Last year, the BHHA created an exhibit about Bishop Hill’s involvement in World War I. While researching this topic, the Heritage discovered all types of stories. Today, we would like to share with you the story of the Memorial Trees. Starting in the fall of 1918, the American Forestry Association encouraged communities to plant Memorial Trees in tribute to those who gave their lives for their country in the Great War. Thousands of Memorial Trees were planted in every section of the United States. In the Spring of 1922, four elm trees were planted at the southern end of the “new” addition of the Bishop Hill Cemetery in memory of Erniel Johnson, Rudolph Nordeen, Fred Chester Peterson, and Wilber Hagberg. Each Memorial Tree had a metal badge with the name of one of these fallen Bishop Hill heroes.
The elm trees are no longer standing in the cemetery but some of the Memorial Tree Badges remain. The BHHA has the badges of Wilber Hagberg and Rudoph Nordeen. Where the other two are remains a mystery.