Ghost Walk brings history to life

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

Once again, the history of the Lawrence County comes alive as the Lawrence County Historical Society presents its annual Historical Ghost Walk.

It will be Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. in the Woodland Cemetery in south Ironton.

Debbie Rogers, coordinator of the walk and secretary of the historical society, said there would be around 50 characters to tell their stories.

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Among the notable historical characters is Antoinette “Teenie” Peters, a ballerina with Imperial Russian Ballet and the Chicago Opera who married James Peters. Teenie died in a car crash.

“They say the ballerinas come out at midnight to dance,” Rogers said.

Another famous resident of Woodland is Martha Ellen Blockson Johnson, who was known better as Lorena. While a song was about her it also dealt with lost love and missing home and was a popular ballad with soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. The song was played throughout Ken Burns’ 1990 documentary, “The Civil War.”

“Both the North and South loved that song,” Rogers said. One Confederate commander said that it made his men less effective because it reminded them so much of home.

One of the first ghosts the people on the tour meet is the Red Fox. Known better by his Christian name of James Ditcher, he was said to have led more than 300 slaves along the Underground Railroad to freedom in the North.

And there are plenty of Lawrence Countians who left their names in its history, including Nannie Kelley Wright who was the only female ironmaster in the world and in her time, the second wealthiest woman in America; George Bay, who was a steamship baron; and William Alexander Julian, who was treasurer of the United States under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Rogers said they are expecting a couple thousand people to attend the event.

Besides the attraction of ghosts and history, Rogers said many people come to see their friends and family in the historical garb.

While there is no admission, the Historical Society sells a map for $2 that tells which gravestone is where and who is portraying the various ghosts.