With Halloween just days away, what better time to visit a graveyard? Each year at around this time, Congressional Cemetery offers up Soul Strolls, twilight tours of the grounds featuring stories from some of its dearly departed. Actors in period costume tell us about the lives — and frequently, unfortunate deaths — of a few of the 65,000 people buried in the cemetery. Here are some of their stories.
In 1880, suffragist Belva Ann Lockwood became the first woman to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She also ran for President in 1884 and 1888 as a candidate for the National Equal Rights Party. Lockwood died in 1917, three years before the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was ratified.
On the same night that John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, another conspirator, Lewis Powell, attempted to kill Secretary of State William Seward. Emerick Hansell, a State Department messenger was in Seward’s house during the attack and was stabbed in the back by Powell. Some argued that Hansell was a coward who was injured as he fled Powell. However, the Powell we met at the cemetery disputed that account, arguing that he had attempted to protect Seward and his family. Hansell died in 1893.
Pioneering journalist Anne Royall once interviewed President John Quincy Adams as he bathed naked in the Potomac River. Later on she fought in support of the Separation of Church and State. Royall died in 1854.
Abel P. Upshur Upshur served as Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of State in President John Tyler’s administration. He died in 1884, when a gun exploded on board the President’s steam warship USS Princeton.
All photos © 2016 Miki Jourdan