CAMDEN By PATRIC FLANNIGAN
The Camden Kiwanis Cub welcomed Ralph and Glendle Griggs as its special guests recently. The couple spoke about the upcoming Cemetery Walk at Oakland Cemetery on Maul Road. The event is held annually on the third Friday and Saturday of every October. This year, the event will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Oct. 19 and 20.
At the meeting, Glendle Griggs explained that the Cemetery Walk has been in operation for 14 years and that the Oakland Cemetery is on the National Registry of Historic Places. She shared the event mixes education with fun and it is meant for the entire family to come out and enjoy. The event features reenactments of historical figures that were buried in the cemetery. This year, there will be an added element.
“We have never had ghost before, but they seem to be out and about now,” she joked. “We are adding ghosts this year.”
Glendle said that 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.
Ralph Griggs then shared how he became involved with the Cemetery Walk. He said that he moved to Camden in the 1970’s and was a manager at JC Penny’s. He was raised in Eastern Arkansas but discovered he had relatives that were buried at Oaklawn Cemetery
He gave the club a teaser of what to expect from the cemetery as he brilliantly portrayed John Chidester by reciting a lengthy monologue from memory. Before beginning, he joked:
“Nine years ago, I took on a new hobby,” Ralph said. “And that was to portray the role of a dead man.”
Chidester was one of 17 children in his family. He left home at the age of 14 to join the circus as a stagecoach driver. He began working for U.S. Mail at 16 and transported mail from Memphis to Fort Smith. moved it to Arkansas. Chidester wrote a book about the care and treatment of horses and bought the Peter McCollum House and the six acres around it to set up a stagecoach headquarters. He had the same operation in Little Rock and in Texas. When railroads were developed it destroyed his business and he retired in Arkansas along with his wife and seven children.