(Posted Sept. 26, 2018)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
All you need is $5 and a flashlight to learn about some of the people who once called Plain City home.
On Oct. 23-24, the Plain City Historical Society is offering tours of Darby Township Cemetery, complete with reenactors portraying some of the folks who are buried there. The tours run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Admission is $5. Flashlights will help visitors navigate the cemetery’s uneven ground.
“It’s a way to connect with our history, and there are still descendants of a lot of these people who live in town,” said Rosemary Anderson, who created a guidebook to the cemetery and is a Historical Society member.
The tours don’t follow a set path or order. Instead, participants are welcome to wander among stations at 15 different graves, each lit and manned by a reenactor.
Among those whose stories will be told are two Revolutionary War veterans, the Rev. Jeremiah Converse and Obil Beach, as well as some of their descendants who fought and died in the Civil War. Volunteers also will portray Daniel Bigelow, a brother to Plain City’s founder, Isaac Bigelow, and Daniel’s wife, Lydia. Daniel lived in Plain City from 1832 until his death in 1850; his brick home still stands at 407 S. Chillicothe St.
As for why educational events like the cemetery tours are important, Anderson said, “You can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you came from.”
The public tours are an outgrowth of tours the Historical Society leads each year for third-graders at Plain City Elementary, which sits across the street from the cemetery. In talking to the students about the people buried there, Historical Society members share the idea of the past informing the future.
“We tell them how different people’s lives were then. For instance, if you wanted green beans for supper in October, you have to hope somebody planted beans back in the spring,” Anderson said. “Or take medicine, as another example. Third-graders today know more about germs than doctors did back then.”
One of the reenactors lined up for the public tours will play a Plain City resident who died during the “sickly seasons” of the early- to mid-1820s, when people were succumbing to what might have been malaria or typhoid, but to doctors was a mysterious fever they did not know how to treat.
These stories and more will be shared Oct. 23-24.
Tickets are available at the Plain City Historical Society, 105 W. Main St. Hours are Tuesday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon, and Thursday, noon-3 p.m. (except Oct. 4, when hours will be 4-6 p.m.). Tickets also may be purchased on site at the cemetery the nights of the tours. Guidebooks to the cemetery will be available for an additional $5.
Darby Township Cemetery dates back to 1812 when Titus Dort donated the land for it. The last burial there was in 1949.
The cemetery is located on South Chillicothe Street. Parking will be available at Plain City Elementary.