Cemetery walk celebrates 21 years


Morgan Reddekopp

Terri Lieder, playing the role of Elizabeth Lynch Shuler, a nurse who died during the influenza epidemic, at the Voices from the Past: Cemetery Walk event held inside Woodlawn Cemetery on Saturday Oct. 10. This event is designed to experience some history and explore the lives of past Winonans.

Kelli Knobloch, Features Reporter

The Winona County Historical Society celebrated 21 years of Voices from the Past: Cemetery Walk on Oct. 10 and 11.

For this event, actors took on a persona of someone from Winona’s past and acted out a part of that person’s story to an audience.

The event took place at Woodlawn Cemetery where people can walk the grounds and learn about local history.

Jonelle Moore is the event chair for the Cemetery Walk. Though Moore said she enjoys the walk, she did acknowledge some challenges, including the connotations behind the time of year this event is held.

“Something we had to overcome in the beginning was people thinking it was a Halloween thing which it is definitely not,” Moore said.

According to Moore, the Cemetery Walk always takes place around the beginning of October.

“It’s actually a history lesson where actors tell stories of people who used to live in Winona, but tell it as if they were that person,” Moore said. “It helps bring history to life and lets us learn about the city’s past.”

Each year, different figures from the city’s past are selected for actors to portray during the event.

Some names from this year’s list included Gustave and Dora Anger, Elizabeth Lynch Shuler, Gov. Samuel R Van Sant, Harriet J. Kelley and many more.

Coleen and Thomas Bremer, both retired, portrayed the couple Gustave and Dora Anger.

“We have been involved with the Cemetery Walk for a few years now,” T. Bremer said. “One year, they didn’t have an actor and were scrambling to find a replacement,” So, they asked me just because I was walking through the History Center at the time.”

According to Bremmer, the actors receive a script in advance and take the time until the event to learn the lines and the person’s backstory.

Terri Lieder, a graphic designer at St. Mary’s University, played Elizabeth Lynch Shuler.

“I find it very interesting and really quite special, almost a little bit humbling,” Lieder said. “I would like people to deepen their understanding of the history of Winona.”

This year the Cemetery Walk is conducted differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Usually its groups of twenty to thirty people with tour guides leading them, but this year people will just be able to go on their own,” Moore said. “We normally have five sights where the actors are located, now we have fifteen all spread out through the cemetery.”

In addition to the self-led tours and more sights, event coordinators asked that attendees maintained social distancing of at least 6 feet and to wear masks.

“I want people to walk away with the idea of the history of Winona and how diverse it was,” Moore said.