Wood National Cemetery
The only natural cemetery in Wisconsin. It encompasses 50.1 acres and has 37,661 residents. It is a very large beautiful military cemetery in the middle of West Allis, WI. It is located directly behind the VA hospital on 56th and National. I have lived in Wisconsin for the majority of my 33 years, and I never knew that was there. I would see the white headstones when driving on the freeway, but I never realized the magnitude if the cemetery itself. Even when I arrived at the cemetery, It didn’t seem all that impressive. It honestly just looked like a memorial site and not an actual cemetery. It was just a small round a bout with markers going around it. It had flat gravestones on the land, but it still didn’t look like I had imagined it would. As I was taking some pictures, I noticed some beautiful old buildings in the background that I had never seen before. Again, I was born and raised here. How had I never seen these before? So I followed the road and came across all these beautiful old buildings and this huge graveyard with white stones everywhere. It was such a humbling site to see all these service members laid to rest here. I was, for a short period in my life, married to a service member. A Marine. To see all those headstones brought back memories of the friends that I had and lost. It really puts things in perspective in your life.
So I drove and looked at the buildings. They were fenced off but I was able to read the plaque outside one of the buildings. It was the “National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers”. It is the Ward Memorial Hall, Northwestern Branch, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So I did some research and looked into what it was. This was established in 1866 as an Old Soldiers home for American Civil War veterans. It is on the National Register of Historic places since 2005. It is a National Historic Landmark since 2011. It is also on the National Trust for Historic Preservation List of 11 most endangered historical places. It is in definite need of repair. I don’t know what they have planned for it, but I hope they do the much needed repairs.
After talking to my Great Grandma, I realized that her brother Lawrence is buried there with his wife MaryAnne. So I will be going back to Wood to find him, and will post when I do. Kinda took me by surprise, as I have done all the family genealogy. I can’t believe I didn’t realize that he was there.
Thank you for reading!
~ ❤ Ginger