Unique exhibit portrays various historic death rituals

ROCHELLE – A unique new exhibit will call the Flagg Township Museum home for the months of October and November.

The exhibit is located on the first floor in the front portion of the museum and is an interactive experience that portrays the different aspects and rituals related to death and mourning in early history. The exhibit has many different artifacts on display including a wreath made out of hair that was used as a memorial of the deceased.
Each of the pieces on display relates to a certain aspect of death and the process that follows it from memorial ceremonies to the clothes that they worn.
“The things on display are all representative of early information on funerals, death, mourning and even embalming,” explained Jan Devore, director of the Flagg Township Museum.
Among the artifacts is a list of all of the different symbols that were used on the gravestones and the meanings that went along with them. There is also a place for people to write their own epitaph, which is a phrase or sentence written on a gravestone in remembrance of the deceased.
Directly next to the display of mourning is a replica of a traditional Mexican Day of the Dead Ofrenda. An Ofrenda is a table or shelf that Hispanic family members place pictures and gifts on to help their deceased family members cross over into the afterlife. It is believed that if a family member’s picture is not placed on an Ofrenda that they will not be able to cross over into the afterlife.
“When putting together the Ofrenda we had the help of local Rochelle Township High School students,” Devore added.
Also on display on the Ofrenda is a picture of Pauline and Emilio Pena and their grandson Jerry, who were the first Hispanic family to come to Rochelle.


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