, “save my baby,” and finally a fireman came to her rescue and saved her baby as Bessie sunk down into the deep murky waters to her death.
Also on the tour was Andy & Barb Glockner, portraying B & M Glockner. Their humorous portrayal of this couple kept the groups’ attention as they told their story of travel and B. Glockner working in a hardware store, first in Pennsylvania and eventually buying one and setting it up here in Portsmouth. Eventually, B. Glockner became ill and died, and his wife M began running the store and changed the name to M.Glockner. It was unusual for a woman to run a business at that time.
Portraying Civil War Nurses, Hannah & Rosa Storey along with Olivia Morgan told the story of the terrible times they had as nurses, during Civil War times. This was a time, when men would have preferred that even their nurses were men, but alas, the women is what they had at the time.
Eric Armstrong gave an outstanding portrayal of Colonel Peter Kinney a Civil War Soldier. He told of how he and his wife Elizabeth bore 10 children and only two survived. Colonel Kinney as was the first President of the Portsmouth National Bank. He was also, the President of the Kinney National Bank of Portsmouth and was one of the oldest bankers in the state, having engaged in banking for over forty-five years.
Along the way, the spectators also heard from Jason Chaney, who was portraying or telling stories of the early retailers. He mentioned during his time Louie Levi and Samuel Levi, his son who were furniture retailers.
Another most interesting character along this marvelous tour, was that of Dr. Thomas Waller, portrayed by Dr. Michael Raies. Dr. Waller was the first physician in Scioto County and Southern Ohio serving about 300 people in that time period. He was the first president of the city council, the first surveyor of Portsmouth, he was also the president of the very first bank in the town of Portsmouth, the justice of the peace, and one of the first legislators in southern Ohio. Waller died at the age of 49, as disease was terrible during the early 1800’s. He was not buried in Greenlawn because he died before it was here, but some of his children were buried here.
The Lamplight Tour had several still portrayals set up throughout the cemetery, as the groups walked to their next live portrayals. There were nuns, a shoemaker, a teacher, workers, and others, making the tour even more spectacular.
Not to be forgotten, is a portrayal of a young mother played by Maria Ginn. The young mother told of how hard times were in the early 1800’s. She then told the story of how the Buffalo Bill Wild West show was coming to town and since she and her children had had such a rough time after her husband had died, and the children begged so hard, that she thought, what could it hurt? Little did she know that after the show left town, two weeks later her children began coming down with Smallpox, death at her door, as she put it, brought unknowingly with the Buffalo Bill Show.
At the end of the tour, Rev. John Gowdy, portraying a Civil War Era Minister, held a civil war funeral for all of the spectators together. He told of how the soldier they were burying had a glass lid casket. The Portsmouth West choir sang a number and at the end of the ceremony, Rev. Gowdy invited everyone into the chapel and if you had someone buried in Greenlawn, to pick up a white carnation and place it on the alter. All were then invited for refreshments and photos with cast members.
Tanner Hatcher, a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery Foundation was the one, who came up with the idea for the tour and he said of Sunday evening’s event, “ I thought everything was professionally done and we appreciate the community support. We were looking for a fundraising project and I saw that big cities were doing tours of their cemeteries. I thought we have such a rich history and thought this is a great project for Greenlawn Cemetery and Portsmouth.”
Debbie Gambill said this about the tour event, “The event exceeded our expectations. The actors, the volunteers, the sponsors who donated, the West Portsmouth High School choir and especially Gary and Linda Tieman made the event truly magical. I believe the community felt proud of their beginnings and every actor brought our founders and pioneers to life. The Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery Foundation want to everyone who attended and supported this event.”
There are many events that are held in Scioto County and Portsmouth, but this Lamplight tour, was one of the most brilliant and well played out events held in the city of Portsmouth. There was something for everyone to see and hear. Don’t know what’s next on the Friends of Greenlawn’s agenda, but the visitors of this evening’s event will surely be looking forward to something great…
Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928
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