Mount Albion marble tablets with names of Civil War dead are deteriorating

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 November 2018 at 9:21 am

File photos by Tom Rivers: Inside the tower at Mount Albion Cemetery are nine marble tablets with 463 names of soldiers from Orleans County who died in the Civil War.

ALBION – When the Orleans County community built a Civil War monument in 1876 on a hill in the back of Mount Albion Cemetery, it included nine marble tablet inside the tower. The tablets list the names of 463 soldiers from the county who died in the war.

Some of the tablets are deteriorating and the names are hard to read, depending on how much exposure to the elements the tablets face in the base of the tower.

A Buffalo resident, with ties to the county, wants to have the tablets protected with a transparent covering. Donna Augspurger, whose grandfather is buried at Mount Albion, presented the idea to the Albion Village Board on Wednesday.

She is willing to pursue cost estimates for tempered glass and other options. The community may need to do a fundraising effort to pay for the project.

Mayor Elieen Banker said the village doesn’t have money in the budget, but she welcomed Augspurger’s interest in seeing the tablets preserved. Banker encouraged Augspurger to pursue quotes and plan for preserving the tablets.

Augspurger also suggested an interpretive panel be put by the tower to explain its history.

The tower was dedicated on July 4, 1876 as a memorial to the soldiers from Orleans County who died in the Civil War.

The tower is nestled in the southeast section of Mount Albion Cemetery. For 11 years after the Civil War, Orleans County residents pushed to raise money for a memorial to 463 county residents who perished in the war. Augspurger said there are about 35 to 40 other county residents who died in the war but their names aren’t included in the marble tablets. She said they should be recognized, too.

Quarrymen cut the stone and hauled it to the site. The community built a 68-foot-high tower, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, that has endured for 142 years. An 84-step spiral staircase allows people to climb the tower, to enjoy a view above the trees.

The tower was built in stages. Several times, the community ran out of money for the immense project. But residents met a deadline to have the tower done in time for the country’s centennial celebration. The monument was dedicated on July 4, 1876, the 100th anniversary of the country.

Due to safety concerns, the tower in Albion was off limits in the early 1970s. A group of high school students attended a Village Board meeting when one trustee suggested the tower be torn down. The high schoolers were outraged and spearheaded a “Save a Tower” campaign that raised $30,000 to strengthen masonry joints and repair the staircase. The tower was rededicated on July 4, 1976, the country’s 200th anniversary.

The community raised $30,000 to repair the steps and masonry joints inside the tower in the 1970s.

Augspurger said it is an impressive memorial, but is showing signs of decay, especially with the tablets listing the names of soldiers killed in the war.

“Doesn’t that just seem sad,” she said about the deteriorating tablets. “We can do better by these boys.”

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