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Holley ‘ghosts’ share grief and grandeur from community’s past

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 October 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers
HOLLEY – There was suffering and grief, lots of it in the 1800s and early 1900s. During a Ghost Walk on Saturday, when eight people at the cemetery were portrayed, many of the stories were heart-breaking, such as the life of Mary Youngs Buddery.

The Hulberton woman lost her husband John W. Buddery and four of their children to diphtheria in early 1888. Abby Blendowski, pictured in top photo, shared Buddery’s story.

Gina Buda, a GCC student from Bergen, portrayed Lillian Bentham, who survived the sinking of The Titanic in April 1912. Bentham was one of 710 to survive, while 1,514 died, including her godfather William Douton and another companion from Holley.

Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers portrayed William Douton, one of two Holley men who perished on The Titanic. Douton and Peter MacKain were both British quarrymen who returned to the Isle of Guernsey for the winter of 1911-1912.

They were coming back to the Holley area in April 1912. A marker in the cemetery notes their deaths. It is a memorial for the two men, paid for by the Order of the Oddfellows.

Dan Hamner, a GCC history professor, portrays Joseph Hess, who was a boxer and bar owner before turning temperance evangelist.

He would write an autobiography called “Out of Darkness, Into Light” in 1890, detailing his early life, his subsequent religious conversion and the importance of a life dedicated to temperance. He died at his home in Clarendon in 1893.

Hamner passed out temperance challenge cards with Joseph Hess’s picture. The cards sought people’s pledge and signature to abstain “from the use of all intoxicating liquors.”

Hamner handed out nearly 100 cards on Saturday night, but no one was willing to take the temperance oath.

Alex Farley, a GCC student from Corfu, portrays John Berry, who helped establish Hillside Cemetery in 1866 and served as its long-time president until his death in 1892. The cemetery’s older section has a park-like setting and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Berry was also a politician who represented Orleans County in the State Legislature.

Another ghost included Lydia Wright Butterfield, who spoke about her husband Orson, who developed “Gold Fever” and headed to California, leaving his family for 16 years. Mr. Butterfield had a cobblestone house built in Clarendon in 1849. (The house was recently restored.)

Butterfield’s wife listed him as a widow in one census. He would come home and lived another 20 years with his wife. The family endured the loss of three young children.

The Ghost Walk tour included a visit with the “ghost” portraying Herbert Charles Taylor, who is believed to be the only Orleans County resident to die during the battle at Gettysburg.

Phoebe Sprague also was featured. She worked as a doctor in Holley, one of the first women in that role locally. A historic marker notes her distinction on Geddes Street.