Historical walk to bring county’s past to life

Published 10:18 am Friday, September 26, 2014

Whether it’s the idea of seeing a ghost or learning about the history of the county, the Lawrence County Historical Society’s annual walk through Woodland Cemetery brings out the crowds.

As he has for the past nine years Danny Massie will don historical garb and recreate the life of Ironton industrialist Hiram Campbell.

“My wife’s aunt worked with the library and historical society and asked if I would do it and have been ever since,” Massie said.

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Initial research came from the historical society but Massie has delved into learning about the life of Campbell, cousin to John Campbell, Ironton’s founder.

“He had eight furnaces and in 1877 he and his son built a furnace and named it for his wife, Sarah,” Massie said.

The furnace was two miles north of his house on Fifth Street.

“He walked there every day,” he said.

Just as fascinated with his character as Massie is Ironton councilmember Bob Cleary, who, with his wife, re-enacts the life of Dr. Joseph Lowery, and his wife, Sarah.

“There is a lot of written history on him,” Cleary said. “They claim he may have been murdered but it was never solved. All of his wealth was missing. They never found any of that.”

What they did find when authorities decided to investigate the possible murder of Lowery was a mutilated corpse.

“They had to take the vital organs (for testing) and that was all missing,” Cleary said.

Besides researching through histories Cleary has also interviewed Lowery descendants who now live in the Detroit, Michigan, area.

“Some of them have stories that I relay,” he said.

Among the other characters that will come to life will be Kay Rader portraying Nannie Kelley Wright, at one time the second richest woman in the world; John Higgins as James Slater, Civil War veteran and pharmacist; and Ann Boggess as Clara Campbell, daughter of John Campbell.

The historical walk starts at 5 p.m. Saturday and ends at dusk. Admission is free but the historical society sells a booklet with a cemetery map and information about the characters for $2. Shuttle buses at Liebert’s parking lot are available to transport visitors to Woodland.