Cemetery walk to honor World War I veterans

Cemetery event in Dundee Township pays tribute to World War I veterans

Finding information about Dundee Township area veterans of World War I is not easy, Marge Edwards says.

She's an active member of the Dundee Township Historical Society and is in charge of planning Sunday's cemetery walk in Dundee Township Cemetery West.

For weeks, Edwards has been researching Dundee's contribution to "The War to End All Wars" and has found little. She and her colleagues want information about a handful of people buried in the Route 31 cemetery who died in or after the war, so they can depict their lives with costumed actors.

Progress has been stymied, though, because many national veteran records have been lost to the ages, floods or fires. To make matters worse, many of the grave markers don't reflect military service in the World War I era.

"One of the characters we'll highlight is Caroling Steinwart, a volunteer nurse who went to France to take care of wounded soldiers," Edwards said.

"And, we'll talk about (Dundee-area resident) Clarence Shedden, who died in the war in France. He was buried in France."

William Decker will also be discussed. He fought, but survived the First World War.

"It's really hard to find information about local World War I veterans, but it's important that we talk about it. This year marks the 100th anniversary of this country's involvement in it," she said.

The theme of the walk will be how airplanes changed the way wars were fought. The United States had only 48 planes for recognizance and battle missions, according to U.S. soldiers depended heavily on their allies, who had more planes that carried weapons.

During the walk, historical society members will also shine a light on the group Gold Star Mothers, women whose sons died in battle.

"I'd like to hear from other Dundee Township residents who have stories, letters or photos of relatives who fought," Edwards said. "There must be somebody who has heard stories about grandfathers, fathers and uncles who fought in Europe during the war and are buried in the cemetery."

Call Edwards at (847) 428-6996 at the museum to share those stories. Information may not only be used in the cemetery walk, but placed in the historical society's archives.

The cemetery walk is 1 to 3 p.m. and begins at the society's museum, 426 Highland Ave., West Dundee.

Society members will give local residents another chance to honor World War I veterans at a dinner from 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 22, at the West Dundee VFW Post 2298, 117 S. First St.

With the help of the post's Ladies Auxiliary, historical society members will discuss the cold, wet, muddy and rat-infested conditions many soldiers contended with while fighting in battlefield trenches in France.

Tickets for the dinner and program are $10. More information can be obtained by calling the society's museum.

Auxiliary members are using the dinner as an opportunity to collect dinnerware items to give as housewarming gifts to veterans returning to civilian life.

For details about the drive, call auxiliary President Diane Ahrens at (224) 805-1220.

Marge Edwards of the Dundee Township Historical Society is planning Sunday's cemetery walk in Cemetery West in West Dundee. Daily Herald File Photo
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