Special to the Standard
Area residents will have an opportunity to learn more about Greenville’s history this October during the Greenville Historic Cemetery Walking Tours.
Each Saturday night at 6 p.m. in the month of October, a different historic cemetery in and around Greenville will be featured during an hour-long walking tour.
Mollie Waters, an instructor at the Greenville Campus of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, is spearheading the program.
“Although I teach English, theater, and speech,” said Waters, “I have always had a love for history, especially Butler County history because my family has lived here since before it was even a county.”
Waters said she got the idea for the tours after attending others like it in different cities.
“I have been to cemetery walking tours at Montgomery’s Oakwood Cemetery, at Old Cahawba, and even at Highgate in London,” said Waters. “I kept thinking to myself that if other places can host these tours, then why can’t we?”
Waters said the idea really began taking shape this past summer when she put out a query to her friends on Facebook to see who might be interested in having the tours.
“I asked a question about having the tours,” said Waters, “and I had an overwhelming response. People were very interested in the possibility. Many even offered to help. I think the residents of our county are looking for something fun and local to do that is also educational. The cemetery walking tours fit that need nicely.”
Waters said the tours really began to take shape when she talked with Tracy Salter, who is the Director of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Tracy said she wanted to help,” said Waters, “so I have been working with her, and she has been in contact with Mayor McLendon. It is wonderful to have the Chamber and the City onboard with this venture.”
Waters said the cost of each tour will be $5 per person. That money will be donated to the preservation for the cemeteries.
“Our state is approaching its 200th birthday,” said Waters, “and some of the cemeteries being featured in the tours are older than the state itself.
“When something reaches 200 years of age, it begins to show signs of wear and tear. Some of the cemeteries certainly need work, so the proceeds of the tours will be donated to those cemeteries that have preservation groups that are working to repair and maintain them.”
Waters said the cemeteries that will be featured include Fort Dale, Shiloh Primitive Baptist, Pioneer and Magnolia cemeteries.
“We do not have a set rotation yet for when each cemetery will be featured,” said Waters, “but we will probably start with Magnolia. It is the largest, though not the oldest of the ones we will be touring this year.”
Waters added that the first tour will be on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m.
“People do not need to sign up for this tour beforehand,” said Waters. “They can just show up on the night of the event.
“Participants will have an opportunity to learn about the cemetery, about some of its notable burials, and about the symbols and decorations, called funerary art, at each cemetery.”
Waters added that anyone wanting to learn more about the tours should like the Greenville Historic Cemetery Walking Tours on Facebook.