© 2024 NPR Illinois
The Capital's Community & News Service
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Oak Ridge Cemetery walk features portrayal of historical figures with local ties

Historical society plans cemetery walking tour for Sunday afternoon.
Jeremy Wilburn
Flickr/(cc BY-NC-ND2.0)
Historical society plans cemetery walking tour for Sunday afternoon.

The Sangamon County Historical Society is sponsoring an annual cemetery walking tour on Sunday (Oct. 1). “Echoes of Yesteryear: A Walk Through Oak Ridge Cemetery” runs from noon to 4 p.m.

Mary Alice Davis is chair of the cemetery walk. She said of the tour, “It's important because it's a perfect example of the goals of the Sangamon. County Historical Society to preserve and promote the history of Sangamon County. And this certainly does illustrate that and provide historical notes to that goal.”

Actors in period costumes will portray seven individuals who made significant contributions to the community. The personal stories of each historic figure will be interpreted at his or her respective gravesite in the cemetery. These authentic stories have been thoroughly researched. The individuals are:

  • Edgar Shanklin (1877-1926) was co-founder of Shanklin Manufacturing, whose premier product was the Guy’s Dropper carbide lamp. Shanklin Manufacturing factory became Park Sherman, maker of cigarette lighters, smoking accessories and other novelty items.
  •  Erma Garrison Templeman (1878-1974) was the first woman to practice law in Sangamon County. She and her husband J.W. Templeman passed the bar exam at the same time and opened their first law office together. She founded the Springfield Business and Professional Women’s Club and helped create the Illinois Federation of BPW.
  • Edna Dye Weaver (1877-1934) was the first woman to own an auto dealership in Springfield, Capital Motors, at Seventh and Monroe Streets. She was the wife of Ira Weaver, one of the brothers behind Weaver Manufacturing.
  • Thorne Deuel (1890-1984) was a former anthropologist and military aviator appointed director of the Illinois State Museum by Governor Henry Horner in 1938, He continued serving until 1963, overseeing unprecedented expansion of the museum and the move into the present building.
  •   Herbert Georg (1893-1964) was one of a family of local photographers. Georg worked as a photographer in Springfield for 50 years and helped develop a 35-millimeter sound system for films.  He was the official still photographer for Cecil B. Demille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
  • Rev. Rudolph Shoultz (1918-2000) was a leading figure in Springfield and its African-American community for more than 30 years.  As pastor of Union Baptist Church he connected with state government officials to help his church expand its services and its parishioners find jobs.
  •  Dr. Don Deal (1879-1952) was a physician who performed the first blood transfusion in Sangamon County in the 1920s. He also predicted Springfield’s reinvention as a medical center.

Attendees will be transported by bus to the first gravesite, then walk to the other grave-sites before boarding the bus back to the parking area. The walk is approximately one-half mile.
The cemetery was brought back eight years ago by popular demand, Davis said..

The event is free to the public, but donations are suggested. Parking will be available in designated areas of the cemetery.

For more information about the event and Sangamon County Historical Society, go to www.sangamonhistory.org or call 217-525-1961.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.
Related Stories