Albion students dedicate new gravestones for 2 girls killed in 1859 bridge collapse

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 October 2017 at 9:13 am

Provided photos

ALBION – Albion seventh-grade students on Monday dedicated two headstones at Mount Albion Cemetery for children who died in the bridge collapse on the Erie Canal on Sept. 28, 1859, one of the worst tragedies in the community’s history.

There were about 250 people gathered on the Main Street bridge over the canal to watch a wire walker cross the canal. The bridge collapsed, killing 15 people. There were 11 children among the dead, including Lydia Harris, age 11. Lydia did not have a headstone.

Albion students, Alexis Hess (left) and Nicholas Harling are pictured with Al Capurso, president of the Orleans County Historical Association, at the new headstone for Lydia Harris.

The Historical Association donated $500 towards two headstones. In addition to the one for Lydia, the cemetery has a new headstone for Mary Jane Lavery, age 16. Her headstone was badly damaged. The Albion service-learning class was able to get two new “era appropriate” stones as replacements.

Service Learning teacher Tim Archer said that the students have enjoyed learning about local history and look forward to the other projects that are planned this year that are part of 200th anniversary observance of the start of the Erie Canal construction. Contractors started digging the canal in 1817 in Rome, NY. The full 363-mile-long canal was completed in 1825.

These students look at the original broken Lavery headstone. They include, from left: Mercy Sugar, Lisa Beam and Yoselyn Lauro.

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