July 26, 2012 Beecher Herald
The name “Bahlman” is a familiar name in and around Beecher: who doesn’t know Bahlman’s Auto Service and Tire Repair, on the corner of Penfield Street and Dixie Highway? Who knew that business began in 1921, started by Charles Bahlman? Or, that his older brother Henry F. Bahlman was the first Washington Township resident to run for countywide office in 1914.
Donald Bahlman, an architect in Virginia Beach, VA, is Henry Bahlman’s grandson. He is learning some of the facts about his family by visiting a new web site – http://beechermausoleum.org. Several of Don’s family members are interred in the Beecher Mausoleum.
Don was surprised to find the newly-created web site, literally hours after it became live. Coincidentally, he had been looking into his family’s history when he ran across the site.
“Although the web site is about the community at large, it did feel a little like it was ‘my’ family history on the internet when I first saw it. And immediately, I wanted to see more,” he said.
With an appetite for more information about his own family tree, he immediately contacted Sandra Thielman, the site’s webmaster.
Thielman, whose efforts to restore, repair, and preserve the mausoleum date back to the 1990s, has many of her own family members interred in the mausoleum.
“I really like genealogy and family history, and I know someone out there has old photographs and stories I’d like to see and hear,” Don told her. “I may have photos and stories that will interest others, as well. I’d like to see the web site filled with as much information that’s manageable so people, today, can better understand who those souls in the mausoleum were in life.”
His comment was exactly the point, according to Thielman. It is why she created the web site. During her extensive research in trying to locate the families of the souls entombed in the building, she learned much, but it isn’t enough. She would like to verify information with families for accuracy, as well as to enhance the site itself.
While the web site centers on the mausoleum, it also will include a history of the people buried there, painting a picture of life of early Beecher and Washington Township.
The Beecher Mausoleum, built in 1913, was designed to provide a clean, practical burial place as an alternative to open graves.
Thielman wants to establish a new Beecher Mausoleum Association this summer to oversee the care of the building. A previous organization has not been active since the late 1960s. The last board members, elected in 1933, have since passed on.
With a need for restoration and repairs of the building, a not-for-profit corporation to oversee the perpetual care of the building has been established.
“The time has come for a more permanent organization to not only preserve the mausoleum’s past,” said Thielman, “but to protect its future as well as the souls that rest eternally within.”
The web site, a work in progress, contains a comprehensive list of each of the persons buried in the building, with a photo of their head stone. Every effort is being made to provide a copy of the original obituary, along with as much pertinent information as possible about each person.
For more information, contact Sandra Thielman at (815) 788-9710 or email her at email@example.com