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Lantern Tour: Cemeteries once like public parks

The second monthly Lanterns & Tombstones Walking Tour of the Columbia City Cemetery drew over a dozen people Friday night even in damp, cold weather.

Guides Dave Thomas and Mike Watson focused - since it was Derby Eve - on history and lore of people who were related to the horse industry.

In the 19th century, there weren't many public parks. Folks who wanted to picnic outdoors didn't have many places to go. But there were some huge public tracts of peaceful lands -- the cemeteries.



And these were put to good use.

Folks came together in cemeteries dressed in their church clothes, gathered around the stones of relatives (or strangers), lounged on the ground and broke out the sandwiches.

According to Atlas Obscura, cemeteries began to be established away from crowded churchyards into large rural tracts of land with trees and grass.

Unfortunately, the pleasant vistas were soon laden with trash, according to one Nebraska observer in 1900, who said the gatherings left grounds scattered with sardine cans, beer bottles and lunch boxes.

After 1900, cities began building public parks, which basically put an end to the practice.

While there are several public parks, the Columbia City Cemetery walking tours draw those who just want to know life stories of folks who went before.


This story was posted on 2022-05-09 00:03:42
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Lantern Tour - looking toward Campbellsville



2022-05-09 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener, ColumbiaMagazine.com.
Even with rain threatening and temperatures beyond chilly, around a dozen people gathered for the second monthly Lanterns & Tombstones Walking Tour of the Columbia City Cemetery Friday evening. This view from the cemetery is looking out over the Fairground Street - Campbellsville Street junction.

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Lantern Tour - young historian observing



2022-05-09 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener, ColumbiaMagazine.com.
Jack Bowman, at left, was the youngest in attendance at the Friday evening Lanterns & Tombstones Tour in the Columbia City Cemetery. Tour guide and genealogist, Mike Watson, at right, said the earliest marked grave in the oldest part of the cemetery is 1812. Jack and his Papaw Albert Gray were among those on the walk.

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Lanterns and Tombstones under ancient Cedar tree



2022-05-09 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener, ColumbiaMagazine.com.
Lanterns and Tombstones Tour guides took the crowd to the plot of J. W. Jackman and wife and daughter, under the ancient cedar tree in the middle of the Columbia Cemetery. His relationship to the horse industry was that he was a leather worker in a saddlery. He often made show pieces for county fair and Jackman saddles we're prized.

Mary Damron Neat, successful horse show participant who was known for her distinct attire, rode her horse, Jordan Peacock, with a brand new side saddle made by Jackman. She needed it adjusted before the event began and called for a groom to help. She found herself docked in points for that by the judges and lost the competition.

Everyone steered clear of the tree trunk as it had what looked like a Poison Ivy vine growing up it.

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Lanterns and Tombstones tour - singing to his horse



2022-05-09 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener, ColumbiaMagazine.com.
W. F. Staples was remembered as an Adair Countian known for training horses, especially with music. He is reported to have trained his military horses to back up by singing to them. He was of the Presbyterian faith and while the songs he used in training are not known, they would likely have been good Protestant ones.

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Lantern Tour - no flowers, folklore please



2022-05-10 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener, ColumbiaMagazine.com.
As darkness and rain signaled the end of the May, 2022 Columbia City Cemetery historic walk, I borrowed a lantern to visit my late husband, Ed. If you're nearby on Memorial Day, know that he won't be especially interested in flower arrangements nor flags at his headstone, but he will sure appreciate the folklore and history of the people he loved being shared all around him.

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Lantern Tour - different theme each month



2022-05-10 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener, ColumbiaMagazine.com.
The popular walk among the markers in the Columbia City Cemetery continues monthly at 7pmCT on the first Friday along with the To the Nines evening shopping hours on the Public Square. Guides Dave Thomas, at left, and Mike Watson promise a different theme each month. This time, as it occured on Derby Eve, the focus was horses, people who worked in the industry, or rode in the Adair County Fair. They are open to ideas for future themes. Find them at the Adair County Genealogy and History Center by the Library on Greensburg Street.

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