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Civil War vet in Albion gets headstone 101 years after death

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 May 2016 at 12:00 am
John Frost grave marker

Photos by Tom Rivers – A new headstone was unveiled on Saturday for John Frost, a principal musician (chief bugler) for the 33rd New York Infantry and also the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division of 6th Corps. Frost was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Brown Road in 1915.

ALBION – A Civil War veteran who raised five children in Orleans County and sold coal for a living was buried in the older St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Brown Road in 1915, more than a century ago.

Last year, the Holy Family Parish was going through records at the cemetery and realized that John Frost never had a headstone. County Historian Matt Ballard, a member of the parish and also the Knights of Columbus, shared the story with Tim Archer, a service learning teacher at Albion Central School. Archer looks for community projects where 140 seventh graders can learn local history and also address a need.

The students wanted Frost to have a headstone. They worked with the Veterans Service Agency in Orleans and Niagara counties to secure a headstone for Frost. The marble stone was unveiled on Saturday during a service at the cemetery.

Archer said the government officials in the Washington, D.C. Monuments Office moved quickly to process and approve the request before the school year ended. He thanked Tony Navarra from the Holy Family Parish for setting the stone in the historic cemetery.
Leeanna Montanarella
Seventh-grader Leeanna Montanarella shares John Frost’s biography. Frost was born in England on June 22, 1836. At age 13 he left for the United States with his father John and brother Edward on the Northumberland. They arrived in New York City on April 18, 1850 and moved to South Barre. In 1860, Frost was working as a farmer. He enlisted in the Union Army in his mid-20s and served three years.

Frost had the rank of musician, which was just below corporal and just above private. In the Civil War, musicians were relied upon to entertain troops, position troops in battle and stir them on to victory.

Frost, according to the 1880 Census, was married to Margaret Cusack and had five children, ages 14, 11, 9, 6 and 4.

Bryne Dysard

Bryne Dysard, an Albion seventh grader, reads Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address – “With malice towards none, with charity for all” – from March 4, 1865.

John Frost grave marker unveiling

Students Kyle Lonnen and Noah Rowlett unveil the headstone while teacher Tim Archer watches at St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

Bob Ballard and Casimer Pruski

Knights of Columbus members Bob Ballard, left, and Casimer Pruski, both past grand knights, present a grave marker, noting that Frost served in the Civil War for the Union, at his grave during Saturday’s ceremony.

Union Veteran grave marker

This grave marker was given by the K of C to recognize Frost’s service for the Union.

Matt Ballard

Matt Ballard, a member of the Knights of Columbus and the county historian, thanked Albion students for working to recognize John Frost. “It is a great honor and privilege to congratulate Mr. Archer and his students on a job well done, their noble task is appreciated by all who cherish the liberties provided by the sacrifices of those who passed before us.”

Ballard said Frost had “quietly passed into the annals of history, forgotten for decades” until Albion students pushed to have him recognized.

“The commitment of our youth to the cause of historic preservation fuels the fire and the desire to share that history with the greater community,” Ballard said.

Seventh graders playing taps for John Frost

Three seventh graders play Taps, including, from left: Kailey Merrill, Lauren Wehling and Ashley Ames.

Tim Archer and seventh graders with John Frost grave marker

Tim Archer and the seventh graders are pictured with the new headstone for John Frost.