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

Commemorating the Centennial of World War I

To commemorate the centennial of World War I, the Museum, in partnership with Illinois Voices Theatre and Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, is pleased to announce that the feature characters for the 2017 Evergreen Cemetery Walk all 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.”

In addition to bringing more awareness to McLean County's role in history as a whole, we are committed to educating 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. Vandalism at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery has decreased dramatically over the years since the Walk's inception, but our work is not over. Through this educational event, we hope 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.

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 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 sponsors, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery and Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, 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!


TEACHERS AND HOME SCHOOL FAMILIES:




Schedule

  • Saturday Sep. 30
  • 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Sunday Oct. 1
  • 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Saturday Oct. 7
  • 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Sunday Oct. 8
  • 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Tickets

Tickets will be available for purchase starting on September 5, 2017.

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.

Location

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

Featured Characters 2017

  • Carl Vrooman
  • Carl Vrooman (1872-1966)
  • Featured with Julia Vrooman

    Carl and Julia Vrooman were one of the preeminent power couples of their day. Carl served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Wilson, and is best known for his agricultural work during World War I—particularly helping to launch the War Garden program. Julia, who was active in philanthropic work, decided she too wanted to help with the war effort. While she and Carl were in Europe, Julia began working for the YWCA with American soldiers at the front. In no time, she formed a jazz band comprised of soldiers to entertain and improve the morale of troops stationed in Europe. First Featured in 2008.

    To read Carl Vrooman's biography, click here.


  • Julia Scott Vrooman
  • Julia Scott Vrooman (1876-1981)
  • Featured with Carl Vrooman

    Carl and Julia Vrooman were one of the preeminent power couples of their day. Carl served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Wilson, and is best known for his agricultural work during World War I—particularly helping to launch the War Garden program. Julia, who was active in philanthropic work, decided she too wanted to help with the war effort. While she and Carl were in Europe, Julia began working for the YWCA with American soldiers at the front. In no time, she formed a jazz band comprised of soldiers to entertain and improve the morale of troops stationed in Europe. First featured in 2008.

    To read Julia Vrooman's biography, please click here.


  • Julia Holder
  • Julia Holder (1884-1970)
  • Julia Holder was dedicated to meeting the needs of others her entire life—be it her family, her students, or local and international relief efforts. A longtime teacher at Bloomington High School, Holder worked on behalf of the Red Cross War Fund and was in charge of a “corps” of volunteers cutting gauze to make surgical bandages for war-wounded during World War 1. She even played the part of a refugee mother in the huge parade sponsored by the Bloomington Red Cross in May 1918. Weekend Only Performance.

    To read Holder's biography, please click here.

  • Edward Bynum
  • Edward Bynum (1895-1954)
  • Featured with Lincoln Bynum.

    Edward and Lincoln Bynum fought heroically alongside one another on the battlefields of France during World War I. 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 these 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.

    To read Edward Bynum's biography, click here.

  • Lincoln Bynum
  • Lincoln Bynum (1900-1977)
  • Featured with Edward Bynum.

    Edward and Lincoln Bynum fought heroically alongside one another on the battlefields of France during World War I. 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 these 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.

    To read Lincoln Bynum's biography, click here.

  • Ethel Hamilton Hanson
  • Ethel Hamilton Hanson (1882-1920)
  • Ethel Hamilton Hanson was a popular member of society circles and active in educational and charitable work in the community. Before her marriage to Frank Hanson at the age of 28, she was a math teacher at Bloomington High School, among other places. Though she left behind her teaching career, marriage did not keep Hanson from her civic obligations. When the U.S. entered World War I, she 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.

    To read Hanson's biography, click here.

  • Roland Read
  • Roland Read (1895-1954)
  • Roland Read was thrice rejected for volunteer service in the U.S. Army, and then rejected from the draft due to defective eyesight during World War I. While Read persevered and joined the American Field Services for transport duty in France, upon his arrival there, Read 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.

    To read Read's biography, please click here.

  • Carolyn Schertz Geneva
  • Carolyn Schertz Geneva (1892-1992)
  • Carolyn Schertz Geneva entered Brokaw School of Nursing when she was about 19 years old. Upon graduation three years later, Geneva was made head nurse for the surgical department at Brokaw Hospital, 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. First featured in 1998.

    To read Geneva's biography, click here.

Biographies

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