Ghost Walk conjures up huge crowd

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2004

Most evenings, only a few people would be found walking through Woodland Cemetery at sunset. But Saturday evening, a flood of people poured through the gates, eager for an event that was part theater, part history lesson and part local legend.

The second annual Woodland Cemetery Ghost Walk, sponsored by the Lawrence County Historical Society, drew an estimated crowd of 1,500 to listen as historical society volunteers, dressed in period costume, told of people and events that created the area's history.

What brought so many people out on a hot summer night? Historical society President Pat Arrington said she thought many people came because they heard about last year's event from people who attended it and wanted to see it for themselves.

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"I think it was word of mouth, mostly," Arrington, said. "A lot of people heard how much other people enjoyed it last year. And I've heard people leaving tonight say how much they enjoyed it."

Some said they came because of their interest in history.

"I was raised in this county and I wanted to hear some of the history and fill in some blank spots," said Marcia Lambert of Coal Grove.

Others said the love of a good ghost tale lured them.

"I'm interested in the paranormal," said Courtney Jenkins of Ironton, after hearing the story of

Russian-born ballerina Antoinette "Teenie"

Peters and her husband, Ironton industrialist James Peters. According to local legend, the ballerina is sometimes seen dancing in the cemetery late at night.

Does Jenkins believe the story? Yes, she does.

"My mom has a friend who claims to have seen her," Jenkins said.

No one seemed to leave disappointed. From Civil War soldiers to tales of extravagant fortune, Ghost Walk goers heard it all.

Members of the Gallipolis-based Cadot Blessings Chapter 126 of the Sons of Union Veterans fired their guns and told of

life for young men who fought for their country during the Civil War and the hardships they faced in service to their country.

David Payne played the part of W.W. Johnson, who was Ohio's Supreme Court Chief Justice in the mid 1800s. Johnson and his wife, Martha, lived in Ironton most of their lives and are buried in Woodland Cemetery. Martha was the inspiration for a song written about the time of the Civil War, "Lorena" often called the "Song of the Civil War for Both the North and the South." The song was written for her by a former sweetheart.