Echoes of Yesteryear: A walk through Oak Ridge Cemetery

Sunday, Oct. 1

The popular Sangamon County Historical Society’s cemetery walk at Oak Ridge Cemetery will take place Sunday, Oct. 1, from 12-4 p.m. Actors dressed in period costumes will portray seven individuals who made significant contributions to the Springfield community. All of the stories have been researched thoroughly.

Oak Ridge Cemetery, founded in 1856, is now the largest municipal cemetery in Illinois and well-known for its history and beauty. Over 75,000 individuals are buried at the cemetery, including many of Springfield’s most influential citizens. Some are well-known while others are not. 

The Sangamon County Historical Society is dedicated to raising public awareness of the people who have contributed to Springfield’s rich history. The annual cemetery walk is one way the organization does this. The popular cemetery walk was held annually from 1996 -2008 and resumed eight years ago due to popular demand.

This year’s tour will bring to life the following individuals:

· Edgar Shanklin who co-founded a company that produced lamps for coal miners.

· Erma Garrison Templeman, the first woman to practice law in Sangamon County, passing the bar exam at the same time as her husband. 

· Edna Dye Weaver, the first woman to own an auto dealership in Springfield.

· Thorne Deuel, director of the Illinois State Museum from 1938-1963, from the perspective of his wife, Nora.

· Herbert Georg, a prominent photographer in Springfield for over 50 years.

· Vera Shoultz, who along with her husband, Rev. Rudolph Shoultz, long-time pastor of Union Baptist Church, were leaders in the African American community.

· Dr. Don Deal, a physician who performed the first blood transfusion in Sangamon County in the 1920s.

Enter the cemetery from Monument Drive and follow the signs to park near Lincoln’s tomb.  Visitors will take a bus to the first location, walk to the other stops on the tour (approximately half-a-mile) and ride a bus back to the parking lot. The last tour begins at 3:15 p.m. 

The event is free. Donations are encouraged. Water and snacks will be available to purchase. For information about the Sangamon County Historical Society and any cancellation due to inclement weather, go to or call 217-525-1961.