We are closed today.

Skip to Content
200 North Main St | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428
Evergreen Cemetery Walk logo

COVID-19 UPDATE

The past few months, the Museum has been hard at work reimagining the Museum’s longest running and most successful outreach event, the Evergreen Cemetery Walk, for a virtual platform due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic. Working with Broadleaf Video Management, we are excited to share additional news about how our eager audiences will be able to access this year’s Virtual Evergreen Cemetery Walk.

The video production of the Virtual Walk will be viewable through the online platform Teachable. Teachable will allow the Museum to present this year’s production in a way that is accessible to both the general public and the many student groups who annually participate. Ticket holders will have the option to view the Walk in its entirety as a full-length video, or watch each performance individually. In addition to each performance, Teachable will allow us to add additional content and videos to enhance the Cemetery Walk experience like never before. Examples of additional content may include a mini guided tour of the tree carvings throughout Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, and supplemental information and images about events and activities that this year’s feature characters participated in. This virtual experience will allow us to share even more information about the history of our community, of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, and this year’s feature characters.

Taking the Walk online best ensures the safety of our audiences, actors, staff, and volunteers, but this year’s Virtual Evergreen Cemetery Walk will also be more accessible than ever before. Thanks to our sponsors Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, and Illinois Humanities, not only can any public, private, and home school group from anywhere participate for free, we are also pleased to announce that we will be inviting older adults in area senior care facilities to view the Walk for free as well. We are thrilled that barriers such as geography and mobility have been eliminated by embracing on online format for this year’s Walk.

As we enter an unprecedented 26th year of the Evergreen Cemetery Walk, the Museum remains committed to continue its mission-driven work to educate the public about our local history and the importance of cemetery preservation, and affirms again our strong support of the arts in the midst of a pandemic that has ravaged opportunities for paid performers throughout the world. We are proud that we can continue to support members of our theatrical community, as they have supported the Museum for many years. 

Join us in a round of physically distant applause for this year’s cast: Christie Hursey-Vellella (Grace Stewart), Cristen Monson (Susan B. Anthony), Robert Quinlan (Edwin Hewett), Diane Walker (Florence Funk), John Poling (Owen Cheney), Jessie Swiech (Almira Burnham), Connie Blick (Emily Howard), and Lolu Jimoh (William McCoslin).

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 190 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.

To access the 2020 Evergreen Cemetery Walk Teacher Packet, Click here.


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

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW


General Public $25 per Household

Member $20 per Household

(Coupon Code: CEMWALKMEM2020)

A household ticket means that anyone in your immediate household can view this event at any time—and as many times—between October 3 and November 2. Ticket holders will be able to access this event from the comfort and safety of wherever they are and on any device. Click here to download instructions on how to view on a TV and other electronic devices.

  • Museum Members*
  • $20
  • *Household Viewing Price Coupon Code: CEMWALKMEM2020
  • Purchase Tickets

Give Additional Support

Ticket sales only cover about 1/3 of Cemetery Walk program expenses. Please consider making an extra gift to support the Cemetery Walk to help provide free participation for our schools and senior care facilities, and to keep public tickets affordable.

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

  • Read Student 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

  • Read Student 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

  • Read Student 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

  • Read Student 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

  • Read Student Biography

  • Emily Howard (1836-1914)
  • Emily Howard (1836-1914)
  • 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

  • Read Student Biography

  • William McCoslin (1830-1878)
  • William McCoslin (1830-1878)
  • 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

  • Read Student 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

  • Read Student 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.