History brought to life during tours of Brookside Cemetery
A group of Tecumseh Volunteers, led by historian Bob Elliott, revived a prior tradition by holding the 2013 Brookside Cemetery Tour on Saturday, June 8 at 5 and 7 p.m. Group members reenacted the stories of several individuals whose monuments are located in Brookside, including the story of a Civil War nurse and several military members.
Event proceeds will go toward restoration of a Civil War monument that sits in the front of the cemetery. A program noted that the monument has been “steadfast for more than 100 years,” but “the soldier is beginning to show signs of weather damage and is in need of repair.” The work is expected to take two phases involving cleaning and then replacing missing chunks of the statue. Phase one costs are estimated to cost $12,000 and Phase two may be up to $17,500.
“We hope to do this again over the next couple of years to raise funds for the monument,” said Bob Elliott, who addressed approximately 50 tour participants at the 5 p.m. session following a concert by a small band in Civil War period attire. The group played such songs as “Yankee Doodle,” “Michigan My Michigan,” and “Eating Goober Peas.”
Elliott led one tour group while Hudson historian Ray Lennard led another, and each shared facts as well as stories about the individuals featured on this year’s tour. An early tour stop was the grave of Elizabeth Banester, a Civil War nurse buried in Brookside. Banester was one of only three nurses in the state to receive a pension for her services. Elliott’s wife, Jill, portrayed the nurse, telling the emotional story of how the nurses wrote letters home for “the boys,” some their last one. Elliott said it was also through such letters that some Michigan families, including those from Tecumseh, knew to go get their wounded young men.
Chris Eder portrayed Capt. Milburn Hawkes, a World War I soldier killed in the Battle of Argonne Forest on the western front against the Germans in 1918. Elliott said, “They were the ones who broke the German lines. They were the ones who won that war.” He added that the Tecumseh public followed that war through Hawkes’ letters to his father, which were published in the Tecumseh Herald.
The story of Faron Anderson is pretty well known in the area, as young Faron was eager to join the Civil War action. Aaron Findley portrayed Faron at his graveside and stated, “We thought the war would be over soon. Sorry dad.” His father was portrayed by Bruce Elliott, Bob’s dad, and Durand Pape played a Union soldier who read the letter that Faron Anderson’s dad received, telling of his demise. His father and brother went east to retrieve his body.
The group reenacted other stories, including that of the Sultana, a steamboat that caught fire and sank, carrying 2,000 soldiers, many of them just released from prisoner of war camps. Forty-two men from Tecumseh were lost.
For more information on how to contribute toward the monument restoration project, call 517.270.3000.