HARRODSBURG — Just as the darkness begins to fall over the hallowed grounds, Spring Hill Cemetery will come to life — alive with history that is. The ninth annual “History Underfoot” cemetery tour, sponsored by James Harrod Trust, will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
On these two evenings, the focus will be on education and entertainment.
A guide will escort guests on a tour of the cemetery to “visit” with some of Harrodsburg and Mercer County’s ancestors.
The early residents of Harrodsburg and Mercer County — some of whom may even be infamous — will share stories about their lives as well as early events, traditions and customs in Mercer County and Kentucky.
James Harrod Trust will not be raising the dead, but rather JHT members and friends will be in period attire and positioned at the gravesites. The interpreters will share the color and history of some of the community’s forefathers.
“The cemetery tour is very educational and very entertaining,” said committee member Carolyn Crump. “We always hear wonderful comments from people who go on the tour and anticipate this year will be just as much fun and just as educational as past years.”
“It is hard to believe that this is the ninth year for the tour,” added committee member Jerry Sampson. “And the best thing about it is that the tour just continues to grow and get better each year.”
The tour, co-sponsored by The Harrodsburg Herald, offers visitors a unique and fun opportunity to learn about the history of the state’s oldest settlement and the people who lived, loved, fought and died in the community. “The night is about remembering their lives and learning about the trials, tribulations, the joy and the sorrow that our ancestors endured,” added Crump.
The event, which has drawn hundreds to the cemetery year after year, has acquired a following of people from the area who attend annually. Though it is educational, the visitors always enjoy being entertained with the stories shared under the moonlight as well as learning some often little-known history on the community and the state.
Guests are encouraged to ask questions or share some historical knowledge of their own.
“Tour guests are usually fascinated with the history — and our interpreters just do a fantastic job. I promise that it is the best $5 you could spend for an evening’s entertainment,” said Sampson.
James Harrod Trust members and friends will guide the tours, which begin at 7 p.m., to five gravesites.
This year’s cast includes:
- Peter Doddema will portray Col. Thomas Smith. Col. Smith was president of Beaumont College in Harrodsburg. He was well-known and much loved by the students.
- Amalie Preston will portray Sara Moore. Moore was raised in what is now known as the Mansion Museum at Old Fort Harrod State Park.
- Richard Stallings will portray John Augustus Williams, president of Daughters College.
- Annie Denny will portray Mrs. Phillip B. Thompson. The Thompsons were involved in one of Mercer County’s most shocking scandals — the Thompson-Daviess shootout in the Mercer County Courthouse.
- Doris Bartleston will be Sally Ann Taylor, an early African-American schoolteacher. Taylor is buried at Maple Grove Cemetery but will be “visiting” Spring Hill to share some African-American history.
During past years, some historic figures portrayed at the tour have included Robert Mosby Davis, Mollie Marcum, Jane McAfee Magoffin, Capt. John Haggin, Lizzie Hardin and the Rev. Jessie Head.
“We hope to not only attract adults, but also local students. It is a good opportunity for them to learn about some of the men and women who shaped Mercer County. And frankly, the evening is very entertaining,” said Sampson.
Tickets will be sold at the entrance to the cemetery and are $5 each. The tours are staggered to leave at approximately 30-minute intervals. The tours begin at 7 p.m.
For additional information, contact the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourist Commission at (859) 734-2364, Jerry Sampson at 734-7829 or Helen Dedman at 734-3381.
Members of the tour committee are Jerry Sampson, Carolyn Crump, Terry White and Rosalind Turner.