Sitting among gravestones at the veterans’ cemetery in King, fourth-grade students from Waupaca Learning Center learned about three men and a dog who are a part of local history.
“We’re just happy that the veterans home supported this activity. We’re pleased to come up here to do something,” said Jennifer Kollath, who is the curator of education at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison.
She contacted teachers at Waupaca Learning Center about doing a local cemetery tour.
“We have a successful cemetery tour program in Madison,” she said. “We have never done anything here at the cemetery. We thought it would be a good way to get the students involved with the veterans home and local history.”
Fourth graders were chosen because “they’re learning about Wisconsin history and the Civil War in school. We get a lot of fourth graders in the museum. They really get into it. They like hearing the stories,” Kollath said.
The cemetery tour in King on Friday, May 18, was a pilot program for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and was modeled after a program the museum does each year in Madison.
That cemetery tour has taken place for about 13 years and includes a program specifically for students, as well as a day that the tour is open to the public, she said.
In all, about 2,500 people attend.
“We came out here and looked at some of the gravestones to tell some stories,” Kollath said.
The stories shared with the fourth-grade students were those of Theodore Goldin, Moses Ladd, Charles King and a German Shepherd named Brownie.
Brownie was owned by the Kembley Family.
“During World War II, they asked people to donate their German shepherds to the war effort,” Kollath said. “Brownie passed his test, met all the requirements and went off to war.”
During the war, a bullet hit one of his eyes, resulting in a loss of sight in that eye.
“He came back to King. They warned people that dogs might be different (after the war). Brownie came back as friendly as possible,” she said. “Apparently, he hung out at the veterans home and was just beloved by everyone in the home. Unfortunately, he was crossing the street one night, and because he couldn’t see out of one eye, he was hit.”
Brownie is the only dog buried in King’s cemetery, she said.
Goldin served at the Battle of Little Big Horn, and Kollath said they believe he is the only Medal of Honor recipient buried at the veterans cemetery in King.
“Charles King is not buried here, but with King being the namesake and with him known as the father of the National Guard,” she said they wanted to include his story in the cemetery tour.
As for Ladd’s story, Kollath said they were looking at records of who is buried in the cemetery when they discovered him.
Ladd, a member of the Menominee Nation, served in the 21st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.
John Sable wrote the scripts for the program, with Madison-based actors doing the portrayals.
The program for the fourth-grade students was followed by an afternoon program for the veterans.
Steve Elgersma was among the fourth-grade teachers accompanying the students on the cemetery tour.
“The kids really enjoyed it,” he said. “I’m glad they could hear Wisconsin history from this point of view.”
Kollath said, “The response of the school definitely warrants assessing if we should do this again next year.”