Historical tour tells of Sumter Cemetery's famous inhabitants

BY DANNY KELLY danny@theitem.com
Posted 10/11/18

If you've ever wondered who's buried here in Sumter, now's your chance to find out.

Dearly Departed Tours will be giving lantern-led "Echoes from the Past Tours of Sumter Cemetery," which is located at 700 W. Oakland Ave., with period-dressed …

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Historical tour tells of Sumter Cemetery's famous inhabitants

Posted

If you've ever wondered who's buried here in Sumter, now's your chance to find out.

Dearly Departed Tours will be giving lantern-led "Echoes from the Past Tours of Sumter Cemetery," which is located at 700 W. Oakland Ave., with period-dressed tour guides this month.

"There are a lot of famous people (buried there)," said Diana Roof, office manager at Sumter Cemetery and Dearly Departed tour guide. "We go around and tell stories of people who are buried there."

Some of the people the tour covers include: John K. Crosswell, who left his estate to open John K. Crosswell Home for Children in Sumter; Martha Williams-Brice, who the University of South Carolina's football stadium is named after; George Haynesworth, who fired the first shot of the Civil War; Ervin David Shaw, the namesake of Shaw Air Force Base; Mr. and Mrs. John Haynesworth, who were the first ones buried at the cemetery; Joseph Levan, a black slave who became a barber and had a monument erected by his white friends in the early 1900s; Antonio Gibson, a famous nurse; and William McQueen, who fought in the Civil War and died at Dingle's Mill.

"We also discuss the robbery at the Claremont Hotel and the China murders," Roof said.

Roof does the tours with her friend, Becka Smilowska. Tours are $10 each and last between 60 and 90 minutes.

Roof said she wants the tours to educate people.

"People don't realize famous people are in the cemetery," she said. "They don't realize the history here, and that's what we're trying to get across."

Tours are scheduled for today, Oct. 13, 18, 23, 26 and 27 and for Nov. 1 and 3 at 6 and 8 p.m. On Oct. 31, there will be a special tour at 9 p.m. On Oct. 20, there will be no tours in Sumter, but Sumterites are encouraged to join Dearly Departed Tours for the Haunted Legends Tour of Camden at 6 and 8 p.m.

Reservations are required and can be made by calling (803) 468-8630 or (912) 532-246, emailing dearlydepartedtours.sc@gmail.com, or by going on the Dearly Departed Tours Facebook page.

Advance tickets may be purchased at Jazzy Creations on 31 W. Calhoun St. - behind Flowers and Baskets Florist - Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests are asked to arrive 15 minutes before their tour time.