TEXARKANA, Texas — Some of Texarkana's earliest citizens found their final resting place in Rose Hill Cemetery, which receives the spotlight Saturday evening for the next Texarkana Museums System Twilight Tour.
Starting at 6:30 p.m., the Museums System will lead tour-goers on a guided tour of the Texas-side cemetery, which at one time was on the outskirts of town.
Living history performers will help bring this history to life through such tour "guests" as Dr. G.W. Thompson, Mattie Rosborough and Otis Henry, who are buried here.
Billed as "The Talking Dead: Rose Hill Cemetery," the tour conjures some of Texarkana's earliest history and showcases the largest cemetery monument in the city.
"These evening tours are a chance for guests to hear some of the less told stories from our collective past," TMS Curator Jamie Simmons said in a news release. "Part of the fun for this series of tours is the chance to meet Texarkanians from the past. We have quite a few wonderful volunteers portraying some of these 'characters.' We hope to continue expanding this program in the future."
In an interview, Simmons said Rose Hill is one of the most historic cemeteries in Texarkana.
"This tour will include living history performances, so once again it will be similar to State Line Avenue in that we will have living history performers, but this goes a little bit further back in time," Simmons said. "On the Texas side the area where Rose Hill Cemetery was set up at the time the city was founded, it was considered out in the country."
As well, the cemetery was designed to double as sort of a public park, Simmons said.
"People in the Victorian era just thought of cemeteries in a way differently than we do today. They would have visited cemeteries much more often than we do, not just to specifically visit burials but to see the space," she said, noting the Texas-side parks department maintains this cemetery.
"That's different from any of the other cemeteries in town," Simmons said, adding, "This one is the last remnants of the original city on the Texas side as far as how far back it goes."
It dates back to the first decade of Texarkana's infancy with the earliest burial in 1874, she said. "Within months of the city being founded, they had this first cemetery," Simmons said.
Both famous people and citizens who represent early Texarkana diversity are buried here.
"We're going to touch on those aspects," Simmons said. The diversity includes race, religion, political affiliation and culture. The tour will reflect the diversity and impact of common individuals on Texarkana history, the curator said.
"This one is the cemetery that includes the Otis Henry monument. That's also the name of a local American Legion chapter, but Otis Henry was a real person. He was the first man from Bowie County to die in World War I," Simmons said.
He's remembered here with what she called a massive monument, the largest in a Texarkana cemetery. "Very elaborate," she said. Tour guests will get to "meet" him on Saturday night. Symbolism in the monument will be discussed.
"Otis Henry's mother worked very hard to have that created and put up to honor her son, and there's a lot of meaning behind what she chose to have included in that monument," Simmons said.
Parking will not be allowed inside the cemetery, so guests are asked to park nearby, then meet at the front gate. This event benefits the Texarkana Museums System and the P.J. Ahern Home.
People interested in being part of future living history tours are encouraged to contact Simmons.
(Tickets are $15 each or $10 for TMS Members. Purchase tickets in advance at TexarkanaMuseums.org/events or via the Texarkana Museums System and P.J. Ahern Home Facebook pages. For more information, directions, parking options or to arrange for assistance, call 903-793-4831.)