Echoes of Yesteryear at Oak Ridge Cemetery

Actors at graveside portray prominent citizens Oct. 1

click to enlarge Echoes of Yesteryear at Oak Ridge Cemetery
Patrick Foster will portray Herbert Georg. Right, Erica Smith will portray Erma Garrison Templeman.

The annual Echoes of Yesteryear Oak Ridge Cemetery walk, sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society, has become a popular Sunday event every October. This year the date is Oct. 1. Actors in period costume will portray seven prominent citizens from Springfield who are buried at the beautiful cemetery.

Park near the bell tower. Board a bus to the first site. Walk to each subsequent gravesite (total of ½ mile) and return by bus to the parking area.

Enjoy the stories of interesting and influential men and women who stand out for their contributions to Springfield and Sangamon County.

Edgar Shanklin (1877-1926) was co-founder of Shanklin Manufacturing. The company produced the Dropper carbide lamp which was invented by Springfield miner Frank Guy and used in coal mines from about 1913 until the 1930s. Shanklin Manufacturing factory became Park Sherman, maker of cigarette lighters, smoking accessories and other novelty items. Portrayed by Andy VanDeVoort.

Erma Garrison Templeman (1878-1974) was the first woman to practice law in Sangamon County. She and her husband, J.W. Templeman, took the bar exam on the same day. As Erma took the exam, her son sat on the floor next to her, and she held her infant in her lap. The couple opened their first law office together. She founded the Springfield Business and Professional Women's Club. Portrayed by Erica Smith.

Edna Dye Weaver (1877-1934) was the first woman to own an auto dealership in Springfield, Capital Motors, which was located at Seventh and Monroe streets in the 1930s. In fact, it is believed she was the only women in the United States to own a car dealership then. She was the wife of Ira Weaver, one of the brothers behind Weaver Manufacturing. Portrayed by Tracy Petro.

Nora Deuel (1890-1984) will share the story of her husband, Thorne, a former anthropologist and military aviator, who was appointed director of the Illinois State Museum by Governor Henry Horner in 1938. He served until 1963. He oversaw unprecedented expansion of the museum, along with its move into the present building. Portrayed by Mary Disseler.

Herbert Georg (1893-1964) was one of a family of local photographers who made their names elsewhere. Herbert worked as a photographer in Springfield for 50 years and helped develop a 35-millimeter sound system for films. He was the official still photographer for Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth. Portrayed by Pat Foster.

Vera Shoultz will talk about herself and her husband, Rev. Rudolph Shoultz (1918-2000). He was the pastor of Union Baptist Church for more than 30 years and was an influential leader in the Springfield African American community. He believed in helping his parishioners find jobs and gain better conditions and so lobbied with legislators and others to help his church expand its services. Portrayed by Willa Barger.

Dr. Don Deal (1879-1952) was a physician who performed the first blood transfusion in Sangamon County in the 1920s. He performed the transfusion at St. John's Hospital for a woman whose husband was the blood donor. Deal predicted that Springfield would become a strong medical center. Portrayed by Dave VanDeVoort.

Each year the Sangamon County Historical Society chooses people to be portrayed, making sure the time to walk to each site is easy and yet far enough apart so that actors and actresses are easily heard. Research is conducted to ensure accuracy of facts and information about each person.

Immediately after the day of the walk, the society begins plans for the next year, looking at an area of the cemetery that is walkable, easy to get to, and has several important people to portray. The popular cemetery walk was held annually for 12 years, beginning in 1996 and ending in 2008. It was brought back eight years ago by popular demand. 

Established in 1961, the Sangamon County Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of the area through educational programs, tours, grants and special projects including providing support to the Sangamon Valley Collection of Springfield's Lincoln Library. Monthly programs feature topics of local historic interest and are open to the public.

For more information about the event and the Sangamon County Historical Society, visit or call 217-525-1961.  

Details about the walk

Oct. 1 Noon-4 p.m. (the last tour will be at 3:15). The event is free to the public, although donations are suggested. Parking will be available in designated areas of the cemetery. Refreshments will be available for purchase by the Sangamon County Historical Society.

Cinda Ackerman Klickna loves the local history of our area. She is president of the Sangamon County Historical Society.

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