Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

October 8, 2013

Bringing memory to life

Dining With the Past: history from beyond the grave

ASHLAND — This year’s Dining With the Past has new blood to help bring stories of the city’s early days back to life.

“We have a lot of new people as portrayers this year. We really changed the fundamentals of it,” said Matt Potter of Highlands Museum & Discovery Center, explaining more re-enactors will be used to tell the tales of Ashland’s prominent past residents buried at Ashland Cemetery. During previous  tours, guides provided the bulk of the information presented regarding individuals such as  Mary Elliot Flanery, who was the first woman elected to the Kentucky General Assembly south of the Mason-Dixon Line; as well as Paul G. Blazer, founder of Ashland Oil and Refining Company; and, Louis R. Putnam, founder of the Putnam Insurance Agency, and others laid to rest at the city cemetery.

The eighth annual Dining With The Past will be on Saturday, with proceeds to benefit both Highlands Museum and Discovery Center and the Ashland Cemetery Preservation Fund. Potter said the cemetery uses the support for a variety of purposes, with recent efforts devoted to renovation of headstones for historic people such as the Poage family. Last year’s proceeds will be used to pay for headstone renovations for Emma Carico, one of the victims of  “The Ashland Tragedy.” Potter said the original headstones are being preserved and permanently bonded with a replicated surface.

 Potter said the first tour of the day, with a $10 admission (dinner not included), will be especially interesting to those with an interest in the symbolism of icons and characters included on many of the cemeteries oldest headstones.

“The 2 p.m. tour goes deep into that. Jimmy Epling does a real good job explaining all of that,” Potter commented, explaining the tour is also of interest to people who appreciate history, genealogy and local interests.

“It appeals to a lot of people because of not only the history, but the genealogy and the symbolism,” Potter said.

Dinner tours, starting at 4 and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, cost $15 and are limited to 75 people, Potter said, with boxed meals served at Highlands Museum & Discovery Center. The dinner tours begin at the museum on Winchester Avenue, where attendees will travel to the cemetery by bus. Potter reminds participants this is a walking tour calling for casual dress with comfortable shoes.

Potter said participants are welcome to bring drinking water, and encouraged those planning to attend the last tour of the day to carry a small flashlight in case their cemetery tour extends into early dusk. Potter said Dining With the Past is not designed to be a “spooky” Halloween event and remains focused on historical content, “even though attendees really want us to make it that.” He said people who want a scary experience, however, will appreciate the upcoming Night at the Highlands event.  

Tickets for Dining With the Past are available at Highlands Museum & Discovery Center (606) 329-8888; Ashland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (606) 329-1007, or at the Ashland Cemetery office off of Belmont Street.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com.

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