Last night, I had the opportunity to portray the mother of Civil War soldier Ezra A. Patterson for Historic Pittsford’s Day of the Dead at the Pioneer Burying Ground in Pittsford, New York. This is the third year we held this event, and we were very fortunate that the weather held out and we had a crescent moon casting eerie shadows on the graves of the pioneers permanently residing at the Pioneer.
Pittsford Town and Village Historian, Audrey Johnson, led about 60 people through the cemetery to the graves of early settlers Stephen and Sarah Hincher Davis Lusk. Stephen had come to this area in 1791 with his father, John Lusk. A tanner by trade, Stephen had recently lost his wife. Sarah was a young widow of 24. One day, it became clear that Sarah needed a new pair of shoes. She stopped at the local tannery, where she met Stephen Lusk. They were soon wed. Sarah and Stephen would have six children together. Sarah died in 1856, aged 78. Stephen followed four years later, at age 84. They are buried together in the Lusk enclosure, which encompasses over twenty members of the Lusk family. Stephen and Sarah Lusk were portrayed by Joe Maxey and his wife, Peg.
Elihu Doud, the brickmaker, was next. This was Elihu’s first appearance at the Day of the Dead event. Elihu created the bricks that were used in many local homes and businesses. Rusty Likly, President of Historic Pittsford, played Elihu Doud.
Pittsford Supervisor Silas Nye was played by current Pittsford Mayor Bob Corby. Colonel Caleb Hopkins, as portrayed by David Minor, discussed how he met his future wife, Dorothy Maybee. Caleb learned the traveling preacher was in town, so he hiked over to Dorothy’s house, where he found her hanging out the wash. He asked for her hand, and they were married that day. Hannah Whipple Acer, wife of John Acer, told how her husband had purchased over 100 acres of land in Pittsford, including the Phoenix building, which is still in existence today, and which was made with bricks supplied by Elihu Doud. This was also Hannah’s first appearance at Day of the Dead, and her spirit was conveyed through Joanne Shannon. Peter Webster played John Ray, a doctor who had to ford dangerous streams in order to get to his patients.
The tour then headed east toward the grave of Ann Agate Miles, wife of Rev. Stephen Miles, portrayed by Liz Jackson-Renner. Another new addition this year was Caroline Maxfield Thornell, daughter of Hannah & Barnet Maxfield. Caroline was portrayed by Shelley O’Brien, who currently lives at the Thornell homestead. Audrey Maxfield Johnson portrayed her own relative, Hannah Maxfield. Then we heard the sad story of Sarah Wood Osgoodby, who lost eight of her eleven children to disease, all within several years of each other. Deborah Scrantom Resch played Sarah.
Carol Newcomb, wife of Newcomb descendant Michael, portrayed Julia Tobey Newcomb, an early pioneer who recalled coming to the area in 1848. I became Jane Ann Hecox Patterson, mother of Ezra A. Patterson, who had enlisted as a private in the 108th New York Infantry in 1862, but was quickly promoted to 1st Sergeant. Ezra’s first and last battle was Antietam, where he was severely wounded. After being sent to recuperate at Carver Hospital in Washington, D.C., Ezra died of a hemorrhage before his discharge papers came through. He was returned to Pittsford and buried beside his mother, Jane, who had died in 1853.
Thanks to all who attended and to those who gave of their time to bring the lives of these pioneers to light. It was a wonderful event, and I hope it is a program we will continue to present year after year.