“Stories in Stone” Historical Walking Tour this Saturday, Sunday

Chillicothe News

City Stage, Inc., the community theatre group, is once again planning a walking tour at Edgewood Cemetery which will tell the story of Chillicothe through the lives of some of those buried there. Costumed reenactors will honor the lives of 14 people born before 1900. Lisa Rule, artistic consultant for the group, says that the tour is slightly different from the one 10 years ago, “This tour will have a few different histories than the one we did in 2010-2011: we’ve added Mrs. Martha Leeper and Mrs. Luella Meyers to our list.” 

The tour takes visitors along the inner loop of Edgewood, an easy walk of ⅜ mile, and features the lives of sisters Bertha Wallbrunn and Hattie Stein (immigrant/merchant), Johnny Rucker (boy whose dog is also interred), Mrs. Mollie Dockery (wife of governor),  Katie Milbank (immigrant family), Landon Johnson (former slave), Professor George Smith (CBC professor), Sheriff William O. Jennings (first county sheriff), Christian Boehner (mayor/meat merchant), Mrs. Leeper (hotelier), Dr. A.J. Simpson (doctor/donor of park), Nelson Kneass (composer), Newton Hicks (Civil War soldier), and Mrs. Meyers (wife of theatre entrepreneur). 

The Leeper Angel, one of the most visited monuments at Edgewood Cemetery, has an interesting story behind it. The story of Mrs. Martha Leeper is one of the fourteen that will be told at next weekend's Stories in Stone walking tour.

Rule said, “It was very important to me to choose Chillicotheans whose lives impacted our community’s history or whose lives are a reflection of the time he or she lived. My parents, Howard and Sandy Sappington, and I did extensive research through primary documents, census records, tax records, and newspaper archives to create an honest portrayal of these people.” Sue Bachman, a member of City Stage, emphasizes that the walking tour is not a theatrical experience, but an educational one. Bachman explains, “Each actor has memorized a life story and appears in costume, but that’s where the theatrical experience ends. Although the walk will be entertaining to some extent, the purpose of the walk is information presented in an engaging way.” 

Rule and Bachman also reiterate that every precaution is being taken to preserve the quiet dignity of the cemetery: no loudspeakers will be used, walking is only permitted on the paved roads, and tour guides will direct groups of walkers from one speaker to the next. 

The tours are scheduled for Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11. Tours begin at 2 p.m. each day with groups leaving every 5-10 minutes. The last tour will begin about 3:30 p.m. People wanting the tour can come AT ANY TIME between 2 and 3:30 p.m. The cost of the tour is $5 for adults and free for students. Parking is available at the First Baptist Church. Since this is an outdoor event, masks will not be required but welcomed.