Mt. Albion Ghost Walk – How It All Began

Each of the past five years, AHS students have taken us on a walk through history at the Mount Albion Cemetery. They don period costumes to tell us the story of prominent and interesting former Albionites who now reside in Mount Albion. It is always an enjoyable and educational event and the students do an amazing job! They are about to take us on the 6th annual walk with new and fascinating stories! Come out and join us!

The 6th annual Mount Albion Ghost Walk will take place on Saturday, September 27th between 5pm – 9pm.  Tours begin every 15 minutes and last about one hour.  If you are interested in taking a tour, please pre-register by calling the Albion Central School District (Sue Starkweather Miller) at 589-2087.  The cost is $5.  We hope you join us as we take a walk back into Albion’s amazing history. 

Sue Starkweather Miller (class of 1981) is one of the organizers of the annual Ghost Walk. Here, she writes about how the idea was born and how it turned into the amazing event it that we enjoy today.

From Sue Starkweather Miller:

Growing up in Albion, I remember spending a lot of time at Mount Albion. When I was younger my friends and I would often ride our bikes (and later drive our cars) to the cemetery. We would sit by the pond and bring a picnic lunch, feed the fish the crusts from our sandwiches, walk around to gaze at the monuments, wonder about some of the people buried there, and end our visit by walking up the tower.  Every season was beautiful.  There, perched high above Albion, we could see for miles and miles to Lake Ontario, Somerset, and the hills beyond Batavia.  Of course the walk down the steps was a little precarious and my legs would be wobbly afterwards, but I was exhilarated from the experience.

Now, 30+ years later, I still have a great fondness for Mount Albion and enjoy sharing its magic with students and the community by coordinating the annual Ghost Walk at Mount Albion Cemetery along with fellow alumni and co-workers Mike Thaine (class of 1986 and high school instrumental director) and Gary Simboli (class of 1981 and high school choral director). The ghost walk gives students opportunities to learn about some of the famous residents of Albion’s past and share their knowledge with the community in a theatrical and entertaining way.

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(left – right) Mike Thaine (’86), Sue Starkweather Miller (’81), Gary Simboli (’81)

It all began about six years ago when Mike, Gary and I were talking about doing something fun with the students that could also be of service to the greater community. We thought of spotlighting our beautiful cemetery and rich history. We met with our County Historian, C. W. “Bill” Lattin. Bill, an Albion Alumnus (class of 1963) and former AHS teacher, loved the idea and laid out multiple tours located in different sections of the cemetery.  Students took a walk with Bill into Albion’s past and learned about some of the first Albion alumni who really made a difference in the early days of Albion’s history.  The students could hardly believe the stories Bill told of influential people that lived over one hundred years ago!  As a result, the students were proud of their local history and couldn’t wait to share it with the community at large.

That first year of the ghost walk we were very nervous; we had never tried anything like this before. To our amazement the community was incredibly interested and we sold out!  Each year since then we sell out our tour to 500 attendees. It is a real thrill for the students to see so many people interested in local history and heart-warming for Gary, Mike and I to see the community supporting our student’s endeavors.

Each year, the students use the money raised to give back to the community. Last year, for instance, they used the funds raised to purchase and erect a roof on the pergola in Mt. Albion Cemetery. Prior to this effort, the pergola was unfinished and it now is a beautifully finished feature in the cemetery and is enjoyed by many visitors.

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The pergola that was finished with funds raised from the 2013 ghost walk

This year, 66 students are participating in the ghost walk, which will take place in the area around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument Tower area. As typical for these events, the students will participate in a variety of ways — portraying our featured ghosts, performing musical numbers, providing technical support, and other behind the scenes activities necessary to ensure an event of this type goes on as smoothly as possible.

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Soldiers and Sailors Monument Tower – Mt. Albion Cemetery

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Looking out from inside the tower at Mt. Albion

Just a few of the ghosts joining us on the tour this year are:

Rufus Brown Bullock – He was Republican Governor of Georgia after the Civil War during the Reconstruction Era.

Elizabeth Harriet Denio – Art History professor at University of Rochester, helped establish the Memorial Art Gallery.

Judge Noah Davis – NY Supreme Court justice, presided over the trial of William “Boss” Tweed.

Nehemiah Ingersoll – Early pioneer, instrumental in Albion’s development as the County Seat.

Jennie Curtis – first female prisoner of the Civil War, accused a spy!

 

Here are a few photos from the cemetery and past year’s ghosts:

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Ingersoll Fountain

Named after the Ingersoll family – Nehemiah Ingersoll is one of this year’s featured ghosts

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Curtis Monument

Jennie Curtis is one of this year’s featured ghosts

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Joyce LaLonde as Caroline Phipps Achilles in 2010

Caroline Phipps Achilles will be featured this year, as well

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Michayla Miller as Elizabeth Harriet Denio in 2010

Another student will portray Ms. Denio again this year

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Joe Madejski as Sanford Church in 2013

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Gabbi Struble as Emma Swan in 2013

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Elijah Martin as Revolutionary War soldier, William Butts

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Shanna Broda as the special friend of Civil War soldier, Lewis Tyrell

If you haven’t reserved your spot in the tour, there are still spots available — contact Sue Starkweather Miller at 585-589-2087. We hope to see you there!

Be sure to pre-register – this event tends to sell out every year and space in each tour is limited.

Posted by Kim Wright Pritt

Historical Perspective written by Sue Starkweather Miller

Photos courtesy of Sue Starkweather Miller and Kim Wright Pritt

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