Bringing history back to forefront

By Kimberly Jenkins (with Debbie Gambill) -

The sign in Greenlawn Cemetery for the Soldier’s Circle.

The sign in Greenlawn Cemetery for the Soldier’s Circle.

Civil War graves and statue of soldier.

Tombstones, old statues, and goosebumps at night, a homemade spooky house for Halloween, no not this time. Greenlawn Cemetery could be a setting for such things, but it could also be made back into a stupendous and dramatic place for the community to treasure.

The Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery have set out to bring this historic cemetery back to its former glory. Greenlawn has such a overload of history that even families in our own area might have family history there, that they don’t even know they have.

The biggest task is ahead of them, and that would be getting the money they need to complete this task. Their first endeavor will be next Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017.

The historic Greenlawn Cemetery will step back in time next Sunday, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., as local celebrities and actors portray some of the city’s early pioneers. “The Story of Us”, is a Lamplight Tour sponsored by The Friend of Greenlawn Cemetery Foundation and is being directed by Linda Tieman along countless other volunteers.

According to Tanner Hatcher, the event chairperson, only 300 tickets will be sold to the event, a guided walking tour throughout the cemetery.

Participants will be greeted by Battery L Reenactors and Amanda Pursell, played by Mary Baughman, in a reenactment of the first organized wreath laying at Soldier’s Circle in 1862. Pursell 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.

The chapel will be the setting of a civil war funeral service reenactment, by Rev. John Gowdy, local minister with the Temple Baptist Church. Period specific music and decor will allow participants to observe Rev. Gowdy, Battery L Reenactors, and local actress, Bailey Martin (who plays the soldier’s widow) and to visualize the intent for the initial construction of the chapel.

Also on this walking tour participants will meet, Dr. Michael Raies (well-known local optometrist and member of the band Bad Habits) who will portray Dr. Thomas Waller, the city’s first physician, pharmacist, first appointed postmaster, first Justice of the Peace and first elected official to the Ohio State Legislature.

Eric Armstrong, has both starred and directed several local productions at the Portsmouth Little Theater. He studied at Carnegie Mellon University for the Musical Arts and then completed his studies in New York and New York University. Armstrong will portray Colonel Peter Kinney who served in the Civil War and organized the 56th Ohio Infantry at Camp Morrow in Portsmouth.

Bernard and Magdalena Glockner, the first known Glockner family members, will be portrayed by Andy and Barb Glockner. Bernard emigrated from Germany in 1847 and started working at the hardware store on Market Street for several years, later purchasing the store. Known simply as B.Glockner Hardware, the name was changed upon his death to M.Glockner & Son. Magdalena operated the store until her son, Alex, was old enough to take the reins.

Dre Perkins, local actress, will bring the story of Bessie Tomlin to the production. During the evacuation of the Washington School during the 1937 flood, Tomblin lost her life. On Monday, January 25, 1937, a wave of water splashed into the boat, 22-year old Bessie Tomblin was an evacuee. The splash startled Tomblin and she stood, therefore becoming unstable, the boat turned over and the occupants were forced into the water. Local fireman and rescue worker, Walter Chick was able to reach Tomblin in time to answer her cries, “Save my baby! Save my Baby!”

Local actresses, Olivia Morgan, Hanna and Rosa Storey will portray three young women who served as nurses during the Civil War. Maria Smith Morris, 2nd Army Nurse is buried in Soldier’s Circle, beside her husband Jefferson Morris. Mary Stark was buried in the Holy Redeemer Section of the cemetery after her death in 1883, and Maria Jeffords Miles served a nurse during period between 1861-1864.

Widespread illness cost the lives of countless children during Portsmouth’s formative years. Maria Ginn local Actress, will portray a bereaved young mother.

Other participants on the walking tour, will be Grace Morgan LaJoye as an early school teacher and her students, Bryleigh Kennard and Josiah Beach; the Sisters of Mercy; Urich Van Dyke as Levi Dee Yor; Layla McGinnis as an early shoe factory worker; Austin Scott as Simon Labold with Bryson Ratcliff and Dakota Wetmore as his workers; and Alec Arnett as Henry T. Bannon.

Debbie Gambill, spokesperson for the Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery Foundation, said all proceeds from the event are earmarked for the fund to restore the historic Greenlawn Chapel. “The Greenlawn Chapel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is such an important part of the cemetery and the City of Portsmouth, so this along with digitizing the records, will be the first projects for the organization.”

The Friends of Greenlawn want the community to feel & visualize the way things were before and how their organization wants to bring the cemetery back as close as it can to what it use to be. This is just the beginning phase as the Friends have so many wonderful plans and ideas to accomplish this goal.

The sign in Greenlawn Cemetery for the Soldier’s Circle. sign in Greenlawn Cemetery for the Soldier’s Circle.

Civil War graves and statue of soldier. War graves and statue of soldier.

By Kimberly Jenkins (with Debbie Gambill)

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928