Living history this weekend at Pleasant Forest Cemetery

Tracy Haun OwensFarragut, Feature

One is a former governor who was buried in modest circumstances in 1819 and waited a good 99 years to get a suitable monument. One was a local businessman who undertook the awesome task of becoming the town of Farragut’s first mayor in 1980. One was known as a beloved “Aunt Bute” to her third-grade students in the 1920s at Farragut’s elementary school.

These late locals (Archibald Roane, Bob Leonard, Beulah Starkey) are three of those who are buried in Pleasant Forest Cemetery. They, along with five others, will be portrayed this Sunday, June 10, in a walking, talking living history tour. The Town of Farragut’s Arts Council is presenting the tour from 5-7 p.m. at the cemetery, which is at the junction of South Campbell Station Road and Concord Road.

The cemetery dates to 1796 and is one of the oldest in East Tennessee. Among the early settlers interred there are David Campbell of Campbell’s Station, who donated the land for the cemetery; Abram Lowe, who worked the farm and ferry on acreage that was home to Admiral Farragut’s father in the early 1800s; and Thomas Boyd, a Revolutionary War soldier who was made captain by George Washington. One of the most notable monuments is to Archibald Roane (Roane County is named after him), installed in 1918 by a group of history-proud community leaders.

The living history material for the event was written by Robert Warren, who teaches drama at Hardin Valley Academy. He has written several plays, but nothing like this, he says, in that it’s a collection of separate monologues. In learning about the people he was writing about, particularly the early ones, Warren says he got “led down a rabbit hole” or two of history, but it is a detour he particularly enjoyed. Warren says he read everything he could find about Farragut and Concord, including a book of Concord United Methodist Church history written by the late William Cottrell, who is also one of the characters portrayed.

Warren cast the actors who will portray seven of the characters, all of whom he had worked with before, most former students. He will be portraying Christopher Georges, a World War II veteran who moved his business to the area in the early 1970s. Georges’ daughter was able to share home movies with Warren, so he could get into the character.

Sue Stuhl, director of the Town of Farragut’s Parks and Leisure Service, says the Arts Council and staff collaborated with the Pleasant Forest Cemetery Board to come up with the event as a way to showcase the area’s rich history.

Parking for the event is at the Farragut Town Hall, 11408 Municipal Center Dr., and visitors will be transported to the cemetery. ADA-compliant parking is on site.

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