Eat and walk with the dead

Eat and walk with the dead

June 13th, 2012 by Mike O'Neal in Local Regional News

The Victorian era will be recalled next Wednesday, June 20, when the LaFayette Historic Preservation Commission, in cooperation with a regional fitness initiative, hosts a picnic and tour of the city's cemetery.

There is no charge to participate in this event that begins at 8:30 a.m. at the gazebo at Joe Stock Memorial Park, just a short stroll from the cemetery.

A monument located in the LaFayette Cemetery marks the resting place of Spencer Stewart Marsh. Marsh came to LaFayette around 1835 and he and his wife built what is now known as the Marsh home just north of the town's business district.

"For this tour we will be visiting graves of individuals who are important or interesting characters either in the city's or the county's history - not just the movers and shakers - and hear their stories," said Catherine Edgemon, head of the LaFayette Main Street and Economic Development Department.

As examples, Edgemon said some of the tour highlights will be the grave where the woman responsible for planting all the dogwoods in the cemetery is buried. Another will be where a retired sheriff was tending his wife's grave when three escaped inmates shot him and stole his car.

Others will recount brief histories of men who represented Walker County's citizens in the state legislature; who murdered sheriffs; were former slaves; and an area of graves where Confederate troops killed during the Battle of LaFayette are buried.

"We have done walking events like this for about four or five years, but due to the heat, this year's will be in the morning," Edgemon said. "Participants will walk through the cemetery and return to the park, for a total walk of less than a mile."

Bottled water will be provided, but participants are invited to bring their own sack breakfasts for after the event, she said.

This year's tour will follow the route detailed in the new LaFayette Cemetery Walking Tour brochure.

Historic Preservation Commission chair Connie Forester said it "took a couple of months" to research and write the cemetery tour guide.

"This is the most interesting brochure I've worked on," she said. "I'd heard some of the stories before but had never collected them in printed form. It was fun and I really enjoyed doing it."

This is the fourth such guide to local history Forester has prepared, and she said a lot of its information came from two histories of Walker County, one published in the 1930s and the other during the 1960s.

The Georgia Department of Transportation and Northwest Georgia Regional Commission work with communities throughout the region to sponsor the Bike! Walk! Northwest Georgia program. The program promotes bicycling and walking as exercise, eco-friendly transportation and family-friendly fun.

A grant from Bike! Walk! Northwest Georgia has helped with the cemetery tour brochure's printing.

"I really think people will enjoy the walk," Forester said. "There are some interesting people buried in our LaFayette Cemetery."