Associate Director of the Neenah Historical Society
As the City of Neenah celebrates its Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary), the Neenah Historical Society’s annual cemetery walk will feature four of the area’s earliest founders and settlers. Since 1985, reenactors have visited the graves of notable locals who have been interred at Oak Hill Cemetery. This year’s event on Thursday, July 27 will take place between 6:30pm and 8pm. Featured stories will include that of Harvey Jones, Curtis Reed and George and Mary Mansur.
Harvey Jones will be portrayed by Neenah Historical Society Board Member Vance Pues. Pues is also responsible for the restoration of headstones at Oak Hill.
Jones was a successful businessman from the East Coast who partnered with Harrison Reed to financially back the purchase of Winnebago Rapids (present day Neenah). He is credited with providing the first five acres of land for what would be Oak Hill Cemetery as well as being the forgotten founder of Neenah. Jones died unexpectedly after being in Neenah for just three years. His time in the area was long enough however to create a lasting schism between Neenah and Menasha.
Curtis Reed was the brother of Harrison and came to the area after being promoted to oversee the Native American pay grounds near Butte des Morts. After deepening disagreements with Harvey Jones, Curtis began buying land and platting what would become Menasha. Curtis Reed Square in downtown Menasha is named after him.
George and Mary Mansur were Vermont farmers who came via steamboat through the Great Lakes. Their ship was eventually stuck in Kaukauna, unable to pass further south on the Fox River. The Mansurs and their children would settle in a primitive block house before moving to their farm on Lake Winnebago. They were instrumental in the creation of Lakeview School.
Oak Hill Cemetery is one of the oldest municipally owned cemeteries in the United States. It is owned and operated by the City of Neenah. It serves as a beautiful and historic background to the event. “The stories we are telling through the Cemetery Walk are important to our heritage and the legacy of our city,” said Erica Suchyta, Associate Director of the Neenah Historical Society. “These amazing individuals have come to rest at Oak Hill but their life stories are spectacular examples of Westward Expansion.”
Admission to the event is $5/person or $10/car load. More information can be found on facebook or neenahhistoricalsociety.com