Four Centuries Memory Walk in Palisado Cemetery
As shadows lengthen, join Windsor Historical Society and the Windsor Jesters on Sunday, October 25, from 3 - 5 p.m. as they bring Windsor people from four centuries to life on a “memory walk” in Windsor’s historic Palisado Cemetery. You will meet six fascinating figures from Windsor history, tour the cemetery and learn about evolving New England gravestone styles in a presentation given by Society Director Christine Ermenc. And you will feast on home-made gingerbread with whipped cream and hot New England apple cider. The tour begins and ends at the Windsor Historical Society complex at 96 Palisado Avenue, and is made possible by the Warren Giffin Memorial Fund.
The oldest gravestone in Connecticut resides in Windsor’s Palisado Cemetery, erected to honor the Reverend Ephraim Huit (played by actor Carroll Toal) who died in 1644. Reverend Huit was an active as well as a spiritual man, supervising the building of a meetinghouse on Palisado Green, and the construction of a bridge crossing the Farmington River, so residents on both sides could get to church easily on Sundays.
Windsor was not immune from witchcraft accusations. You will meet Lydia Gilbert, played by Annie Phillips who was executed in 1654 for causing a bullet to fly from Thomas Allyn’s musket into the body of her lodger Henry Stiles during a fall militia drill in 1651, fatally wounding him. Although Thomas Allyn was convicted of “homicide by misadventure” soon after the incident, gossip and suspicion grew to surround Lydia Gilbert, eventually ending her life.
Oliver Ellsworth, framer of the Declaration of Independence, the nation’s first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and special envoy to France in Napoleon Bonaparte’s time will be played by Ron Blanchette. Ellsworth spent much of his time living away from his family in Windsor but thought his state, his town, and his residence were the best places on earth.
A plain white monument honors Nancy Toney, the last living slave in Connecticut when she died in 1857. In 1848, when slavery was abolished in Connecticut, Nancy was too old to go out on her own and support herself. She stayed with the family of Dr. Hezekiah Chaffee Jr., spinning and making herself useful until her death. Nancy Toney is played by Florence Barlow, and her gravesite is a stop on the Connecticut Freedom Trail.
One of Windsor’s high-profile figures from the 19th century was inventor Christopher Miner Spencer. From him, you will learn about why so many new inventions originated in our region, and about some of his own inventions including the repeating rifle, and an early steam-powered automobile. The actor playing Spencer will be announced shortly.
Jennie Loomis, the last of ten generations of Loomises to live in the Loomis Homestead, the oldest remaining building in town, was the guardian of family traditions as the Loomis Chaffee School grew up around her. Barbara Mabee playing Jennie Loomis will talk about her family
Cost for the ghost walk is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students and $8 for Windsor Historical Society members. Please call 688-3813 to reserve your space by October 28th. The tour starts at Windsor Historical Society, 96 Palisado Avenue (Route 159). Parking is available around Palisado Green and in the Windsor Discovery Center Parking lot.