Along the ghost tour in Selma

Published 1:33 am Sunday, October 18, 2009

SELMA — Mrs. Orion Williamson roamed the Live Oaks Cemetery Saturday night looking for her missing husband. After his mysterious disappearance in 1854, no one, including scientists specializing in vanishing gas and ether, such as the German Dr. Maximilian Hern, ever found him.

The Haunted History Tours of Central Alabama hosted the third annual Selma’s Haunted History tour at Live Oaks Cemetery Saturday night. Guests followed a guide through the cemetery, stopping at points to listen to actors recount the demise of their ghosts.

“I researched for six years and found that Live Oaks has many buried here like gangsters, con men, and a vice president,” said Maggie Davies, director of the event.

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Beverly Rutledge played Mrs. Orion Williamson. “I did this because a good friend of mine and I have community spirit,” Rutledge said. “She asked me if I knew anybody who might want to do an acting thing. So I did it to help her out.”

All volunteer actors create their own costumes and scripts from the brief about the story of their ghost. “I chose this costume because if they owned land, she’s probably an established woman,” Rutledge said. “So, she would have a jacket. Just put it over a gown with a decadent pin and a basket as a hat with a big ribbon, and you’re ready.”

Money from the event will be brought back into the community. “The proceeds go one-third to Sturdivant Hall, one-third to the headstone and one-third to prepare for next year,” said Candace Johnson, tourism director at the Center for Commerce. The headstone of Mary Philpot has become severely weathered and $150 of the proceeds will preserve it.

“The Selma area is so old and historic and we knew people would be interested in the stories,” Johnson said. The event sold out to 150 guests comprising four tours.

First-time guest Austin Fetner plans to come back next year. “I enjoy coming to things that this during Halloween,” Fetner said. “I like listening to the stories.”