Cemetery crowded for Angels on the Bluff

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Tourists at the Natchez City Cemetery were frozen Friday evening.

Not because of the cold temperature, but because each was fixed on the stories told by the actors of the seventh annual Angels on the Bluff.

June Clemons from Amite, La., and Fannie Lou Kent from Falucka, La., were first-timers to the event.

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&8220;We have been to Natchez several times and seen the cemetery, too,&8221; Clemons said. &8220;But it is so interesting to learn how the characters portrayed are related to the actors and the people here in Natchez.&8221;

Clemons and Kent said their favorite actors were Ruthie Coy and Ralph Jennings who told the story of Clarice Scott &8220;Crissie&8221; Miller.

Miller is the great aunt of Jennings and helped raise three generations of Coy&8217;s family.

Clark Feiser moved to Natchez from Pennsylvania one year ago but was unable to make the tour last year.

A retired funeral director, Feiser said he was delighted that supporters of the cemetery participate in Angels on the Bluff, and hopes other communities will follow.

&8220;This is a great fundraiser and really involves the people of Natchez with their cemetery,&8221; Feiser said. &8220;I wish more cemeteries, like the ones near Gettysburg, would do events like this one.&8221;

Feiser said he really enjoyed Rusty Jenkins&8217;s comical portrayal of Corp. Bill Fulton, one of the greatest scouts of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and close friend of Col. Jeb Stewart, played by Chuck Mayfield.

Fulton (Jenkins) tells the story of how he, along with a fellow scout, demoralize the Union Army by sneaking up on sentries, surprising them and stripping them of their uniforms to make blankets or &8220;Yankee Blankies.&8221;

Bryant Reed Jr. played the ghost of Capt. Thomas P. Leathers, a Mississippi riverboat captain who raced the Steamboat Natchez against the Robert E. Lee in 1870.

For Reed, participating in Angels on the Bluff is a chance to learn something new about people he has studied before.

&8220;I never knew Leathers was a pallbearer for Jeff Davis,&8221; Reed said.

Reed also said he shares a special kinship with Leathers because of his profession.

&8220;My father was a riverboat captain, so when you talk about the river, you talk about something very near to my heart,&8221; he said.

But Reed considers his participation in Angels on the Bluff primarily as a community service.

&8220;You help fund the cemetery first of all. And you help promote tourism, which helps the community,&8221; Reed said.

The cemetery will host Angels on the Bluff again tonight. Tickets are sold out.