Watkins Museum of History leads walking tour of Oak Hill Cemetery in tribute to veterans

Watkins Museum of History News Release

April 15, 2015

Contact: Jan Shupert-Arick, Public Programs Manager
Watkins Museum of History
1047 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, KS 66044
(785) 841-4109 ext. 202

Watkins Museum's Walking Tour of Oak Hill Cemetery is a tribute to veterans

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Oak Hill Cemetery and the 50th anniversary of the placement of the eternal flame in the Veteran’s Section, a walking tour scheduled for Sunday, May 3, 2015, will feature a number of local veterans who have served our nation from the days of the Civil War through Vietnam.

Based on extensive research and the archives at the Watkins Museum, interpreters will share stories about military conflicts and personal stories of those who served and who are now laid to rest along the winding and picturesque paths of Lawrence’s Oak Hill Cemetery.

Inspired by the rural cemetery movement in the mid-19th century, Oak Hill Cemetery was designed and built to be an impressive memorial for a growing and proud community. The cemetery includes a historic mausoleum and holding vault, family mausoleums, a large monument that pays tribute to those killed in Quantrill’s Raid in 1863, a water fountain placed by the Women’s Relief Corps in the 1920s as a memorial to Civil War Soldiers, a standing soldier monument dedicated to those who served in the Spanish-American War, a special section to honor African-American soldiers who served during the Civil War, and many other unique monuments.

The landscape includes a wide variety of trees, a hitching post reminding us of an earlier time when horse-drawn hearses and buggies were commonplace, and a special section dedicated to military veterans.

Beginning in January, the Watkins Museum staff has worked with a volunteer committee to develop this new program as a tribute to local veterans. It is also a fitting way to pay tribute to Oak Hill as a unique historic site in our community that has been owned and operated by the City of Lawrence for 150 years.


The names of veterans who will be interpreted during this tour include the following:

  • James Cooper – Vietnam - Marines;
  • Scotty Harjo – Korea- Army- MSgt – Bronze Star – Coach at Haskell Indian Nation University;
  • Herbert John Rankin – Rough Rider in Cuba-Spanish-American War;
  • U.S. Colored Troops – Civil War – Section 4.
  • Lee Scott – WWII – Army Corp- Sgt. Company D, 502nd Parachute Infantry of 101st – D Day, Battle of the Bulge;
  • Minnie Scott- Nurse, WWI - - 3 years on battlefield in France & public health nurse in Lawrence;
  • John Knox Rankin – Civil War – KS 2nd Cavalry;
  • Otto Ernest Dingelstedt – WWI – Army; Co. B 110th, Engineer Corp;
  • James Postma – WWII Pacific – Army – 24th Division – Philippines and New Guinea – City Council.
Pre-register for this event to save money on admission. Visit www.WatkinsMuseum.org to register and pay in advance or visit the Watkins Museum during regular visitor hours (Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.)  Prior to May 1, admission is $5 for Veterans and Members of the Watkins Museum, $10 non-members. On the day of the event, admission for the tour is $15. Children are encouraged to attend the tour; ages 17 and younger will tour free of admission costs.

The Watkins Museum wishes to acknowledge the support of: Englewood Florist for providing wreaths for the grave sites; Warren-McElwain Mortuary for sharing their antique, horse-drawn hearse at the event; the City of Lawrence, especially the staff at Oak Hill Cemetery, for assisting the Watkins Museum of History with this event; and Stephens Real Estate, Inc. for sponsoring the flags.

The Douglas County Historical Society was formed in 1933 out of a community interest to preserve local history. In 1975 the Society opened the Watkins Community Museum of History in the former Watkins National Bank at the corner of 11th and Mass. St. The museum’s mission is to collect, preserve and share the history of Douglas County.

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