How you can hear from the dead in Uptown on Saturday

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The cemeteries in Uptown Charlotte are usually pretty quiet places. They’re good for a peaceful walk or for some reflection. But they’ll be hopping with activity on April 1, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

No, the spirits aren’t playing an April Fools’ Day joke. The Mecklenburg Historical Association Docents are bringing the past to life with a living history day, “Voices From the Past.”

Costumed interpreters will be out in full force, taking on the personas of the people buried in two historic cemeteries, Settlers’ Cemetery (also known as Old Settlers’ Cemetery) and Elmwood/Pinewood Cemetery.

If you’ve ever looked at headstones with dates from the 1700s and 1800s and wondered about the stories of the people buried below, this is for you.

Settlers’ Cemetery is located in the block bounded by 5th and 6th Streets, Church and Poplar Streets. Use 200 West 5th St. as an address for finding your way there.

Elmwood Cemetery is a 10-minute walk from Settlers, west of the railroad underpass on 6th Street, at 700 W 6th St.

This is the first time for this event, which would be great to see as an annual event. You might have encountered some of these historical interpreters at Meck Dec Day celebrations in the past, on guided Liberty Walks or at events at the James K. Polk State Historic Site.

Ten characters will be at Settlers’ Cemetery, with a larger number at Elmwood/Pinewood. In all you can expect to meet approximately 50 visitors from the past on Saturday.

Each character will talk for about five minutes. You can drop by either cemetery, or both.

A few folks you might meet:

– Col. Thomas Polk, who will talk about his Revolutionary War exploits and about the founding of Charlotte.
– Aggie and Cherry, who were enslaved at Rosedale. They will be telling their stories at the northeast corner of Settlers’, where slaves were buried in unmarked graves.
– Romare Bearden’s great grandmother.
– Dr. Ephraim Brevard, the author of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
– A circus trainer mauled to death by his elephant.

Parking

Many current day Charlotte residents have to consider where they’ll park their horseless carriages. Here are some pointers:

There are parking meters on several streets surrounding Settlers’. Metered spaces are free all day on Saturdays. Also, look for a parking lot on 6th Street with a sign that says “Voices from the Past.” You can park there for free.

At Elmwood/Pinewood there is a lot of free parking. Enter Elmwood from Cedar Street. The main entrance on 6th Street will be open for foot traffic only.

Until then, Voices from the Past’s Facebook event page is a good place to get a sneak peek at some of the characters you’ll be meeting.

Photos: Courtesy of Jim Williams

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