We always knew Oakdale Cemetery was a special place, but it took students from Nebraska to prove it to the National Park Service.
A while back, a group of Arlington High School honor students came to Davenport to research the cemetery’s connections to the Underground Railroad, hoping to find enough information to submit the site to the Network to Freedom registry.
The students visited our Special Collections Center and dug deeply into our local history resources, finding information about Oakdale and also Davenport residents like Milton Howard, a former slave.
According to an article published yesterday in the Arlington Citizen, the students were successful!
Four of the sites that they researched, including Oakdale, were accepted by the Park Service:
As excited as the students are, they know those who live near the sites will also be happy. Samantha Hoppe researched Oakdale Cemetery with Baylie Hilgenkamp and helped bring 11 individuals to life, including former slave Milton Howard.
“There were a few that knew about him, especially from the cemetery,” Hoppe said. “They had seen it and seen his story. Now they’re really excited like us that everyone is going to be able to know about this. The whole city is in on it and proud about it.”
We are very proud, both of Davenport’s place in this registry and of these students who did months of diligent research.
We’re also proud that our staff, SCIGS volunteers, and resources could assist them with this project.
Congratulations to Oakdale and to Mr. Jurgensen’s students!