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Woodlawn Cemetery brings history to life

Sam Bunker, Entertainment Writer
September 18, 2012
Filed under Entertainment, Top Stories

The permanent residents of Woodlawn Cemetery are getting their chance to speak from the grave. The Brown County Historical Society hosted its 12th annual Cemetery Walk, “If Tombstones Could Talk,” Sept. 12 and Sept. 16. Woodlawn Cemetery Walk was an interactive way to bring history to life.

Community members were transported back in time by experiencing the firsthand accounts of local historical legends such as John Cotton and his daughter Priscilla Cotton, Arthur and Ella Neville, Elizabeth Martin and son Leonard, and a few more.

Hazelwood Historic House, located at 1008 South Monroe Ave. in the Astor Historic District, was the original home of Morgan and Elizabeth Martin, whose story was retold during the Woodlawn Cemetery Walk. The family was politically active in the community for nearly a century. This home represents the character of historic Green Bay in the mid-1800s and has its original furnishings and artifacts.

“Local history is important to community members because it gives us an inside look on the city we live in and helps us to find out about the values and points of interest in our city,” said Katie Fredericks, UW-Green Bay alumna.

The tour helped audiences discover local history by guiding guests through the cemetery to hear narrations of local legends’ lives.

The theme for this year’s Cemetery Walk, Duets, featured stories and interaction between family members. Husbands and wives as well as parents and children shared experiences together. Local actors from the Heritage Players acting troupe narrated these family stories to create a better understanding of how these people lived in a time long ago.

“There is a huge interest in Brown County historical figures and their life stories,” said Mary Lamirande, manager and secretary treasurer of Woodlawn Cemetery. “It brings  human life to historical figures.”

The Brown County Historical Society has hosted this event for the past 12 years. Due to increasing popularity, they added two more cemeteries, Allouez Cemetery and Fort Howard Cemetery, to the program.

“We are always looking for volunteer actors, or volunteers to research people buried in the cemeteries,” said Christine Dunbar, executive director of the Brown County Historical Society.

Fredericks believes the event was a great family-friendly activity, especially for the young ones.

“I think young people could find this tour interesting because of the stories tied to the deceased,” Fredericks said. “Every person has a story to tell and as long as the stories are compelling, there will always be people to listen.”