For Nebraskans wanting to celebrate an old fashioned Memorial Day head to Prospect Hill Cemetery at 32nd and Parker Street in Omaha. Barbara Naughtin is co-president of the cemetery’s board of trustees and says you will get a real history lesson. The first settlers of Omaha traveled across the Missouri River on Mrs. Brown’s Flat Boat Ferry from Kanesville, Iowa (now Council Bluffs) in 1854. Those settlers among others are buried at Prospect Hill.
Naughtin says, “It is the oldest cemetery in Douglas County and the thing that makes it quite significant is that so many founding fathers are buried here. Byron Reed, the original purchaser of the land. Levi Carter who named Carter Lake. It is a bit of history you can walk amongst.”
Naughtin says Prospect Hill was declared a cemetery in 1858 and religious leaders, mayors and judges are buried there and many of the city’s streets, parks and schools are named after them like Metz, Poppleton, Reed, Krug and Lowe.
All the veteran’s graves will be marked with flags. They have veterans buried there dating back to the Civil War as well as one veteran who fought in the War of 1812. Prospect Hill was designated an Historic Site in 1979.
The Memorial Day service will start at 11 a.m. with the Prospect Hill Preservation Brass Band starting music at 10:45 a.m. The event includes Civil War re-enactors who will salute our veterans with a 21 gun salute using muskets. After the program those attending will take a short walk for a special memorial service Anna Wilson’s grave. Wilson was a “madam” who operated a 25 room house near 9th and Douglas Street. She left her entire fortune to the city and donated her house to be use used as a charitable hospital for those in need. Wilson passed away in 1911 and she is eulogized every year and flowers placed on her grave.
Books and refreshments will be available for purchase. This is the organization’s only fundraiser of the year so donations will be accepted. Recently the Foundation Board established an educational outreach plan to enhance the teaching of the region’s history at local schools.