Three Valley Museum has canceled a planned “ghost stories” historical tour at Highland Cemetery, following a storm of protests on the social media website Facebook.
The museum, in conjunction with the Bryan County Genealogy Society, had planned the event Oct. 27, and it would have chronicled the lives of six individuals and involved people dressed in period clothing. The event was to be a fundraiser for both organizations.
After an article about it appeared in the Sunday Durant Daily Democrat, many current and former residents began speaking out against it on Facebook, calling the event, “disrespectful,” “a mockery” and “crass.” Some residents were also planning to protest at today’s Durant City Council meeting.
Many also expressed concern that loved one’s graves would be “trampled on.”
“Highland is a small-town cemetery where generations of families past and present gather to honor and mourn, reflect and connect spiritually,” a former Durant resident wrote. “These moments are conducted in a peaceful and private setting as it should be. Highland is not a Hollywood tour destination that touts the legends of deceased celebrities and should not be treated as such.”
TVM, on its Facebook page, initially said the event was not intended to upset anyone and that it was to tell the history of different people who were important to Durant.
Following more protests, TVM announced Monday on Facebook that the event was canceled.
“The Three Valley Museum had planned a walking history tour of Durant to be held at the Highland Cemetery,” TVM said, on its Facebook page. “This tour would be on the paved roadways and would take people near the graves of some of Durant’s historical figures. These historical figures would have been actor portrayed by Durant citizens. Many people objected to this effort at preserving our history by assuming this would involve grave desecration by trampling on graves and it would be insulting to the family of other deceased people by having a history tour in the cemetery. Out of respect to the people who are upset at the thought of this event being held at that location, the event is being cancelled.
“The museum operates through donations and through the efforts of volunteers. The Board members are not paid, but donate a significant amount of their time to try to preserve the history of Durant. Often it is difficult to find volunteers to give their time for this cause. It appears that there are many people who have taken a personal interest in the preservation of the history of Durant. Please consider this an invitation for you to come to the board meetings and to give of your time as a volunteer for the museum.”
“It’s sad that this event was misunderstood by so many,” said Nancy Ferris, curator of TVM. “The research that the women (from Bryan County Genealogy Society) did into these historical lives was to be an event to honor and remember the way life was for them.”