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Step into Wausau’s past at the Pine Grove Cemetery with the Marathon County Historical Society

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – Jane Janke Johnson and Kathy Volkmann from the Marathon County Historical Society stopped by Sunrise 7 Friday morning to share an opportunity to take a step back into the past.

Volkmann has collected things related to the social history of death. Some of those items will be on display.

“Probably the thing I have the most of are what are called post mortem photos, which are pictures of people after they had died. Of course, at that point, it was many funerals were done in the home. So you’ll see this one and this one, where the casket is laid out in the house, a profusion of flowers, really, in both of these pictures, secure the deceased. I also have sick call sets. Which are used to perform the Catholic Rite of extreme unction. Which were the last Rites when if you were dying in your home, your family or a priest could do that for you was a very common thing to have hanging on the wall, just in case you needed it. I also have a number of memorial cards. And these would be the equivalent of prayer cards, when you go to a funeral,” Volkmann said.

Janke Johnson said this year also marks 150 years of Wausau’s history.

“So we’re going to be sharing characters in the cemetery. Real people who were maybe a farmer… So we’ll have George Washington Witter. A banker, a merchant. The first mayor of Wausau- Helen Van Vechten, who was a fine book publisher in Wausau at a little log cabin, which is over on Scott Street and still standing today,” she said.

The Marathon County Historical Society will host Voices from the Past: An Historical Walk through Pine Grove Cemetery on Sunday, October 25. The event will begin at 11 am Participants will have the chance to take a tour through the cemetery, and learn about the local historical figures buried there. Reenactors will stand next to the graves of prominent cemetery residents and share the stories of their lives.

Janke Johnson will be one of the reenactors, portraying printer Helen Van Vechten. Van Vechten lived in Mosinee until her death at age 81 in 1949.

Participants are asked to pay a donation of $5 to the Marathon County Historical Society to take part in the tour. The final tour will begin at 2 pm Sunday afternoon at Pine Grove Cemetery, located at 1501 Grand Ave. in Wausau. Click here to learn more about the event.

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