|Ghosts from Civil War return to walk Evergreen Cemetery|
|Written by Renee Changnon, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Sunday, 02 October 2011 19:19|
This past weekend, residents of the Bloomington-Normal community got the unique opportunity to take a peak into the past of McLean County by experiencing history through theatrics during the 17th annual Evergreen Cemetery Discovery Walk.
According to Mary Anne Schierman, director of volunteers and interns at the McLean County Museum of History, the event sparks plenty of interest each year, as it provides a way to learn about the influential people who lived here and are buried here.
While walking through the 150-year-old cemetery, those on the tour are introduced to several individuals from McLean County whose lives were entrenched in the war. The actors dressed in traditional garb of the time, allowing those participating to feel as though they were transported in time. The headstones of those featured had special wreathes by them, to indicate their presence.
“What keeps people coming back is, it’s amazing the people that are buried in this cemetery. This is the oldest city cemetery in the City of Bloomington. Every year, we pick eight new people to feature,” Schierman said.
According to Tina Crow, manager of Evergreen Cemetery, the Discovery Walk has a new theme each year, with this year’s theme being the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
“From the cemetery perspective, I think people get real insight about the history we have here at the cemetery [through the Discovery Walk],” Crow said. “Each year’s different. This year, it’s all Civil War related, so that plays a big role in this year’s tour, but as far as what they take away from it, I think it varies depending on the individual.”
According to Crow, the Evergreen Cemetery Discovery Walk comes together and runs smoothly each year thanks to the collaboration of the cemetery, the McLean County Museum of History and the Illinois Voices Theatre.
“It’s a three-way collaboration between the McLean County Museum of History, the Illinois Voices Theatre and Evergreen Cemetery. It takes all three to put the event on. The museum, they take care of all the preparation, we take care of the cemetery end of things,” Crow said.
The tour takes attendees through Evergreen Cemetery, where they will be introduced to the various influential people during the Civil War in McLean County.
From Abraham Lincoln addressing the crowd before departure, listening as two local doctors discuss the medical practices used at the time or taking a peak into the love letters exchanged by a couple separated by the war, the experience gives the illusion of stepping back in time.
According to Schierman, this year’s theme is special in that it is intended to be a one time historical aspect for the walk, so those interested in Civil War history have a rare opportunity to check it out this year.
“This year, of course, we’re focused on the Civil War. We will not do any more cemetery walks with the Civil War as the theme because we’re just going to do it once. We’re doing it once and we’re doing it big,” Schierman said.
As explained in the program provided at the walk, the funds from the public tours are not just pocketed, but are used to ensure that almost 2,500 students can attend the tour this week, free of cost. For Schierman, the program allows the rich history of the Civil War to come to life to students in the area.
“Everybody in school studies the Civil War, but you’re studying it out of the book,” Schierman said.
Whether looking to learn about the McLean County area, the Civil War, or simply finding a fun thing to do next weekend, Schierman believes the topic can connect no matter where it is you call home.
“One of the things that I think, no matter where you live, the people here, yes, they’re buried here in Bloomington, but they are a representation of people who lived everywhere in the Midwest,” Schierman said. “Most of the students of Illinois State University are in this Midwest region. Even though some of it’s specific here, it’s very broad.”
Tickets to next weekend’s tours are available to purchase at The Garlic Press, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery and the McLean County Museum of History, and cost $4 for students with an ID.
“I think the Civil War theme, the band playing, the nice weather, you don’t know what’s [going to bring people to] a certain event at a certain time, but I do predict that this year we will have some sell out performances,” Schierman said.