Cemetery Tours Will Be Delivered
Virtually this Year

 Click here to join our mailing list to receive updates on Talking Spirits Cemetery Tours 2020 and other Wisconsin Veterans Museum events.

Held each fall at the beautiful Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison, this award-winning living history program will be delivered through interactive and video tours due to restrictions on gatherings in the city of Madison.

The program will illuminate the lives of many prominent and lesser known-figures in Wisconsin history. Tours will focus on the contributions of Wisconsin’s soldiers and citizens during the Civil War. Local actors and actresses don period dress, giving viewers a first person encounter through scripted vignettes.  Tour guides lead informative discussions of the cemetery’s rich history.


See last year's 2019 Cast of Characters 

Last year’s theme  Service Beyond the War feature four vignettes which highlight the contributions made to Madison by some of its most prominent members during the community’s antebellum period.

Napoleon Bonaparte Van Slyke: Assistant Quarter Master General of Wisconsin during the Civil War, Napoleon Van Slyke went on to become an influential member of the community through his involvement in the Wisconsin Historical Society, the University of Wisconsin−Madison, and the Wisconsin State Bankers Association.

Benjamin Butts: As a runaway slave, Bennie Butts became attached to the 5th Wisconsin Battery during the Civil War and followed the unit back to Wisconsin after the war ended. He eventually moved to Madison, where he became a barber on Capitol Square to many Governors, as well as a messenger at the Wisconsin Historical Society and a prominent member of Madison. His son, Leo, was the first African-American to play football for the University of Wisconsin.

William F. Vilas: One of Madison’s most revered citizens, William F. Vilas served as a regent of the University of Wisconsin−Madison from 1880 to 1885 and 1898 to 1905. He also served as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1885, until he was appointed the Postmaster General between 1885 and 1888, and as Secretary of the Interior from 1888 to 1889, both under President Grover Cleveland.

Cordelia Harvey: Wife of the late Governor Louis Harvey, she not only advocated for the care of Wisconsin Soldiers during the Civil War but also created a home in Madison to care for those orphaned by the ravages of the conflict.

Photos from Talking Spirits Cemetery Tours 2019 

Photos from Talking Spirits Cemetery Tours 2018

Photos from Talking Spirits Cemetery Tours 2017

Don’t want to miss out? Click here to join our mailing list to receive updates on 2020 Talking Spirits Cemetery Tours and other Wisconsin Veterans Museum events.

If you have any questions, please email: visitor.curator@dva.wisconsin.gov


Wisconsin Veterans Museum
30 W. Mifflin St.
Madison, WI 53703

Copyright © 2011-2023 Wisconsin Veterans Museum