Historical Society offers glimpse into past with graveyard tour
In week before event, ticket sales remain stagnant
— Enough with the textbooks and lectures. The Cecil County Historical Society has plans to make history fun again.
This Friday, it’ll partner with actors from the Cecil County Heritage Troupe to put on its first historic cemetery tour complete with re-enactors — indicative of a goal to increase the Historical Society’s footprint in the county.
The only problem? They
have yet to sell any tickets.
“People seem to think of the society as old and dusty, but we’re actually quite a lot of fun,” said Paula Newton, president of the Historical Society. “We’re trying to project that image.”
Recently, the Historical Society has made strides to integrate with Elkton’s downtown culture. They’ve opened their doors to passersby during First Fridays and joined the Art Loop. So when Wanda Owens, a member of the Heritage Troupe, came to Newton with the idea for the tour, Newton took her up on it.
Because some individuals in the town’s art and culture community consider the Historical Society underused, Newton has tried to collaborate more often with the Elkton Chamber & Alliance.
“We’re a great resource, and people don’t come to us,” Newton said.
Part of that may be because the society is made up of volunteers who have to split their time with occupations. That could cut into the organization’s ability to advertise aggressively, according to Margie Blystone, chairman for Elkton’s arts and entertainment district.
Newton said the Historical Society has a member base of some 600 people, and that they send out events through that channel whenever they pop up. As of Tuesday afternoon, however, the event had not been posted on the soci- ety’s online calendar.
Tickets for the cemetery tour cost $8 in advance and $10 at the door. The first group will set off at 6 p.m. from the Historical Society in Elkton, where guests will be greeted by an actor playing the part of former Elkton Mayor Henry H. Mitchell, who served from 1935 to 1955. Each tour will then head to the Elkton Cemetery on Howard Street and last roughly an hour.
Blystone said she didn’t think the ticket prices were the issue with sales.
“People like to wait to the last minute to do things,” she said. “Also, just getting the word out. Not everyone is on Facebook.”
Other than Mitchell, actors will portray notable county residents buried in the cemetery like Sarah Hollingsworth, wife of Col. Henry Hollingsworth, who fought in the Revolutionary War; Col. Isaac Davis, who fought in the Civil War; Martha Finley, famed children’s book author; and Mary Elizabeth Reese Pearson, daughter of the man who created the Reese’s peanut butter cup.
Unsurprisingly, Blystone is pulling for the Historical Society’s success.
“I wish the public could see how excited these people are to do this,” she said. “I don’t want them to think that it’s going to be dry, just quoting from a book or something. It’s going to be people really playing the parts.”
The cemetery tour may be one that develops into a recurring event, though that depends largely on the kind of reception it draws this weekend. Newton said the society had other ideas for a similar tour of Main Street and of the nearby Presbyterian cemetery.
“There are loads of opportunities here,” she said.
The Historic Cemetery Tour will begin Friday at the Cecil County Historical Society, 135 E. Main St., Elkton. Tours are scheduled for 6, 6:30, 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m. A rain date is set for Saturday, Oct. 8. Call 410398-5076 to purchase $8 tickets in advance; tickets will also be available at the door for $10.
Shortly before sunset Monday, light shines through the Elkton Cemetery. On Friday, the Cecil County Historical Society and Heritage Troupe will host the first historic cemetery tour here, but so far, they’ve had trouble selling tickets.