200 North Main Street | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428
Evergreen Cemetery Walk logo

Exploring and Rediscovering our Rich and Diverse Local History


To see highlights from the past years of the Evergreen Cemetery Walk, please visit our Flickr album here.

To see an interactive map of the characters featured on the Evergreen Cemetery Walk, click here

With the Evergreen Cemetery Walk now in its third decade, the Museum and our partners, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery and Illinois Voices Theatre, are committed more than ever to preserve and protect our local history. Vandalism at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery has decreased dramatically over the years since the Walk's inception, but our work is not over. We will continue to educate members of our community about the historical importance of cemeteries and the need to treat them with respect and reverence by using the voices of the people who made much of that history and who are buried at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. In addition to educating, we are hoping to inspire direct actions in members of our community so that they in turn can help us spread our important message and educate others as well.


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 over 3,500 people (mostly students) every year. To date, we have featured 157 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 and Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.

The McLean County Museum of History is pleased to announce that all students participating in the School Tours of the 2016 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, and support from our members, admission fees for students and chaperones to attend the 2016 Evergreen Cemetery Walk have been waived.

Please note that you will be walking approximately 1 mile, and standing listening to the actors for 5-7 minutes each. Each tour lasts 1.5-2 hours. We will have a limited number of wheelchairs and seat canes available to borrow for free, but if you have your own please bring it!


Click here to visit the 2016 Online Teacher Packet and Download Activities

Thank you to the generous sponsors of the 2016 Evergreen Cemetery Walk:

Willie Brown


  • Saturday Oct. 1
  • 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Sunday Oct. 2
  • 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Saturday Oct. 8
  • 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Sunday Oct. 9
  • 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.


Tickets will be available for purchase starting on September 6, 2016.

Please visit us to purchase tickets or for more information on purchasing tickets, please call 309-827-0428. Tickets are also for sale at Casey's Garden Shop, The Garlic Press, and Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.

  • General Public
  • $17
  • Receive $2.00 discount on all tickets purchased before date. No discount for student or children's tickets.
  • Museum Members
  • $14
  • Receive $2.00 discount on all tickets purchased before date. No discount for student or children's tickets.
  • Children & Students
  • $5
  • Receive $2.00 discount on all tickets purchased before date. No discount for student or children's tickets.


302 E. Miller Street, Bloomington. (three blocks east of Gene's Ice Cream Drive In)

Featured Characters 2016

  • Samuel White and three of his grandchildren
  • Samuel White (1847-1917)
  • Weekend Performance Only

    Featured with Paul Moratz

    White traveled from Indiana to Bloomington in 1870 with little intention of remaining here. However, after discovering that his contracting business begun in Indiana could thrive in Illinois, he quickly began erecting schools and homes throughout the county. Soon after, he established a lumberyard and a business manufacturing house furniture. But White's crowning glory would not come until 1898, when he transformed a cow pasture into one of the most desirable areas of the city. It stands today, bearing his name across its famous arched entrance: White Place.

    To read White's biography, please click here.

  • Paul Moratz
  • Paul Moratz (1866-1939)
  • Weekend Performance Only

    Featured with Samuel White

    A student of architecture at the University of Illinois, Moratz quickly rose to prominence. Combining his education with the practical experience he gained with his father's construction business, he became known at a young age as one of the leading architects in the area. His designs for Bloomington's 5,000 seat Coliseum and Edwards School stand out as perhaps two of his greatest. He is featured with Samuel White, developer of Bloomington's White's Place, a neighborhood for which Moratz designed a number of residences still in existence.

    To read Moratz's biography, please click here.

  • Ethel Murray
  • Ethel Murray (1917-1990)
  • As a schoolgirl subjected to segregation, Murray dislike the subject of history. She observed that “Blacks and Indians” never seemed to “win or be successful.” Though her mother routinely had to pack lunches in shoeboxes since restaurants that served Blacks were uncommon, such prejudice was not enough to suppress Murray’s belief in the innate goodness of people. During her childhood, the Ku Klux Klan often met in an old mine near her home. But rather than hiding in fear, Murray took it upon herself to befriend the young son of one of the Klansmen!

    To read Murray's biography, please click here.

  • Hamer Higgins
  • Hamer Higgins (1840-1902)
  • Featured with Jacob Jung Sr.

    At the start of the Civil War, Higgins enlisted in the 59th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. On September 1,1865, having fought in the battles of Shiloh, Stone River, and Chickamauga, he was finally mustered out. Following the close of the war, he headed west to seek his fortune and arrived in Bloomington in 1868 with only $10.00. That same year he began working for James Haldeman as a marble cutter’s apprentice, and in less than ten years, acquired the business. In 1878, Higgins partnered with Jacob Jung, with whom he is featured in this year’s Cemetery Walk.

    To read Higgins' biography, click here.

  • Jacob Jung, Sr.
  • Jacob Jung, Sr. (1850-1933)
  • Featured with Hamer Higgins

    Much like Higgins, Jung also began work as a marble cutter’s apprentice. In order to earn enough money to cover his room and board, he worked additional jobs in a bakery and carrying bags for hotel guests. Four years later, he had learned his trade and left to work on a government canal in Alabama. Sadly, the strike of 1877 ended his work; and he trudged homeward, penniless and in tattered clothing. Undefeated, however, he bartered his services at a boarding house, and remarkably, entered into a partnership with Higgins about one year later.

    To read Jung's biography, click here.

  • Jennie Thompson
  • Jennie Thompson (1860-1924)
  • Born in Canada, this charitable woman immigrated to the U.S. in the 1860s. When Thompson was only 17 years old, her mother’s death left her to look after her six siblings, and so began a life of physically ministering to the sick and infirm. During the flu epidemic of 1918, Thompson worked tirelessly to provide care to the dying while also assisting mothers in childbirth. The last 16 years of her life were spent as a field worker for the Day Nursery and Settlement Association, whose purpose was to provide a safe place for children of women required to work outside the home.

    To read Thompson's biography, click here.

  • John Jackman
  • John Jackman (1816-1896)
  • Energetic and well-liked, Jackson spent over 40 years in railroading, working in Massachusetts and Ohio, and eventually moving into the machinery side of the business. Arriving in Bloomington in 1864, he took a position as Superintendent of Machinery for the Chicago & Alton Railroad Shops and there he remained until his resignation almost 15 years later. Amazingly, Jackman’s impressive career would see the railroad link states from coast to coast, and Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

    To read Jackman's biography, please click here.

  • Richard Shipley, Clyde Beatty Circus 1953
  • Richard Shipley (1903-1973)
  • Stories are often told of restless youths running away to join the circus. But, at the age of 16, young Richard Shipley actually did. And while he may have only spent a year with the Ringling Brothers Circus before returning home to his family, it was enough time for him to develop an enduring passion for life under the big top. So great was this passion that 20 years later, Shipley returned to the circus as an elephant trainer; an occupation he would hold for the rest of his professional life.

    Image courtesy of Circus World, Baraboo, Wisconsin.

    To read Shipley's biography, please click here.


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