This past Sunday was the annual Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll presented by the Huntsville Pilgrimage Association. This is always such a fun event. I actually haven't been the last few years and I was so glad I went this year. The afternoon was beautiful and it's always fun to learn more about Huntsville and enjoy some great storytelling.
My friends Margaret Anne (who is from Huntsville) and Lauren (who is not) went with me this year. Margaret Anne actually arranged us all going. Lauren and I got there right at 2:00 p.m. when it started and MA met us a few minutes later. Before MA arrived, Lauren and I went to the graves of Goldsmiths and Schiffmans and also Milton Frank. I don't remember these folks being portrayed before and I had an interest in them for a variety of reasons. The Goldsmiths and Schiffmans have a football field and a school named after them (thanks to their generous donation of properties) and Milton Frank was a renowned football coach at Huntsville High and has a football stadium named after him. He was only 57 when he died - so young! His "wife" was visiting his grave so she was doing the storytelling, not him. I asked her how he died, but she said she didn't know as she had not come across that in her research.
Since Lauren had never been to the stroll before, we let her pick the most of the rest of the people we visited. We did stop by John Hunt (founder of Huntsville!) who was being portrayed by MA's former history teacher at Grissom. He actually retired a couple of years ago and now she teaches in his place. He did a great job and was very animated in his storytelling.
We made a stop by one of my favorites, Miss Howard Weeden. She always has great stories to tell and the lady that portrays her does a fantastic job complete with accents as she tells the stories of the slaves she painted.
One of my favorites this year was new to me. It was Reverend "Saint" Bartley Thomas and his wife from the Primitive Baptist church. He was a black minister and baptized over 3,000 people in Big Spring in the 1800s. Here we were also treated to singing by the Saint Bartley Singers and they were so good! Everyone clapped and some people sang along and this group got the biggest round of applause by far.
Since Lauren loves cows, we had to make a stop by Lily Flagg so Lauren could learn all about the 1,047 pounds of butter and about as many gallons of milk she produced in one year. Lily went to the 1892 World's Fair in Chicago and when she got home, her owner Samuel B. Moore threw her a big party with 50 different kinds of cake and Lily was at the front of the receiving line.
We left the stroll a little after 4:00 (it ended at 4:30) and headed home. We didn't even put a dent in all the people being portrayed. There were 72 characters this year and about 10,000 people showed up to learn about our city's rich history. If you've never been before (or even if you have) be sure and put this on your calendar for 2016! It's one of the best ways to celebrate and learn about Huntsville!