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Cemetery tour to highlight Henry County's history

Henry County history will come alive in the coming weeks, in of all places, a cemetery. However, time is running out for those who want to be a part of it.

The Spirits of McDonough City Cemetery Tour is two weeks away, and, as of Wednesday, nearly two-thirds of the 300 tickets which were made available for the event had already been sold.

Ticket prices are $10 for adults, and $5 for children 12 and under.

On Oct. 22, from 6 p.m., to 9 p.m., at the McDonough Cemetery on Macon Street, groups of 30 people will be taken on the tour, every 15 minutes, between 6 p.m., and 8:45 p.m., according to McDonough Arts board member, Debbie Withers. She said a total of 11 "spirits," -- actors portraying people who lived during the Civil War and are buried in Henry -- will be sharing their stories for those in attendance.

"For instance, Col. John Harvey Lowe will be portrayed by local Juvenile Court Judge and attorney, A.J. "Buddy" Welch," said Withers. "Lowe was a cotton planter and delegate to the 1861 Secession Convention. Tax Commissioner David Curry will be portraying the Rev. William Stilwell, whose life is recorded in 127 letters to his wife, Molly, during the Civil War. Curry will be reading his last letter from the battlefield."

"It's not a haunted tour, it's not a ghost tour. It's a tour about the history and heritage [of] Henry County, and the families who live here," added Withers.

"Knowing your history allows you to move forward in a positive way," said Judy Neal, who is organizing the tour for the McDonough Arts organization. "It's also a great way to spend a Saturday with your friends and family in a family-oriented environment without spending a great deal of money."

She said the event will serve as a way to showcase the Henry County community and its history.

One of the individuals whose life will be chronicled on the tour is Bertha Combs, a former schoolteacher who lived in Henry until her death in 2000.

"Her father was the first black musician in Henry County," said Neal. "She trained herself at the Juilliard School in New York."

The tour also will feature art and music for guests to enjoy, for free, on the McDonough Square from 1 p.m.., to 5 p.m., said Neal.

"The only thing they need a paid ticket for is the tour in the evening, in the cemetery," she said. "They do need to purchase their tickets in advance," she added.

"There's been so much interest in it," said Withers.

"Ticket holders will be parking at Richard Craig Park, in McDonough," Withers continued. "Historian Gene Morris will be sharing tales of the past, as people are waiting their turn to depart for the tour."

To purchase tickets, call Judy Neal at (404) 660-3813. For more information, visit www.mcdonougharts.net.