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Evergreen Burial Park takes a step back in time to recognize Roanoke historical figures

From the tales of a female aviator to uncovering a scandal in the Star City, Evergreen Burial Park hosts a history walking tour.
From the tales of a female aviator to uncovering a scandal in the Star City, Evergreen Burial Park hosts a history walking tour.

Roanoke, Va. – From the tales of a female aviator to uncovering a scandal in the Star City, Evergreen Burial Park hosts a history walking tour.

A crowd of more than 30 people hiked through Evergreen Burial Park to take a step back in time.

For the past 16 years, one of Roanoke’s oldest cemeteries hosts the walking tour to spotlight local influential figures.

Evergreen Memorial Trust President Don Wilson was eager to see visitors of young and old.

“I think people appreciate history,” Wilson said. “We want to remember our history and heritage. And what better place than a historic place like Evergreen.”

The first stop highlighted prominent woman aviator, Martha Anne Woodrum Zillhardt.

The crowd lingered on every detail about her career taking off at the age of 23.

Wearing a top hat and cane, Sam Winkler embodied the only Roanoke mayor to be impeached.

“If I’d come out here today in a pair of shorts for example to talk about Mayor Cutchins, I don’t feel it would have been nearly effective as me dressing in turn of the century clothing,” Winkler, a living historian for the past 20 years, said.

Winkler explained how Cutchins’ progressive views could not stop him from facing trial for allegedly protecting prostitution.

“People look at Roanoke and think it’s quiet and peaceful,” Winkler said. “But there was a day where it was far from being quiet and peaceful.”

The tour wrapped up with the tales from a confederate soldier as he stood next to Robert E. Lee’s memorial.

A moment of reflection Wilson wants people to walk home with.

“You know, every grave that you walk by and when you read a marker, you may have not known that person,” Wilson said. “But they had a story to tell.”


About the Author:

Alexus joined 10 News in October 2020.