The story of Memorial Day
It was an early fall day in 1864 when Emma Hunter and her friend, Sophie Keller, picked flowers and went to the old cemetery to lay them on the grave of Emma’s father, Reuben Hunter. Dr. Hunter was a young Boalsburg doctor at the time of the Civil War. When he volunteered to serve with the Army of the North, he was assigned to the hospital in Baltimore. In addition to attending the wounded soldiers, he also cared for the men who had contracted yellow fever while fighting in the southern swamplands. Dr. Hunter became ill and died of yellow fever and his body was buried in the Boalsburg cemetery.
On their way the two young girls met Mrs. Elizabeth Myers whose young son, Amos, had been killed the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg and was buried in the old cemetery.
Learning where the girls were going, Mrs. Myers asked to join them. They shared the flowers and placed them on both graves. It was decided then that they would meet the following year with flowers for all who had died in the Civil War. The three young women told their friends of the plans and when the day came ‘round, most of the villagers joined them.
From that simple beginning came the observance of Memorial Day in Boalsburg. Every year since then, the people have met on the Diamond in Boalsburg Square for the walk to the old cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of all the soldier dead. They are led by a home town band and all ages join in the walk and participate in the simple service of remembering.
Since 1974, the Boalsburg Village Conservancy has organized both the 6 PM service and a “Day in Towne” festival during the day to remember those who gave of themselves and to celebrate our community today. In 1978 the Conservancy organized the community committee which today still organizes the daytime festival which draws up to 25,000 people to Boalsburg in a single day.
-Excerpted from a text written in 1987 by Christopher Lee and Ruth Corter