Just in time for Halloween; BH & PS hosted nighttime graveyard history tour

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BURRILLVILLE – In northern Rhode Island and beyond, the name Bathsheba Sherman is familiar, due, historians say quite inappropriately, to her portrayal as the ghostly antagonist in the hit horror movie The Conjuring.

But what was Burrillville’s arguably most vilified late native really like?

Locals had the chance to join a nighttime tour of the cemetery where Sherman is buried, and witness a different type of portrayal of the 19th century resident, who once lived on Collins Taft Road, at an event last weekend.

And Sherman wasn’t the only one of the cemetery’s permanent residents to join the tour from beyond the grave – so to speak.

Reenactors with the Burrillville Historical & Preservation Society told their stories at a Graveyard History Tour at Riverside Cemetery on Friday, Oct. 20 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Guests were invited to bring a flashlight or lantern as they walked among graves, meeting with characters from Burrillville’s past, including Suzie Remington – who’s husband Clarence reportedly died in the sinking of the steamship the Narragansett when it collided with the Stonington in Long Island Sound in 1880. They will get the chance to chat with Sherman, and Frank N. White – a local logger and lumberman in the late 1800s.

“There will be eight characters,” said Betty Mencucci, president of the organization, prior to the event, noting that most of the tour guides are members of BH & PS.

Mencucci and her husband Carlo know the venue well. The couple learned how to properly conserve gravestones in 2011, and have been doing it ever since.  The Mencuccis have completely restored 45 of Burrillville’s 130 cemeteries. 

“This is where we repair/reset every stone in a cemetery, and sometimes even landscape the area and replant grass seed,” said Mencucci.  “Then we make sure it is maintained.”

And while some may find the thought of visiting a graveyard at night a bit scary, for Mencucci, it seems it’s just another day at the office.

“I never get spooked in a cemetery,” she said. “I don’t see anything scary. They are merely people that died and were buried there.”

Her organization also held a Halloween Bazaar on Saturday at the Bridgeton School in Pascoag featuring a Halloween penny social, spooky baked goods including home-made apple pies, an indoor yard sale and a book sale. Information on Burrillville cemeteries was also available.

“Watch out! You may be greeted by a werewolf!” noted a release on the event. 

The graveyard tour was free and open to the public, but a donation was suggested, to be used to help support Mencucci’s ongoing gravestone conservation work in Burrillville’s historical cemeteries.

The Riverside Cemetery is located opposite the Harrisville Fire Station at the intersection of Sherman Farm Road and Callahan School Street. The event will be held weather permitting.

Editor’s note: The above article was edited following the event.

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