Cemetery walk offers insight into local history

By Maria Ahmad

Exploring a cemetery in October is not only for Halloween lovers, but also for history enthusiasts like those who toured Elmwood Cemetery on Sunday.

The Annual Elmwood Cemetery Heritage Walk has been held on the first Sunday in October for the past 12 years and is hosted by the Sycamore History Museum, 1730 N. Main St. About 60 people turned out for the tour.

“The event is run by volunteers and takes about six months to plan,” said Ann Rosenfeld, Sycamore History Museum archivist. “We have to find people and gather information through obituaries, newspaper articles, and cemetery records.”

The purpose of the tour was to highlight the history of a few families and individuals who had lived in the Sycamore area. Volunteers read about the lives of about ten different individuals out loud for the tour groups. Visitors were introduced to the stories of the Bier family, an immigrant family from Romania; Kenneth H. Raymond, who was police chief of DeKalb; and Sadie Swanbon, a DeKalb businesswoman who served as county treasurer; among others. The group was able to visit and go inside the mausoleum, too.

“Certain people in history did not get exposed through the media, but I found out a lot about some great people who shaped the DeKalb area,” said Ateeqa Roslan, junior visual communications major.

The featured speaker of the event was John Boies, Elmwood Cemetery Association president, who spoke about the history of the cemetery and current plans of expansion and renovations.

“There are three reasons why cemeteries are important,” Boies said. “It provides a pastoral place to memorialize loved ones, serves as a great resource for local history, and genealogy.”

Rosenfeld said that this event fulfills part of the mission of the Sycamore History Museum which is to learn about the whos, whats, wheres and whens of Sycamore. The museum collects stories and sorts the archives of those who have shaped Sycamore, among other activities.

“A hundred years from now, someone will be looking for me or you,” Rosenfeld said.