Cemetery contains history

BROOKFIELD — Wearing period costumes, members of the Brookfield Historical Society led visitors through a historic walk at the township cemetery highlighting ”interesting people” buried there.

The cemetery walk took guests to the oldest and newest sections of the township, where speakers shared information on the accomplishments or notoriety of people buried there.

Dawn Burns, society secretary, said the plan to make the walk an annual event.

”People do not realize how big the cemetery is until they actually walk through it and look around. The cemetery has expanded. The former school property and track is now part of the cemetery,” Burns said.

Lois Warner, archivist of the society, Barbara Stevens, president, and Burns led guests from one site to the next where different speakers were stationed.

To showcase the cemetery, McFarland and Son Funeral Home brought a horse-drawn hearse from the 1890s to the cemetery. The hearse was built in 1895 by the St. Louis Coffin Co., which was the same company that built the final horse-drawn hearse that transported the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln to his resting place at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Ill.

McFarland and Son purchased its horse-drawn hearse in 1987, and has displayed it at local historical and cultural events since.

Elizabeth Boozer, past society president, was stationed at one of the stops and spoke about resident Charles Earnhart, who fought in World War II in the Air Force when his plane was shot down by the Germans. He was a prisoner of war for two years. She said he received many medals and honors for his heroism.

Earnhart later opened a pharmacy in Masury and was killed in a robbery in 1974.

”We selected 10 interesting people to speak about,” Boozer said.

Historic and unique facts were presented about each person’s marker the group visited including the time they spent in Brookfield. Some of the markers date back to the 1800s.