History Comes Alive at Forest Hill Cemetery

September 13, 2012 

History Comes Alive at Forest Hill Cemetery

MADISON – Did you know that at the beginning of the Civil War, Wisconsin troops trained at Camp Randall with wooden sticks rather than rifles?  Were you aware that soldiers lined up for battle by height or that Petersburg, Virginia had one of the largest populations of freed slaves in the south in 1860? 

All of these questions will be among the topics featured at this year’s Talking Spirits: Forest Hill Cemetery Tour on Sunday, October 14, 2012 in Madison.  In its 14th year, the award-winning living history program, supported by the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission with additional funds from The Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times, will highlight the lives of both prominent and lesser known figures in Wisconsin history. 

Talking Spirits XIV will introduce many “characters” that have impacted the course of Wisconsin history, both on the battlefield and off.  This year will mark the return of Theodore Read, the second to last Union General killed in the Civil War.  Benjamin Butts, will share how he left slave life in Virginia and traveled with the 5th Wisconsin Infantry eventually settling in Madison and becoming a prominent citizen known for his work with Governors and at the Wisconsin Historical Society.  The Bradford Brothers, Oscar and Rezillion, will tell their tale of fighting side by side at battle of Gettysburg with the Iron Brigade.  Finally, Napoleon Bonaparte Van Slyke will discuss his time as Quartermaster at Camp Randall and the challenges of supplying and training an army.

Directed for the eighth year by playwright John Sable, local actors will don period dress, giving the visitors the once-in-a-lifetime experience of meeting these characters on the cemetery grounds.  Included in the 1 ½ hour guided walking tour will be informative discussions of the cemetery’s rich history and gravestone art.

Public tours are available at Forest Hill Cemetery (1 Speedway Road, Madison) on Sunday, October 14 from 12-4pm.  Adult admission is $5, while children are $2.  Tickets are available at the cemetery gate the day of the event.  Free parking is available along Speedway Road and behind West High School.

School and group tours will be held on Tuesday through Friday, October 9-12 from 9am until 4pm.  The cost per group is $50 and maximum group size is 30 people.  To book a tour or for more information on this event, contact Jennifer Kollath at (608) 264-7663 or e-mail her at jennifer.kollath@dva.wisconsin.gov.   

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is a free public educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and is located at 30 W. Mifflin St., across the street from the State Capitol. For more information go to www.wisvetsmuseum.com.


201 West Washington Avenue | Madison, Wisconsin 53707
1-800-WIS-VETS | WisVets@dva.wisconsin.gov | WisVets.com