Graveyards as Open-Air Museums
I’m deviating a little from my usual historic cemetery symbols post this week because often, when I tell people that I enjoy spending time in graveyards, they assume I must be really morbid – which is not the case at all!
You see, I spend a lot of time in historic cemeteries, especially here in Texas. And to me, these country graveyards are more than just where the dead are buried; they are open-air museums. And the symbols that our ancestors chose to put on their headstones – that is how our ancestors speak to us from across time!
Bringing History to Life
So last fall, I was delighted to hear that Oakwood Cemetery over in Fort Worth, Texas has an annual cemetery tour led by historic reenactors from the North Fort Worth Historical Society in period garb. Each actor chooses a resident of the graveyard to research and bring back to life.
It’s educational and entertaining!
Even if you don’t live near Fort Worth, you might call around and see if there are any similarly themed graveyard tours that you can attend in your area. Let me know if you find a good historic cemetery tour near you, or if you attend the Saints & Sinners Tour here in Texas!
Saints & Sinners Tour in Oakwood Cemetery
Each fall, the North Fort Worth Historical Society presents an incredible walking tour of historic Oakwood Cemetery called the Saints and Sinners Tour.
I went to the Saints and Sinners Tour last October and had a blast! As the tour guide led us from grave to grave, historic re-enactors brought the deceased to life by performing monologues in period costumes.
And, wow! The actors, who are all members of the North Fort Worth Historical Society, clearly put a lot of time and effort into their performances. Often, the monologues are a bit humorous, although there were a couple that brought tears to my eyes.
It definitely brought history alive to me in a very moving way! Even before the tour started, various merchants and costumed actors were around to chat and answer questions.
A Horse-Drawn Hearse
I love this guy! Not only did he have an amazing horse-drawn hearse with all the trimmings (including black ostrich feather plumes), but his outfit and demeanor really made me feel as though he had popped into our world from another time!
Mary & Euday Bowman had a piano!
The actors portraying Mary Bowman and her brother, Euday Bowman, went to all the trouble of having a piano with them, which they carefully kept on the shady side of their mausoleum! Ragtime fans will already know that Euday is a famous composer of that genre. (He wrote the “12th Street Rag,” for instance.) Here’s a link to his bio, if you’d like to know more: http://www.ragpiano.com/comps/ebowman.shtml
Horace “Stump” Carswell
I liked that the actors chose people from different eras; it wasn’t only folks from frontier times, for example. The historic re-enactor show above dipped into the 1940’s, and I know I wasn’t the only one wiping their eyes after he brought the heroic acts of WWII vet, Horace “Stump” Carswell to life for us. (Check out Carswell’s bio here: http://www.baseballsgreatestsacrifice.com/biographies/carswell_horace.html
Get there early!
I suggest arriving at least 30 minutes before your tour starts so you can mix and mingle with all the historic re-enactors from North Fort Worth Historical Society. You will learn a lot and have a lot of fun, too. In the photo above, these two marvelously mustachioed men showed me how to play the game of Faro, which is Poker’s wild west cousin!
Beautiful Chapel at Oakwood Cemetery
Oakwood Cemetery’s historic chapel has beautiful stained glass, as well as a trapdoor in the floor – for raising and lowering caskets!
More info: 2015 Saints & Sinners Tour in Fort Worth, TX
Dates: October 30, 31, and November 1, 2015
Address: 701 Grand Avenue, Fort Worth, TX
For exact tour times, admission, and other details, visit the Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth – Facebook page:
Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth, TX website:
Want to read more like this?
To read about more weird, offbeat, and overlooked places, check out my best-selling travel guide:
UNEXPECTED TEXAS: Your Guide to Offbeat & Overlooked History, Day Trips & Fun Things to do near Dallas & Fort Worth.
For ghost hunting hot spots, check out my best-selling travel guide to haunted places:
PARANORMAL TEXAS: Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places near Dallas & Fort Worth.
For a strange-but-true tale of Texas history, check out this bizarre piece of West Texas history:
The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber
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Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in North Texas travel, cemetery symbols, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!”
Snider’s best-selling books include Paranormal Texas , Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and 100 Things to Do in Dallas - Fort Worth Before You Die.