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Walking with spirits: Local residents to perform in cemetery tours

A few Thomson students will put on the apparitional next weekend during the annual guided tour of Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta.

Sponsored by Historic Augusta and the Watson-Brown Foundation, Walk With the Spirits features tours through the cemetery from 3-8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11 and 12.

In addition to learning the history of the cemetery and iconography of the headstones, tourists will hear first-person accounts of the dead buried in the cemetery, portrayed by actors.

Joe and Ben Hawk, eighth graders at Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School, will portray orphans William McNeil and Charles Davis, who were residents of the Augusta Orphan's Asylum that died in a typhoid fever epidemic.

Erica Bettross, senior at Thomson High, will be Martha Jane Enlow, another orphan of the asylum and the only one to have a funeral notice in The Augusta Chronicle.

Thomson Middle School seventh grade science teacher Clint Hilson will be Dr. George Newton. Dr. Newton was the founder of the Augusta Orphan Asylum, which was a first in the state, in the 1850s. He also was the first full-time faculty member of the Medical College of Georgia.

"I am excited to be a part of this event," Mr. Hilson said. "Many of the people buried in Magnolia Cemetery have rich and colorful histories. I consider it an honor to be able to share a small bit of Augusta history with the public by bringing this character back to life."

Watson-Brown curator Michelle Zupan will be Madame Pauline Dugas, a French refugee from slave revolts who ran a school for girls in Washington, Ga., and whose son, Alexander, was a founder of the Medical College of Georgia.

Watson-Brown educator Sydney Peden will portray Mary Clark De'Laigle, a prominent widow who was the subject of a duel fought at Sand Bar Ferry between Charles Tilly and George Ratcliffe.

The duelers' story will also be told by other actors, as will those of many more, including Marjor Archibald Butt, a presidential aide from Augusta who went down on the Titanic, Mary Savannah Barrett, the daughter of Revolutionary patriots, and Confederate General Edward Alexander, father of the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

"All of our participants are very enthusiastic, and the characters they are portraying have wonderful stories. I believe that the people who come on the tours are in for a real treat," Mr. Hilson said.


The tours begin every 20 minutes throughout the day, and lasts 40 minutes each. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students or groups of 10 or more. Walk With the Spirits will take place rain or shine. Reservations can be made by calling Historic Augusta at 706-726-0436. The 60-acre cemetery is located on Third Street in Augusta.

Web posted on Thursday, October 02, 2008

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