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March 30, 2022 - 7:25pm

Don Burns did something recently he probably never imagined when he graduated from Batavia High School in 1992 -- dress up as Darth Vader and recite one of Shakespeare's famous monologues in the Richmond Mausoleum. 

Burns, now a teacher in Rochester, was both Darth Vader and executive producer of a Star Wars fan film, Tomorrow & Tomorrow.

The production was a project of 501st Legion's Garrison Excelsior, a worldwide not-for-profit costuming group that raises awareness and money for charities while spreading its members' love for Star Wars.

So far, the film has raised $1,200 for Make-A-Wish.

Burns and another Garrison conceived of the film.

"While researching for upcoming lessons, I happened upon a short film about a Stormtrooper reciting Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech," Burns said. "As an English teacher, and Darth Vader, I've mused with Vader as the title character in Macbeth and was disappointed that I was beaten to the punch. My friend, who is a mask-maker by profession, encouraged me  to look further into it and together we mapped out a way to get it done."

Half the movie was shot at Rochester's Sunken Garden and half at the mausoleum in Batavia.

The film was directed by Joseph Palluconi. The editor was Mark Lukenbill

"When all was said and done, it turned out better than I ever had a right to imagine," Burns said.

Here's a behind-the-scenes video about the making of the film.

February 24, 2022 - 6:19pm

cropcarpet_renovator_may_1_1897.jpg

Article by Sharon Burkel
Batavia Cemetery Association

Many famous and influential citizens are buried in the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue, and their stories are familiar to many. The founding families of Batavia: the Ellicotts, the Richmonds, the Brisbanes, and the Carys; the Confederate soldier Philemon Tracy and his uncle, Judge Phineas Tracy, who brought Philemon’s body back over enemy lines for burial; and the infamous William Morgan, the man who threatened to reveal Masonic secrets, was kidnapped and disappeared. But every stone in a cemetery represents the story of a person who played a part not only in the lives of their friends and family but also in building the fabric of the community. Sometimes their stories get lost in time, especially when there is no gravestone.

Such is the case of Watson Bullock, a Black entrepreneur, businessman, and activist who lived in LeRoy and Batavia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Russell Nephew, a Batavia resident who collects Batavia artifacts, contacted the Batavia Cemetery Association after he received a request from Glenn Hinson, Associate Professor of Folklore and Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Professor Hinson is doing research on the Bullock family and inquired if Watson is buried in the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue.  The cemetery’s old records show that Watson, his wife Martha, and four of his children rest in the northeast corner of the cemetery. Mr. Nephew and this writer walked the cemetery to find their graves, and discovered they are all unmarked.

Ruth McAvoy writes in her book The History of Batavia, “One family that contributed to the local area was that of the Watson Bullocks who for many years lived at 113 Liberty Street. The Bullocks moved to Batavia from LeRoy about 1880. For years, the Bullocks ran a drycleaning establishment and manufactured and sold bluing (which adds a trace amount of blue dye to white fabric during laundering to improve its appearance) in bottles that still turn up in local dumps. A manuscript history of the Free Methodist Church identifies Watson Bullock as the man who preserved the $50 from the sale by the church of the Holland Land Office and made sure that the money would be available when the Methodist Society was ready to purchase a new place of worship. He was also one of the founders of the Emancipation Celebration Society.”

Mr. Bullock was born in North Carolina sometime in 1844 and moved to LeRoy after the Civil War with his family, who were reported to be ex-slaves.  In 1871, a newspaper ad in The LeRoy Gazette shows he was cleaning and repairing clothes in LeRoy, which continued until he married the widow, Martha Butler, on May 6, 1878. She was a hairdresser in LeRoy. Business ads in The Daily Morning News indicate that in October 1878, they moved to Batavia to establish a dyeing and cleaning business at 104 Main Street; that in April 1880 they moved their home and business to the southwest corner of East Main and Cemetery Streets (now Harvester Avenue), and again in June 1880 to 6 State Street. The Batavia Daily News ads show they moved in July 1881 to 25 Jackson Street, in 1889 to 30 Liberty Street, in 1891 to 9 South Liberty Street, and in 1902 to 113 South Liberty Street, where they remained until Watson’s death on March 21, 1918. During these years the Watsons manufactured and sold liquid bluing, five different colors of ink for dyeing, created the “London Carpet Renovator” to clean carpets in place, repaired and cleaned clothes, and sold second-hand household items and clothes, books, notions, and patent medicines.

The Bullocks’ life was not easy. Professor Hinson relates that they lost seven of their eight children by 1890 and wrote, “That’s a long hard list…and with none living more than ten years.” Three of the children buried in the Batavia Cemetery died within four months in 1890 of consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis): Hattie, on July 19th, aged 1 year, 3 months; Edmund, on September 2nd, aged 6 years; and Watson, on November 15th, aged 1 year, 7 months. The fourth child, Eva Estelle, died on August 4, 1871, aged 9 years.

An article by Alice Zillman Chapin in The Batavia Daily News dated Saturday, April 8, 1961, entitled “There is Civil War Issue Behind Church’s Centennial,” tells that a “mystery book,” which had been discovered in the attic of the Cattaraugus Free Methodist parsonage in 1959, revealed that the Batavia Free Methodist congregation in Batavia had been founded in April of 1861, not 1878 as they had previously thought. The Free Methodists were staunch abolitionists and had broken with the Methodist Episcopal Church throughout the United States.

Chapin writes, “It was an ex-slave from North Carolina, Watson Bullock, who was responsible for keeping the newborn Batavia Free Methodist Church on its feet. Under his leadership, meetings were held in two rooms of the house at the west corner of East Main and Harvester Avenue. Strangely enough, by 1880, the Holland Land Office entered the picture. The building was purchased by the Free Methodists from Ruth Bryan whose mother had conducted the Bryan Young Ladies’ Seminary there. Church meetings were held on one side of the building, which was, according to records, divided by a long hall. Apartments made up the other side.”

Chapin continues, “With finances somewhat shaky, the little band of Free Methodist pioneers sold their historical Land Office church to Kate and Edna Clapsaddle Lawrence…. With much foresight, the ex-slave, Watson Bullock, held the money from the Land Office sale in trust, feeling certain that somehow, someway, the Batavia group would be able once again to purchase their own church building. Church records show, interestingly enough, that there was some dispute as to how the funds should be spent, but Mr. Bullock staunchly guarded the money for four years. By 1893, with funds from the Bullock account, the half-completed property at Ellicott St. and Linwood Avenue was purchased. The Batavia Methodist Episcopal Church had abandoned plans for the building and put the unfinished structure up for sale. Originally the Free Methodists planned it as a mission to the foreign-born of the city but it later became their church home.”

Although they suffered unimaginable grief in the loss of their children, Watson and Martha were always concerned about their community and fellow man and faithful to their church. Articles in The Daily News reported they collected clothing for the “…suffering colored refugees of Southern Kansas…” after a nine-month drought in 1880-81, allowed their business at 9 South Liberty Street to be used as a District 6 polling place in 1891, and held Free Methodist prayer and home missionary society meetings at their different homes. In 1900, Watson was sworn in as an officer (Orderly) of the Salvation Army. He had a float in the 4th of July parade in 1907 and was elected as an alternate delegate for District No. 5 to the Prohibition County Convention in 1910. He donated 10% of his sales in December 1914 to the Belgian Relief Fund as the German-occupied country was suffering great food shortages in World War I. In 1917, Watson was elected chairman of the new Emancipation Celebration Society.

The Daily News reported Watson’s death on March 21, 1918:

Well-Known Resident Died Following Stroke of Apoplexy

“Watson Bullock died about 6 o’clock this morning at his home, Number 113 South Liberty Street. He had been confined to his bed about ten days and it was believed that he suffered a stroke of apoplexy (cerebral hemorrhage).

Mr. Bullock was 73 years old and had resided in Batavia about 50 years, being well-known and respected. He was a trustee of the Free Methodist Church of Ellicott Street and was an active supporter of the Salvation Army. For several years he manufactured and sold blueing in wholesale and retail quantities and in recent years he had conducted a secondhand store. Besides his wife he is survived by son, John Bullock, a daughter, Miss Adeline Bullock, both of whom reside at home, and a stepson, George Butler of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Bullock came north with his parents from North Carolina, where the family was in slavery before the Civil War. The family lived in Leroy for a short time, before coming to Batavia.”

Alice Chapin also wrote about Bullock’s passing, “Watson Bullock was widely loved and respected by townspeople of all faiths in Batavia. Readings in the ‘mystery’ record book tell that in 1918, when he died, the Free Methodist Church that he so dearly loved, was crowded with prominent people who came to honor him for his faithfulness to his God, his church and his community.”

On April 6, 1918, The Daily News reported the value of Watson’s estate as “…$4,650, of which $450 is in personal property.” ($85,650 today!) It was left to Martha as executrix and would go to the children at her death. Sadly, Martha Bullock died May 2, 1936, at the age of 89 at the Genesee County Poor Farm in Bethany.

The Free Methodists sold their building on Ellicott Street to Mt. Zion Baptist Church and built a new church on Bank Street in 1968, which is now Arbor House, part of Northgate Free Methodist Church. When the new church was dedicated, Dorothy Parker wrote in The Daily News on April 27, 1968, that according to a history written by longtime parishioner Mrs. Erwin Worthington, “Watson Bullock, an ex-slave who had operated a large dry cleaning business in Le Roy and Thomas Hill, body servant to a Confederate officer, were members of this early church.”  She also recounts that the Holland Land Office building was sold for $500, not $50 as McEvoy said and that the money was ‘…banked by Watson Bullock, rather than returned to the church conference as was customary. Mr. Bullock was determined to re-activate the church in Batavia.’”

For many years, it was thought that the only person of color buried in the Historic Batavia Cemetery was a woman named Addy. The inscription on her stone reads, “For 46 years the faithful colored servant of the Reverend Lucius Smith and family. Died January 28, 1857, aged 50 years.”

The Association thanks Professor Hinson and Russell Nephew for bringing to light the story of the Bullock family and their contributions to the Batavia community. Every soul in a cemetery has a story, and they all deserve to be remembered.

Previously: In 1921, Matthew Bullock fled to Batavia on his way to Canada to escape lynching

August 30, 2021 - 9:56am
posted by Press Release in historic batavia cemetery, batavia, news.

Press release:

The Batavia Cemetery Association is excited to announce that the annual Halloween Candlelight Ghostwalk is back! Join us to meet the famous and infamous movers and shakers who shaped and influenced the City of Batavia on Saturday, October 23rd, 2021, on a ghost walk through the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue in Batavia, NY. 

The guided tour on candlelit paths will bring guests to meet men and women of Batavia, who, for various reasons, held great power and exerted great influence in their day, were victims of tragic events, or both. Philemon Tracy, one of the few Confederate officers buried in the north, Ruth the unknown victim of a horrendous murder, Joseph Ellicott, a man of great power and great flaws, and William Morgan, the man who disappeared and was allegedly murdered before he could reveal the secrets of the Masons, are some of the ghosts who will tell their stories on the tour.

Also visiting will be Civil War veteran General John H. Martindale, who was Military Governor of the District of Columbia in 1865 and James Holden, a sergeant in the American Revolution. Dean and Mary Richmond, who greatly influenced business and civic life in Batavia in the 1800s, will meet with guests in their beautiful mausoleum on the last stop of the tour. Mr. Richmond made a great fortune in Great Lakes shipping and was the second president of the New York Central Railroad. Mrs. Richmond vastly expanded her husband’s fortune after his death and sat on the boards of many businesses and civic organizations. 

Tours begin at 7:00 p.m. and run every fifteen minutes until 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes refreshments. Reservations are required. Proceeds benefit the upkeep and restoration of the cemetery. For more information, or to make reservations, contact (585) 943-5662.
 

September 23, 2020 - 2:37pm

Top photo taken in January.

Submitted photos and press release from the Batavia Cemetery Association:

With heavy hearts and out of an abundance of caution, the Batavia Cemetery Association Board of Directors decided to cancel the annual Halloween Candlelight Ghostwalk for Oct. 24.

After much discussion, the board felt the safety of the reenactors and the public could not be guaranteed during the coronavirus pandemic when people must stand so closely together to hear the presentations. 

This is a financial blow, as the ghost walk is a major yearly fundraiser for the upkeep of the cemetery. 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, and the cemetery has suffered great losses as well.

One of the oldest maple trees in the cemetery, and probably in Batavia, was felled by winds in January. It is reckoned the tree was approximately 200 years old. During the same storm, a large branch came down from another maple in front of the Ellicott Monument and that tree needs to be removed.

Several headstones were damaged and need repairing.

Earlier this month, a large maple along the driveway was split in half by high winds and took down two new maple trees on the other side of the driveway that were planted several years ago. It has cost several thousand dollars so far to remove three large trees.

Three other maples that have reached the end of their lives and three ash trees that have been killed by the Emerald ash borer must be removed to prevent further headstone damage. 

The board hopes to remove the dead trees this fall and begin a project next summer to grind out the stumps and replace the stately maples along the driveway. To accomplish this will require community help.

Any donations would be gratefully accepted, and may be made to Batavia Cemetery Association, 22 Fisher Park, Batavia, NY 14020. 

Please come and have some spooky fun in October, 2021 at the next Halloween Candlelight Ghostwalk!

Below, another photo from January.

Below, photo taken this month.

Below, another photo from taken this month.

October 9, 2019 - 11:24am

From the Historic Batavia Cemetery Association:

The Historic Batavia Cemetery Candlelight Ghostwalk on Oct. 26th is a sellout. People may still call 943-5662 and leave their name and phone number if they wish to be placed on a cancellation list.

September 12, 2019 - 6:06pm

Living history reenactors portraying Dean and Mary Richmond; taken by Howard Owens on Oct. 13, 2012.

Press release:

Join us to meet the famous and infamous movers and shakers who shaped and influenced the City of Batavia on Saturday, Oct. 26th, when the Batavia Cemetery Association will host a candlelight guided ghost walk through the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue in Batavia.

The guided tour on candlelit paths will bring guests to meet men and women of Batavia, who, for various reasons, held great power and exerted great influence in their day, were victims of tragic events, or both.

Philemon Tracy, one of the few Confederate officers buried in the North; Ruth the unknown -- victim of a horrendous murder; Joseph Ellicott, a man of great power and great flaws; and William Morgan, the man who disappeared and was allegedly murdered before he could reveal the secrets of the Masons, are some of the ghosts who will tell their stories on the tour.

Also visiting will be Civil War veteran General John H. Martindale, who was Military Governor of the District of Columbia in 1865.

Dean and Mary Richmond, who greatly influenced civic life in Batavia in the 1800s, will meet with guests in their mausoleum on the last stop of the tour. Dean Richmond made a great fortune in Great Lakes shipping and was the second president of the New York Central Railroad. Mary Richmond vastly expanded her husband’s fortune after his death and sat on the boards of many businesses and civic organizations.

Come and have some spooky fun! Tours begin at 7 p.m. and run every 15 minutes until 8:30.

Admission is $10 and includes refreshments. Reservations are required. For more information, or to make reservations, contact (585) 943-5662.

Proceeds benefit the upkeep and restoration of the cemetery.

October 19, 2018 - 5:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in historic batavia cemetery, Ghost Walk, news.

Tomorrow night's Candlelight Ghost Walk in Historic Batavia Cemetery is sold out.

Organizers say they even added an extra hour to the event, which requires reservations, but it still sold out.

Organizers are excited about the ghost walk's popularity and hope for a good turnout next year, too.

Proceeds go for cemetery upkeep.

File photos.

October 3, 2016 - 4:18pm

Press release:

Join us for some spooky fun on Saturday, Oct. 22nd, when the Batavia Cemetery Association will host a candlelight guided ghost walk through the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue in Batavia.

The tours will feature the famous and infamous movers and shakers who shaped and influenced the City of Batavia.

The guided tour will bring guests to meet men and women of Batavia, who, for various reasons, held great power and exerted great influence in their day, were victims of tragic events, or both: Philemon Tracy, one of the few Confederate officers buried in the north; Ruth, the unknown victim of a horrendous murder; Joseph Ellicott, a man of great power and great flaws; and William Morgan, the man who disappeared and was allegedly murdered before he could reveal the secrets of the Masons. These are some of the ghosts who will tell their stories on the tour.

Also visiting will be: Thomas Hunt, a Union soldier who was wounded at Gettysburg during Pickett’s Charge; Rev. John H. Yates, poet, preacher, philanthropist, journalist and author of nationally known hymns; and Civil War veteran General John H. Martindale, who was Military Governor of the District of Columbia in 1865.

Dean and Mary Richmond, who greatly influenced civic life in Batavia in the 1800s, will meet with guests in their mausoleum on the last stop of the tour. Mr. Richmond made a great fortune in Great Lakes shipping and was the second president of the New York Central Railroad. Mrs. Richmond vastly expanded her husband’s fortune after his death and sat on the boards of many businesses and civic organizations.

Tours begin at 7 p.m. and run every 15 minutes until 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes refreshments. 

Tickets are available at the gate the day of the event at Historic Batavia Cemetery, Harvester Avenue, Batavia. Reservations are suggested. Proceeds benefit the upkeep and restoration of the cemetery.

For more information, or to make reservations, contact 343-0248.

April 6, 2016 - 12:56pm

Press release:

The Batavia Cemetery Association will hold a Victorian Home Tour from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 15th. The interior home tour will feature some of Batavia's finest examples of Victorian architecture.

The tour starts at the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue at 12:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25 and may be purchased online at bataviacemetery.com, in person (after April 16th) at Pollyanna & Dot at the Hidden Door, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, or by calling (585) 343-0248. Any remaining tickets may be purchased at the cemetery the day of the tour, however advance purchase is recommended as a limited number will be sold.

No children under the age of 12, please.

All proceeds benefit the upkeep and restoration of the Historic Batavia Cemetery, which was founded in 1823 and was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2002.

September 10, 2015 - 9:56am
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, historic batavia cemetery, Ghost Walk.

Press release:

On Saturday, Oct. 24th, the Batavia Cemetery Association will host a candlelight guided ghost walk through the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue in Batavia. The tours will feature the famous and infamous movers and shakers who shaped and influenced the City of Batavia.

The guided tour will bring guests to meet men and women of Batavia, who, for various reasons, held great power and exerted great influence in their day, were victims of tragic events, or both: Philemon Tracy, one of the few Confederate officers buried in the North; Ruth, the unknown victim of a horrendous murder; Joseph Ellicott, a man of great power and great flaws; and William Morgan, the man who disappeared and was allegedly murdered before he could reveal the secrets of the Masons, are some of the ghosts who will tell their stories on the tour.

Tours begin at 7 p.m. and run every fifteen minutes until 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes refreshments. Tickets are available at the gate the day of the event at Historic Batavia Cemetery, Harvester Avenue, Batavia. Reservations are suggested. Proceeds benefit the upkeep and restoration of the cemetery.

For more information, or to make reservations, contact 343-0248. Join us for some spooky fun!

May 25, 2012 - 12:45pm

The Batavia Cemetery Association, in conjunction with the Genesee County History Department, will host a guided ghost walk through the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 2.

The tours will feature some of the finest ladies who ever graced the community.

Guests will meet the late, great women of Batavia who, for various reasons, held great power and exerted great influence in their day. Mary Richmond and Rachel Ellicott Evans, among others, will tell the stories of their interesting lives and very powerful families. Lucinda Morgan may finally tell what happened to her husband, William Morgan, after he threatened to reveal Masonic secrets. And there may be a guest appearance by a ghost who knows many secrets of the powerful men of Batavia.

Tours begin at 2 p.m. and run every 15 minutes until 4 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes iced tea and cookies. Tickets are available at the cemetery gate the day of the event.

Proceeds benefit the upkeep and restoration of the cemetery. For more information, contact the Genesee County History Department at 344-2550, ext. 2613.

A Special Extra Event: Readings from "Indigo Insight" by Frank R. Lord, registered psychic, clairvoyant, medium and spiritual advisor. Get closure on your past, present and future situations. $5 for 5 minutes/$10 for 10 minutes.

Rain date is to 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 23.

May 29, 2011 - 1:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, historic batavia cemetery.

A Spring Ghost Tour is planned at the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Saturday June 4.

It will highlight the women -- "some of the finest ladies who ever graced the community."

The guided ghost walk costs $10 and includes iced tea and cookies. Tickets are available at the cemetery gate, located on Harvester Avenue, on the day of the event.

Tours begin at 2 p.m. and run every 15 minutes. The last tour begins at 4 p.m.

All proceeds benefit the cemetery.

For more information, call the history department at 344-2550, ext. 2613.

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