Guided tour of Oak Hill Cemetery offered Saturday
For more information about Saturday's tour, call (608) 756-4509 or visit rchs.us.
JANESVILLE The Rock County Historical Society will offer a free guided tour of Oak Hill Cemetery, 1725 N. Washington St., from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Here are five things you can expect to learn on the tour, according to Joel Van Haaften, the historical society's executive director:
1 Gravestone markings and their symbolism. A rose often was associated with a woman's grave, a lamb carving symbolized the innocence of children, and a willow tree is a sign of mourning.
Laurel Fant, collections manager at the historical society, will discuss other gravestone markings and their symbolism including the meaning behind a broken chain, an arrow, a beehive, a shock of wheat or a dove.
2 Gravestone rubbings. This practice is banned in many states and cemeteries, but historical society docent Lynne Jacobsen will demonstrate it and help tour participants do one properly. This will take place near the tombstone of Augusta Tallman, wife of John P. Beach and daughter of William Tallman, who built the 1850s Italian-villa Lincoln-Tallman House mansion in Janesville.
The historical society will provide stones for etching, paper to tape to the stone's surface and thick crayons to transfer images.
3 Grave "witching" with divining rods. Participants will use two-foot metal divining rods to search for unmarked graves in the cemetery's indigent/potter's field area. The ancient technique is sometimes referred to as "witching" and is the same method once widely used to find water.
Van Haaften, who learned this procedure years ago, will demonstrate and discuss this nonscientific procedure.
4 A tour of Civil War soldiers' graves. Pete Skelly of the Rock County Civil War Roundtable in Janesville will discuss the lives and activities of soldiers at a grouping of Civil War graves. Star shields, mounted on stakes, mark most of these graves.
5 Ghost legends. Members of the Southern Wisconsin Paranormal Research Group and Voices Through the Static will present this program at the cemetery chapel. The groups will share area ghost legends and explain their involvement and techniques into researching ghost legends, including two stories about Oak Hill Cemetery.