The 2022 Haunted History Tour was a huge hit with Forsyth County residents young and old. The event was a joint fundraiser between Forsyth County Senior Services, the Historical Society of Cumming/Forsyth County, and Age Well Forsyth. One-hour walking tours were held in the historic Cumming Cemetery over the weekends of October 12-22 and 28-29, with moderate temperatures and clear skies. Tours started at 5:30pm and went into the early darkness through 8pm, as visitors were led by ghost guides to 12 graves of influential residents or natives of Forsyth County, as well as some not-so-well-known but fascinating nonetheless for their deeds or their stories. Ghosts or relatives recounted the salient details of their lives (and deaths).
If you missed it, why not take a little virtual tour? Below are the scripted texts presented by the ghosts, although a few had a lot more to add! We were able to capture images of some of the ghosts with special cameras .... Let's start the tour ....
As night falls, the ghosts emerge ....
First up is Warren Brannon, whose home became the Brannon Hotel, and now houses the Sawnee Association of the Arts.
Next is George Merritt, a fighter pilot killed in World War II, who was credited with saving a town from destruction. He is still honored there today.
Meet Hiram Parks Bell, a County resident who became a famous senator and legislator in the Civil War era.
Buried under the same marker is Bell's wife, Margaret Virginia Lester Bell, seen with Hiram above.
The ghost guides moved next to Henry Foster, a general store merchant in Cumming, who served as the city's sheriff for a time.
Near Foster's grave is buried Winnie Heard, young daughter of George Heard, a wealthy merchant who lost much in his life. There were two apparitions of Winnie, different on each weekend of the tours.
Just nearby a gathering of ghosts gave the visitors a look at an influential family and some not so well known. First is Alice Kemp Mashburn, who opened a boarding house to support her sons after her husband dies. Her descendants opened the city's first hospital and have contributed much to the community ever since.
Across from the Mashburns lies Dr. Ancil Strickland, doctor, businessman, researcher of diseases, who became a major influence on young Marcus Mashburn.
Also nearby is the Hockenhull family, of which Dr. John Hockenhull Jr., who emigrated from England as a small child, became a prominent surgeon.
Up the hill, there lie the sisters Addie and Ella Bailey, murdered by Ella's drunken husband. Addie tells the horrifying story.
Minnie Bailey Julian, another Bailey sister, brought Addie and Ella back from Clayton, where they had been murdered, to be buried; and she is buried nearby. She is credited with influencing the passing of laws for Georgia prohibition.
Last on the tour was DeWitt (Gilley) Thomas, also the victim of violence. On the second weekend, Gilley wouldn't appear, so his wife told the stories those nights. A haunting end to the tour ....
The ghosts and ghost guides appreciated the attention of the visitors, to be remembered after so many years ....