History comes alive at Greenhill Cemetery
For the second year running, the Historic Preservation Commission in Waynesville sponsored a cemetery tour Saturday, complete with dignitary actors who dressed in character and brought the town’s rich history to life.
Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown again portrayed Col. William H. Thomas, a state senator and the only white chief of the Cherokee. At the Civil War outbreak, Thomas organized a regiment of Cherokees and whites known as Thomas’ Legion 69th Regiment, was is known for protecting Haywood County from Union raids.
Former Alderman Wells Greeley returned to the fold to play the part of Col. Robert Love, a Revolutionary War hero who donated land for the courthouse, jail and town square in Waynesville. He named the town after Mad Anthony Wayne, his former commanding officer.
The role of Mrs. Marion Allen, the wife of an early physician who was named among the most prominent women in America, was played by former Alderman Bette Sprecher.
Her character gained unwanted attention for ration stamp fraud during WWII.
Alderman LeRoy Roberson acted the part of Curtis Logan, who owned the first automobile west of Asheville and opened the first car dealership in Waynesville.
Alderman Jon Feichter portrayed Atlas Jackson Allen, who joined the 55th N.C. Regiment under the command of Robert E. Lee.
Local historian Alex McKay played the role of James M. Moody, the son of a congressman who shot and killed a man during a fight and fled the scene, never to be heard from again. It was widely speculated his alleged grave is in Greenhill Cemetery.
The history tour drew about 100 individuals, said Ann Melton, one of the organizers.
Melton said one of the attendees was from Raleigh and regularly attended a similar event there sponsored by a civic organization.
“She said they charge $22 and hire professional actors,” Melton recounted. “She said our people were so much better than the paid actors, and she couldn’t believe we did it for free.”
The cemetery tour is one of several activities the Historic Preservation Commission pulls together each year to help area residents learn about or remember the rich history of the town.
The Greenhill Cemetery is about 40 acres and has been nominated for placement on the National Historic Register.