Who came up with the name “Wissahickon” and where did it come from? Where is the final resting place of a dog named Smut? Is Julius Peek buried in Peek Park?
These are some of the questions answered by joining Arleigh Ordoyne on a stroll through Cedartown’s Greenwood Cemetery every week leading up to Halloween.
The Polk County Historical Society museum director takes a group through the city cemetery nestled between Greenwood Drive and the train tracks next to East Avenue each Friday evening through Oct. 29.
Cemetery tours have been a recent tradition for the historical society, with each year’s tour based on a different theme at a different cemetery in the county. This year’s walk covers many of the early citizens of Cedartown who live on in the names of the streets and buildings people pass by every day.
Greenwood Cemetery was officially created as a cemetery in 1854. The problem with the cemetery is that many of the records of those buried there are not officially on file with the city. Ordoyne said the city only received records from 1941 and forward when they officially took over the cemetery.
A survey of the cemetery done by Ralph and Jane Ayers in the 1970s researched the graves and obituaries in local newspapers from the early days of Cedartown to fill in the gaps.
“It’s really the best record we have of the people who are buried here,” Ordoyne said.
The land was originally known as simply The Cemetery or The City Cemetery on maps prior to 1905 when it was renamed Greenwood Cemetery for the popular Green-Wood Cemetery in Boston.
Ordoyne demonstrates a way to find unmarked graves or graves with damaged headstones by bringing along dowsing rods on the tours.
The two metal rods, bent at a 90-degree angle on one end, are held straight forward loosely in each hand. When they pass over an area high in minerals, the magnetic effect causes them to cross.
While walking over one of the few “blank” spots in the cemetery, Ordoyne shows how there are still people laid to rest under the topsoil. She said it’s the least expensive way to try and find hidden graves, and city cemetery employees use dowsing rods.
Several prominent Cedartown citizens are of course buried in the picturesque plot, including William Julius Harris, the first United States Senator from Polk County, and Capt. Julius Peek, an officer in the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War who is the namesake of Peek Park and Jule Peek Avenue.
Tours begin at 6 p.m. and last about 45 minutes to an hour. There is a generous amount of walking, including up a few stairs and in between family plots off of the paved paths.
Those interested in a tour can email email@example.com with the number of people, date and phone number. The cost is $10 per adult and $5 for kids 5 and up.