Cemetery walk commemorates fallen soldiers

Mary Summers, whose ancestors are buried at Springfield Union Cemetery, came from Lake Bluff, Ill., Saturday to tell the story of her great-grandfather. (Photo by Brenda Peryea)

Visitors to the Springfield Union Cemetery Walk on Saturday, July 21 were treated to cool breezes and living history in the shady hillside setting. The Walworth County Genealogical Society and Springfield Cemetery Board sponsored the event to remember the families and honor the veterans buried in this historic location.

Deb Ketchum, president of WCGS, welcomed guests during the opening ceremony, which also included the story of Old Abe, the mascot of the eighth Wisconsin Eagle Regiment, presented by Michael Ferenz of South Milwaukee.

WCGS vice president Mike Hay read the Gettysburg Address to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and Dakota Sammons, sophomore at Big Foot High School, closed the program by playing Taps to honor the many veterans of all wars who rest here.

Costumed portrayers and descendants recounted the early days of Springfield, personal stories and military service of seven families. Mary Summers of Lake Bluff, Ill., described the genealogical journey that led her to discover her great-grandfather Charles Harms, veteran of the Civil War.

Tim Schinke of Springfield, another descendant, traced his family back to great-grandfather Charles, owner of the Springfield creamery.

Chris Brookes of Lake Geneva, portrayed Aunt Maggie Webster; Pat Blackmer of Delavan, appeared as Hannah Weeks, and Nancy Lehman and Jennifer Coon, both of Walworth, took the parts of Lucinda Gott and her niece Emma Gott.

Michael Ferenz of South Milwaukee, portrayed Civil War veteran Henry Olp in full military uniform, and Mike Hay of Genoa City, told the story of 1812 soldier Nathan Chappel.

Diana Bird of Harvard, Ill., demonstrated how to read worn gravestones.

The event was the sixth annual Cemetery Revisited program sponsored by Walworth County Genealogical Society. The group meets the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Bank Center, 820 E. Geneva St., in Delavan.

The WCGS Library is open every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Mary Bray Room of the Matheson Memorial Library, 101 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn. For more information visit walworthcgs.com.

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