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Oak Ridge Cemetery Walk This Weekend

Matt Turner/Flickr

The Sangamon County Historical Society is bringing back the popular cemetery walking tour this fall. “Echoes of Yesteryear: A Walk through Oak Ridge Cemetery” will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, October 11 at Oak Ridge Cemetery, 1441 Monument Avenue in Springfield. (The last tour begins at 3:15 p.m.) The rain date is Sunday, October 18.

“The walk will provide visitors with a glimpse into the history and heritage of Springfield,” said Mary Alice Davis, president of the Sangamon County Historical Society.

Eight costumed actors and actresses will tell the stories of interesting people who have been buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery over the years. These authentic stories, which have been thoroughly researched, will take the audience back to an earlier time and provide insight into the lives and times of these historic individuals.

·         Roland W. Diller (1822-1905), drug store owner and personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Bruce Davidson.

·         Nicholas Vachel Lindsay (1871-1931), poet/artist portrayed by Fred Floreth.

·         Dr. Henry Wohlgemuth (1822-1905), born in Germany, he was a physician and member of Springfield City Council, Board of Education and County Board of Supervisors, portrayed by Pat Foster.

·         Judge Samuel Treat (1811-1887), lawyer and judge on the Illinois Circuit Court and Supreme Court, and served as Chief Justice, portrayed by William Furry.

·         Mattie Rayburn (1836-1891), wife of Methodist Bishop W. H. Rayburn portrayed by Linda Schneider.

·         Phoebe Florville (1804-1897), a freed slave and wife of Abraham Lincoln’s barber portrayed by Kathryn Harris.

·         Rebecca Woods (1812-1865), a freed slave and servant of Nicholas Ridgely, a prominent Springfield banker, portrayed by Roni Betts.

·         Nellie Grant Jones (1855-1922), the only daughter of President Ulysses S. Grant, portrayed by Tracy Sitton-Petro. Her second husband was Frank Hatch Jones, a Chicago banker, whose family was from Springfield.


The walk is approximately 1.75 miles. In addition to the walk, attendees will be able to purchase books published by the Society and local authors. The Prairie Aires, an all-woman Dulcimer group, will perform throughout the afternoon.  Refreshments will be available for purchase.

The popular cemetery walk, which is sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society and co-sponsored by Oak Ridge Cemetery, was held annually for twelve years beginning in 1996 and ending in 2008. It is being brought back by popular demand. 

The event is free to the public. 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. 

Established in 1961, the Sangamon County Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of the area through educational programs, tours and special projects including providing support to the Sangamon Valley Collection of Springfield’s Lincoln Library.  Monthly programs feature topics of local historic interest and are open to the public.

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