The Lowell Area Historical Museum hosts an annual tour of Oakwood Cemetery. This past Saturday was the fourth year the event has taken place. Each September visitors are invited to tour the cemetery and learn about some of the people and families buried there and how they were connected to the community. A different section of the cemetery is covered each year so that new stories can be shared.
Four stations, staffed by volunteers and museum staff, were set up as focal points. Typically 40-60 people attend the event every year. “Each station had 10-15 people/families that were covered.” says Lisa Plank, the museum’s Executive Director. “At the museum, we have files on many of the people in the cemetery along with books that former Sexton Don DeJong wrote on the cemetery.”
While Oakwood Cemetery was established in 1872, the first person buried on the land was a young girl who died when she was three in the 1840s according to Luanne Kaeb, one of the cemetery tour guides for the afternoon. Several bodies were also moved to Oakwood from a different location after it flooded.
Those who attended the event could have learned about the Hartley family who helped clear the land near Moorse Lake. Or hear about Harold Weekes who was a member of the School Board and other community groups in addition to inventing a bean planter.
Daisy Giles was born in 1879 and died the day after Christmas in 1903 when she was in a train wreck near current-day East Paris and Broadmoor. Two trains collidaded head-on when a light was out during a snow storm which would have indicated another train was on the track.
The Malcolm family raised horses in the early 1900s. They also participated in racing horses where Recreation Park is now established.
A.L. Weyrick experienced several life hardships that including having the building where his business was located burn down – twice. The Coon family owned a dry goods store in Lowell and the Henry family ran a drug store. Countless stories from the past can be told about those who are buried at Oakwood Cemetery.
The headstones seen in the foreground here were hand made by the family of those who passed away. This could have been done in part to save money on the cost of having to bury a loved one.
DeJong has written seven books about Oakwood Cemetery and covers a wide range of people who are buried there. All of the books are available in the Lowell Area Historical Museum’s gift shop.
Those interested in learning about community history can learn about the life of Madame LaFramboise who was a local fur trader. The program will take place on October 20 at 7pm at Vergennes Township Hall. Lowell Area Historical Museum Curator Luanne Kaeb and Administrative Assistant Shantell Ford will present the information.
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