History springs to life at Galena’s Greenwood Cemetery

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record
14-year-old Claude Bedford, whose gravestone is pictured here, is one of nine Galenians featured during the historic Cemetery Walk June 12, 13 and 19 in Galena, IL. Photo courtesy of the Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society.

Nine former residents of Galena will present their riveting stories in live theatre format on Saturday and Sunday, June 12 and 13, at Greenwood Cemetery in Galena, IL. Guided 75-minute tours will step out every 20 minutes between the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society’s 17th annual Cemetery Walk. An indoor “seated” performance at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, will be held at Grace Episcopal Church. 

 “A cemetery is a place to celebrate life, to connect with history in a very tangible way.  Greenwood is a link to our past…like an open history book,” said Ronn Toebaas, producer and director, who has assembled an outstanding cast of local actors to bring these wonderful stories to life.   

Personalities profiled are: Reverend Samuel J. Yundt, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church who conducted the consecration service for the Felt Memorial Chapel at Greenwood and will entertain guests inside the grand, seldom used chapel; Mary Barrows, wife of Daniel Barrows, prominent Galena businessman and Ellen Vaughn, her Irish maid; General John E. Smith, silversmith and jeweler who became one of Galena’s nine Civil War Generals; John Pooley, a popular local photographer; Eliza Brendel, mother of eight daughters; Ellie Bedford, artist, and her only son, Claude, who died suddenly at age 14; and Daniel Wann, an early settler who deeply influenced Galena’s political, economic, and social development.   

Local actors portraying the Galenians include Dan Thornton, Lisa Schoenrock, Audrey List, Kirk Foecking, Merrilee S. Lee, David Yonda, Jenni Ackerman, Mason Flynn, and Mark Haman. Historical research for the script was provided by local historians Scott Wolfe, Steve Repp, Colleen Yonda, and Alice Toebaas, who also coordinates the period costuming. Bryan Ackerman, stage manager, is in charge of technical direction.

Tickets are $12 per person for the guided theatre tour and are available on-site the day of the performances or at the Galena History Museum, 211 S. Bench St., Galena, in advance. The performances are suitable for all ages; kids under 6 are free.  No reservations are necessary; small groups will be formed on a first-come first-served basis.  

The addition of a performance the following Saturday evening, June 19, is in recognition that handicapped guests may have difficulty navigating the rolling cemetery terrain and paths. Weather and daytime work schedules sometimes prevent attendance as well, so a “seated” indoors performance is a welcome addition. Guests may enjoy the performance from a comfortable pew, also for $12 per person, at 8:00 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, 309 Hill St., Galena.   

The event is hosted by the Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society. Major sponsors include Vincent Monuments, U.S. Bank, McCoy Insurance and Real Estate, and Merkle International. For more event information, contact the Museum at 815-777-9129 or visit www.galenahistorymuseum.org. Additional area offerings and visitor information may be found at the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau by calling 877-Go Galena or at www.galena.org.