A Village Tradition Since 1864
Located just off Route 322 in Centre County, Pennsylvania, Boalsburg is “An American Village – Birthplace of Memorial Day.”
It all began in October 1864, near the end of the American Civil War, when a young teenage girl named Emma Hunter – along with her friend Sophie Keller – gathered some garden flowers to place on the grave of Emma’s father, Dr. Reuben Hunter (a surgeon in the Union army). That same day, an older woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer, chose to scatter flowers on the grave of her son, Amos, who was a private in the Battle at Gettysburg. These women spoke of their memories and made a pact to meet again the following year to honor their loved ones as well as others who died in the war who no longer had anyone left to mourn them. In the ensuing months, Emma, Sophie, and Elizabeth shared their plan with friends and neighbors. On July 4, 1865, all of Boalsburg gathered along with a clergyman, Dr. George Hall, to make sure no grave was left undecorated.
This day of remembering became a tradition held annually in Boalsburg. Slowly, the neighboring communities also began observing “Decoration Day” each Spring. On May 5, 1868 (four years after that first meeting in the Boalsburg burial ground) General John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued an order. He named May 30, 1868 as a day “for the purpose of comrades who died in defense of their country.” Ever since, Boalsburg has held Memorial Day ceremonies every year to remember those who fought in wars and their loved ones who supported and honored their service.