Thursday, April 20, 2005

• A Pilgrimage to remember •
More than 1,000 visit city

Staff Writer

This year’s attendance at the Holly Springs Pilgrimage was up by several hundred, according to Susie Murphy, chairperson of the garden club planning committee. An estimated 1,200 visitors toured the historic homes, up from between 900 to 1,000 last year. Final attendance figures were not available this week.

Irene Strickland was this year’s co-chairperson and Suzanne Lafever is president of the Holly Springs Garden Club.

There was excitement stirring as early as Wednesday and Thursday with a preview of Walter Place Estates, Cottages and Gardens drawing about 150 ticketed visitors, according to Jorja Lynn.

Peak day for visitors was Friday, Murphy said.

This year’s attractions included a Crump family reunion at Crump Place, open this year after extensive restoration and remodeling; four new homes open for tours - Crump Place, Hilltop, Polk Place and Featherston; a new botanical garden open at Walter Place Estates Cottages and Gardens; and The Terrace, open this year after remodeling.

Also new this year was the dedication of the Van Dorn Raid walking tour accompanied by the attendance and participation of Civil War re-enactors who brought about 100 guests to downtown.

The cemetery tour played two nights instead of the usual one. Further details of the weekend’s activities follow.

Crump reunion
The Crump family reunion brought about 70 guests to Crump Place, freshly restored by new owner David Person. People of all ages from as far away as California and Virginia joined Crump relatives from Memphis and local relatives and their friends, Person said.

A portrait of the late Memphis Mayor E.H. Crump, who lived in Holly Springs until he was age 19 before moving to Memphis to make his fame and fortune, was loaned and is on display at Crump Place. Mayor Crump died in 1954.

Local relatives attending the reunion were Dottie Rather, mother of Marie Rather McClatchy, Carey Rather Crain, and Ed Rather. The Rathers are relatives of one of the Crumps and were frequent visitors at the house.

Person said the idea to hold a Crump family reunion in Holly Springs developed about a year ago when Demetria McLaughlin visited last year.

“She had not been in the house since she was a young girl and then we thought about trying to get all the relatives to come,” Person said. “I met more of the family at the dedication of the Crump papers at the new Memphis Library last fall.

“The Crumps greatly appreciated this time to be back in Holly Springs where their roots are very deep.”

Among the guests at the reunion were three representatives working at the Memphis library in the Crump Collection stored in the history and genealogy section.

“They expressed an interest in having a stronger connection with Holly Springs,” Person said. “E.H. Crump’s mother, Millie N. Crump, owned the house and moved here just after the Civil War. She raised her children after her husband died of yellow fever.”

Civil War re-enactments
An estimated 100 attended the dedication of the Van Dorn walking trail historic markers Saturday, according to Jimmy Thomas, director of the Tourism Bureau.

He estimated that a group of 80 re-enactors, their wives or friends added to the festivities downtown, at Walter Place Estates and at Galena Plantation.

“The 48th Tennessee Infantry camped at Walter Place with their wives and made a civilian and a military camp of about 30 people,” Thomas said. “Women demonstrated cooking over an open fire, the use of a spinning wheel and knitting.”

The 15th Mississippi Infantry camped at Montrose with additional re-enactors joining the group for the day Saturday.

“A group out of Memphis called Morton’s Battery brought an artillery piece and set it up on the square,” Thomas said.

The gun was taken to Galena where it was fired and guests had supper together.

Gen. Parker Hills (Ret.) spoke at the dedication of Van Dorn Trail markers on the effects of Van Dorn’s Raid on the Vicksburg Campaign.

Len Reiedel presented Thomas and Mayor Andre’ DeBerry a print of one of the marker signs suitable for framing.

“There was a lot of interest in the Van Dorn Trail and I saw lots of visitors standing and reading at the marker at the Hugh Craft House,” Thomas said.

A 12-page booklet including maps depicting the walking trail will be for sale in May at the Tourism Bureau Office.

Walter Place Estate
“My husband’s biggest complaint was that people didn’t take time to sit by the waterfall - people were just pushing,” said Jorja Lynn.

“They also learned that houses that are remodeled or restored need handrails for seniors,” Thomas said.

Lynn praised the involvement of the community in getting the town ready and the volunteer hostesses.

“I thought the town and the weather was beautiful,” she said. “People really cleaned up for the Pilgrimage.

“What inspired me was the pilgrims’ enthusiasm for the events. Everybody was most appreciative of seeing the houses and enjoyed it.

“The Civil War re-enactors were very enthusiastic and very authentic. It reminded me of Mrs. Grant’s words in a book of looking out and seeing “a sea of Union Army tents.”

Some Union re-enactors came with the 48th Tennessee Infantry, she said.

“I thought the re-enactors in town added a huge amount for the Pilgrimage itself,” Lynn said.

Hostesses were invited from Memphis, Oxford, Collierville, Baldwin and Ripley to help at the three historic homes and with the garden at Walter Place Estates, she said.

FAM Tours from Tunica provided light hors d’oeuvres for Thursday afternoon’s wine and cheese tasting at Walter Place Estates.

Lynn estimated that 1,500 visitors turned out to tour Walter Place Estates for the five days of events.

“I’m guessing. That number is wildly speculative,” she said.

Cemetery tour
The cemetery tour featuring actors telling stories of the dearly departed was a hit again this year with 120 attending that tour Friday and Saturday afternoon, according to Murphy.

She praised volunteer actors who performed at the cemetery, the many hostesses who worked at the open houses, and the Tourism Bureau for advertising.

We could have used more hostesses this year, she said.

“It is very important for the community to get involved,” Murphy said. “Tourism is a big thing for Holly Springs and we need everybody involved. We were pleased with the success this year.

“A big thing this year - all the re-enactors - was a great plus for the Pilgrimage and something Holly Springs can build on. The Civil War people will go anywhere and set up.”

Proceeds from the Pilgrimage go to the Holly Springs Garden Club for the upkeep of Montrose.

Event calendar
The year’s remaining big events include the Lessye Lee Davis May Day Parade and other related activites on May 7, the White Oak Walking Horse Classic May 21 at Thomas Arena in Holly Springs, the Holly Springs’ Kudzu Festival in June, the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Celebration set for the first week of July, the Byhalia Clydesdale Festival in June, the Hummingbird Festival at Strawberry Plains in September and the Christmas House Tour held the first weekend in December.

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