Characters from the past come to life on Ghost Walk



The lives, hopes, achievements, adventures and trials of six Highland County area historical figures were personified in dramatic tales on Tuesday as part of the Highland County Historical Society’s annual ghost walk held at Hillsboro Cemetery.

Anna Catherine “Kitty” Newby, “Mourning Emma”, Sarah Ella “Byrde” Ayres, George Beecher, Reverend Emile Grand-Girard and Granville Barrere (performed by Debbie Newby Williams, Carolyn Hastings, Dr. Tara Beery, Dr. Jeff Beery , Robert Brown and Steve Roush, respectively), were the six notable people who saw their stories posthumously told through a dramatic re-enactment at the event.

Among these was the story of Granville Barrere, whose “ghost” recounted how his views as editor and editor of the News-Herald, circa 1908, often led him to interesting confrontations with those in the know. disagreed with him.

Sarah Ella “Byrde” Ayres, another local citizen who was profiled, was an accountant turned professional photographer and was the first person to purchase an admission ticket to the Colony Theater in Hillsboro when it opened in 1938.

George Beecher’s last name may be recognizable because his aunt, Harriet-Beecher Stowe, wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabinâ€.

Reverend Emile Grand-Girard, who immigrated from France, served as a Presbyterian pastor in Mowrystown, where there was a large French population.

Anna Catherine “Kitty” Newby was the wife of Judge Cyrus Newby, who served as Highland County Common Pleas Judge from 1892 to 1918.

Finally, “Mourning Emma†illustrates the mourning practices of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

John Glaze of the Historical Society, president of the Ghost Walk, said that although he wrote most of the scripts, “our ghosts often take what I write and do their own research to find their own version.” He said that Hastings and Newby Williams, who played “Mourning Emma” and Anna Catherine, “Kitty” Newby, wrote their own scripts.

Newby Williams, a historical fiction author who recently self-published “Hillsboro’s Mystery Child” about Sarah Dorney Stroup, a 4-year-old girl who was abandoned in a train depot in Hillsboro in 1857 and taken in by the famous advocate of the temperance, Eliza Thompson had heard about the historical society’s annual Ghost Walk and thought it was the perfect opportunity to tell the story of her great-great-grandmother, Anna Catherine “Kitty” Newby. Newby Williams said she had “always wanted to be a part of it,” so she asked Glaze to volunteer to play her great-great-grandmother, Newby. Newby Williams said her previous experience as an educator helped her prepare for the public speaking required for the presentation.

This year there were more ghosts and less walking, as the event allowed attendees to bring lawn chairs and gather around a stage near the cemetery chapel, instead of walking, like in the past.

For more information about Highland County Historical Society, call 937-393-3392.

Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.

Highland County Coroner Jeff Beery holds a photo of George Beecher, the person he represented on Tuesday’s HCHS Ghost Walk.

The historical society hosts an event every year at Hillsboro Cemetery


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