A website created by Ball State University students allows visitors on a walking tour of Beech Grove Cemetery to get detailed information about Muncie’s founding families, gas boom barons and military veterans.
Explore Beech Grove Cemetery includes about 50 biographies as well as bike routes, a list of monuments and a geocaching experience. Established 1841, the cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The immersive learning project began earlier this year when Muncie’s Beech Grove Cemetery Board asked Ball State students to write a book to document stories about the people in the cemetery and make that content accessible via smartphones and other mobile devices.
Under the direction of Ronald V. Morris, a Ball State history professor, students conducted research, identified themes, designed interpretation and selected stories for the book and website.
“The cemetery serves as an important guide to the rich history of Muncie,” he said. “It also indicates what the community believes is important to remember, as well as bringing to light stories and people previously unknown.”
Jeanna Gnade, a Ball State sophomore from Greenville, Ohio, said the project was an eye-opening experience.
“I didn’t know about Muncie’s historical figures until I got involved in the project,” she said. “I think that’s what made working on this project such a great experience. When I moved here last fall, I found out at orientation about the Ball brothers, who founded my university. Now, I’m so glad that I took the opportunity to learn more about Muncie’s history.
“I think that this mobile website will be great for those raised in Muncie and those who weren’t. It’s a great educational experience, and we’ve challenged ourselves to make it fun as well. Learning should be fun, and who says that cemeteries need to be scary?”
The project will continue in the fall with the creation of a new book examining the cemetery’s long history.
By Marc Ransford, Senior Media Strategist