By Cowan Merritt
Guest Contributor

Stroll among a Victorian rural garden, an oasis of greenery and calm in the midst of a bustling, modern Southern city at Historic Riverside Cemetery & Conservancy. In one of Georgia’s most exclusive underground clubs, you’ll learn many secrets and stories of those buried there. Discover the beauty, landscape, and history of the cemetery’s popular Spring Spirit Stroll that is designed to enthuse and educate the public about the intriguing history of Macon and the cemetery.

Mark Ballard
Mark Ballard as A. Emmett Barnes, III. Photo courtesy Mindy Hart.

Tour Riverside’s beautiful 126-year old cemetery grounds and it’s labyrinths of tombs, unique to most in the U.S., and meet Chester Burge, the bootlegger turned slumlord, whose gaudy scandal engrossed the south. Burge was arrested, tried and acquitted of murdering his wife, Mary, in 1960, but was instead found guilty of engaging in salacious activity with his chauffeur. See the only historical tour in Central Georgia that offers visitors a rare glimpse into the past with the deceptively delicious restauranteur and serial killer Anjette Lyles, who was arrested and convicted of murder in 1958 after poisoning her nine-year-old daughter, two husbands, and her mother-in-law. Hear the exceptional, flourished southern storytelling with entertaining tales of A. Emmett Barnes, III, an eccentric millionaire and one of Macon’s most prominent businessmen, whose massive Shirley Hills home was an elaborate backdrop for some of the most ostentatious parties held in the south as told by his friend, Mark Ballard. Walk amongst the sprawling landscape of evergreens and live oaks that line the final resting place of many other spirits on this tour as they reveal the stories behind their stones

Widower of Riverside
The Widower of Riverside. Photo courtesy Mindy Hart.

Historic Riverside Cemetery & Conservancy’s Spring Spirit Stroll is appropriate for all ages and not a scary ghost tour. The tour is about honoring and sharing the stories of the fascinating people who came before us that make Macon what it is today while leaving guests and visitors with a greater appreciation of the community, as well as some interesting trivia and history you can share with friends. This year, Spring Spirit Stroll tour dates run from March 22nd – March 24th and March 28th – March 31st. Tours begin at 6:00 PM, 6:15 PM, 6:30 PM and 6:45PM and depart from the Gatehouse every 15 minutes. For guests with limited mobility, a golf cart tour is available at 6:00pm only. A museum shop will have T-shirts, relevant books, gifts, and souvenirs. All proceeds benefit the Conservancy.

Ticket prices are $10.00 for general admission. Children 5 and under are free.

Group Rates and bus tours are welcomed with advance reservations.

Tickets for the Spring Spirit Stroll can be purchased online at



Published by Doug Deal

Founder Doug Deal is a former chemical engineer from Georgia Tech who switched careers into software development at the turning of the millennium. He has lived in Macon for nearly 12 years and started Macon Community News in 2013 with his wife Lauren. His goal in starting the newspaper was to publicize positive news because he grew tired of so much negativity driving most local coverage. He has 2 children, Sam and Isobel.