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Courthouse tragedy play is a challenge

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In his March 28 guest editorial, Gene Dalton was under the impression that the Carroll courthouse centennial will not feature “a play or some type of production on the 100th anniversary…”
As I told an inquirer in the packed courtroom at the Carroll Historical Society’s March meeting, a dramatic play is being considered, and Frank Levering, a member of the centennial committee, is working on that concept.
I did reiterate that a re-enactment will not be sponsored by the centennial committee, but I attempted to say that a dramatic presentation of an interpretive nature was being considered.
The public is advised that a play on the infamous “courthouse tragedy” is a challenging task.
History informs us that this event was fraught with blame shared with all the principals involved: Allen family members were adjudicated guilty of capital murder, court officers were immorally armed, the judge was naive, and even the spectators by their abundant presence willed a spectacle.
The courtroom was in a social sense, filled with villains. There were no heroes that day.
How do you portray that history in a fashion that might attract tourists “on a weekly or seasonal basis” that Mr. Dalton suggests?
Mr. Levering is our best hope to guide the committee’s dramatic efforts.
The centennial committee hosts the website www.courthousetragedy1912.com, that intends to keep the public informed of centennial plans.
One link on the website specifies that a memorial service will be conducted in the courtroom on March 13, 2012 on the eve of the 100th anniversary.
The 85th anniversary program in 1997 was attended by a capacity crowd that overflowed into adjoining rooms and hallways. A recent 99th anniversary program played to two capacity crowds.
The historical society and the citizens’ committee will provide a suitable and sensitive commemoration of this significant history for the 100th anniversary.
As for the planned symposium being “people sitting around a table,” let me report that experience convinces the committee that a far larger interest exists for a scholarly analysis of this history.
When Dr. Roper, history professor at Emory & Henry College, spoke in 1997, he attracted over-flowing crowds, and the tape/CD of that event still sells in the courthouse museum.
Ron Hall’s recent presentation to two capacity crowds was similar scholarship to what the symposium proposes — a studied, referenced, analysis of cause and effect regarding the culture, conflict, and consequences of the courthouse tragedy. The Web site describes the two-day symposium as it exists at present.
Mr. Dalton asks a key question: did justice prevail in the end? The centennial will examine that very question; public support and encouragement will assist.
I invite any interested citizen to discuss these efforts with me privately, or with the committee collectively. The public can contact the centennial committee through its Web site e-mail.
E. Gary Marshall, chairman
Citizens’ Committee for the Centennial