History springs to life at Galena’s Greenwood Cemetery Print
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Nancy Breed   
Thursday, 02 June 2011 07:39

Local thespians celebrate lives of Galenians during 18th annual walk

GALENA, Ill. – Eight former residents of Galena will present their riveting stories in live theatre format on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, at Greenwood Cemetery, Gear St., Galena. Guided 75-minute tours will step out every 20 minutes between the hours of 2 and 4:30 p.m. during the Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society’s 18th annual Cemetery Walk. An indoor “seated” performance at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, will be held at Grace Episcopal Church.

“Greenwood Cemetery 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: John and Mary Packard, a Galena entrepreneur and his wife who amassed a vast fortune through the production and sale of axle grease; Adele Gratiot Washburne, the first white child born in Galena, who later married the powerful politician Elihu B. Washburne and spent years living abroad when her husband was appointed Minister to France; Samuel Simpson Grant, younger brother to Ulysses, who was working in the Grant Leather Store at the time Ulysses arrived in Galena; Herman Kohlsaat and Nancy Baker, a powerful newspaper mogul who as a child befriended Mrs. Baker who made wonderful cookies (in subsequent years he brought noted dignitaries to her doorstep to sample her gingersnaps); Sarah Coates Harris, a progressive thinking Galena physician and lecturer who spoke eloquently on female anatomy, plant taxonomy, temperance, and a woman’s right to vote (she was married to riverboat captain and early Galena entrepreneur Daniel S. Harris); and Mathias Meller, an immigrant from Germany who was one of Galena’s most successful beer brewers.

Local actors portraying the Galenians include Ron and Kris Chapman, Jim Clark, Steve Coates, Carmen Ferguson, Deb Hyland, Carole Sullivan and Ted Williams. Historical research for the script was provided by local historians Scott Wolfe and Kris Chapman. Jenni Ackerman is coordinating the period costuming. Bryan Ackerman is Stage Manager in charge of technical direction.

Tickets are $12 per person for the guided theatrical tour and are available onsite the day of the performances or at the Galena History Museum, 211 S. Bench St., 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 18, is recognition that some 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 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, US Bank, McCoy Insurance and Real Estate, and Merkle International. For more event information or to purchase tickets, contact the Museum at 815-777-9129 or visit www.galenahistorymuseum.org. For information about room availability, shopping, dining, attractions, events and more, go to www.galena.org, the Web site of the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, or call 877-464-2536 toll-free.

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