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Warren Ghost Walk focuses on Perkins family

The Perkins family always has been a part of Ghost Walk.

Aunt Lizzie’s discovery of the suicide of her nephew, Bish Perkins, in 1900 is the most-told tale in the annual journey into Trumbull County’s sad and sometimes sordid past, and other stories about one of the city’s most prominent families of the 19th century have filled the October event sponsored by the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County.

This year, Ghost Walk will offer an all-Perkins Family edition as attendees will hear different stories performed by actors in front of the Perkins mansion, now Warren City Hall, and other historic sites along Mahoning Avenue NW.

Ghost Walk writer-director Barbara Root credited frequent Ghost Walk performer Donald Novorsky with suggesting the all-Perkins edition, but putting it together was more complicated than pulling past Perkins stories from the Ghost Walk archives.

“It turned out to be the hardest thing I ever wrote,” Root said. “I had to make sure all of the stories fit together. I spent all of July writing and researching … You hear some of the stories from one person’s point of view and later hear it from another person’s point of view. There is a lot of overlapping, dovetailing.”

Along with reworking some past Perkins’ stories, Root ends the tour with a cleaning woman at the Perkins mansion, who shares some of the things seen and heard there by people who believe the building is haunted. And Root lets the audience make the connections between the strange sounds heard today and whether they connect to those stories from the past.

The stories include a mix of fact and conjecture, Root said. Official records can be unreliable, especially those involving a prominent family that had the power to control what was revealed about it. For example, there’s no mention of suicide in Bish Perkins’ 1900 obituary.

“I kind of look at the history and think, ‘OK, they were just people. What would motivate them to do what they did?’ I look at a lot of pictures I have hung up — this is your story. These are the your facts. What would put you in this position?”

One of the rumors about Bish Perkins is that he impregnated one of the family’s maids, who then died under suspicious circumstances. Root believes she may have discovered her identity in a story about a women whose body was found in a shed on Perkins’ property. Her death was described as a suicide, Root said, but there is a cryptic mention at the end of the newspaper story that she was in “an unfortunate condition” at the time of her death.

The woman wasn’t a maid for the Perkins, but she was a maid for a family that lived across the street, and her uncle was a caretaker on the Perkins’ property.

This year’s cast of performers include Chaelsie Adkins, Stephanie Bear, Clint Elston, Earl Godney, Ellen Saker, Ron Schoch, Chrystal Star, Carol Stowe, Courtney Wilcox, Richard Wilcox, Stephanie Young, Novorsky and Root.

Tours will leave from First Presbyterian Church, 256 Mahoning Ave. NW, every 10 minutes starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Oct. 19 with the last tour leaving at 9 p.m.

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