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What is the Evergreen Cemetery Walk?

The Evergreen Cemetery Walk is a nationally-recognized, award-winning annual event that brings the voices of McLean County's history to life.

Costumed actors portray people from McLean County's past on the grounds of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. Their stories illustrate the impact the people of McLean County have had on history—locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Put on your walking shoes and bring your family to participate in this fascinating, outdoor theatrical program.

This event serves about 3,500 people, most of whom are students. It is a collaboration between the McLean County Museum of History, Illinois Voices Theatre, and Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.

Buy Tickets School Tour Information

2022 Featured Characters

We have featured 201 people in the Cemetery Walk since 1995. To read biographies of individuals featured on past Cemetery Walks, visit our biographies page.

Paul F. Beich (1864-1937)

Paul F. Beich was a German immigrant who worked in the candy-making business, first as a salesman and later launching his own company in St. Louis. After purchasing a company in Bloomington, Beich convinced Milton Hershey to move his caramel-making division there from Chicago. Just as Hershey’s is known for its chocolate, Beich’s is known for its Whiz Bars, Katydids, and Laffy Taffy. A visitor to Evergreen Cemetery, where two of his children are buried, Beich is buried at Park Hill Cemetery.

James P. Butler (1838-1918)

James Preston Butler was a tinsmith, butcher, grocer, policeman, tax collector, alderman, constable, deputy sheriff, and hotel owner, perhaps best known for his work as a detective in high-profile murder cases. He tracked down Patsey Devine, who was later hung for the crime of murder in Clinton, Illinois, and helped convict the murderer of Zura Burns in Lincoln, Illinois. A small but powerful man, Butler could defend himself against attackers—both physically and verbally—and did.

David Davis (1815-1886)

David and Sarah Davis were married in October of 1838 and lived at Clover Lawn, then a farm at the edge of town, now an elegant mansion and grounds celebrating its 150th anniversary. As David often worked away from home as a lawyer, judge, and statesman, the couple spent much of their marriage apart, maintaining their loving relationship through letters, while Sarah managed the affairs of their estate and construction of their new home in Bloomington.

Sarah Davis (1814-1879)

Sarah and David were married in October of 1838 and lived at Clover Lawn, then a farm at the edge of town, now an elegant mansion and grounds celebrating its 150th anniversary. As David often worked away from home as a lawyer, judge, and statesman, the couple spent much of their marriage apart, maintaining their loving relationship through letters, while Sarah managed the affairs of their estate and construction of their new home in Bloomington. Weekend Only

Alexander G. Erickson (1863-1950)

Alexander G. Erickson, of Swedish heritage, worked in coal mines on Bloomington’s west side as a child and grew up to be an alderman, mayor, and commissioner of public health and safety for the City. A Republican precinct committeeman for forty years, he was on the Bloomington Board of Education for twelve. As the public health commissioner, he guided the city through such difficult events as a 1916 polio outbreak, the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919, and a garbage strike.

Helen Clark McCurdy (1866-1962)

Helen Clark McCurdy was the first woman to run for elected office in Bloomington municipal government. She was one of ten candidates to make it onto the ballot for commissioner in 1915. She campaigned heavily to literally clean up the city, as garbage collection had been a huge issue! The daughter of a merchant, McCurdy worked as a store clerk, but later married a prominent businessman, which increased her social standing. Intensely civic-minded, she worked with the Women’s Club, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army.

Ella Lee Stokes (1912-1996)

Ella Lee Stokes was born in Mississippi and moved to Tennessee with her mother when she was four. First educated in one-room schoolhouses in the South, she attended several local grade schools and half a semester at Bloomington High School. A Black woman employed largely in the service industry, she aspired to achieve more. She worked for Williams-Oil-O-Matic, cleaning parts for ships and airplanes during World War II; and as a housekeeper in Bloomington’s “Red Light District.”

until the 2023 Cemetery Walk

The cemetery walk is upon us!

When & Where

The in-person walk is located on the grounds of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, located at 302 E. Miller Street, Bloomington IL 61701.

The virtual walk is free and will be available on YouTube from Nov 4–6.

Saturday
September 24, 2022

11am and 2pm

Sunday
September 25, 2022

11am and 2pm

Saturday
October 01, 2022

11am and 2pm

Sunday
October 02, 2022

11am and 2pm

Evergreen Memorial Cemetery

Buy Tickets

Tickets are available for purchase online, at the Museum's Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center and Gift Shop, or at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.

Tickets purchased will help support more than 2,000 students, chaperones, and older adults living in senior care facilities to participate in the Walk for free!

We are not exaggerating when we say that we could not do any of this without you—our members—and your unwavering support.

For questions or issues with purchasing tickets, contact Candace Summers, Senior Director of Education.

Download Playbill View Burial Map Interactive Map

Tickets
  • General public $20
  • Museum members $18
  • Students (with ID) $8
  • Children $8

By purchasing a ticket, you agree to the terms and conditions as listed in our Ticket Holder Information.

Buy Tickets

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Sponsors

The Museum is pleased to announce our sponsors for the 2022 Walk. Because of their support, the Museum can again ensure that over 2,000 students and chaperones, and additional older adults living in senior care facilities, are able to participate in this year’s Walk free of charge (whether in-person or online)! 

Without support from our sponsors and community members, we would not be able to fulfill the primary mission of this event—to educate local students on the historic significance of cemeteries.

Download our 2022 Sponsorship Information packet for information on becoming a sponsor. Download our 2022 Advertising packet for information on advertising in our playbill. For questions, contact Norris Porter. 

Featured Sponsors

Premium Sponsors

Basic Sponsors

History of Evergreen Cemetery Walk

Evergreen Memorial Cemetery is one of the richest historical resources in our community. However, through the 1950s-1990s, the cemetery struggled with maintenance and vandalism. In 1986, vandals overturned 35 headstones—bringing the total to 200 for the previous two years; more vandalism occurred in September 1990. 

In an effort to prevent further vandalism, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, McLean County Museum of History, and Illinois Voices Theatre developed the annual Evergreen Cemetery Walk to teach the community about the historical importance of cemeteries and the need to treat them with respect and reverence. Since the inception of the Walk, instances of vandalism have declined, but do continue. The goals of this program are to bring awareness of this problem to the public’s attention and foster respect for community cemeteries in the young people who participate.

Over the years, the Evergreen Cemetery Walk grew into an award-winning, nationally recognized interpretive program. It is often referred to as the "granddaddy" of all cemetery walks. Every year we bring 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 over 200 different individuals, 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 Walk can be felt throughout the state and nation.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the Walk was forced to navigate some major challenges. In 2020 we were forced to go fully remote, and in 2021 we went hybrid, with an in-person walk with reduced capacity and a virtual video option. We are proud that we were able to meet those challenges head on and continued to host the Walk. In fact, the addition of a virtual option has allowed for a new audience, who previously were unable to due to barriers such as mobility or geography, to enjoy the Walk.

Because of all of this, the Evergreen Cemetery Walk is better than ever. We plan to continue to provide a live in-person Walk in conjunction with a pre-recorded online video. Thank you to our partner Broadleaf Video Management for helping us present a quality virtual production.

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