October 23, 2012
Stroll through the past and present as history comes to life in Statesboro’s first historic Eastside Cemetery tour, “Tales from the Tomb,” starting at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29.
Tales will be told by actors wearing costumes to match the attire of dearly departed residents. The twilight tour includes eight significant gravesite stops.
“This is an excellent opportunity for current residents and students to explore the history of Statesboro in a remarkable way,” Bulloch County Historical Society President Joe McGlamery said. “Many of the family names you see in Eastside Cemetery can also be seen on street signs and various buildings throughout our community. This is a very interesting way for us to connect the past with the present.”
To maintain historical accuracy in the portrayals, extensive research was conducted on each permanent resident. Several actors are descendants and will enact the roles of their own ancestors.
Tours will depart every 15 minutes from the west gate of the cemetery. Each tour will last approximately 45 minutes. Lanterns will light the way for the timid, and a tour guide will accompany each group, setting the stage for each performance along the way.
Individual tickets are $5 and must be purchased in advance at the Averitt Center for the Arts box office. An appointment for tour departure time must be made at the time of purchase. Free parking will be available on the night of the event at the First Assembly of God Church, 302 Turner St., next to the cemetery.
Featured spirits include:
- Maude Brannen Edge (portrayed by Carol Thompson) was a popular newspaper columnist whose marriage to Presbyterian minister Walter W. Edge ended tragically.
- Dan and Catherine Bland (portrayed by Austin Bolay and Jules Norkus) owned a small self-sustaining farm on the old Pembroke Highway, now home to Georgia Southern University’s 11-acre Garden of the Coastal Plain.
- Jason Franklin (portrayed by Bill Waters) fought for the Confederacy near Savannah and educated his children at Excelsior Academy; seven went on to be leading citizens in their own right.
- Robert E. Lee Moore (portrayed by Ted Lewis) was twice Statesboro’s mayor, Middle Georgia’s Solicitor General and the 1st District’s U.S. representative from Georgia.He opened his Statesboro law practice in 1890 and had his teeth knocked out in 1921 in an unusual auto accident.
- James Alonzo “Lonnie” Brannen (portrayed by Beau Howard) was the first mayor of Statesboro and a legislator. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he was a lawyer, banker and newspaper owner and started a phone company. He was instrumental in leading the community to become a regional hub for commerce, agriculture and education.
- Fred T. Lanier (portrayed by Sims Lanier) didn’t attend school until he was 14 but made up for it by finishing law school at the University of Georgia by age 24. He served as city solicitor and state representative. Lanier was an influential citizen — a farmer, Democrat and Methodist.
- Marvin S. Pittman (portrayed by Dr. Brent Tharp), president of Georgia State Teachers College, was fired by segregationist Georgia Gov. Eugene Talmadge. Pittman served as president of Georgia State Teachers College from 1934-1941 and from 1943-1947.