Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Stately Oaks Plantation is in "mourning" this month as Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc. officials observe an annual rite at the property.
"Death" is in the air every August at Stately Oaks as the local historical group conducts its "Victorian Mourning Tours" programs. The main house is draped in black, while a coffin is set up in the parlor and traditional "mourning" jewelry put out on display.
"We explain to visitors why we still do some of the rituals that we have for mourning the deceased," said Historical Jonesboro docent Kay Dreyer. She is the organizer for the Victorian Mourning Tours program. "A lot of these rituals that we do come from the Victorian Age. We particularly talk about the rural South, and how people in this area mourned their dead."
Historical Jonesboro President Barbara Emert said the tours began Monday. She added that the property will be open every Monday, through Saturday, with tours running from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., each day. Stately Oaks is located at 100 Carriage Lane, in Jonesboro. The mourning tours will continue until the end of the month, Emert said.
"The [Stately Oaks] house is set up as if there is a death in the family," she said, before adding that people who take the tour will learn the origins of several mourning traditions, including the wearing of black clothing, and the sending of flowers to a family in mourning.
Dreyer said Historical Jonesboro has expanded the amount of information included in the tours on African American funeral traditions. Last year, the African American traditions were introduced as part of the tour, and Dreyer said she has since found out more information on the subject to include in the program.
The new information, she said, includes the addition of a funeral ribbon from one of the first fraternal societies that accepted African American members in the 19th century. It also includes greater detail on slave tiles, which were clay tiles that African slaves in the coastal Georgia region made as borders for graves.
Tours of Stately Oaks cost $12 for adults, $9 for active-duty military personnel with military identification and seniors over the age of 55, and $6 for retired military personnel and children under the age of 11.
Call Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc. at (770) 473-0197 for more information.