Lantern Tour

Attendees of the 2017 Pine Hill Cemetery Lantern Tour listen to a portrayal of Uncle Billy Mitchell, who was buried with his feather bed upon his death in 1856

Residents will get the chance to take a stroll through Auburn's history tonight and Friday as the Auburn Heritage Association hosts the Pine Hill Cemetery Lantern Tour. 

Tour guides will lead attendees through the historic cemetery, established in 1837 by Auburn founder Judge John Harper, as 12 characters from the city's past are portrayed amongst 1,500 luminaries lighting the path. 

Crowd favorites will again be portrayed, like Gatsy Rice, who was born a slave, later ran a boarding house and has the only black grave marked in the cemetery, and Virginia Howe, a 16-year-old girl who was originally buried in her front yard and then later moved to the cemetery by her husband after he married Virginia's sister. 

And of course, there's the eccentric Uncle Billy Mitchell, who was buried with his feather bed after dying in 1856. 

The lantern tour will also feature two new characters, John Wills, an Auburn resident who fought and died in World War I in France, and Tobe Cullars of the Cullars family. 

"He was killed over there," said Auburn Heritage Association President Mary Norman. "He had quite a storied past and wonderful history.

"He’s not actually buried in the cemetery, but he does have a marker there."

The lantern tour will be held tonight at Friday from 7 to 9 p.m., with tickets at the gate running $10 for adults and $5 for students. Those wishing to attend are encouraged to park at East Samford School and either walk or ride the trolley to the cemetery. Tours through the cemetery will take place on a rolling basis. Music will also be featured, with the Loachapoka-based Whistle Stop Pickers picking their way through bluegrass tunes. 

"This is a wonderful way to learn about Auburn’s early history. It is not taught anymore in any schools," said Norman. "You have five university presidents who are buried in the cemetery. You’ve got mayors, doctors, lawyers, preachers — just everybody who was anybody is buried at Pine Hill Cemetery."

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