The McLean County Museum of History is pleased to announce that all students participating in the School Tours of the 2017 Evergreen Cemetery Walk will attend for FREE. We are committed to reaching out to diverse communities and removing barriers so that we can help as many students as possible discover our local history. Through the generosity of this year’s sponsors, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery and Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, and support from our members, admission fees for students and chaperones to attend the 2017 Evergreen Cemetery Walk have been waived.
The Museum offers four days of the Evergreen Cemetery Walk specifically for students in grades 6-8, 9-12, and college (public and private schools, and home school families) in McLean County and Central Illinois. The dates for the 2017 School Tours of the Evergreen Cemetery Walk are October 2, 3, 4, and 5, 2017. Three tours are offered each day (8:45 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 12:30 p.m.) and are 75 minutes long. This is an excellent opportunity to teach your students about individuals who have contributed to Central Illinois’ rich and colorful history.This program will also help students understand how and why it is important to preserve and respect cemeteries. Bring your classes to participate in this fascinating, award-winning outdoor theatrical program.
This year’s Evergreen Cemetery Walk will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the United States entrance into World War I. Each of the individuals to be featured played a part in the war effort—whether at home or abroad on the field of battle. Each story will illustrate the important role McLean County citizens played in “the war to end all wars.” However, the war brought out the best and the worst in Americans. Neighbors were turned against neighbors, the vibrant and visible German culture was pushed almost completely underground, and despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of African Americans fought in the U.S. military, they were still denied full citizenship and equal treatment after they returned home.
Below you will find links to pdfs of a variety of information that will be useful in preparing to bring your students to your scheduled tour of the Evergreen Cemetery Walk. These PDFs include:
This section includes information for teachers, chaperones, and students to review before attending the Evergreen Cemetery Walk. The handouts below include information on location of event, teacher check in at the event, student and chaperone expectations, appropriate behavior guidelines for students, inclement weather policies, photography policy, parking information, and more.
Teachers, please make sure you copy and distribute the student and chaperone information sheets to all students and chaperones who will be attending the Evergreen Cemetery Walk.
This section includes words that may be unfamiliar to students who participate in the Evergreen Cemetery Walk. Words included in this document can be found in the character biographies (found in the teacher packet) and those that will be heard during the performances at the Cemetery Walk. Words are divided by character, including a separate list of cemetery/monument related terms. Words are defined according to Merriam-Webster dictionary unless otherwise noted.
This document includes a brief history on the evolution of cemeteries and a history of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. Also included is information on monument materials, cemetery art and symbolism, monument types, and cemetery structures, of which many can be found in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. This information will be very useful in helping to prepare students for participation in the Evergreen Cemetery Walk.
Carl and Julia Vrooman were certainly one of the preeminent power couples of their day. Carl served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Woodrow Wilson. He is perhaps best known for his agricultural work during World War I in particular helping to launch the War Garden program. Julia, who was very active in philanthropic work, decided she too wanted to help with the war effort in some way. While she and Carl were in Europe, Julia began working for the YMCA with American soldiers at the front. In no time at all, she formed a jazz band of soldiers of the American Army of Occupation in Europe to entertain and improve the morale of troops in France, Germany, and Belgium. Featured with Julia Scott Vrooman
Carl and Julia Vrooman were certainly one of the preeminent power couples of their day. Carl served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Woodrow Wilson. He is perhaps best known for his agricultural work during World War I in particular helping to launch the War Garden program. Julia, who was very active in philanthropic work, decided she too wanted to help with the war effort in some way. While she and Carl were in Europe, Julia began working for the YMCA with American soldiers at the front. In no time at all, she formed a jazz band of soldiers of the American Army of Occupation in Europe to entertain and improve the morale of troops in France, Germany, and Belgium. Featured with Carl Vrooman.
Serving alongside one another on the battlefields of France during World War I, Edward and Lincoln Bynum fought heroically in America’s (the Allies’) defense. So fiercely did they fight, that the all African American 370th U.S. Infantry quickly earned the nickname “The Black Devils” from German troops unfortunate enough to encounter them in battle. Though the men were treated much better by French soldiers than their American counterparts, when the Bynums returned home in February 1919, they were greeted by their father and thousands of grateful Americans who lined the streets of Chicago to show their respect for this brave band of brothers. Featured with Lincoln Bynum.
Serving alongside one another on the battlefields of France during World War I, Edward and Lincoln Bynum fought heroically in America’s (the Allies’) defense. So fiercely did they fight, that the all African American 370th U.S. Infantry quickly earned the nickname “The Black Devils” from German troops unfortunate enough to encounter them in battle. Though the men were treated much better by French soldiers than their American counterparts, when the Bynums returned home in February 1919, they were greeted by their father and thousands of grateful Americans who lined the streets of Chicago to show their respect for this brave band of brothers. Featured with Edward Bynum.
A popular member of society circles and active in educational and charitable work in the community, Ethel Hamilton Hanson began her adult life teaching math, first in Wisconsin and then later at Bloomington High School. At the age of 28, she married Frank Hanson, and while she left behind her teaching career, marriage did not stop Hanson from her civic obligations. When the U.S. entered World War I, this selfless young woman became an “ardent war worker,” working tirelessly to help organize the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense in McLean County, and was active in Red Cross and YWCA work.
Rejected three times for volunteer service in the U.S. Army, and then called up in the draft during World War I only to be rejected due to defective eyesight, Roland Read persevered and joined the American Field Services for transport duty in France. However, while Read was on his way overseas, the American Field Services was taken over by the United States; and upon his arrival in France, he was once again rejected for service. A tenacious young man and true patriot, Read then applied to, and was accepted by, the French Army. During the next tumultuous year, duty would take him from Paris, France to Saloniki, Greece where he served as a First Lieutenant in the Serbian Army.
Born in Hudson, Illinois, Carolyn Schertz Geneva entered Brokaw School of Nursing when she was about 19 years old. During the three-year training program, she participated in hands-on practical and theoretical courses. Upon graduation in 1914, Geneva was made head nurse for the surgical department, which coincided with the outbreak of World War I in Europe. Three years later, Geneva began working for the recently founded Bloomington chapter of the American Red Cross. There she taught classes in surgical dressing and, in August 1917, joined an Army Medical Unit and was stationed in tents set up along the west coast of England for six perilous months.
This section includes articles written by Bill Kemp, the Museum's Librarian and author of the weekly Sunday Pantagraph column "Pages from our Past." In these articles you will find additional information about this year's Cemetery Walk characters, events they participated in, and information about other aspects of World War I that affected our local community. The articles are an excellent source of information to include in your lessons as you prepare your students to attend the Cemetery Walk or to use in your curriculum covering World War I in general. Click on each link below to download the articles.
As was true from coast to coast across the United States, McLean County men from all walks of life answered the call to arms when the country entered the Great War on April 6, 1917. Over 5,000 men served in the military--half of whom volunteers; half of whom were drafted. An additional 675 faculty, students, and alumni from Illinois State Normal University also answered the call. However, men were not the only ones who pledged themselves to the war effort. At least 35 McLean County women, with an additional eight women from ISNU, served as Army nurses at U.S. military bases and overseas in Europe during the war.
As part of the commemoration of the centennial of the U.S. entering World War I, the Museum took on the monumental task of identifying veterans of the First World War who are buried at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. Out of more than 6,000 names of individuals from McLean County and students who attended ISNU who served in the war, we have successfully identified 182 soldiers and nurses buried in the cemetery. During this year's Evergreen Cemetery Walk, the graves of these individuals will be marked with American flags and poppies.
This is an ongoing project. If you know of a veteran of World War I who is buried at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery and is not on our list, please contact the Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 309-827-0428.
To see the full list of names, including date of death, burial location, and service information, please download this PDF.
The Evergreen Cemetery Walk is a great educational program for students to participate in. It is our intention that students will develop an understanding and appreciation for cemeteries as a source for history, that students will begin to understand our local history and its importance, and that students will understand the natural connection between history and the arts. In addition, the Cemetery Walk will help teachers meet a variety of History and English related ISBE Learning Goals and Common Core Standards.
To read biographies of past cemetery walk characters, visit the biographies page of our online resources.