Meet the Guides
Returning to the states Garret left nursing and served as Vice-President of the Western Illinois Regional Museum in 2004 in Macomb and served as the Chairman of the Historical Task Force under the guise of the Community Quality of Life Advisory Committee 2004-06. He has also written and contributed to numerous local history articles and publications.
In 2002, Garret created Macomb's first haunted history tour which received several local awards over five years. In 2005 Garret's Haunted History Walk took the top honor in the state out of 55 other communities vying for the prestigious "Main Street Award for Historical Development." But with the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum Garret's attention turned towards Springfield.
Garret was the first to offer this new form of tourism business in Springfield and Lincoln's Ghost Walk trial tours began in mid-August 2005. Since then Springfield Walks has received accolades in national and international press.
Garret has also published three books; Lincoln's Ghost: Legends & Lore(Author House 2009) Haunted Macomb(The History Press 2010) Haunted Springfield (The History Press 2011).
Garret also plays the character of Ward Hill Lamon for Springfield. Lamon was a close friend and law associate and Abraham Lincoln, He was a U.S. marshal and Lincoln's personal bodyguard, but was away on the nation's business that fateful theater night; a regret Lamon had to live with the rest of his life. During the tour season you can find Garret tending to Lincoln at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, escorting tour groups or walking the streets engaging with the tourists.
|Erica Smith - Erica has been helping to lead the Lincoln's Ghost Walk for four years now. She has a BA in English from McKendree College, and an MA in English from the University of Westminster in London, England.
Erica is a Springfield native recalled visiting the Lincoln sites as part of grade school field trips, but she never realized her interest in Lincoln history until she played the role of Sarah Bush Lincoln. Since then Erica has been fascinated by the Lincoln story.
"Feeling you are a part of history gives you an insight into the human side of iconic historical figures," she said. "I enjoy learning more about Lincoln as a regular guy - since I played Sarah, I've gained a whole new appreciation for Abraham Lincoln the son, husband, father, and lawyer, as well as Abraham Lincoln the President."
By day Erica works at Memorial Hospital in HR, and in her free time enjoys reading, American history, travelling, flowers, running and writing.
Dennis Mastroddi - joined Springfield Walks in 2013 and functions as a step-on and personal guide. He studied Education A.A.S. Agri. Resources, Carl Sandburg, Jr. Galesburg, Ill. and earned his B.A. Sangamon State University, (U.I.S.) in Environmental Studies, Natural and Cultural Resources. Dennis's special interest was in Environmental Education.
Dennis has been a professional tour guide, docent, and historical site interpreter for almost thirty years in Springfield. He spent six years working as a Park Ranger with the National Park Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and then twenty three years as a Site Interpreter with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, working at all the Historic Sites in Springfield, Ill.
Over his career as an historic interpreter Dennis has researched, designed and presented tens of thousands of tours. In addition to his interpretive skills, Dennis has also facilitated programs, events, activities and ceremonies of all types at the Lincoln sites. Throughout his impressive career Dennis has served all walks of life from average visitors to world leaders and their entourages. Most of the tours Dennis has conducted however involved middle school students on field trips following their studies in Abraham Lincoln, state and national history, government and constitutions. Dennis has always had a deep appreciation of Abraham Lincoln and much of his personal research stems from Abraham Lincoln and his life and times, which is a history that encompasses a better part of the nineteenth century. Even after thirty years of conducting tours, Dennis states he is inspired when people on one of his tours is able to connect the dots which inspires them to create their own picture of Lincoln.
Dennis loves to connect with his audience and is always quick with some sort of historical quip. "Front line interpretation has always been my favorite, relating patterns of the past to the present can help predict a future."