Madison Cemetery Tours

REGISTER NOW for Talking Spirits Cemetery Tours at Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison

Henceforth and Forever Free

Nearly 160 years ago, the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the Civil War South. Did you ever wonder how that event affected Wisconsin? Join the Wisconsin Veterans Museum for their annual Talking Spirits XXIV: Forest Hill Cemetery Tours to see, hear, and experience how this document changed the lives of future Madisonians and Wisconsinites. These 90-minute tours will take place during the week of October 3-9, 2022 at Forest Hill Cemetery. Candlelit tours will be held on October 8th and daytime tours will be held on October 9th. Rain date is the following week for public tours. Visit our Facebook page for weather updates.

SOLD OUT - Sorry

Candlelit Tours at Forest Hill Cemetery
Saturday, October 8 | 5-9:30pm
Admission is $10 per person
Click Here to Book a Candlelit Tour


SOLD OUT - Sorry

Daytime Tours at Forest Hill Cemetery
Sunday, October 9 | Noon-5:30pm
Admission is $10 per person
Click Here to Book at Daytime Tour


School Group Tours at Forest Hill Cemetery
October 3-7, 2022 | 8:50am - 2:00pm
Click here to book a school group tour.


Featured Vignettes

Howard Brooks

Told from the perspective of his commanding officer - Born in the institution of slavery in Virginia, Brooks  gained his freedom when the Union Army came through his area of the south and he immediately joined them. He served in the 29th US Colored Infantry until the end of the war in 1865. He was one of the first Black men to receive a government pension for his service.

John Jefferson

Born John Hemings in 1835, he was the grandson of President Thomas Jefferson and one of his enslaved servants, Sarah ‘Sally’ Hemings. John Jefferson grew up in a free Black community in Ohio and took the surname ‘Jefferson’ upon moving to Madison in order to identify as White. As a  White citizen, he was able to serve as a colonel in the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War and went to great lengths to hide his ancestry.

Notley Henderson

Notley, who had previously been enslaved and gained his freedom, served in the Civil War and was one of the first Black landowners in Madison. He often took in newcomers on his farm, especially formerly enslaved people and Black soldiers who fought in the war.

William and Anna Mae Miller

The story continues with the next generation as we look at the lives of Mr. and Mrs. William Miller. The Millers were active in the improvement of conditions for Black people in Madison. William helped organize the St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church and was an aide to Senator LaFollette for 19 years. Anna Mae was the founding member and long-time treasurer of the Madison chapter of the NAACP. Their home, built in 1853, was moved to E. Dayton Street in 1908 and is still a Madison landmark.

Cemetery Tours

Talking Spirits Virtual Cemetery Tour 2020 and 2021

In the interest of the health and safety of our community in 2020 the Wisconsin Veterans Museum reimagined it's annual cemetery tours event from in-person tours to virtual tours. We continue to offer access to the 2020 Talking Spirits Virtual Cemetery Tour today with the addition of the 2021 vignettes. The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is pleased to be in the serene and somber landscape of Madison's Forest Hill Cemetery to share with you the rich history of Wisconsin and its veterans. On this virtual tour we are excited to take you to places in the cemetery and show you interesting photos and objects we would not be able to if we were in person.

Navigation Notes

  • Before you enter the tour, please note the navigation symbols you will encounter. They are presented in the bar below.
  • Anything that appears to be a graphic is a spot you can click to either move or view a point of interest. If you hover over these spots, they will tell you what to do.
  • Click on the golden arrow to move forward in the tour.
  • Pan and click on the red arrow to move backward.
  • To pan: click, hold, and drag your mouse.
  • If you would like to make the tour image fill your screen, click on the three dots in the upper right corner.
  • To show the individual scenes of the tour, find the white photo icons at the center-bottom of the tour. Click on the icon to toggle the scene ribbon on and off.


  • The videos you will encounter are linked to YouTube.
  • When the video is complete, simply close the video window by clicking the X in the upper right corner or press escape on your keyboard.
  • All videos have been captioned.

Please note: this tour is best viewed on a desktop, laptop, or tablet. The time needed to view the entire tour is approximately one hour.

Scroll down to begin.

Thank you to our generous sponsors:
This project is supported by Dane County Arts with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, The Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. This project is also funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for Humanities and the State of Wisconsin. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin.
This production is costumed in part with the assistance of Children's Theater of Madison and the Madison Arts Production Center.

If you would like to support this project, please visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation for ideas on how to help.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 30 W. Mifflin Street, Madison, WI, 53703, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact


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

Copyright © 2011-2022 Wisconsin Veterans Museum