Pleasant Forest ‘Living History Event’ Sunday

Nine area residents, whose remains are interred at Pleasant Forest Cemetery, will be brought to life this weekend during inaugural Living History Event, sponsored by Town of Farragut and hosted by the Cemetery Board.

The event, free of charge, will take place from 5 to 7 p.m., Sunday, June 10, in the historic cemetery located along Concord Road. Handicapped parking will be allowed on site, but trollies rented from City of Knoxville will transport visitors from parking at Town Hall to the cemetery and back throughout the evening.

While this will be the first year for the re-enactment, the project had been discussed between the Cemetery Board and Town officials for some time, said Mike Karnitz, board member and caretaker for the cemetery.

“And, we decided this would be the year to pull it off.”

Karnitz, who leads school tours of the cemetery’s monuments and notable inhabitants, provided a list of potential subjects.

“There is a lot of history in that cemetery,” Karnitz said. “People think that Farragut has just been around for 30 years, so how much history can there be? But there is a lot of history in this area,” noting it previously was known as Campbell’s Station community.

Karnitz estimated about 1,500 men, women and children are buried in Pleasant Forest Cemetery, which historians date back to 1796, the same year Tennessee was granted statehood.

Karnitz said he provided a list of about 15 individuals to be considered for the project, with nine ultimately being selected.

Individuals portrayed, and the actors who will play them include: Revolutionary War soldier Thomas Boyd (Taylor Higginbotham); Farragut historian William Cottrell (Stan Duke); World War II veteran and area businessman Christopher Georges (Robert Warren); Farragut’s first mayor, Robert Leonard (Gordon Michaels); Tennessee’s second governor, Archibald Roane (Nick Koob); World War I veteran and owner of Russell’s grocery store J. Frank Russell (Lance Barnard); Farragut School teacher Beulah G. Starkey (Savannah Estes); and coal miner Ernest Wallace (Joseph Glidwell).

A part also has been written for Joe Davis, Farragut High School’s first janitor, but the original cast member had a family emergency, so the part still was open as of press deadline.

Warren, who also is a theater teacher at Hardin Valley Academy, wrote the individual parts to be performed at different stations within the cemetery.

He said he did a great deal of research to get the details and individual stories just right while also keeping the monologues at around two minutes each.

“I learned a lot about my community while doing the research,” Warren said.

Warren said he took great care with obtaining as much detail as possible, and drew upon information gleaned from a history book written by the late William Cottrell.

“It was important to me to show how (all these individuals) fit into the community,” Warren said, noting several, such as Georges, were not originally from the area.

The Living History event also will be an opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Roane Stone marker at the grave of Gov. Roane.

“It took 99 years for the state to recognize (Roane) and pay for the monument,” said Karnitz, who had the idea to commemorate it in conjunction with the June 10 Living History event.

“It was dedicated in June 1918, and there were over 1,000 people at the dedication.”

He said Cemetery Board members would be handing out brochures from the 1918 event.

Karnitz said he would like to see the event continue “every other year, or maybe every three years.”