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Stories that lurk in the cemetery

Posted October 23, 2013 in Community Featured
Luminaries along the road will light the path for the Haunted History Tour at Oakland Cemetery in Centerville on Oct. 26

Luminaries along the road will light the path for the Haunted History Tour at Oakland Cemetery in Centerville on Oct. 26

There are more than 9,000 graves in Centerville’s Oakland Cemetery. Just think about it. More than 9,000 different lives are memorialized there. Many were much too short, and many were long and productive.

One thing is certain — each and every one was unique. Whether an lifelong resident, a transplant from another town in America or an immigrant, whether a grandparent or a grandchild, each one had a different life story. But the final resting place of their earthly bodies is the same — this lovely cemetery, dotted with beautiful oak trees.

For nine years, the Appanoose County Historical Society has hosted the Haunted History Tour, when several graves are visited, and the life story of that person is shared with the guests. Their unique stories are told by reenactors or narrators, most notably, Enfys McMurry, who always captivates the audience. Guests to the tour receive a great education on local history during this 90-minute event.

Even without the stories, the luminary-lit walk through the cemetery is beautiful this time of year. Boy Scout Troop 33 helps the Historical Society by putting together the luminaries each year. A load of dedicated volunteers shows up early in the morning to use the luminaries to form a winding pathway through the cemetery to reach each of the featured sites. And a band of 20 people shows up just before sunset to get all 1,000 luminaries lit prior to the evening tour.

For several years, the tour was based in the west end of the cemetery, but has also moved to the east side of the cemetery as well. This year, the tour is in an entirely different portion of the cemetery just west of the bridge, but not far up the hill. Parking will be ample on the roads inside the east half of the cemetery and guests will enter the event via the bridge.

This year the tour is on Oct. 26. The luminary tour starts at 6:30 p.m., which coincides with sunset. Of course, some folks prefer to experience the tour during the safety that comes with the light of day, so a 3 p.m. tour is offered.  The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for students. Rusty Latimer has always graciously donated a couple of golf carts to help those who can’t walk the tour be able to enjoy the event as well.

Come on out to Oakland Cemetery and learn a little bit more about Appanoose County’s rich heritage.

Information submitted by Lisa Eddy, curator, Appanoose County Historical Society, 100 West Maple, Centerville, 856-8040,

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