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Lineup for Albion Ghost Walk includes war heroes and Santa

Staff Reports Posted 25 September 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – The Ingersoll Memorial Fountain, which was added to Mount Albion Cemetery in 1914, is pictured in the historic cemetery in this file photo. Mount Albion will host Albion students on their annual Ghost Walk on Oct. 3. Students will portray Emma Ingersoll, who bequeathed the fountain and a bench to the community.

ALBION – Students at Albion High School will highlight prominent residents at Mount Albion Cemetery on Oct. 3 during the annual Ghost Walk, which typically attracts 500 people to the historic cemetery on Route 31.

The students try to feature a different section of the cemetery with each Ghost Walk. This year’s tour will highlight war heroes, distinguished citizens and two murders that made national news and ended with the death penalty.

People must make reservations for the tour by calling the school office at (585) 589-2087. Tours start every 15 minutes, beginning at 5 p.m. with the last tour at 9:30 p.m. The tours go for about 45 minutes.

The tour will include the following:

JAMES SHERET (WWI) 1892-1918
James was honored for heroism in several single handed attacks against the enemy. He and his brother Egbert were both killed in action on September 29, 1918 in Rossnoy, France. Their unit broke through the Hindenburg Line. Their other brother, Andrew, was severely wounded. Albion’s American Legion Sheret Post #35 is named in their honor.

EUGENE BARNUM (WWII) 1917-1944
Cpt. Eugene E. Barnum Jr. was killed in action during World War II. He was responsible for shooting down two German planes during the war. On December 2nd the squadron was sweeping the airspace ahead of bombers heading towards Cologne and Frankfurt on what was called a “Ramrod Mission” (short range attack on ground targets). Eugene’s plane went down due to a mid-air collision. His brother, William Barnum, was also killed in action July 14, 1944.

ALICE WILLSON 1853-1887
Alice will tell the story from the grave of Ben Williams, attorney for her husband, George Willson. Willson was convicted of murdering his wife, Alice. He was the only man executed in Orleans County. He was hanged outside the courthouse in 1888.

ROBERT CANHAM (Civil War) 1837-1938
Robert Canham lived to be 101 years old. He fought in the Civil War and was a member of Battery F, 3rd U.S. Heavy Artillery and was allegedly present for Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, and Fredericksburg. “Big Grandpa” was well known in the area given the fact that he was the oldest and last surviving Civil War vet “wearer of the blue.”

JOHN G. RICE 1849-1917
John Rice was the Orleans County Sheriff during the 1894 murder of Emma Hunt by William Lake. Sheriff Rice organized a posse to find Lake, who hid after the murder. He evaded police for a few days, but was eventually caught in a barn and confessed willingly. He was one of first in NYS to be executed by electrocution.

SIDNEY EDDY (WWI) 1894-1989
Sidney was a member of the ambulance corps during the First World War. He was stationed in France and kept a diary from 1917-1919 that shared his experiences during the War until his return home.

DAVID JONES / MAUSOLEUM 1842-1898
David and Claudius Jones patented the mouse trap and manufactured them in large numbers. In 1878 they contracted for two million to be made at a rate of 1,000 each day.

ISAAC S. SIGNOR 1842-1935
Signor was Orleans County District Attorney and County Judge. He wrote the book, Landmarks of Orleans County, which is still widely used today as a local historic resource. He was co-executor of William Swan’s will and instrumental in establishing the Swan Library as a public library. He was a member of the Albion Central School District Board of Education and created the Signor Prize, which awards high school students for excellence in rhetorical work.

Lt. Col. C. ROYCE SAWYER (WWI) 1871-1924
Sawyer was a 30-year member of the Dye Hose Company (Albion Fire Department). As Fire Chief, he worked to have the entire company motorized. Sawyer was a cashier at Citizen’s National Bank. He served as County Treasurer and was a delegate to the Republican Convention in Rochester. During WWI, Sawyer was commissioned by the War Department in the Quartermaster Officer’s Reserve Corps. There he served as finance officer of Camp Sheridan in Alabama.

JEROME GUMAER (Civil War) 1843-1913
Gumaer served as a Union soldier in the Civil War. He was a sergeant in the 8th NY Heavy Artillery. He fought at Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and was wounded at Hatcher’s Run. At one point during the war he was captured and spent five months in Libby Prison.

Photo courtesy of Orleans County Department of History – Charles Howard is pictured by the sign of his famous Santa Claus School in Albion. The school has since been relocated to Michigan, but still bears Howard’s name.

EMMA INGERSOLL (1839-1911)
Mrs. Ingersoll’s husband, Francis, was the son of Nehemiah Ingersoll. Upon her death, she bequeathed the beautiful Ingersoll Fountain and bench, located near the entrance of Mount Albion Cemetery, to the Village of Albion with the stipulation that they must pay for the water to run the fountain.

ROBERT CAPSTICK (Civil War) 1834-1907
Robert Capstick fought in the Civil War. He was present at the second battle of Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg and was wounded at Chancellorsville. He was also imprisoned in Andersonville Prison. He returned to the Albion area destitute and was taken in by Sarah Harling who nursed him back to health. He gave her a George Washington button -his prized possession – as a thank you for her kindness.

CHARLES HOWARD 1896-1966
World renowned as Santa Claus, Howard opened his Santa Claus School in 1937. There he taught people from all over the world how to play Santa. In addition, he opened Christmas Park which included many attractions and a toy shop. The park attracted over 80,000 people each year. He was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa and a consultant on the movie Miracle on 34th Street. Howard’s legacy continues to this day with his Santa School (now located in Michigan.)