Three events coming up next week highlight our local cemeteries. Called the silent cities, the people who reside at rest in our local cemeteries, though long gone, serve as an enduring legacy for the community. Every city or town, the small and the large, the forgotten and the famous often hold a silent city. They are repositories of the past.
The Old Stone Cemetery, sometimes referred to as the Lewisburg Town Cemetery, is currently undergoing preservation and restoration. Two hundred years of lichen, moss and mold growth have been removed to maintain the health and longevity of the stones. Broken and cracked stones are being painstakingly repaired and the markers and monuments are being surveyed and thoroughly researched. More is known about the history of the cemetery and those buried on the grounds than ever before.
“These are the folks that built this area. These are the folks that lived and died and worked, and it’s important for us to remember them to know where we came from as a community,” said North House museum and education coordinator for the Greenbrier Historical Society, Toni Ogden.
On Thursday, Sept. 22, a new book, “The People of the Old Stone Cemetery: Burials at the Old Stone Cemetery,” by Morgan Donnally Bunn, will be released. An informative presentation on the restoration work and research on the cemetery will be presented as well, and copies of the book will be available for sale in the Education Building of the Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg at 7 p.m.
This 200-plus-page book is the most comprehensively researched work on the cemetery ever compiled. Much has never been published before. The book contains information for the genealogist, those interested in Lewisburg history or those who might have a general interest in cemeteries and the way people lived and died in the 18th and 19th centuries. Questions are welcomed.
That event is followed by a very special Open House on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., presented by the Greenbrier Historical Society and Friends of the Old Stone Cemetery. The community is invited to come stroll the grounds of Old Stone and learn a bit about those buried in the cemetery and the ongoing restoration work and the recovery of some of the more than 150 stones lost over time. There will be something for everyone, including live music, giveaways for the kids and refreshments. An antique horse-drawn funeral hearse will be on display, courtesy of Ray and Lynn Tuckwiller.
On Sunday, Sept. 25, the community is invited to the North House Museum, from 2 to 4 p.m., for the opening of a new exhibit, The People of Lewisburg’s Historic Cemeteries.
As a special treat, well known, accomplished community actor Larry Davis, who’s been in numerous North House and Greenbrier Valley Theater productions, will portray Marcellus Zimmerman. A Lewisburg native, Zimmerman (1854-1923) witnessed the Battle of Lewisburg as a child and spent his adult life researching and writing about the history of Lewisburg and its citizens for the Greenbrier Independent newspaper and other publications. Zimmerman created the first survey of the Old Stone Cemetery in 1887 and his work will be a highlight of the exhibit. There will be two presentations at 2:15 and 3 p.m. Howard Ogden will provide ambient mandolin melodies and light refreshments will be offered.
Come meet the people of Old Stone, the Pointer Cemetery and the Soldier’s Cemetery and enjoy the exhibit of story boards and artifacts. Discover the stories hidden within the magnificent stones of Lewisburg’s historic cemeteries. Browse the new publication, “The People of the Old Stone Cemetery: Burials at Old Stone,” by Morgan Donnally Bunn.