TEXARKANA, Texas — Living history performance brings the dead to life again at this Saturday's "The Talking Dead: Sacred Heart Cemetery," an event at one of Texarkana's oldest cemeteries.
Presented by the Texarkana Museums System starting at 8 p.m., the guided tour travels through cemetery graves that date back to the 1870s. The old church cemetery, which is different than the newer Sacred Heart cemetery near the church, rests at the corner of Spruce and West 14th streets.
Buried there is Agnes Rodgers, who in 1876 gave the church this land so it could be used as Sacred Heart's cemetery. It's registered as a historic Texas cemetery, too, and includes city founders.
"Texarkana was a melting pot of people from all over the world," said TMS Curator Jamie Simmons in a statement. "All of these new citizens brought their own cultural and religious customs here to Texarkana, adding another dimension to our cultural heritage."
In an interview, Simmons said one of the Sacred Heart founding families donated the land when it was still beyond the Texarkana city limits. That family was here during the sale of city lots, she said, and they are buried along the front drive, which is where the tour will start.
"That's how far back it goes," she said. "Sacred Heart was the first Catholic church. Originally, there was one Catholic congregation here in town, and then the Catholic church created separate diocese for each state, so that's when the Arkansas-side Catholic church was formed."
The cemetery offers a solid snapshot of the earliest history in Texarkana, the 1870s and 1880s, the focus for this tour.
"We have done a tour of this cemetery in the past, but we have new performances for this one," Simmons said. "So anytime we do a cemetery tour regardless of the cemetery we will have new performances. Even though we still do feature some of the most well-known families, we're going to have new people and a new path through the cemetery itself."
She cautions that with the recent rains, it will be damp out there. People should dress accordingly, she said.
"We are going to get to see some of the oldest burials and talk about some new stories," Simmons said. Seven performances — with a broad range of people being represented — will be included.
Parking isn't available in the cemetery but there is parking along Spruce Street, said the curator. "That is the side where the entrance is," she said.
The TMS is keeping an eye on the weather, and if the tour must be canceled or rescheduled they'll post the information on the TMS Facebook page.
"Even though it is in the evening, it is something that I think families can enjoy together. It's history from a different perspective. It's history from the perspective of the people who lived in that time period, so they're telling a first-person story. I think it's interesting to hear these not-often-told stories, but also just to get the perspective from that time period," said Simmons, "how things would have been at that time period."
Some of the memorials themselves are interesting pieces of art, too, she said.
(Tickets: $15, or $10 for TMS members. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Get tickets at TexarkanaMuseums.org/Events. For directions, parking or more information, call 903-793-4831 or email [email protected])