Historic cemeteries offer Halloween tours of famous dead

Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:15pm EDT
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By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - About 33,000 people are buried under the Spanish moss-draped oaks of Charleston's historic Magnolia Cemetery, but visitors during a Halloween tour were most interested in a plot that holds the remains of 21 Confederate sailors.

The sailors were the crew members of the Hunley, a Confederate submarine that went down in battle after sinking the Union ship Housatonic during the Civil War off the shore of Charleston in February 1864.

"I think it's a fascinating human story," said Brandy Culp of the Historic Charleston Foundation, who led the tour. "It's a story of great invention, hope and of course the tragedy that, in the end, these men gave their life for a cause they believed in."

The sunken submarine was raised from the ocean floor in 2000. In 2004 the recovered remains of the crew were buried with full military honors - the last Confederate funeral of the Civil War.

"Visitors to the graves knew that the Hunley had been brought up from the ocean bottom, and they're fascinated that marine science gave an identity to these people," Culp said. "They're all human stories."

The plot was among the highlights of "Tour de Graves," a special Halloween event at the cemetery, which dates to 1849. Although that tour focused on history, other Halloween cemetery tours across the country emphasize the mysterious and macabre.


At Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York historian Jeff Richman said the stories are about "murder, mayhem, spirits and ghosts." For Halloween, he emphasizes the 19th-century obsession with spiritualism.   Continued...

Olivia Cox, 9, (L) of Summerville, South Carolina and her friend Winslow Hastie, 8, of Charleston, check out a grave marker in the White Plot during the Tour de Graves at the Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Randall Hill