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COVID-19 UPDATE

Following a milestone 25th anniversary, the McLean County Museum of History, Illinois Voices Theatre, and Evergreen Memorial Cemetery are excited to announce that the 26th annual Evergreen Cemetery Walk will be reimagined for online enjoyment this coming Fall 2020.

In the interest of the safety of our patrons, partners, volunteers, and organizers, and in consideration of the current and ever changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Evergreen Cemetery Walk will be debuted on a digital platform. This digital debut will guarantee continued support of the event’s original mission—to educate more than 2,000 local students on the historic significance of cemeteries—and allow us to offer the treasured Cemetery Walk experience to even greater audiences by eliminating such barriers as geography, mobility, and capacity.

The coming months will be spent planning and preparing a high quality video experience with the assistance of Broadleaf Video Management for our all participants, and exploring additional ways to showcase the rich research, attentive artistry, and simple passion for local history that goes into this event each and every year.

We did not make this decision lightly. We could not do this without the talent and support of our local theater scene, nor without the blessing and beautiful backdrop of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.

But never fear, as we make the final plans and preparations for the digital 2020 Evergreen Cemetery Walk experience, plans are already under way for the 2021 Evergreen Cemetery Walk with the hope that we will once again hold it on the glorious grounds of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.

Performances for the 26th annual Walk will be viewable starting October 3 through November 2. For information on how to purchase tickets, please see below.

We are thrilled to be able to offer this new and exciting way to experience the Museum’s longest running and most successful educational program. We hope that you will be able to join us from the comfort of your own home or wherever you choose to view the debut digital presentation of the 2020 Evergreen Cemetery Walk. For more information, please contact the Education Department at education@mchistory.org.

Overview

Every year the Evergreen Cemetery Walk brings the voices of McLean County's history to life. Costumed actors portray individuals representing all walks of life from the county's past on the beautiful grounds of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. This event serves about 3,500 people (mostly students) every year. To date, we have featured 183 different individuals from all walks of life, whose stories illustrate the impact the people of McLean County have had on history – locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. In addition, the impact of the Evergreen Cemetery Walk can be felt throughout the state and nation. 

This award-winning, nationally recognized interpretive program is often referred to as the "granddaddy" of all cemetery walks. Put on your walking shoes and bring your family to participate in this fascinating, outdoor theatrical program.

Evergreen Memorial Cemetery is one of the richest historical resources in our community. People from all walks of life are buried in this over 150 year old cemetery. Rich, poor, famous, infamous, loved or forgotten alike, they are all buried here. Evergreen provides an honorable resting place for all members of our community. 

This annual event is a collaboration between the McLean County Museum of History, Illinois Voices Theatre Echoes and Evergreen Memorial Cemetery

School Tours

The McLean County Museum of History is pleased to announce that all students participating in the School Tours of the 2020 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 sponsor, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, with additional support from the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation and support from our members, admission fees for students and chaperones to participate in the 2020 Evergreen Cemetery Walk have been waived.

Registration for the 2020 Evergreen Cemetery Walk School Tours is now open. Click here to register online.


If you would like to start a Cemetery Walk in your community, download the Cemwalk How To Manual below.

Cem Walk How-To Manual 2019 (5MB)

Location

This year the cemetery walk is virtual, so you can watch it from anywhere in the world with an internet connection! The place that the individuals are buried (and where the cemetery walk is usually held) is Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, 302 E. Miller Street, Bloomington IL 61701. 

2020 Schedule

View the Evergreen Cemetery Walk like never before—available virtually from October 3 - November 2.

  • Saturday, October 3 — Monday, November 2
  • Available Online 24/7

Tickets

Ticket Sales for the 2020 Evergreen Cemetery Walk will begin on Tuesday, September 8. 

  • General Public*
  • $25
  • *Household Viewing Price
  • Museum Members*
  • $20
  • *Household Viewing Price

Featured Characters 2020

  • Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
  • Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
  • Featured with Edwin Hewett

  • Edwin Charles Hewett taught at Illinois State Normal University and served as president from 1876 to 1890. As president, he assembled a teaching exhibit for the Philadelphia Exposition—the World’s Fair in 1876—and hired Ange Milner as ISNU’s first fulltime librarian. He debated famed feminist and suffragist Susan B. Anthony on the topic of women’s right to vote when she visited Bloomington in 1870. He was decidedly against women participating in the “unfeminine act” of voting. Anthony is visiting Evergreen Memorial Cemetery this year, where Hewett is buried.

  • Read Full Biography

  • Almira Sarah Ives Burnham (1840-1932)
  • Almira Sarah Ives Burnham (1840-1932)
  • Featured with Emily Howard

  • Almira Sarah Ives Burnham shared a studio with fellow artist Emily Howard. Born in Burma to missionary parents, Howard and her family were shipwrecked upon their return to America. Similarly stricken by disaster, Burnham suffered a house fire the week after several of her paintings were destroyed in a train fire coming back from the Illinois State Fair. With humor, stubbornness, and quiet defiance, these friends refused to let misfortune define their lives—preferring dedication to their art.

  • Read Full Biography

  • Owen Lee Cheney (1846-1911)
  • Owen Lee Cheney (1846-1911)
  • Cheney was an inventor, hot air balloonist, sports promoter, saloon keeper, and dandy known for several inventions and more than a few scandals around town. As a teenager, Cheney fought in the Civil War. When he was older, he was eager to find creative ways of making money, even if it meant selling liquor after hours, stealing a racehorse, or risking family finances. Feisty and competitive, Lee Cheney had plenty of fight in him before he died in a chair of heart failure at 64.

  • Read Full Biography

  • Florence Mae Risser Funk (1871-1923)
  • Florence Mae Risser Funk (1871-1923)
  • Funk was a suffragist and society woman who campaigned for Charles Evans Hughes for U.S. president—a progressive candidate who supported universal suffrage for women. As a member of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association, Funk was in Springfield in June 1919 when Illinois became the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. She celebrated its passage at a convention in Chicago in 1920.

  • Read Full Biography

  • Edwin Hewett (1828-1905)
  • Edwin Hewett (1828-1905)
  • Featured with Susan B. Anthony

  • Edwin Charles Hewett taught at Illinois State Normal University and served as president from 1876 to 1890. As president, he assembled a teaching exhibit for the Philadelphia Exposition—the World’s Fair in 1876—and hired Ange Milner as ISNU’s first fulltime librarian. He debated famed feminist and suffragist Susan B. Anthony on the topic of women’s right to vote when she visited Bloomington in 1870. He was decidedly against women participating in the “unfeminine act” of voting. Anthony is visiting Evergreen Memorial Cemetery this year, where Hewett is buried.

  • Read Full Biography

  • Emily Howard (1834-1914)
  • Emily Howard (1834-1914)
  • Featured with Almira Sarah Ives Burnham

  • Almira Sarah Ives Burnham shared a studio with fellow artist Emily Howard. Born in Burma to missionary parents, Howard and her family were shipwrecked upon their return to America. Similarly stricken by disaster, Burnham suffered a house fire the week after several of her paintings were destroyed in a train fire coming back from the Illinois State Fair. With humor, stubbornness, and quiet defiance, these friends refused to let misfortune define their lives—preferring dedication to their art.

  • Read Full Biography

  • William McCoslin (ca.1828-1878)
  • William McCoslin (ca.1828-1878)
  • McCoslin was an African American barber who cut white men’s hair in Bloomington, a convention of his times. An intelligent, civic-minded, and charismatic man, McCoslin had his letters home from the Civil War published in the Pantagraph. Following the war, he helped arrange a reception for guest speaker Frederick Douglass in 1866. McCoslin’s early death was probably due to exposure to illness during his service. He is thought to be buried in the older section of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.

  • Read Full Biography

  • Grace Huddleston Stewart (1910-1996)
  • Grace Huddleston Stewart (1910-1996)
  • Stewart filed a housing complaint during the Civil Rights movement that helped achieve a strong fair housing ordinance in Bloomington in 1967. As someone who had always lived in mixed-race areas growing up, she was surprised to see all-black neighborhoods on visits to St. Louis and Chicago. Stewart opened her home and “kept” ISU and IWU students while working as a pastry cook at Illinois Wesleyan University until her retirement in 1972.

  • Read Full Biography

Past Character Biographies

To read biographies of past cemetery walk characters, visit the biographies page of our online resources.

Questions? Please contact the Museum's Education department 309-827-0428 or via email education@mchistory.org.