Tag Archives: Sun Prairie

Cemeteries Offer Great Lessons in History

As any serious genealogist will tell you, a visit to a cemetery can provide a wealth of family history information. But it can be much more than that. Each year as we approach All Souls Day (November 2), the season presents an opportunity to renew and maintain family connections, just by walking through a cemetery.

Southeastern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove, Wisconsin.
Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove, Wisconsin.

One of the most touching scenes I’ve encountered was at a small cemetery in Augsburg, Germany. Walking past after dark, I looked through the small gate to see dozens of flickering vigil candles. These were not solar lights but real candles. Someone cared enough to visit there each night and light the votives.

A 20-minute walk through any cemetery will provide you access to family stories. Parents who lived long, full lives. Others who died much too young. Babies, some just one day old. Some who were never born. John and Jane Does, victims of murder. And in many older cemeteries, some of the departed rest with no visible monuments. Their markers were damaged or swallowed up in soft ground or by encroaching woods.

This anchor-themed monument is at St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Portage, Wisconsin.
This anchor-themed monument is at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Portage, Wisconsin.

Observe the different monuments. Some are massive obelisks, others plain, square markers. A few are made from unusual materials. Some display incredible artistry. In many German cemeteries you will see monuments with engraved hands pointing to Heaven. Angels, crosses and even anchors are common subject of monument carvings.

Oak Grove Cemetery in Eagle, Wisconsin, is itself a monument to neglect.
Oak Grove Cemetery in Eagle, Wisconsin, is itself a monument to neglect.

Some cemeteries are known more for their infamy, such as Oak Grove Cemetery in Eagle, Wisconsin. We chronicled that story earlier in “A Sad Resting Place for Little Ida.” It is sad to see a cemetery fall into neglect and disrepair. It’s especially angering when a cemetery is targeted by vandals. A few years back, thugs toppled more than 100 monuments at Calvary Cemetery and Old Holy Cross Cemetery in Racine, Wisconsin. My Knights of Columbus council spent several weekends righting the monuments and making extensive repairs. Most of the damage was fixed, but some especially old stones were beyond repair.

John Clark and John Murphy of the Knights of Columbus repair vandalized monuments in Racine, Wisconsin.
John Clark and John Murphy of the Knights of Columbus repair vandalized monuments in Racine, Wisconsin.

Military cemeteries and the graves of soldiers are especially touching. I recall walking row after row of World War I grave markers in Ypres, Belgium, where the famous poem In Flanders Fields was composed in 1915. All of those young lives cut short by “the war to end all wars.” Such sacrifice. World War I cemeteries dot the landscape in Belgium; some in the middle of farm fields.

Grave of an unknown soldier near Ypres, Belgium.
Grave of an unknown soldier near Ypres, Belgium.

While our loved ones are gone, they can teach us still. There are great resources available to help you find where your relatives are buried. My favorite online database is the Find A Grave web site. Take a camera along on your next trip to the cemetery and help your fellow genealogists document history.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

A Look Back at Two Generations of Halloween

I have nothing but good memories of Halloween. Growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, October 31 was a date we looked forward to. Whether we got to buy a costume at the dime store or made our own, it was always an exciting night.

My brother David (left), yours truly at center at cousin Laura all set for Halloween at our home in Grand Rapids, Mich., circa 1964.
My brother David (left), yours truly at center at cousin Laura all set for Halloween at our home in Grand Rapids, Mich., circa 1964.

One of my most vivid Halloween memories was documented in my book, The Journey Home. I recall Dad tearing out the front door in his sock feet. I wondered what was happening. We figured it out a few minutes later when he dragged two teenagers into the front door and made them apologize for smashing our lit pumpkins. He then turned them over to Sun Prairie police.

We had one sad Halloween when my brother David fell into the neighbors tree well and spilled all of his candy. We all shared to make up for it. Another year, we went across town to “trick or treat” at a few houses of family friends. At one door, I was shocked that the lady who answered called me by name. “How does she know me with this costume on?” I wondered. My brother chimed in, “You forgot to put your mask down.” D’oh!

David C. Hanneman was a tiger for Halloween 1964.
David C. Hanneman was a tiger for Halloween 1964.

Perhaps the most fun we had was creating our own costumes. Lighting the end of a cork on fire, then using the charred remains to paint black whiskers on our faces. Stuffing pillows up an oversized shirt helped complete the hobo look.

It wasn’t until toward the end of my trick-or-treating days that the scare over supposed razor blades in candy apples occurred. Hospitals offered to X-ray candy bags to check for pins or razor blades. That made me wonder if the candy would then glow? Ah, as it turned out the whole thing was a fraud that took on the sheen of urban legend.

Son Stevie watches Grandpa Dave Hanneman prepare to carve, circa 1993.
Son Stevie watches Grandpa Dave Hanneman prepare to carve, circa 1993.

Once I had my own children, Halloween took on a new dimension. Our firstborn was too shy to go door to door, so we made our main stop at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Eventually, Halloween became a major event. French onion soup or chili simmered in a crock pot while we took the kids around the neighborhood collecting goodies. Then we retreated into the warmth of the house for good food, warm apple cider and pie. The kids also ate candy.

With the more recent controversies claiming Halloween as un-Christian or even satanic, it was refreshing to read this article on About.com regarding the Catholic roots of Halloween.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

 

A Little Mulqueen Family Photo Flashback

Our photo library is a bit thin on photos from my mother’s Mulqueen side of the family, but we do have some nice images worth sharing. My Mom grew up in Cudahy (we always pronounced it coo-da-hi, although it’s actually cuh-dah-hay) and comes from a family of 10. The matriarch and patriarch were Margaret Madonna (Dailey) Mulqueen (1895-1982) and Earl J. Mulqueen Sr. (1895-1965).

©2014 The Hanneman Archive