CAMDEN By BRADLY GILL
Even around Halloween, your chances of seeing a spirit are fairly slim. But this Friday and Saturday in Oakland Cemetery, there’s not only a certainty of viewing ‘ghosts,’ but they’ll also be telling their life stories.
Don’t worry though, these former residents of Camden have been brought to life by re-enactors as part of the bi-annual Oakland Cemetery Walk presented by the Ouachita County Historical Society.
The cost of the tour is $5 for adults and $3 for children. All proceeds from the walk will benefit historic Oakland Cemetery. The event will be held in the cemetery, which is located on Maul Road across from Zion Hill Baptist Church. Tours will run continuously from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.
The characters will range from William Chadwell - a successful merchant and well-known man in the 1850’s who died suddenly; to Samuel Q Sevier - the grandson of the first governor of Tennessee who served as the mayor in Camden and Ouachita County Sheriff who once got in a fight and shot someone; to Edwin Carson - a successful dry-goods salesman who invested heavily in the Ouachita Valley Bank and was ruined by the Great Depression.
While the shroud that separates the living from the dead won’t be an obstacle over the weekend, the weather may very well be.
The Ouachita County Historical Society Facebook page posted, “The Cemetery Walk, scheduled for this Friday & Saturday night (19th & 20th) will be canceled if it’s raining those evenings. Safety of visitors and re-enactors is very important to us.”
The weather forecast for the region shows a 50-percent chance of showers for Friday, and a 40-percent chance of showers for Saturday.
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas.net states: “Oakland Cemetery in Camden (Ouachita County) was the first cemetery of that city and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It encompasses approximately twenty acres and has approximately 683 graves. The cemetery’s Forrest Hill entombs Confederates who died in battle near Camden at both the Engagement at Poison Springs on April 18, 1864, and the Action at Marks’ Mills on April 25, 1864.
“The land for the cemetery was donated by Major William Bradley in the early 1830s. The first known grave bears a monument reading, “First grave in Cemetery. The body of an unknown little girl who died on a flat bottom boat on the Ouachita River was buried before 1840. Chain around the grave was from old anchor chain from the boat.” The first tombstone to be placed there was in memory of Thomas Stone, a slaveholder from Autauga County, Alabama, who had relocated to Camden in 1843 and died two years later. The obelisk that still surmounts his grave was shipped from New Orleans by steamboat.”