Fort Hill Cemetery Walking Tour revives history of Cleveland

Fort Hill Cemetery Walking Tour revives history of Cleveland

November 7th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Zachary Arms portrays Capt. William Grant, who died in 1863, as he stands at his grave during a lantern walking tour of Fort Hill Cemetery in Cleveland on Sunday. The event was presented by the Lee University history faculty and the Bradley County Historical and Genealogical Society.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Jim Burns portrays Judge Levi Trewhitt as he stands beside his grave during the lantern walking tour of Fort Hill Cemetery in Cleveland on Sunday. The event was presented by the Lee University history faculty and the Bradley County Historical and Genealogical Society.

Jim Burns portrays Judge Levi Trewhitt as he...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Brandon Patterson, portraying Dr. John Guthrie Brown, waits for his next tour group during the lantern walking tour of Fort Hill Cemetery in Cleveland on Sunday. The event was presented by the Lee University history faculty and the Bradley County Historical and Genealogical Society.

Brandon Patterson, portraying Dr. John Guthrie Brown, waits...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Claire Brown, left, and Brady Effler, portraying Kate and Samuel Hunt, stand at the couple's grave marker during the lantern walking tour of Fort Hill Cemetery in Cleveland on Sunday. The event was presented by the Lee University history faculty and the Bradley County Historical and Genealogical Society.

Claire Brown, left, and Brady Effler, portraying Kate...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- It is one way to bring the past to life.

As they do each fall, students and local actors dressed in period attire stood in Fort Hill Cemetery on Sunday, beside the graves of people who lived here in another time.

As groups of visitors strolled past on the annual Fort Hill Cemetery Walking Tour, the costumed actors portraying the deceased residents spoke about the lives they had lived.

Wearing a white blouse, ankle-length skirt and hair piled high on her head. Michelle Dyer paced among the tombstones getting a final read through the guidebook as she waited for another tour group.

Dyer, a senior Lee University history major, said the annual cemetery tour "gives you a sense of the depth of our history."

"This is the South, but not everyone was for the Confederacy,'' she said.

Robert Barr and Hillary Tedrick, also senior history majors at Lee, were dressed as Dr. P.J.R. and Sarah Edwards. A prominent family here, the Edwardses were active supporters of the Confederacy.

Researching the characters, they got to know them as people, the students said while waiting for the next tour group.

Many of the people portrayed had links to the pro-Union Civil War burning of the Hiwassee River railroad bridge in nearby Charleston.

"Maybe not the bridge burning itself but the suspicion of conspiracy,'' said Randy Wood, professor of humanities at Lee.