Visiting the Beloit Wisconsin Pioneers
at Oakwood Cemetery Tour, Cemetery Clues
by Vicki Ruthe Hahn SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter
August 21, 2018
(Photographs by Vicki Ruthe Hahn):
There are many clues on the tombstones in a cemetery. Join us on a tour as I point them out.
“The original City Cemetery was located in what is now known as Horace White Park. It was relocated to the present Oakwood Location in 1840. Oakwood is located at 1221 Clary Street and sits on 28 acres.
The chapel at Oakwood was erected in 1913 near the Clary street entrance. The chapel was used for committal services for many years and finally as the Cemetery office until the mid-1970’s, when operations were moved to the Eastlawn Facility.”
We met at the Oakwood Cemetery Chapel.
In early days, if a person died in the winter, their body was slid down from the outside of the Chapel to a cellar to wait for the ground to thaw for burial.
Robert Pokorney II, Cemetery Coordinator, did a very comprehensive tour at Oakwood for the Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library on May 25, 2018! (In the background – Cemetery Volunteer Janet Wagner holds her dog Bette Davis – another volunteer! )
John Kalkirtz also told us a lot about Beloit Pioneers and Oakwood Cemetery history.
A fitting headstone – tribute to Rebecca the Deer, another animal friend of the Cemetery, who visited there often:
Find Oakwood Cemetery and Eastlawn Cemetery records about individuals, plots, and maps on-line at the City of Beloit website. Click here for links to them.
More than one individual in a family may be represented/entombed within a mausoleum. Look for their names and dates on the outside decor, on a plaque by the door (inside or outside), or in the Cemetery Records.
Veterans from a specific war may be buried together in one designated area, or as an individual with their family. Pictured is the Civil War Monument with associated headstones.
I also enjoyed Janet Wagner’s view of Oakwood, and her thank-you gift of a card and a CD of photographs she took during our tour. Janet is slowly scanning and transcribing a scrapbook by Annie McLenegan who documented the history of the Oakwood Cemetery. Some important facts are only known from her recordings. This will eventually be put on-line as well. Click here for a link to the (partial) posting. Here are some quotes:
Pictured is another early Beloit settler headstone – Eleazar Crane, died June 14, 1839. Notice the broken headstone to the right (and in photo below). Oakwood staff and volunteers work on repairing and resetting those stones. The raised concrete “fence with tree stump decor, to the right, was higher in previous years. The ground keeps rising.
Some headstones are embedded into the ground (to the left) and cannot be lifted without ruining them. The ground can disintegrate the stone. Sometimes they can be rested on boards to get them off the ground.
Click here for a link to the complete BILL BOLGRIEN’S OAKWOOD CEMETERY HISTORY TOUR, and see some quotes from it below:
(Hint – following the clues of his age and date of death “dod”, Charles Johnson probably served as a Major in the War of 1812; he would have been age 26 in that war.)
One of the famous burials is that of Titanic drowning victim Albert Wirz, who had been on his way to visit his Beloit Aunt and Uncle.
And what is the Booth family doing in Beloit? Are they related to the pioneer Booths that helped settle the Troy, WI (about 40 miles away) family that I am studying? This just indicates the many connections found among the scarce early settlers of the stateline communities from Milwaukee, Troy, Madison, Janesville, and Beloit Wisconsin AND Chicago, Meacham Grove, Rockford, Rockton, Roscoe, Macktown, and Galena Illinois.
By the way, Before taking a photograph, please use a soft brush to whisk away grass, dirt, moss, and lichen that get/grow on a headstone.
Here are links on how to safely clean headstones and effectively photograph them. It helps to use photo editing to make the letters and numbers more readable. Read the “Headstone Inscription Discovery” Posting to see an example. Search on “headstones” for many other Postings about these topics. Also look on the BLOG tab above for “Genealogy Links and Electronic Helps” for many helpful links on these, and more topics.
Hint – if you are very lucky, the headstone can even tell you where the person was born pob (Hartford, Connecticut), and where he died pod.
Our 4th Wednesday Book Discussion at Beloit Public Library on August 22 at 7 p.m. is on a book about early Beloit settlers, “Pioneer Beloit” by Arthur l Luebke.
There are many styles of headstones and symbols of affiliation that can help you with clues to your ancestor’s life. Click here for a link to some of those meanings.
Our tour guide, John Kalkirtz, wrote a poem that:
“puts into the words the spiritual, emotional and physical presence at Oakwood …It is an inspiration to me, and I hope for others.”
by John Casey Kalkirtz
I walk the land.
Others lay beneath my feet.
Quietness fills my spirit.
I am one with the world.
This sacred space allows me to reflect, walk, sit and cry without interruptions.
All is at peace.
The others who once walk the land are now here at the cemetery in silence.
I feel their presence.
They give off the energy of their spirit to me and others who have the courage to really listen.
Time stands still.
Past, present, and future are one.
I lay my hand on the memorial marker which is the parting reminder of their presence.
The sun light dances on the ground.
Birds sing in the trees.
Nature is alive with the songs of the present moment.
Those who walked this land are with me.
They are my friends and I am theirs.
Each of us gives a happy nod to each other which is felt in the caress of the wind.
Molecules of their past breaths fill my body as I breathe in the air.
Pictures of their past lives fill my mind.
Countless faces roll past my eyes.
All of these souls are with me.
Love fills my soul.
Invisible hands gently caress me.
I am in total peace.
No fear touches my heart.
I am in a place of respite.
I am home with others.