Annual cemetery walk set for Wednesday in Montgomery
BY JUDY POCHEL For Sun-Times Media October 1, 2013 2:52PM
Actor John Aman plays Vine Watkins on Wednesday during the 3rd annual Cemetery Walk at Riverside Cemetery in Montgomery. Actors and relatives dressed in period clothes and gave historically accurate accounts of the lives of well-known figures of the community. Jeff Cagle / For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 3, 2013 6:24AM
Visitors to the 5th annual Cemetery Walk in Montgomery are in for an exciting journey into the past.
The Cemetery Walk is an annual fall event that leads visitors on a journey to peak into the past. This year the event is held from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 2 at Riverside Cemetery.
One of the gravesites highlighted during the walk has family roots that go back over a century and began in Switzerland.
Ernie Tschannen ran Shannon’s Tavern for many years in the village but how his ancestors arrived in the country is a fascinating story that includes an Atlantic voyage that began in 1888 with an opportunity to obtain free land from the Burlington Railroad if they would settle in the Midwest.
Ernie is the grandson of “Johan” John Tschannen who with his wife, Maria and 12 children left their picturesque home in Switzerland bound for the land of opportunity in the fall of 1888.
Ernie was born 12 years after that voyage to John Tschannen, the eldest son of the original Switzerland Tschannen family in Montgomery.
He was described as the “oldest living native” of Montgomery when he died in 1994, at the age of 94.
Ernie’s father and Maria Heimberg married in Montgomery and settled on a farm that was known for growing red carnations used in the dining cars of the Burlington trains.
Other gravesites scheduled for visits include a female author who wrote books at a time when women authors were not commonly published, a woman who lost a child in a very tragic accident and a police officer who was killed in the line of duty.
Tours begin at the corner of River and Taylor Streets on the south side of the cemetery. Groups leave every 10 minutes and are given the opportunity to learn about the past from authentically costumed actors who portray some of the people buried in the cemetery.
Organizers say to wear sturdy shoes and bring flashlights. Parking is available along River Street and at the playground at the north end of Montgomery Park. There is no charge for the event.